Some baby names have a special spark. They hit a style bullseye and make us wish, “If only there were more names like that!”
Our “Alternatives” series looks at these objects of desire, the baby names that send waves of parents to the Internet searching for more of the same. In reviewing the more-like-that names I noticed two with a lot in common, Miles and Brooks. They’re both fashionable boys’ names with some obvious similarities, but also key differences that give each a unique impact.
First, the common ground. Miles and Brooks are:
1. One-syllable names ending in S;
2. Formal, sophisticated names with no obvious nicknames;
3. Not -S extensions of classic male names (a la Williams, Adams);
4. Familiar with a traditional but uncommon feeling, thanks to long histories of occasional use with a few prominent examples;
5. Enjoying a new level of popularity today.
That’s a lot for any pair of names to have in common. I’m sure that many parents who like one of the names are also drawn to the other. Yet no two names are alike, and even these two diverge in surprisingly significant ways:
1. Surname style. While Miles exists as a surname it is an age-old given name, a form of Milo. Brooks is a transferred surname, and that origin is front-and-center in its style.
2. Miles Davis vs. Brooks Brothers, aka jazzy vs preppy. Legendary clothier Brooks Brothers roots the name Brooks firmly in the world of blue blazers and blue blood. Legendary jazz musician Miles Davis pulls Miles in a more artistic direction.
3. All-American vs. more global. Brooks has mostly been used in the U.S. and Canada. Even its blue-blood image is of the American variety; note that Brooks Brothers bills itself as “the original authority on American style.” The name Miles has a more global style, and is as much English as American.
4. Smooth vs. crisp. Miles is all smooth, worldly elegance. Brooks is crisp, crackling and precise.
Together Miles and Brooks lay out a spectrum of style, all within the narrow realm of classic, formal one-syllable male names ending in s. In hunting for names with similar appeal, I’ve divided the prospects into three groups: the smooth, artistic international given names; the crisp, preppy American surnames; and the cross-appeal names that could lure in parents coming from either direction.
SMOOTH, ARTISTIC, INTERNATIONAL GIVEN NAMES
CRISP, PREPPY, AMERICAN SURNAME
Read More: More Names Like Scarlett: The Search for Alternatives