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Top 3 Letter Boy Names

Three letter boy names are led by Leo, one of the sleek male names in this fashionable category.

Along with Leo, other boys' names with three letters in the US Top 300 include Eli, Ian, Kai, Max, Jax, and Ace.

Many of the most classic male nicknames have three letters: Bob, Jim, Tom, Tim, Joe, and Sam, for instance.

Unique three letter names for boys on our recommended list include Art, Asa, Cal, Fox, Lev, Mac, Pax, Rex, Sem, Van, and Wim.

Take a peek at our full list of three letter names for boys below. The top names below rank among the current US Top 1000 Baby Names and are ordered by popularity. Unique names rank below the Top 1000 and are listed alphabetically.
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LeoHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "lion"
  • Description:

    Leo was derived from the Latin leo, meaning “lion.” Thirteen popes have carried the name, including St. Leo the Great. In Germanic languages, Leo has historically been used as a nickname for names including Leon and Leopold. In Latinate languages, Leonardo is considered a full form for Leo.

EliHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "ascended, uplifted, high"
  • Description:

    Eli derives from the Hebrew ’aly, meaning “high.” In the Old Testament, Eli was the high priest and last judge of Israel, who trained the prophet Samuel. While Eli is a full name on its own, it can be a shortened form of Elijah, Elias, Eliezer, or even Elliot. Eli is used as a feminine name—most often as a nickname for Elisabet or Elin—in some Scandinavian countries.

IanHeart

  • Origin:

    Scottish version of John
  • Meaning:

    "the Lord is gracious"
  • Description:

    Ian is Scottish form of John, derived from the Hebrew name Yohanan. It is an Anglicization of the Scottish Gaelic Iain, which is also a viable spelling. Ian was introduced to Americans by Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond.

KaiHeart

  • Origin:

    Hawaiian
  • Meaning:

    "sea"
  • Description:

    Kai has many origins, but in the US is most commonly referred to as being of Hawaiian derivation, meaning “sea.” In Europe, Kai is largely considered to have Frisian origin as a diminutive of the name Kaimbe, meaning “warrior”, or as a short form of Gerard "brave spear". Kai is also found as an independent name in African, Chinese, Turkish and Native American cultures. Kai is a strong, evocative multi-cultural name that packs a lot of power in its single syllable.

MaxHeart

  • Origin:

    English and German diminutive of Maximilian or Maxwell
  • Meaning:

    "greatest"
  • Description:

    Max was derived from Maximilian, a Latin name that originated from the Roman family name Maximus. The character name Max in the children's classic Where the Wild Things Are had an impact on baby namers. Max is a widely used name internationally.
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AceHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "one, unity"
  • Description:

    No longer tied to the hapless Ace Ventura, this jaunty, high-flying nickname name is starting to take flight among celebrity and other parents, with its countless positive references to doing well in tests and poker games, on the tennis court and golf course, and in the air.

JaxHeart

  • Origin:

    Modern invented name
  • Description:

    Jax is the Dex-Jex-Pax type of x-ending cool -- possibly too cool -- variation of Jack or nickname for Jaxon or Jackson.

AliHeart

  • Origin:

    Arabic
  • Meaning:

    "supreme, exalted"
  • Description:

    This is one of the ninety-nine attributes of Allah, deemed by Muhammad to be a recommended name for a male child. In this country, it's been primarily associated with boxing immortal Muhammad Ali, known as "the greatest." But Ali is also one of the most popular unisex names for both boys and girls.

JayHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "jaybird"
  • Description:

    Though this feels like a modern invention, Jay has been in use for centuries. Early Jays often were named in honor of founding father John Jay, whose surname derived from the jaybird. A popular mid-century choice, Jay was in the Top 100 from 1956 to 1970. In the last couple of decades he was replaced by such more elaborate forms as Jayden, Jaylen, and Jayce. But Jay could make a comeback in tandem with cousins May, Kay, Fay, and Ray.

AriHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Ariel, Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "lion of God"
  • Description:

    Ari, the short form of Ariel (or any other Ari- beginning name, such as Aristotle) stands up better as a boys’ name than its progenitor does. It is also short for Aristotle, as in Onassis, and is a prominent character on TV's Entourage -- the uberagent Ari Gold.
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DaxHeart

  • Origin:

    French place-name
  • Description:

    The appealingly energetic Dax, with its trendy X-ending, re-entered the Top 1000 in 2007. Its somewhat sci-fi vibe emanates from his appearance as a fictional being in the Star Trek universe, seen on the TV show "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine." The Power Rangers character Dax Lo was the Blue Ranger.

AsaHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew; Japanese
  • Meaning:

    "healer; born in the morning"
  • Description:

    A short but strong biblical name with multicultural appeal, Asa is enjoying new visibility thanks to hot young actor Asa Butterfield of Hugo fame.

RoyHeart

  • Origin:

    French "king,"; Celtic "red-haired"
  • Meaning:

    "red-haired"
  • Description:

    We've seen Ray regain his cool, but could this country/cowboy name epitomized by Roy Rogers (born Leonard Slye), Acuff, and Clark, do the same?

    Roy came into use in the late nineteenth century, probably influenced by the main character of Sir Walter Scott's novel Rob Roy, in which the historical character Robert M'ac Gregor is nicknamed Roy for his red hair.

    There have been lots of notable non-country namesakes, including baseball's Roy Campanella, humorist Roy Blunt, Jr., Walt's brother and partner Roy Disney, singer Roy Orbison and pop artist Roy Lichtenstein. Roy Hobbs was the protagonist of the Malamud novel The Natural, played in the film by Robert Redford.

