As a follow up to Strong Girl Names, I decided to take on another gender bending trend: sensitive and peaceful boys’ names. As parents increasingly value strength in their daughters, they’re becoming more open to sensitivity in their sons. Peaceful, beautiful, and sensitive name meanings are much more common for masculine names than you may expect- they’re much more abundant than feminine names meaning “strong,” “warrior,” etc. This list is only a small portion of the names I found.
Names that Mean Beautiful
Beau- In European languages, names that mean “beautiful” are plentiful for girls, but unusual for boys. Beau is the exception- it comes from French. Beau can be part of a longer name, such as Beaumont or Beauregard, but it’s more commonly given as a standalone name.
Jamil- This Arabic name was popular among African Americans from the 1970s-1990s. It’s since fallen out of favor, but because it was never terribly popular, it doesn’t seem terribly dated.
Kalyan- This Sanskrit name means “beautiful, auspicious, lovely,” and makes for a highly unusual route to Kal. I can easily imagine a Kalyan fitting in with Caleb, Callum, Calvin, and all the -n ending boys on the playground.
Names that Mean Peaceful or Gentle
Clement- Like the word “clemency,” Clement comes from the Latin word clemens, meaning “merciful, gentle.” As a word, clement means merciful or pleasant, as in the phrase “clement weather.” Worn by 14 popes and 13 saints, Clement is an ancient name that’s fallen out of favor- although it charted steadily in the 19th and early 20th centuries, it slowly began to fall and eventually disappeared from the top 1000 in 1969. That makes it a very rare, but very classic name.
Gareth- I find “th” a very soft sound, so this name sounds to me like its meaning, “gentleness.” Gareth was fairly popular in the U.K. through the early 2000s, but has never really caught on in the U.S. The similar-sounding but unrelated Garrett is usually preferred in America.
Mungo- Mungo comes for the Welsh for “gentle” or “kind,” so it’s no surprise that name whiz J.K. Rowling chose it as the name for a hospital in Harry Potter. The name has a very quirky sound- it reminds me of Ringo- but the very bravest parents may love its eccentric appeal.
Kevin- Nancy wrote a brilliant piece about the name Kevin in November, and she made some great observations. Kevin is ubiquitous in pop culture. Where previous generations saw their everyman as John or Joe, modern Americans relate more to Kevin. The name has become highly unfashionable in Europe, but in the U.S., it’s just another aging former trend. Kevin derives from an Irish element meaning “kind, gentle.”
Pax- In the era of Max, the Latin word for “peace” seems like a very reasonable possibility. Pax doesn’t break the top 1000, but derivative Paxton is at #203 and rising.
Frederick- The Germanic element frid means “peace,” while the latter part of the name is derived from the word for “ruler.” Frederick is regal and dignified, but somewhat unfashionable- it’s slipped from a consistent spot in the top 100 to its current rank of #519, one of Frederick’s lowest ever rankings.
Miran- A two-syllable -n ender that isn’t often heard, Miran is a great fit in/stand out name. It comes from a Slavic element meaning “peace” or “world.” It’s an exotic lite name- not common in English, but not too tough to wrap your head around.
Callum- Callum means “dove,” and while that isn’t quite peaceful or gentle, the dove is a widely recognized symbol of peace. Although this name is huge in the U.K. and Australia, it hasn’t really caught on in the U.S. It ranks only #701, uncommon enough that you’re unlikely to hear it on the playground.
Jonah- Although it’s often associated with a whale, Jonah actually means “dove,” just like Callum. Jonah’s -ah ending is both trendy (a la Noah and Elijah) and gentle. Parents seem more attracted to biblical -ah enders for boys than ever before, so it’s no wonder Jonah has risen in recent years.
Galen- This name comes from the Greek for “calm” and was worn by a famous doctor that lived over 2000 years ago. The first syllable may give some parents pause, but the popularity of names like Gabriel and Gage has proven that it isn’t an insurmountable obstacle.
Sweetness and Hearts
Kaipo- The Hawaiian word for “sweetheart,” Kaipo is usually a unisex term of endearment, but is sometimes given as a name. It could be an interesting spin on the trendy Kai.
Pollux- Pollux was famously the mythological twin brother of Castor. The two were said to have had different fathers- Castor was the son of the mortal Tyndareus while Pollux was the son of the god Zeus. Their names were later used for stars in the constellation Gemini. Pollux comes from the Greek Polydeukes, meaning “very sweet.” Pollux is offbeat, but maybe not strange enough to be unusable; nicknames Pol/Paul and Lux are very wearable.
Caleb- Caleb is most often said to come from the Hebrew word for “dog,” but an alternate theory postulates that it comes from words meaning “whole heart.” It’s a lovely, if improbable, possibility.
Hugo- Hugh comes from a Germanic element meaning “heart, mind, spirit.” Hugo has the added kind association of French author Victor Hugo. Italian variant Ugo shares much of the sound, but is even quirkier with its U- beginning.
Lev- Lev is very interesting as it’s both a sensitive and strong name; In Russian, it means “lion,” but the Hebrew Lev means “heart.” It’s short and sweet, rare but simple, and a great choice for parents looking for a versatile, cross-cultural name.