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The Name Game: Mad About Max!

06/17/2009 at 12:30 PM ET

It’s hard to find a hotter name for boys than Max, and for good reason. Meaning ‘greatest’ in its traditional Latin form of Maximus, nameberry.com co-developer Pamela Redmond Satran says that Max is “unpretentious and friendly but also sounds cool.”

Maybe that’s why celebrity moms and dads have been choosing the moniker in droves. Charlie Sheen, Gilbert Gottfried, Christina Aguilera, Lance Armstrong, Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, Ryan and Trista Sutter and more have all been mad about various forms of Max in recent years, and they’re just the latest celebrity generation to lend it their stamp of approval. Seasoned stars like Dustin Hoffman, Henry Winkler, Steven Spielberg, Nora Ephron and Carl Bernstein all opted for Max with their (now grown) children.


Kevin Mazur/Wireimage; Life & Style; Andrew Macpherson for PEOPLE — Maximilian Muñiz, Maxwell Sutter, Max Bratman

It is a name that has stood the test of time in more ways than one! Pamela explains,

“Saint Maximus was a 7th century monk and theologian from Constantinople. Maximilian grew out of Maximus and has been born by saints, kings and emperors.”

While the name Maxwell — as chosen by Bachelorette alums the Sutters and cyclist Lance Armstrong — has “a somewhat different root,” according to Pamela, it does have a similar meaning. An old Scottish name standing for ‘Mack’s stream,” Maxwell derives from the Scandinavian ‘Magnus’ — a name selected by both Will Ferrell and Kristy Swanson — which also means “great.” All forms of the name are on the rise. According to nameberry.com, in 2008 Max ranked #126, Maxwell ranked #134, Maximus ranked #258 and Maximilian ranked #300. Adds Pamela,

“Taken all together, there were nearly 9000 boys in the US given the name last year, which puts it in the Top 50, right between Jordan and Robert – much more popular than it seems!”

That popularity comes with a price, however. Pamela points out that although there are many different forms of the name for parents to choose from, “there may be more other little boys named Max than they expected out there.”

In addition to her work with nameberry.com, Pamela has co-authored ten baby-naming books with Linda Rosenkrantz. Their newest title, Beyond Ava & Aiden, will become available in a few weeks.

Do you have a Max or variation on the name? Why did you choose it?

– Missy

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Showing 48 comments

Natasha on

I used to like it, but now it’s FAR too common! and i think there was a movie made where max was a dog’s name and it ruined it!

Anon on

I really really dislike this name. As the above poster said it reminds me of a dog, specifically a border collie(i dunno why). Also it just doesn’t leave an impression. It may mean great, but it doesn’t really have that kind of bearing. Magnus does tho, i do like the name Magnus.

Ruth on

I don’t have children yet, but I’ve always wanted to name my son Max Daniel after my grandfather. For me names have to have meaning and what better way to honor a man whom I miss so much.

Dana on

Ever since we found out we were expecting our first 9 years ago, we could never agree on a girls name, but Max was picked as a boys name immediately! We have 2 girls and are still hoping for a boy. Max, however, has been removed from our list. We do not like popular names. It has become way too much of an “it” name for us to use. We have gone back to the drawing board, and so far have absolutely no idea.

brannon on

all cute babies :) i would never use it for a boy but i love it for a girl.

Sarah on

I dislike Max as a given name, I only like it as a nickname for Maxwell or Maximilian.

Mimi on

I named my son Maxwell 12 years ago before it was so trendy. I do hear that it’s a “dog” name a lot but so are Emily and Jack and every other person’s name. In fact, Anon is the name of my friend’s hamster and Natasha is the name of my neighbor’s cat!

I liked Max because it sounds like it could be a cute happy toddler and the tough guy in a detective novel. It’s also why I liked the name Jack for my other son. Tough but fun. I didn’t want a name that would sound cute when he was little, but embarrass him when he was an adult.

I am surprised that Max is popular today (I’ve never met another Max) especially with the trend toward names like Caden, Brayden… Still I’m glad not everyone likes Max or any other name or else we’d all be naming our kids the same twenty names and that would be boring and chaotic. My brother was a Michael and though it’s a wonderful name, he was one of at least three Michaels in every class he was in growing up. Diversity is fun and, I suspect like all trends, the Max one will pass too.

Melissa on

My son (who is 7 now) is named Maximus Xavier. His name fits him to a “t”! We don’t really call him Max that much as he prefers to be called Maximus! haha

girlJordan on

My grandfather was Max Alexander, so to me it’s an old mans name and I really dislike it.

JMO on

I know an 11 year old Maxwell.

