Baby Boy Wooder, Brother to Brynn

Hi Swistle,
My husband and I are excited to be expecting our second (and final) child due in early March, 2018. We have a daughter already named Brynn Marley Wooder and her name was so easy for us to decide on. For some reason I was absolutely certain that this baby would be a girl as well and we had already chosen her name before we even knew the gender, Blair Leo. Then a wrinkle in the naming plan happened when I found out we were having a boy…
The problem with boy names is this: my husband likes somewhat traditional, masculine names for a boy while I like somewhat unique names. We have come up with a few names but none of them feel 100% right.

The names are:

We ruled out Alexander because of the nickname Al and Benjamin based on the nicknames Benji and Big Ben. My husband has also ruled out names like Hudson, Emerson and Reese because he thinks they sound pretentious.

We have settled on Leonard as the middle name as it is the name of the residence where we met in university. Our last name is Wooder. We are not set on this baby’s name matching our daughter’s name in any way. We like one syllable names but aren’t 100% set on that.

I think I am having trouble being truly decisive about names because of the emotional state that I have been in for the last month. My mother tragically passed away after a very difficult battle with cancer and it has left my whole family emotionally raw.
If you could help us decide on a name that would be so appreciated.
Thank you for your help,



Would you be interested in looking for a name to honor your mother? Perhaps her maiden name, or a name with the same initials, or perhaps her first or middle names have versions that would work for a boy.

We need more data points than just mine, but I will say that I have not run into the nickname Al used for Alexander; the only nicknames I’ve encountered are Alex and Xander and Xan. I don’t think you need to rule out Alexander over the possibility of Al. On the other hand, you’re looking for something more unusual, and according to the Social Security Administration, Alexander only dropped out of the Top Ten in 2016 after an eight-year stay, and was in the tens and twenties rankings for decades before that.

It looks to me as if each name on the list of finalists fails to meet either your husband’s traditional/masculine preference or else your preference for something unusual. Drew is unisex: 216 new baby girls and 793 new baby boys were given the name in 2016. Owen was #23 in 2016, and is a rearrangement of the sounds of Noah, which has been #1 for four years in a row. The name Nathan has been in the Top 50 since 1975; Nathaniel was in the Top 100 from 1978 until 2015; Nate is such a familiar nickname at this point.

I wonder if any of these would work:


27 thoughts on “Baby Boy Wooder, Brother to Brynn

  1. Sarah

    My suggestion is Cormac (nn Mac). Or something for your mom (my definite preference). I like Dean but I think I would prefer a one-syllable that doesn’t end in the N sound–strikes me as a little matchy with Brynn.

  2. Sargjo

    Wondering if a few more positives to help you get excited about baby naming after such a tragic upheaval. Here’s two- 1) your last name is SO flexible. As someone with an ends-in-n last name, I would feel so blessed to have a surname that has such great flow with a wide variety of names 2) it could be fun to think of words and meanings that are bringing you some joy/peace right now and work backwards into a significant name. For example, I named my second child Frederick because peaceful ruler felt right after a few tumultuous and tough years. It might reenergize the naming process to work that way for awhile-something might stick!

  3. TheFirstA

    I’m so sorry about your loss. I agree with Swistle that a name to honor your mother might be nice. In addition to masculine versions of her first or middle, or her maiden name, I’ll also suggest that you think about places that were significant to her, names related to a hobby she enjoyed or her occupation, or perhaps a name from somewhere in her family tree.

    I have encountered quite a few Alexanders and have never, ever met one with the nickname Al. They’ve only been called Alex, Zander or Alec-and I met one with the old-school nickname Sandy. Since you’d prefer something a bit less common, I wonder if you’d like Alistair? It’s a Scottish version of Alexander.

    Likewise, I think “Big Ben” for Benjamin is unlikely, unless there is a specific reason you think your son may be on the big side. Benji is perhaps more likely, but I wouldn’t consider it a particularly common nickname for Benjamin.

    Some other suggestions: Hugo, Abram, Bram, Moss, August, Jude. I’ll also point out that while Blair is used more often for girls, it is technically unisex. I know a little boy named Blair and I think it fits him very well. Perhaps you’d want to consider going ahead and using it? If not, perhaps I can interest you in Blaine? For me, it is very similar to Blair, and it is used exclusively for boys.

  4. Megz

    What about moving Leonard to the first name slot, and using the middle as a tribute to your mother? e.g. Her name, maiden name, her father’s name, somewhere she lived, her favourite music, etc.

    Leonard Wooder. Brynn and Leo

    FWIW I have never met an Alexander called Al. Nor do I think Blair is unusable on a boy.

  5. Arthur Lover

    Here are some not-super-common names that still fit the bill as fitting in with modern names but which sound masculine. These are leaning toward English/Irish surname names, which I think sound good with Brynn.


  6. Britni

    Would you consider using Blair Leo for this baby? To me it could work for either sex and I like that you had it picked out before you ever knew if the baby was a boy or a girl. I also like the sound of Brynn and Blair.

    1. Kimberley

      To be honest, this is exactly what I thought too! Blair Leo would work just as well for a boy. I think the fact that you guys already like it says a lot about this name. I think you’ve already hit a winner and are just over thinking things.

  7. Kim C

    Really like Swistle’s suggestion of Dane. Cole and Nolan are nice too.

