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Short Baby Names

Short Baby Names
Short baby names are some of the most stylish around. They’re versatile, friendly, and many are rising in popularity. The top short name for girls is Ava, one of the defining names of the past decade, while the most common short name for boys is Leo — more popular than it may seem, as it is often used as a nickname for longer names such as Leonardo and Leonidas.

Along with Ava and Leo, other short names for babies in the US Top 150 include Mia, Zoe, Eli, Eva, Ian, Ivy, Kai, and Max. Some of the rarest short names are those with two letters, but choices such as Io, Oz, Cy, and Lu may be substantial enough for your son or daughter.

Sometimes — when your last name is long and elaborate, when you simply believe in simplicity — what you want most from baby names is that they be short. Sweet, maybe; mono-syllabic, possibly. But the most important quality: short. Here are some baby names that fit the bill.

KaiHeart

  • Origin:

    Hawaiian
  • Meaning:

    "sea"
  • Description:

    Kai has many origins and meanings. What does the name Kai mean? That depends on which Kai you're referring to.

IvyHeart

  • Origin:

    Botanical name
  • Description:

    Ivy is derived from the name of the ivy plant, which got its name from the Old English word ifig. Ancient Greeks presented an ivy wreath to newlyweds as a symbol of fidelity. In the language of flowers, Ivy signifies faithfulness.

AvaHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew, Latin or Germanic
  • Meaning:

    "life; bird; water, island"
  • Description:

    In medieval times, Ava was a diminutive of Germanic names beginning in Av-, in particular Aveline, from which the name Evelyn would eventually arise. It may derive from a Proto-Germanic root meaning "island" or "water". However, the medieval name eventually fell out of use entirely, only to resurface in contemporary times. This suggests that today’s Ava may be a modern variation of Eva. Alternatively, Ava could also derive from the Latin avis, meaning "bird." Ava has separate Persian roots as a name meaning "voice" or "sound."

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.

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.

MaeHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Mary or Margaret
  • Meaning:

    "bitter or pearl"
  • Description:

    Mae is derived from May, the month name that was chosen for its connection to Maia, the Roman goddess of growth and motherhood. Mae can be used as a nickname for the names Mary and Margaret — actress Mae West was born Mary. Alternate spellings include May, Mei, and Maye. The May spelling makes it more of a month name, while Mae makes it an antique nickname name. Both can stand on their own, as seen by Hilary Duff's choice of Mae as her daughter's first name.

AdaHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "noble, nobility"
  • Description:

    Ada is derived from the German name Adelaide, which came from the ancient name Adalheidis. The root, adal, is a Germanic word meaning "noble." Ada can also be considered a variation of the biblical name Adah, pronounced AH-da, one of the first girls’ names mentioned in the Book of Genesis.

NoaHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "motion"
  • Description:

    This Old Testament female name has been one of the most popular girls’ names in Israel over the last decade. Also highly popular in Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands, and a new entrant to the US Top 1000, it may be misunderstood here as an attempt to streamline and feminize the more familiar Noah – although it's a separate name with a separate derivation.

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.

KitHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of Christopher
  • Description:

    Actor Kit Harington, aka the dreamy Jon Snow on Game of Thrones, has given this nickname-name new style and appeal for boys. Actress Jodie Foster used it for her son. For girls, it's an updated diminutive of Katherine.

MiaHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian word name or Scandinavian short form of Maria
  • Meaning:

    "mine or bitter"
  • Description:

    Mia originated as a short form of Maria, which ultimately derived from the Hebrew name Miryam. In modern times, Mia has been used as a nickname for names including Amelia, Emilia, and Miriam. Mia is also an Italian and Spanish word meaning 'mine.'

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.

EvaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin form of Eve, Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "life"
  • Description:

    Eva is found in many different languages as a variation of Eve—the Old Testament name recognizable as the first woman in Abrahamic religions. Short forms of the name include Evie and Evita. The diminutive Evita is still strongly associated with Evita Peron, wife of the Argentine President Juan Peron.

AshHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Asher, English
  • Meaning:

    "ash tree"
  • Description:

    Ash has Southern charm plus the arboreal-nature appeal. Plus your little boy will prize Ash as the name of the hero of the Pokemon cartoons. Ash can also be a dashing short form of Asher, Ashton, or any other "Ash" name.

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.

RenHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Rene or Japanese
  • Meaning:

    "water lily; lotus"
  • Description:

    A very popular name for boys, also used for girls, in Japan, most familiar in the West as half of cartoon's "Ren and Stimpy," and as the hero in both the original and updated versions of "Footloose."

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.

GusHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Augustus, Angus, Gustave, Augustin, Augusten, Augustine, August
  • Description:

    Gus is a homey grandpa nickname name that can work as a short form for any of the above or stand on its own as a cutting-edge replacement for Max and Jake--though it was off the Top 1000 from 1978 until 2016, when it squeaked in at Number 999.

EveHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "life"
  • Description:

    Eve, the oldest name in the Book, is now coming back into style, having the virtues of simplicity and purity, yet with more strength and resonance than other single-syllable names like Ann. British actor Clive Owen chose Eve for his daughter, as did Jessica Capshaw.

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.

AmyHeart

  • Origin:

    French
  • Meaning:

    "beloved"
  • Description:

    Amy is the English variation of the Old French name Amée—Aimée in modern French. Amée was a translation of the Latin name Amata, which derived from amatus, meaning "beloved." Other spelling variations include Amie and Ami.

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.

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..

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.