But my uncle had a dog named Maxie. I think of it more as an animal name. Just like when I give my cat people names and then I hear it on a kid it no longer sounds cool LOL

Summer on

A friend Of mine has a son named Maksim and we call him Maks, pronounced the same as Max. Hes almost 2.

Mrs. R. on

A friend’s child is Maxime. A little boy they call Max. Another friend, from France, has a daughter named Maxime, whom they call Max sometimes (in the ‘American’ way they laugh).

Ashley on

I named my dog Maximus Russell… ((Russell Crowe’s name was Maximus in GLADIATOR)) So that’s where it came from partly but I just love the name. He goes mostly my Max but answers to Max and Maximus. !!

lolita on

I would never name my son Max cus its too popular!

Mary-Helen on

My friend named her son Maxwell (Max for short) because it was the only name she and her husband could agree on. I like the name, but I wouldn’t use it because I don’t like nicknames (also, my hubby and I agreed on three kids and we are expecting our third girl and Max is not a girl’s name lol)

Sammy-xx on

I really like the name Max, I dont like that many boy names but Max is one of my faves.
It’s strong yet simple and like someone else said it could suit anyone. Baby Max and Grandad Max both work.
And its not like some names that are very Brittish/Scottish like Callum or Jack or very American like Braydon.

Our dogs middle name is Max, Murphy Maximilion. Funny thing I just realised our other dogs name is Ozzy Bob (Osbourne and Marley) and Charlie Sheens twins are Max and Bob.

Karen on

We had a cat growing up named Max…great name & cat!!

Max'sMom on

I have a little boy who is almost 3 & his name is Maxim Cornelius, we love the name & NEVER call him Max. I think that the name Maksim became popular after the Maksim on Dancing with the Stars!

fnhdl on

I like the name Max well enough, but my grandmother has had two dogs (both bichon-frises) named Max. Ruined the name for me.

J. D. on

Brannon, same here!

I used to like the name for a boy but now I really like it for a girl.

Amélie on

I don’t have kids yet, but I really like the name Max, it’s a strong yet simple name like Alex. i can see how some people might think of it as a pets name, but as long as i like i don’t really care what others think about it.

appellationmountain on

Max is one of those easy-to-love names. Maxim Cornelius is a great combo! We know three little Maxes. The first one was born ten years ago and it sounded fresh. Now it is a bit more expected.

I met a little (British) Maxine – the name wore so well on her, though I think Maxime has a smidge more style.

LL65 on

Once of my best friend’s son is named Max. Great name!

Cheryl on

We have a Max, short for Maximilian. We loved the name Max, and chose Maximilian for the “complete” name after St. Maximilian Kolbe…

However, Max is really popular now. We were in a play group with two other boys named Max, and the original name was different for all three…ours, a Maxwell, and just Max.

Both grandmothers hated the name, but everyone else loved it!!!

Popular names are so funny….it may be a popular name, but maybe not in your area. Max was not as popular when we had our boy, but we still ended up with three Maxes in playgroup. We love Aiden (our next is due in one month), super popular, but only have run into one here. We are choosing not to go with it, but maybe it would be ok, kwim?

JMO on

Candace Cameron Bure (Full House) has a son named Maksim whom I believe they also call Maks (pronounced Max)…so guess she can sort of be added to the list too!

Jules on

Our youngest son who is now 16 is named Lewis Max. 16 years ago both names were little used and we loved the fact he was unique. I guess he was just a trensetter for both these names are very popular now.

Sarah on

I like the name as a little boy’s name but not as a man’s name. I don’t think I’ve ever seen or met a man named Max.

mama2be on

No Max for me! WAY to trendy these days just like Jackson or Riley. I don’t want my child to be one of 5 in his/her class.

ZBP on

When i was younger i loved the name Max. Now, i think i will never use it. My husband likes the name too because its a strong, sweet name that gets to the point. He doesn’t want to use it either though. Nevertheless, we like Max but now its not our type anymore.

Mei on

My husband is from France, and we’re raising our three kids in Montreal. So the kids have got some English/French names going on.

Anyways, for my oldest son, we chose Maxence (pronounced Max-ahnse). I heard the name in a movie (Les Choristes) and absolutely fell in love with it. I was like, “Honey, we HAVE to name our baby Maxence.” Turns out, it’s a pretty common variation of Max in France, but I’ve never heard it used before.

Either way, Max is a great name. Love Maxine on a girl.. lovely!

Jes on

My son is almost 5, and we named him Maxwell. I just really liked the name, and thought it sounded strong and different. We got a lot of negative comments from people, but stuck with it anyway. It’s so fitting for him, he’s just Max. I found it funny that the last couple of years I keep seeing celebrities use that name. It doesn’t matter if there are a lot of people out there with that name, it fits him, and I love it.

