With its legendary figures and larger-than-life tales, the American West is a gold mine of first name ideas. Here’s where to start.
Few historical periods yield as many cool-sounding names as the Old West, though ancient Rome may be a close second with names like Lucretius, Flavius and Vegetius.
But if you don’t want a boy name that sounds like a juice cleanse, the Wild West’s where to go. Western names are steely-eyed, adventurous, and often, downright crazy. Just ask Johnny-Behind-the-Deuce.
Here are 43 Western boy names to consider when naming a pending human, a fictional character, or your alter-ego you only plan to use when you visit Deadwood over the summer.
Need more name ideas? Check out our Western Name Generator, where you can find a real neat nickname for your baby, like “Flamin’ Bill” or “Diablo of the Desert.” If you want the best for your baby, you’ll give ’em a cool nickname from the get-go.
The state capital of Texas is more than a hip place to move to from California. It’s also one of the best Western names for boys, with a nice mix of history and trendiness that’ll age well. According to Baby Names 2023, Austin’s Latin roots mean “venerated,” and who doesn’t want to be that?
Actor Beau Bridges starred in Harts of the West, a ’90s-era series I can’t bring myself to watch. There also had to be at least one small town sheriff named Beau at some point in American West history, probably riding a handsome steed, but that’s all I’ve got.
Named after prospector Waterman S. Body, Bodie, California was one of the state’s most notorious boom towns, once described as “a sea of sin, lashed by the tempests of lust and passion.”
There were gunfights, opium dens, a red light district and profitable mining, making it one of the more memorable ghost towns of the West — and a badass name.
This name’s a high-risk, high-reward moniker that could pay off just fine, but could also lead to your baby eventually being the leader of an outlaw gang operating out of remote corners of the Southwest. Proceed with caution.
Kit Carson was one of the most well-known mountain men and frontier explorers of the 19th century, and while Kit is cool, Carson is a standout name. The capitol of Nevada, Carson City, was named after Kit, and he journeyed through that area — where the Washoe people lived — in the 1840s with John C. Frémont.
Butch Cassidy not only robbed banks and trains, and possibly faked his own death in South America, but also provides us with two amazing Western boy names. The name Cassidy’s Gaelic and Irish roots come from “clever,” which is a fitting tribute to the leader of the Wild Bunch.
Rancher Charles Goodnight, the “Father of the Texas Panhandle,” came up with the concept of chuckwagons in the 1860s to help feed his cowboys on long cattle drives north. Chuck may be a simple name, but it’s reminiscent of open plains, hearty meals on the trail and probably the smell of cattle.
Bonnie and Clyde may have missed the Old West era by a few decades, but their spree was wild just the same, and they were brought down by Frank Hamer, former Texas Ranger. An added bonus here is the obvious nickname “Clyde the Glide,” made famous by Hall of Fame basketball player Clyde Drexler.
Along with Wyatt Earp and Wild Bill Hickok, William Frederick Cody is one of the most legendary figures of the West. His escapades are well-documented, and he supposedly killed more than 4,000 buffalo in a few years span to feed railroad workers after the Civil War. If you like buffalo, you may have a love-hate relationship with Cody, but you have to admit: Cody is a dope name.
Related read: 16 Iconic Landmarks on the Oregon Trail
William Coffin Coleman started the Coleman company in 1900 selling gas lamps, and today the company slings just about everything related to enjoying the great outdoors. It’s a unique, timeless kinda first name that you know will be reliable — just like Coleman’s old school flannel sleeping bags.
Samuel Colt began making revolvers in the 1830s, and eventually Colt revolvers became some of the most commonly used guns of the West. If you’re not a fan of firearms, you can also go with Colt as a young male horse, full of horse potential. Either way you’re tipping your hat to the West.
If you watched the AMC series Hell on Wheels, you understand the appeal of fictional confederate-turned-railroad-dude Cullen Bohannon, who I believe my wife would leave me for, were he real and alive today. There’s also Cullen Baker, a real-life confederate outlaw whose gang killed way too many people, so really not a great role model for a baby.
Related read: 17 Epic Facts about the Transcontinental Railroad
It doesn’t get much more Western-sounding than Dallas, and if you’re keeping tabs on history, you’ll be glad to know Dallas Stoudenmire could potentially be a good role model for your baby. He was a lawman in New Mexico and Texas, and involved in the infamous “Four Dead in Five Seconds Gunfight,” a series of miscues that probably lasted far longer than five seconds. Oh well.
