By Abby Sandel
They’re the littlest of the mini names – just two letters. If you’re a minimalist mom in a tiny house, keeping it brief might appeal. Or maybe you’re looking for a compact middle to balance a longer first name, last name, or both.
Whatever your reasons, a handful of two-letter names do seem to stand on their own. These aren’t the Als and Eds of a previous generation. Those were almost always short for Albert, Alfred, Edward, and similar traditional choices. Instead, these mini names combine modern style with a fresh, simple sound.
If two-letter names seem too brief, consider this: Mia and Ava regularly rank in the girls’ Top Ten. Factor in more popular three-letter names like Max, Leo, Zoe, and Kai, and it’s easy to see that mini names wear just fine. If three letters work well, a two-letter name can be every bit as great a choice.
Bo – Beau is the French word for handsome, and it has a long history of use, initially as a nickname. Since the 1960s, it’s regularly appeared in the US Top 1000. Bo has been around nearly as long. Today, it might be short for names like Bodhi, Bowen, and Boden. Or it might be just Bo, which also claims Norse roots. While it’s sometimes heard for girls, Bo typically belongs to the boys.
Cy – Zoe Saldana loves short and simple names. Her boys are Bowie, Zen, and Cy. Cyrus and Silas both rank in the current Top 1000, but Cy alone does not. Also short for Cyril, Seymour, and dozens of other names, Cy brings to mind notables like pitcher Cy Young (born Denton True) and songwriter Cy Coleman.
Io – Just two letters, but still two syllables? Hello, Io! A princess from Greek myth, one of Jupiter’s moons bears her name. Since o-ending choices like Harlow, Margot, and Willow feel fashionable for girls, Io could easily make the list, too. It also fits right in with celestial favorites, like Luna and Stella.
Jo – You may have met a Mary Jo or a Betty Jo, and Josephine is a white-hot traditional choice for girls today. Just Jo brings to mind Little Women’s strong-willed March sister, as well as characters from television’s Doctor Who to Facts of Life to Melrose Place. Few girls are named just Jo, but it’s a familiar – and thanks to Jo March – beloved choice.
Ky – Hawaiian name Kai has become a go-to option for parents in recent years, eclipsing former favorite Kyle. Now respelling Kye is also on the rise. Drop the ‘e’ and you’ll have two-letter name Ky, tinier than the alternatives. Ally Condie’s bestselling YA novel Matched gives the name to a handsome outsider, meaning that many future parents might find two-letter Ky complete.
Lu – Jenna Jameson named her new daughter Batel Lu. Batel, a Hebrew name rare in the US, attracted most of the attention, but Lu inspired this post. Lou is used across gender lines; we’ve seen Lue a few times, too. Lu alone is quite rare today, but peaked in the 1950s thanks to singer Lu Ann Simms.
Ty – Another two-letter name currently ranked in the US Top 1000, Ty has remained in steady use, even as Tyrone and Tyler have come and gone. Plenty of other names can shorten to Ty. Baseball legend Ty Cobb was born Tyrus; television’s Ty Pennington is Tygert. If you love Ty, but aren’t sold on Tyson or Titus, sticking with the stand-alone name is an option.
Vi – With Cy, Ky, and Ty on the boys’ side, maybe Vi feels inevitable here. Short for Violet, Viola, or maybe any other V name for girls, Vi makes an intriguing miniature possibility. But to vie means to compete. Does that make this name more wearable or less? Combined with the right first – like Amelia Vi or Celeste Vi – it could serve as a strikingly modern middle.
Zo – Jo works. So does Bo. How about Zo? It sounds like a nickname for wildly popular mini name Zoe, or maybe romance language picks like Lorenzo, Enzo, and Alonzo. If parents have fallen for Z names, Zo could be a bold middle. I’ve met a Zoh, too – and in this case, the addition of one extra letter might make the mini name wear even better.
What are your favorite two-letter names?