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“Bo” Names are Booming

April 9, 2020 Clare Green
Names with a Bo sound

Of all the names starting with B, names with a “Bo” sound are booming right now. The biggest, which are all in the USA Top 500 for boys, are Bodhi, Beau and Bowen. Beyond them, there are plenty more names for boys and girls with the same cool sound.

Popular Bo names

Bodhi — The name that set it all off. If you’ve been following baby name trends recently, you’ve probably heard of Bodhi. But there’s only a slim chance you’ll meet a Bodhi over the age of 10, still less over 20. In the year 2000, it was an obscure name known only to people familiar with Indian an Buddhist culture. 

The first high-profile Bodhi was Amy Brenneman’s son, born in 2005. Oliver Hudson and Erinn Bartlett (Goldie Hawn’s son and daughter-in-law) named their son Bodhi in 2010, giving it enough momentum to break into the Top 1000. Then in 2014, two actresses — Megan Fox and Teresa Palmer — welcomed boys called Bodhi within a week of each other, putting the name in the headlines and in parents’ minds.

Its success is a double-whammy of meaning and sound. It’s both a nature name and a spiritual name, which is important to many parents: here’s just one story as an example. But the sound alone is also enough to make Bodhi cool, as we can see from the two alternative spellings in the Top 1000, Bodie and Bode (as in the skier Bode Miller, whose name has two syllables). There are also a few children named Bodi, Bohdi, Bodee, Bodey, Bowdy and Bhodi. If it needed any more cool credentials, Bodhi is also a character name in Star Wars: Rogue One.

Beau — The French spelling is more popular, but pared-down Bo is not far behind. Both have a cool cowboy (or cowgirl) vibe, but if neither floats your boat, there’s also the option of jazzed-up Beaux, down-to-earth Boe, or wordy Bow. All spellings are more popular for boys in the States, but elsewhere, like the UK, they are more balanced between the sexes.

Bowen — Another name that has risen sharply in the last ten years. This Welsh surname is doubly appealing, for both its Bo sound and its similarity to stylish Owen.

Less common Bo names

Boaz — A punchy and distinctive biblical name that parents have started to take note of recently. It was below the Top 1000 in 2018… but maybe not for much longer.

Boden — Hot on the heels of the biggest Bo names, Boden sits just on the edge of the Top 1000. As well as the stylish sound — with an ending familiar from popular names like Aiden and CamdenBoden is an upmarket British clothing brand, and the surname of a character in Chicago Fire and folk musician Jon Boden. Alternative spellings include Bowden and Beauden (as in New Zealand rugby player Beauden Barrett).

Bohannon — A recent addition to the charts, this surname honors the Motown musician Hamilton Bohannon. It has been given to a handful of boys every year since 2014.

Bowie — Since David Bowie’s death in 2016, more and more parents have realised the potential of his surname. A few celebrity endorsements, such as Tess Holliday’s daughter Bowie Juniper, sealed the deal. It’s rising fast for boys and girls, and one to watch in the charts.

Bowman — An occupational surname with the same meaning as Archer, but a very different sound.

Beaumont — If Beau feels too short, this French name, meaning “beautiful mountain”, is a more elaborate option.

Not-quite Bo names

These bonus names don’t begin with Bo, but have a similar sound or spelling.

Bobby — A cute old-fashioned nickname that’s in the Top 100 in England and Wales, but still in style limbo in the US, as is Bobbie for girls.

Bonham — This buttoned-up surname is familiar from Helena Bonham Carter, but barely used as a first name.

Bonnie — The only Bo name in the girls’ Top 1000, this upbeat Scottish name is showing signs of a comeback. 

Booker — A stylish surname that pays tribute to Booker T. Washington.

Boone — A short but powerful surname, almost a word, and one of the fastest-rising names of the 2010s

Bosco — Italian O-ending names are having a moment, and this jaunty one has great potential.

Boston — Move over, Brooklyn: Boston is one of the hottest new city names. Bolton is another place name possibility.

Boyd — This chirpy Gaelic name was never as popular as Lloyd and Floyd, but is perhaps more timeless. 

Isabeau — This medieval form of Isabel makes a rare alternative to a very popular name, and has nickname potential at both ends.

Finally, spare a thought for Boomer. When Michael Phelps chose it for his son in 2016, it was surprising, original and very cool. Its future as a name looked bright… until it became a generational put-down. Let’s hope the negatives fade and Boomer bounces back!

About the author

Clare Green

Clare Green writes Nameberry's weekly round-up of the latest baby name news, including celebrity announcements, unusual naming stories, and new statistics from around the world . Clare, who has been writing for Nameberry since 2015, lives in England, where she has worked in libraries and studies linguistics. You can follow her personally on Instagram and Twitter.

View all of Clare Green's articles

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