I know they didn’t have Jimmy Dean sausages on cattle drives back in the day, but man, could you imagine if they did? Everyone would sign up.
Emmett Dalton was the luckiest of the Dalton Gang: he was the only member to survive their botched Coffeyville bank robbery attempt in 1892, and after serving time in prison, he went on to turn things around and naturally, profit from his past shenanigans, publishing When the Daltons Rode in 1931.
When Virgil Earp was named marshal of Tombstone in the summer of 1881, James Flynn was part of his small police force enforcing laws about town. After the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Virgil was suspended and Flynn was named Tombstone’s acting Chief of Police, a position he held while Virgil faced his trial for murder charges filed by Ike Clanton.
When Virgil was cleared of any wrongdoing, he returned to his position and later, Flynn was supposedly involved in breaking up a fight between Johnny Ringo and Doc Holliday.
Related read: 29 Most Iconic Quotes from Tombstone
Let’s be real: the Old West was littered with Franks. Every frontier town probably had a handful of ’em, and they probably played cards and bathed in the river after a particularly wild weekend in town. But if your in-laws are asking for specifics, Frank Stilwell was an outlaw and rustler in southern Arizona, and a suspect in the murder of Morgan Earp in early 1882.
He was gunned down by Wyatt Earp in Tucson just a few days later, and today there’s a statute of Wyatt and Doc Holliday near the train station where Stilwell was killed. Once again, not a great role model for a freshly birthed babe.
If you need a more contemporary example, I named my own child Henry, and by “I,” I mean my wife picked the name and I told myself — silently, of course — that Billy the Kid played something of a role in the child-naming process.
If Colt is too bold, consider Holt, which Ancestry.com says comes from the “topographic name for someone who lived in or by a small wood,” which sounds mysterious and alluring.
If there are any themes I’ve picked up on while researching Western names for boys, it’s that Texas towns produce some of the best forenames around. “Space City” was named after Sam Houston, a general and politician with a laundry list of historical (and controversial) bullet points to his name through the Texas Revolution and Mexican–American War and beyond.
Over the last 20 years, Jack, like Henry, has become one of the more popular male names in general, likely for its simplicity. Its nickname-style vibe is casual but also gets down to business, much like John Coffee “Jack” Hays — a Texas Ranger and one of the more famous lawmen of the West — did in the mid-19th century.
This man also had excellent hair.
Sure, Johnny Ringo was an outlaw, but he was also educated, charismatic and cool enough to be remembered all these years later, despite not having the same outlaw bragging rights as someone like Billy the Kid. Solid name, could’ve lived up to the hype more.
Like a boy named Sue, a boy named Leslie’s probably gonna turn out to be pretty tough. Kind of like Buckskin Frank Leslie, who arguably has the best nickname-first-name-last-name combination of any Western dude. He wore all sorts of hats on the frontier, and actually wore a buckskin jacket, so the nickname’s not hyperbole: he was the real deal.
When Levi Strauss began slingin’ denim jeans and overalls in San Francisco after the gold rush days, little did he know the signature brand would still be in existence more than 150 years later. Miners of yesteryear and young folks of today may not have much in common, but Levi’s are one of them.
Jack-of-all-trades Luke Short rubbed elbows with the Earps, Bat Masterson and other legends of the West, and held his own as a gunfighter and saloonkeeper across the frontier.
He also sat for the famous Dodge City Peace Commission photo, and yes, he’s the short one.
Morgan Earp was apparently Wyatt’s favorite brother, and the second-youngest of the “Fighting Earps,” as they were known in the West. Morgan’s also a nice gender-neutral name if you want to consider it as a Western name for girls.
German-born immigrant Otto Sommer painted some real nice Western landscapes in the 19th century, with clear influences from fellow German-American artist Albert Bierstadt. The German meaning behind Otto means “wealthy,” says Baby Names 2023, so there’s also that.
You’re not winning any popularity points for naming a kid Phin, or Phineas, but it’s an old-school name that stands out, if that’s what you’re into. Phin Clanton was the brother of Ike and Billy Clanton — of gunfight at the O.K. corral fame — and served time in Yuma Territorial Prison after facing years of cattle rustling and grand larceny charges.
