35+ Old Southern Boy Names Rich in History and Meaning

Looking for cute southern names for boys? Since moving to the South, I’ve fallen in love with the beautiful, unique names I’ve heard here! This list of old southern boy names goes over some of my favorite monikers I’ve heard in the Carolinas and researched from archives!

Whether you’re planning on raising a country boy or true Southern gentleman, these names will never go out of style!

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I love living in the South. Growing up in the bitter cold Midwest, I swear I have been waiting my entire life to move down here…. A magical land of unlimited sweet tea, waffles and chicken, and shrimp and grits. Aside from cuisine, I love the unique culture I’ve experienced here. 

One thing that sticks out: the emphasis on history, faith, and family. This tradition definitely carries into the selection of baby names.

If you’ve explored my blog at all, you’ll notice that I love digging into the history and origins of names and sharing it with my readers. In the Carolinas, I hear a lot of unique and classic southern boy names that I haven’t heard anywhere else. In fact, many of the names on the list below are inspired from my actual friends here!

I adore each one and I hope you do too!

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Influences of Southern Baby Names

Fun fact: while I was researching this post, I did a search on the most popular southern names in the 1800s. Many of these names are still in the top 50 today. 

That just goes to show: Southern names are often inspired by family, history and faith.

That’s the trend you’re going to see below. You’ll find lots of classical names that were popular in the South decades ago. Plenty of biblical names.

Now, one thing you won’t find is country southern names. Those run on the rustic or cowboy side, and I feel like that should be a post unto itself. (I’m talking names like Garth or Gunnar). Keep an eye out for it!


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Let’s start with a historic southern boy name, shall we? Meaning “Breath” or “son”, Abel was a pretty popular name in the south in the 1800s, before it tanked in the twentieth century.

I say we bring it back!



Andrew means “Manly” or “brave.” I love the potential nicknames: “Andy” or “Drew.”

More importantly, I love its historical namesakes, such as Andrew Jackson (the 7th president), Andrew Johnson (the 17th president), and Andrew Young (first African-American to be elected for Congress from Georgia since the Reconstruction).



Did you know that Benjamin means “Son of the South?” Obviously, the name is referencing Israel, not the southern states, but still quite appropriate. There you go!



This timeless name means “faithful” or “devoted.”


Old English

My own grandfather was named Charles. He was a gentle yet cantankerous veteran, and beloved to our family. 

Charles still continues to dominate the charts in the Southern states. It means “Free man.”



Meaning, “beloved,” David is rich in biblical meaning, but also historical figures: David Ruggles, black abolitionist, David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, and David Atler, inventor of the telegraph.



This name tends to be carried on from generation to generation. It means “wealthy guardian.”



Meaning “Jehovah is my God,” Elijah was the 6th most popular name in Alabama in 2022. 



Meaning “God’s Helper,” Ezra is particularly popular in West Virginia and Arkansas. I’ve also seen a couple Ezras in the Carolinas.



How about an old Southern boy name? Franklin means “free landowner.” While it’s not as popular today, it was quite trendy in the 1800s. A few famous Franklins to consider: Aretha Franklin, Benjamin Franklin, and Franklin Pierce.



Let’s take a break from religious names, shall we?

George is actually a Greek name that means “farmer” or “earth worker.”

This is another popular generational name in the South. However, there’s plenty of historical namesakes to draw inspiration from. The first George I will always think of is George from Grey’s Anatomy (anybody else??). This, however, doesn’t really count. We have George Washington Carver, renowned inventor and George Washington, the father of our country. 


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Okay, this is not a popular Southern name today, but it was big in the 1800s. One memorable namesake: Hiram Ulysses S. Grant. There’s also Hiram Rhodes Revels, born in North Carolina, and the first African-American man to serve in the Senate.

This is another Hebrew name that means “Brother of the Exalted One.”



Henry is an incredibly cute name, but be careful moms, it means “Ruler of the household.” 😉 This name is fairly popular across the United States, however, in North Carolina 2022, it ranked #7.



This was a popular one in the mid-1800s! The most famous namesake, Mr. Horace King, was a freed bridge-builder and Alabama legislator. Horace means “hour in time.”



Isaac means “he will laugh.” It was popular in the 1800s and has once again come to the spotlight for our generation. 



Simply meaning, “Son of Jack”, Jackson is an incredibly popular name in the South. However, I’m really digging the modern trend of spelling it “Jaxon” and then going with the nickname, “Jax.”



Are you noticing a trend here? Lots of biblical J-names… You might as well get settled in. This name never goes out of style. It means “supplanter.”



John means “God is gracious.”