    Brynn and Dane. They sound great together! You could always use Alexander as the middle name if you’re worried about the nn Al. Although, like others, I have never heard Al as a nickname for Alexander.

    Dane Alexander Wooder perhaps? Dane Leonard? Nice!

    I’d also like to suggest Damon, Ewan, Reeve and Reid/Reed.

    All the best!

  8. Kas

    I’m so sorry about your mum, I also lost my mum to cancer 6 months ago and it is truely horrific, cancer is awfull and watching a loved one go through it is life changing, my thoughts are with you xx

    I love your daughters name, Brynn is lovely.

    Some suggestions I like with sister Brynn- Lawson, Marshall, Mitchell, Harvey, Bennett, Lennox, Lincoln or Preston.

    I wish you all the very best and hope your new baby boy brings you joy and happiness xx

  9. Reagan

    Maybe a retro (1960s /70s) name would be traditional enough for your husband but unique enough for you on a baby born this year.


  10. Jaime

    If not something to honor your mom (even if it’s moved to the middle and Leonard/Leo is the first name), I suggest Burke or Brooks. Or Hayes or Zeke or Dane. My fave from Swistle’s suggestions is Grant.

  11. Erin Beth

    There have been a lot of good suggestions already. I especially like the suggestions of
    Blake, Grant, and Cole. I would add Brett and Shane.

  12. Jean C.

    I’m so sorry about your mom. All of the firsts are so hard after a loss like that, and I know that while you are so excited for your sweet boy to arrive, I imagine it’s bittersweet that he will arrive without your mom here to meet him. That is so so hard.
    I do like Owen out of your names, and I especially like Alexander. While it does seem like Alexander is going to end up with a nickname, I (like others) see it as unlikely to be Al, and you can take control of that situation by calling him by the nickname of your choosing early.
    Out of Swistle’s suggestions, I do love Graham/Grant which has an almost western vibe (does it get more masculine than that?) and are not the usual names without being terribly unusual names. Really, all of Swistle’s list is great.
    I would like to add to the consideration list Silas, Everett and Dalton.

  13. Whales_and_Anchors

    I vote for Blair Leo. It sounds like a boy name to me. For a girl, I’d expect Blaire (with an E). So I think you can still use the name you already picked out that both you and your husband love.

  14. Nessie

    If you like sisters Brynn and Blair, how about siblings Brynn and Blaise? Blaise is traditional, one syllabe and not very common.

  15. Anna

    Have you looked at lists of Welsh names (as brynn is Welsh).

    My first thought was Gryff (or griffin I guess, but I like the y as a vowel linking Brynn and Gryff).

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I lost my mum to cancer when my first was a baby and feel daunted by having a second because of this.

  16. Jd

    I’m so sorry about your mom. Mine passed before she could meet my last baby and i miss her.

    I love Drew. But I love it best as a nickname for Andrew. I also love the suggestion of Grant. So handsome!

  17. Trudee

    Glad to see so many votes for Grant. That definitely stuck out to me as the best one. It’s a great fit with Brynn. And it meets the one syllable preference. I also think it’s traditional in sound yet quite uncommon. Grant Leonard would be a great choice!

  18. Kay W.

    I’m so sorry about your mother. What a difficult time.

    Alexander is my favorite boy name we can’t use, so I have the urge to tell you “find a way to use it!” I’ve never heard Al as a nickname for it.

    Some other ideas:

    Alec (I don’t see this getting shortened to Al)
    Andrew (it feels more substational than Drew)
    Ian (similar to Owen)
    Gavin (great Swistle suggestion)

    What about Leonard as the first name, but with Leo as a nickname?

  19. A

    What about Alexander nicknamed Zane? It’s not super intuitive but I’ve heard it before and I think it works. It meets your husband’s criteria for something traditional while giving you an offbeat nickname.

    Brynn and Zane. Lovely

    from your list, my favorite is Nate!

  20. Nicki

    I think your names are really great. You have already put a lot of thought and feeling into choosing and so you can trust yourself to pick one and it will be beautiful on your child. From your list of names, i love:
    Leo Blair Wooder (first choice by far! esp if you are not planning to have more children)
    Leo Alexander Wooder
    Benjamin (Ben) Leonard Wooder
    Benjamin Alexander Wooder
    Nate Leonard Wooder
    Owen Leonard Wooder

    and from swistles list, i love Cole. I think it goes with all of your names.
    Cole Leonard Wooder
    Cole (Benjamin/Alexander) Wooder

  21. DMclub

    I agree a name that ties to your late mother would be special.

    From Swistle’s great suggestions, I particularly love:
    Alexander nn Alex
    Andrew nn Drew
    Miles, Nolan, Dean

    And since our styles seem similar (Brynn and Blair were both on our our girl list; we ended up going with Brooke), I’ll suggest our son’s name, Shane. We get compliments on it being recognizable, but not common, and it fits his sporty personality.

    Good luck and keep us posted when the little guy arrives! :)

  22. Hope

    I just feel the need to comment and say my brother’s name is Benjamin, and in 35 years I’ve never once heard him called Benji or Big Ben. Do i chuckle when my kids call him “Uncle Ben?” Sometimes. But otherwise he’s only been known as Ben and in high school had a nickname that was a hybrid of Ben and our last name.


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