One of Orrin Porter Rockwell’s nicknames was “The Destroying Angel of Mormondom,” which tells you all you need to know about Orrin Porter Rockwell. This dude was a body guard for Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, and was accused of some wild crimes, including murder.
Still, it’s a cool name and has become a bit more popular in the last 15 years, according to the Social Security Administration.
Ranger is bold and it doesn’t care who knows it. Nameberry points out that Ranger is part of a growing list of baby names, like Porter, based on old-school occupations, and in the West, the job of being a Texas Ranger was about as wild and wooly as it got.
Reid for sure sounds like an adult name, so if you name your baby Reid, prepare for a time when they haven’t quite grown into it, but trust me when I say the payoff is worth it. There will come a time when adult Reid, now fully embracing his name, can proclaim with confidence, to a group of seedy gentlemen around a card table, “Reid ’em and weep boys!”
An overland journey included plenty of river crossings, which were dangerous and unpredictable. The West’s waterways played an important role in how migration progressed, and River’s been a top-200 baby name since 2017, according to the SSA.
Related read: Why Did People Move West in the 1800s?
When Leonard Slye began his acting career in the 1930s, he took on the name Roy Rogers, a “Western-sounding” name that, quite frankly, fits much better than Leonard Slye. Roy Rogers went down as one of the most popular early Western actors and singers of the 20th century, and today Roy is a unique throwback option.
The Rufus Buck gang’s crime spree toward the end of the 19th century didn’t last long, but it was brutal enough to earn Buck a place in Wild West outlaw lore. In 2021, The Harder They Fall included Rufus Buck in a fictional but entertaining tale of revenge on the frontier.
Related read: 9 Fascinating Facts About Cherokee Bill, Ruthless Outlaw
For a time, Seth Bullock was the sheriff of Deadwood, South Dakota, and somehow managed to control the town’s goings-on without ever killing anyone, which was something of a feat back then. If you’re looking to name your baby after an all-around Westerner, Seth’s a great choice.
First published in 1949, Shane is a classic Western novel — and later, movie — with everything you want in a frontier tale: gunslingin’, homesteading and an easy-to-root-for David vs. Goliath theme. The main character, Shane, is your typical enigmatic man of the West, so if you want your baby cloaked in an air of mystery and intrigue, I strongly consider going with Shane.
Sherman McMaster took turns on both sides of the cowboy-Earp feud of southern Arizona in the 1880s, first riding with the cowboys and eventually working with Wyatt Earp and company. McMaster would also accompany Wyatt on his infamous Vendetta Ride to avenge the death of Morgan Earp and attempted assassination of Virgil Earp.
Wyatt Earp gets most of the recognition for his role in the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, but Virgil Earp was the city marshal at the time, and was likely one of the more level-headed of the fight’s participants. Where some folks questioned Wyatt’s intentions as a lawman over the years, Virgil maintained a reputation that was rarely questioned.
Warren Earp, on the other hand, was a bit more volatile than his brothers. He was the youngest of the Earp clan, probably had a chip on his shoulder, and aided Wyatt in his Vendetta Ride of 1882. True to his reputation, Warren died during a barfight in Willcox, Arizona in 1900.
John Wesley Hardin was one of the West’s most prolific outlaws, supposedly killing somewhere between 20 and 40 men over the course of his violent career. Thanks to widespread rumors of his exploits, and an autobiography, it didn’t take long for Hardin to become a folk hero of the West, not unlike Jesse James.
The first preacher of Deadwood, Henry Weston Smith, was killed under mysterious circumstances just outside of town in August 1876, and today there’s a monument paying homage to “The Pioneer Preacher” of the Black Hills. Over the last 20 years, Weston’s steadily creeped up the SSA name ranks, and in 2021 was the 95th most popular male name.
If there’s a more Western name out there, we haven’t come across it.
It’s hard to beat Wyatt, which means “from wood” or “from the wide water,” according to Baby Names 2023. You could tell me it means “hairy creature with extra limbs” and I’d still consider naming my damn baby Wyatt.
Related read: 6 Tombstone Filming Locations You Can Still Visit Today
Few Western novelists were more productive than Zane Grey, who published more than 90 works during his lifetime. Those eventually turned into more than 100 films, and Grey’s considered one of the first authors to make over a million dollars from his writing. Cha-ching.