So you're in love with the name Oscar, but your partner says it only suits that green Muppet who lives in a trashcan? This "grandpa name" is one of a contingent that seems to be enjoying a resurgence over the past few years, kind of in the same way that nerdy glasses and cardigan sweaters are cool again. However, if an accord can't be reached and you just can't go with Oscar, here are some baby name alternatives to choose from that will pack the same punch.
While you may not agree that the famous Grouch is a terrific role model for your new addition — even though I've always thought of Oscar as the most relatable of the Sesame Street residents — we can take some clues from his name to look for alternate monikers for your progeny. Nameberry tells us that Oscar is of English/Irish origin and means "God spear, or deer-lover, or champion warrior," so those are great clues to carry with us on the, ahem, hunt. But frankly, I'm more inclined to go with Behind the Name's definition — which says the name Oscar is of Old Norse origin and was brought to the British Isles by the Vikings — because I myself am of Swedish origin and have any number of Old Norse Oscars in my own family. Not to mention, Oscar is a common Swedish royal name, too. Oscar has more going for it than just some green furry kvetcher.
In any event, assuming you can't get your partner off the mark, the roundup below provides some international flavor, some "hip grandpa" cred, and a few names that have sounds in common with Oscar, so take your pick.
Here's an easy one to start off with. Oliver obviously begins with the same sound as Oscar and has a distinctive ring to it as well as delightful nickname possibility. It is more popular than Oscar, though (according to Nameberry, Oliver was #5 in 2018), so it's entirely possible that your child won't be the only one in his playgroup or class with this name, if that's a concern for you.
Perhaps you are actually looking for something Norse-sounding? Oscar is a perennially popular baby name in Sweden, but so is Axel — lest you think this moniker was manufactured solely for use by hair-band members. Nameberry put Axel inside the top 15 boys' names in Sweden, and Oh Baby! Names tells us that the meaning of Axel comes from the Old Norse for "my father is peace" — via the Hebrew Avshalom.
I love this name, which is short and to the point like Oscar and so uncommon — I know one Felix, and even that I think is rare. Nameberry says that the Latin name Felix means "happy" or "fortunate," both great designations to bestow on a baby, even though it's a bit short on nickname possibilities... or is that a good thing? I also think it has a bit of the "hip grandpa" vibe going for it.
"Hip grandpa" alert! This one definitely gets my Spidey senses tingling in that category, while also making me think of a smiley, happy, Buddha-like baby. According to Nameberry, Otis is of German origin and means "wealthy," which I can tell you from an anecdotal study of one person with the name, one of my hometown's favorite restauranteurs, definitely turned out to be true (also successful). This one is a winner.
Now for a visit to the English side of the ledger — can anyone say "Knights of the Round Table?" There couldn't be a much more quintessentially English name than Arthur, which Nameberry says is Celtic in origin and means "bear," so it also has the same animalistic, forest-bound origins as Oscar. This distinctive, strong-sounding name will definitely stand out in the playgroup and at school.
I'm partial to this particular Oscar-alternative because it's my younger son's middle name. Short and to the point, BabyNames.com identifies the origin of Owen as Welsh and states that its meaning is "desire born." It's currently gaining in popularity, though, so if you're looking for a truly unique name, you might want to keep digging. Personally, I believe that it's that delicious Kevin McKidd's portrayal of Owen Hunt on Grey's Anatomy that's responsible for the boom, but that's just me.
If you're literary-minded, you're sure to love this option, with a nod to T.S. Eliot and George Eliot (though spelled differently, both are Elliots nonetheless). The Scotch-English name Elliot is an Anglicization of Elijiah or Elias, per Nameberry. Notably on the big screen, the little boy who bonded with E.T. was also Elliott (this time with two Ts), so this name has plenty of great artistic associations.
Short for Theodore, Theo definitely has a bit of the "hip grandpa" about it but also most definitely some modern-day cool. Nameberry outlines its Greek origins and states that the meaning of Theo is "gift of God," which is definitely an apt moniker for any and every little bundle of joy. As a side note, Theo is also increasing in popularity as a girl's name, either short for Theodora or just on its own, meaning your little guy may face some increased competition on the playground when he's called out at tag.
If you want to give your baby a truly fun, happy life, consider the name Isaac, which is from the Hebrew for "he will laugh," according to Babynames.com. What could give him a better start than that? There are so many literary and artistic Isaacs, Isaks and Isaaks as well, not to mention Sir Isaac Newton who, you know, invented gravity, and fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi, whom I know does his share of laughing.
This folksy name also qualifies under our "hip grandpa" category, and I'll tell you why: BabyNames.com reports that Henry comes from the German for "ruler of the home." Now, if that doesn't sound like a grandpa, I don't know what does. The nickname "Hank" is so cute for Henry and makes a great and super-short go-by, but be forewarned that Henry is currently #3 on the popularity charts if you're looking for something that stands apart from the crowd.
This name feels very artsy, and indeed, it's non-traditional: Nameberry can't seem to locate a meaning for Arlo, aside from that it's possibly a shortened version of Carlo, or a reference to a place name or a literary name. If you feel like you're seeing more and more little kids with this name, though, you're right, because Arlo is currently trending up for males and is also a popular name for baby girls.
Change up one letter of Oscar, and you get Odgar, which Babble states is a Welsh name that corresponds to that of the legendary son of Aedd, a high King of Ireland. Odgar is definitely an unusual name, particularly outside of Wales or Ireland, but if you're bound and determined to have a name close to Oscar, this might well be your very best bet.
While Jasper has Persian origins and, means "bringer of treasure," per Nameberry, this is another name that's very popular in Scandinavian cultures. It has long enjoyed popularity in England as well, especially in the more "posh" ranks, and here in the U.S., tends to be seen as very masculine and manly. In fact, it has gotten even more popular as a baby name since the Twilight books and movies broke, with the character Jasper Hale.
Maybe you want something that starts with an O, but that has a little more flavor than Oscar. How about Omari which is Swahili for "God the highest," according to Babble, or can be translated to have a meaning in Egypt as "high born." This beautiful name is at once more modern and more ancient than Oscar, and rolls off the tongue in a poetic manner.
Another name of German origin, this name also confer good fortune on your baby boy, since Nameberry tells us Otto means "wealthy." Otto is less common than some of the other choices, meaning your son's name is less likely to be repeated at recess or in the classroom, and it's so straightforward and to the point that you can be sure he'll always be called by his given name if nicknames aren't your thing.