RueHeart

  • Origin:

    Botanical names or word name
  • Meaning:

    "herb; regret"
  • Description:

    Rue has gone from Golden Girls actress to Hunger Games heroine. This botanical name is also a coincidental double word name, meaning "regret" in English and "street in" French. Despite these unfortunate secondary meanings, Rue has real potential to be one of the most popular new middle names for girls.

KoaHeart

  • Origin:

    Hawaiian
  • Meaning:

    "warrior"
  • Description:

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

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.

NeoHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin or Tswana
  • Meaning:

    "new or gift"
  • Description:

    This nouveau name of Keanu Reeves's character in The Matrix has not enjoyed the same burst of popularity as its female counterpart, Trinity, but it definitely sounds, well, newer. Neo Rauch is an interesting contemporary German artist.

RaeHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of Rachel
  • Meaning:

    "ewe"
  • Description:

    All the old ae/ay middle names for girls are back--Kay, Fay, Mae/May, --and Rae is one of the coolest, used as such by celebrities as Mark Wahlberg and Daniel Baldwin. Even more popular in the celebrisphere is the jazzy Ray spelling: among those who used it as their daughters' middles are Bruce Willis, Dermot Mulroney, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard, Uma Thurman and Lee Lee Sobieski.

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.

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.

IdaHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "industrious one"
  • Description:

    Many vowel names stylish a century ago are coming back, and Ida seems like a possible, logical successor to Ada and Ava.

IvoHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "yew wood, archer"
  • Description:

    Ivo is an unusual, catchy name with the energetic impact of all names ending in 'o'. Hardly heard in the U.S., it is used a bit more frequently in England, as is the related Ivor, a favorite of such novelists as Evelyn Waugh and P.G. Wodehouse. Ivo is currently most popular in the Netherlands.

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.

LevHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew, Russian
  • Meaning:

    "heart; lion"
  • Description:

    This concise one-syllable name, has two possible derivations and two positive meanings associated with it. In Hebrew, it means "heart", while in Russian it means "lion". So strong and simple Lev has both a soft and a fierce side.

ZoeHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "life"
  • Description:

    The history of Zoe begins in the third century when the Alexandrian Jews translated Eve, which means 'life,' to the Greek equivalent Zoe. Zoe was in use as far back as the Roman classical period, and was popular with the early Christians, who bestowed it with hopes of eternal life, but it didn't migrate to the English-speaking world until the mid-nineteenth century. Alternate spellings include Zoey, Zoie, and Zooey.

GiaHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian
  • Meaning:

    "God's gracious gift"
  • Description:

    Gia is a cute if slight name that calls to mind stylish sisters Mia, Lea, Pia, Tia, and Nia. One of the most familiar Italian baby names in the US, Gia is a short form of Gianna, which in turn is a diminutive of Giovanna, the feminine form of Giovanni, the Italian equivalent of John—all of them meaning "God's gracious gift."

BeaHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Beatrice
  • Meaning:

    "she who brings happiness"
  • Description:

    Bea is a former old lady name that's cute again as a short form -- and is now beginning to stand on its own. Bee is a variation that, like Bea, can work as a diminutive for any name that starts with the letter B, or in the middle. Bea actually stood alone on the popularity lists for four years at the beginning of the twentieth century--and it could happen again.

GuyHeart

  • Origin:

    French
  • Meaning:

    "guide, leader"
  • Description:

    The patron saint of comedians and dancers (also known as St Vitus) has a name that is both the ultimate everyman, and has a hint of British aristocracy. In the States, Guy was most popular in the 1950s. Now he hovers steadily below the Top 1000, in the sweet spot of familiar but not overused. With the meteoric rise of Kai, Guy may have potential with parents looking for a more classic name with a similar sound.

LivHeart

  • Origin:

    Norse
  • Meaning:

    "life"
  • Description:

    The fame of actress and Aerosmith daughter Liv Tyler helped to infuse life into this short but solid Scandinavian name that was chosen for her daughter by Julianne Moore.

LuxHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "light"
  • Description:

    This name of a character played by Kirsten Dunst in the movie Virgin Suicides, originally a novel by Jeffrey Eugenides, is gaining attention, also thanks to the heroine Lux, Lady of Luminosity in the League of Legends games. Luz is the Spanish version.

JoyHeart

  • Origin:

    English word name
  • Meaning:

    "joy"
  • Description:

    Joy is from an older generation of word names, which also included Merry, Bliss, and Glory -- all of which exert a certain amount of personality pressure on a child. One interesting name that means the same thing: Chara.

UnaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "one; also, lamb"
  • Description:

    In an epic poem, the personification of truth, beauty, and unity; this ancient name is popular in Ireland but rarely heard here. The Oona spelling has more oomph.

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.

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.

NedHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of Edward
  • Meaning:

    "wealthy guardian"
  • Description:

    Ned is a gently old-fashioned Nancy Drew-Bobbsey Twins-era short form for Edward that sounds cooler than Ed and is enjoying a small style renaissance.

BoHeart

  • Origin:

    Norse nickname
  • Meaning:

    "to live"
  • Description:

    A popular name in Denmark, in this country Bo has some cowboy swagger and a lot of substance in its minimal two letters. In Mandarin Chinese, Bo means "wave".

RyeHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of Ryder, or word name
  • Description:

    Rye has the potential to become the masculine version of Rue—a short and sweet name for nature lovers (and whiskey fans too!).

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.

LiaHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian variation of Leah
  • Description:

    Used throughout Europe and in Hawaii, Lia sounds just like its mother name Leah, but looks particularly pretty on paper.
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