This Hebrew name means “He will add.” I love the nicknames that goes with Joseph, “Joey”, “Joe,” “Jay” or even the playful “Jo-Jo.”



Meaning “King’s Town,” Kingston is particularly popular in Mississippi. In fact, it placed #9 in 2022!



This is a timeless southern name that just happens to be as popular now as it was in the 1800s. Levi ranked #6 on Louisiana’s baby name charts in 2022.

Levi means “joined” or “attached.”



Do you know a Luther? Other than Clark Kent’s arch-nemesis…

This Germanic name that means “soldier of the people.” From Martin Luther King Jr. to legendary blues musician Luther Allison, the bearers of this name are leaders and trailblazers. 



Speaking of soldier! Miles means “soldier” or “merciful.” It’s a modern Southern name that never goes out of style. 



Did you know that Nathan is actually a shortened version of the name Jonathan? I’ve seen just as many Nathan’s. Nathan and Jonathan means “gift from God.” 

How appropriate!



In general, Noah is a pretty popular name right now. But did you know that it was the most popular name in Georgia in 2022?

Noah means “rest” or “comfort.”


Old Norse

Oliver was in the Top 100s in the 1800s, and it’s skyrocketed up to the Top 10 now! If you’re looking for a classic Southern boy name that is truly timeless, this is the one! Oliver means “ancestor’s descendants.”



This vintage southern name was popular in the 1920s, at one point making the top 25! It means “small” or “humble.” 



I find the meaning of Samuel so interesting. It originates from the Hebrew name, Shemu’el, which means “God has heard.” The story, of course, is that Samuel was a prophet in a time when Israel had turned away from God. He hears God’s voice, then judges and leads the Israelites for the rest of his life. 

In the South, it’s still a very popular name. Recently, it ranked #9 in Georgia.


Old French

Richard isn’t especially popular right now, but it was in the 20th century. A regal name passed from generation to generation, Richard means “brave ruler.”



Robert is an incredibly popular American name in general, but you’ll find it a little more common in two particular southern states: Florida and North Carolina.

I think this name has a lot of historical value, but it’s also passed along from generation to generation. I really enjoy the different nicknames for Robert down here. My favorite, “Bobby” is fairly common still. There’s also “Bob,” “Robby,” and “Rob.” I haven’t met many Bert’s lately, but I’m all for its comeback!

Robert means “bright flame.”



Here’s an Old Southern name that needs to come back in: Rufus! This name literally means “red-haired.” I love it! 



Are you expecting two bundles of joy? Thomas is Aramaic for “twin.” I’ve met my fair share of Thomas’ in the Carolinas, but more often, I have seen “Toms” and “Tommys”.



This is another name I desperately wish would make a comeback! It was insanely popular in the 1890s, but now it barely makes the Top 1000 list. A unique Southern boy name indeed!

A few fun namesakes to consider: Virgil Earp, Wyatt Earp’s brother and renowned lawman, and Virgil “Gus” Grissom, American astronaut. 

Virgil means “flourishing” or “prosperous.”



This name wasn’t even on my radar before I moved to the South. Yet, it was actually the 11th most popular boy name in Alabama back in 2022. 

Waylon is a Welsh name meaning “land by the road.”



This old-fashioned name has been on the charts for decades. It’s timeless and regal.

In the South, I’ve seen a few Williams (Will, Willie–if you’re a country music fan!–, Bill, Billy), but in modern times, Liam seems to be the most common form. 

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Double Names: A Cool Southern Tradition

One trend I’ve noticed down here: double-names. For example, John Robert or Alexander Benjamin. Then, this person will call themself by their middle name, rather than their first name.

When you think about it… it actually makes sense! This is a fun way to honor your family’s history, while choosing a name that also fits your style. 

This is a fascinating tradition that is not nearly as popular where I’m from. Soon, I’ll write a post about some of my favorite double southern baby boy names. For now, just keep this trend in mind!

What Are Some of Your Favorite Southern Boy Names?

There you have it, Mama!

If you’re really struggling to nail down a name, my best tip is to write down your top 10, then narrow it down to your top 5. Share that list with your partner after a few days. Narrow it down to your combined top 3. 

Try them on for a few days. Practice saying nicknames or imagining calling your little one’s name in the park. See how it feels! You can also see what it sounds like with the middle name, if you have that picked out already.

Looking for more baby names for boys? Check out these posts:

If you’re a Southerner and you’re reading this, you’re bound to have your own opinion on what counts as a truly authentic southern name. So let me know below so I can share it with my readers! Also, tell me your favorite double names for the next post!

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