Corinne on

My son is Magnus and while I almost always use his full name, my husband calls him Max all the time. The nickname “Max” is actually the reason I got him to agree to use Magnus as a first name.

Rachel on

This is the #1 German name. So, if you are naming a baby after a relative, then it could be a Max (or variation). Love the name.

Catherine on

I have a 19 year old named Maximiliano, but we call him Max for short. It’s a family name from Mexico that has been passed down for generations. When he was younger, I used to get told “Max is my dog’s name,” etc. But now that he’s older, it seems like I get that a lot less… I guess because it’s become more popular.

Maaike on

When I was pregnant I wanted ‘Max’ for our child, but since baby’s surname would be ‘Steiner’, this would paste two ‘S’ sounds together. Maxssssteiner. Our little one would always have to pause between his names to make sure people’d get it right. So we decided against it. I still got a ‘Max’ after all, though: One of our pets. ;)

Danielle on

My godson’s name is Maddox and at school he goes by Max.

Emily on

I have a 17-month old son named Maxwell, and we call him Max or Maxie. Yes, it’s quite popular, but it fits our little guy perfectly. Apparently a lot of dogs and cats are named Max, we found out after we had him. But, my husband and I love the name anyway. We think Max is great for a little boy, and he can choose Max or Maxwell to use as an adult.

Heather on

My 15 mo. old son is Maksim Evan. We call him both Maksim and Maks, but find that mostly it’s Maksim. We always liked Max and almost named our first born that and at the last minute he became Mason because everyone we told the name to would comment about a dog they knew or had named Max. When we were expecting our second son, we just couldn’t find another name we liked better and I found Maksim in the baby book and also from Dancing With the Stars. The family had a hard time at first getting used to it since we kept it a surprise until birth, mainly because we didn’t want unsolicited comments about the name. Now, of course we can’t imagine him being called anything else. It suits him perfectly!

Karen on

I don’t really mind that Max is such a popular name, i’ve always really liked it. I think it’s really cute for a boy but I don’t like it as a girl’s name. Also, i like Max, but not Maxwell or Maximus so if I were to use it then it would just be Max.

Rilynn on

I have a 3 year old daughter named Maxemme, she loves being called Max.

Meilssa on

We’re having a boy and have decided Max is the name for us. Just plain Max. As far as common names go, I don’t find it that common. These days you hear a ton of Connors, Jacks, Jakes, Ethans. And of course, who doesn’t know a million Michaels, Brians, Johns. Max is a great, simple, strong, masculine name. It may be on the trendier side now, but it has great history as well.

Mama on

We have russian-american family and we name our boy Alexander Maximus. I have no idea, that this name now is so popular. We chose it 5 years ago, when we were just married. I love this name, it is perfectly fit our little half russian boy.

Stacia on

I just found out that I am pregant and I love the name Max. It is nw growing on my husband because the more we say it the better it sounds. It just sounds like a cool name. I do not know anyone named Max but I know that it is becoming a popular celebrity name. Not only does it sound cool but it sounds like a strong name.

a burton on

ive called my little boy maxwell ,max for short. animals can be called all sorts of names,i know a george dog,a lucy cat ,a dave gerbill to name but a few,people call there pets human names now,instead of rover,patch etc as in my mums day.

Max on

I am deeply surprised at all who are “hating” on the name Max. Too popular to use? Really? So Michael, Michelle, Cathy, Jackie, Steve, etc are unique I guess right? I’m proud to be named Max because I was named after my father, who was named after the doc who delivered him. Dr. Max Gould. My dad was born in 1931 and the doc was an older gent, so that gives one an idea how far back Max was being used. Out of all the people named Max that I’ve met, all have been energetic, and rambunctious, as well as mischievous. The name always seems to fit the personality of a child, and yes, as well as a pet!!! I’ve gone by Maxx, Maxie, Maxee, Maxe, Maxey. And if you haven’t paid attention…most products out on the shelves is labeled “something- MAX” or “Max- something” My son Corey actually asks, STILL why I didn’t name him after me. Max is an awesome name, think about it some more before throwing it out!!!

Karen on

I love these forums. People don’t want their child to have a popular name so they just make one up!! Now those names sound stupid!

I have a Max (born 2006). I know of two other Max, both of who we met after we named our son. The first is a 40 year old and the second is a 6 year old. If you want popular go for Jack…..

Why are people so quick to criticise other people’s name choices? Must have nothing better to do with their time. Why else would you be commenting on a forum about a kids name….;-)

Greg on

We just named our son Maximilian. He’ll go by Max until he gets older and can decide for himself whether he wants to use the longer name.

Kate on

My son is officially Maximilian Thomas but we call him Max. I think it’s a great name. It is popular but not overly used in the UK. All good names have a level of popularity. They stand the test of time.

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