KoaHeart

  • Origin:

    Hawaiian
  • Meaning:

    "warrior"
  • Description:

    With Noah taking the Number 1 spot in 2013, Koa is attracting more attention than ever.

SamHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of Samuel
  • Meaning:

    "told by God"
  • Description:

    Sam has long been used on its own for boys, as accepted standing by itself as it is as a short form of Samuel. Straightforward and down-to-earth, Sam is the name of the son of the co-stars of The Americans, Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys.
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NoeHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek and Latin variation of Noah
  • Description:

    Just say Noe to this translation of Noah.

RexHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "king"
  • Description:

    Now that many dogs are named Max, it's safe to use this sleek, solid, regal name again for your child. And with the charm of its final x, its regal meaning, and its offbeat simplicity, Rex is definitely one to consider.

RayHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Raymond
  • Meaning:

    "wise protector"
  • Description:

    Ray, still and forever, is one of the all-time hippest boys' names, with its jazzy Ray Charles biopic overtones. It's one of the coolest middle names), but works perfectly fine as a first.

JoeHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Joseph
  • Meaning:

    "Jehovah increases"
  • Description:

    Joe is still the ultimate good-guy name, not at all diminished by its longevity or popularity or its everyman rep as Regular Joe, Cowboy Joe, G.I. Joe, Joe Exotic, Joe Blow, Joe Millionaire, Average Joe — and now President Joe (Biden).

AxlHeart

  • Origin:

    Variation of Axel, Scandinavian version of Absalom
  • Meaning:

    "father of peace"
  • Description:

    Guns 'n' Roses musician Axl (born William) Rose created this name by dropping a vowel, a la Barbra Streisand. The traditional Axel is more popular, though celebrity parents Fergie and Josh Duhamel deliberately chose the Axl spelling to honor her rock hero.
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LeeHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "pasture, meadow"
  • Description:

    A name that has a bit of a shouldn't-I-be-a-middle-name sound, though still in use as a first for both genders. Lee might be a good choice if you want something that sounds at once traditional yet modern, unisex but not newly-minted. And while it absolutely works as a first name, Lee is still one of the top middle names for boys.

BenHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "son of"
  • Description:

    Ben, the diminutive of Benjamin or Benedict, can easily stand on its own as a simple, strong, nice-guy choice, though it's somewhat attenuated. Ben is this generation's Bob or Bill.

RioHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish
  • Meaning:

    "river"
  • Description:

    Rio is a reductive ranchero place-name with an attractive Tex-Mex lilt. No Doubt's Tom Dumont has a son named Rio Atticus.

IraHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "watchful one"
  • Description:

    Ira is one of the shortest, non-biblical sounding Old Testament names, belonging to one of King David's thirty 'mighty warriors.' It was widely used in the US from the 1880s to the early 1930s (it was Number 57 on the Social Security list in 1881), but fell off completely in 1993. Although Ira is also a retirement-account acronym, it's back on the table for those seeking a short biblical name for their sons, and reentered the US Top 1000 in 2016. A musical namesake is lyricist Ira Gershwin (born Israel), a literary one is Ira Levin, and there are two prominent Iras hosting NPR radio shows..

KyeHeart

  • Origin:

    Spelling variation of Kai
  • Description:

    With the rising popularity of Kai, this more phonetic spelling has been gaining traction as well. Kye debuted in the US Top 1000 in 2015, and was one of the fastest-rising names of the year in 2016.
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TruHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Truman, English
  • Meaning:

    "loyal one"
  • Description:

    The nickname of writer Capote can also be seen as a shortened spelling of the virtuous TRUE.

JonHeart

  • Origin:

    Variation of John or Jonathan
  • Meaning:

    "God is gracious; or gift of Jehovah"
  • Description:

    Streamlined version of the classic boys' names, sometimes a short form of Jonathan, which is in fact an entirely different name from John attached to a different Biblical personage. Jon feels more modern than the traditional John, but some may find it an overly slight variation on an already slim name. Jon Snow is a popular character on HBO's Game of Thrones.

VanHeart

  • Origin:

    Dutch
  • Meaning:

    "of"
  • Description:

    Whether it's used as a short form or on its own, this jazzy midcentury name is poised for a comeback along with brothers Ray and Walt.

ReyHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish
  • Meaning:

    "king"
  • Description:

    Sounds exactly like Ray—but with an on-trend royal vibe. The central protagonist in the newest Star Wars trilogy is a woman named Rey.

AviHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "father"
  • Description:

    Avi, the short form of many Hebrew names, is often used on its own in Israel. It entered the US Top 1000 for the first time in 2015.
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FoxHeart

  • Origin:

    Animal name
  • Description:

    Fox is one animal name backed by a longish tradition, and then popularized via the lead character Fox Mulder on X Files. Fox is simple, sleek, and a little bit wild, and could make an interesting middle name.

ZevHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "wolf"
  • Description:

    Zev is a short, simple, animal name that may relate to the Old Testament Ze'ev -- except he was a villainous character.

MacHeart

  • Origin:

    Scottish or Irish
  • Meaning:

    "son of"
  • Description:

    In Ireland and Scotland, Mac and Mc mean "son of"; here, Mac is a generic fella, or a short form cooler than either Matt or Max. Mac can be a nickname of any longer Mac or Mc starting name such as McCoy or Macalister. If you want to make it feel more complete, you can always spell it Mack.

CalHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Calvin
  • Description:

    A homey sitting-by-the fire-type nickname name.

JadHeart

  • Origin:

    Arabic
  • Meaning:

    "serious"
  • Description:

    Simple and serious Arabic name which debuted in the US Top 1000 in 2016.
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