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Simple, Sleek, Cool Names

Simple, Sleek, Cool Names
Simple names — up to two syllables, with uncomplicated spellings and straightforward sounds — have been a trend recently, in the US along with several European countries. Many of today's top international names, such as Emma and Liam, fit into the sleek, simple set.

Along with Emma and Liam, sweet and simple names ranking in the US Top 500 include Finn, Ella, Jude, Kai, Ivy, Wren, Leo, and Zara. Those that make a number of international name popularity lists include Ada, Eve, Lena, and Sam.

These sleek, simple names sound modern and cool. Here are some of the best simple names in style today.

Simple, Sleek, Cool Names
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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.

FinnHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "fair or white"
  • Description:

    Finn is a name with enormous energy and charm, that of the greatest hero of Irish mythology, Finn MacCool (aka Fionn mac Cuumhaill), an intrepid warrior with mystical supernatural powers, noted as well for his wisdom and generosity.

JudeHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin diminutive of Judah
  • Meaning:

    "praised"
  • Description:

    Jude is an example of a name whose image was turned on its head primarily by one appealing celebrity. So take a bow, Jude Law: You--in collaboration with the Lennon-McCartney song "Hey Jude"--have erased Jude's old connections to the traitorous Judas Iscariot and Thomas Hardy's tragic Jude the Obscure, and inspired a legion of new babies named Jude.

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."

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.
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WrenHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "small bird"
  • Description:

    Wren, a lilting songbird name, could be the next Robin. It makes a particularly pleasing middle name choice, as does her newly discovered cousin Lark. Wren entered the Top 1000 for the first time in 2012 and is among the new wave of popular English names for girls.

NoahHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "rest, repose"
  • Description:

    Noah was derived from the Hebrew name Noach, which itself came from the root nuach, meaning "rest." In the bible, Noah was deemed the only righteous man of his time, singled out by God to survive the great flood sent to punish the world. Noa is generally a separate feminine Hebrew name, although it's also found as a variant spelling of the male name Noah.

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.

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.

TheaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "goddess, godly"
  • Description:

    Thea is a diminutive of names ending in -thea, including Dorothea, Althea, and Anthea. It is also the Anglicized spelling of Theia, the Titan of sight, goddess of light, and mother of the moon. She was the consort of Hyperion, and mother of Helios, Selene, and Eos.
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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.

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.

LiamHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish short form of William
  • Meaning:

    "resolute protection"
  • Description:

    Liam originated as a nickname for Uilliam, the Irish variation of William. William is an English name from Germanic roots that was brought to Ireland when the British fled England following the Norman Conquest. The Irish began using English names, including William, which led to the development of Uilliam and its short form, Liam.

EllaHeart

  • Origin:

    German; English
  • Meaning:

    "all, completely; fairy maiden"
  • Description:

    Ella has parallel derivations, first as the Norman variation of the Germanic Alia—itself a nickname for names containing the element ali. It’s also a Hebrew name, referring to a tree in the pistachio family or in modern Hebrew, "goddess." In English speaking countries and Scandinavia, Ella developed as a diminutive for names beginning with El-, such as Eleanor and Elizabeth.

ZaraHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew and Arabic
  • Meaning:

    "blooming flower; God remembers"
  • Description:

    Zara has multiple origins, but most notably is a variation of Zahrah, a name derived from the Arabic zahrah, meaning “blooming flower.” Zara can also be a diminutive of the Bulgarian name Zaharina, a feminine form of the Hebrew Zechariah. Today, Zara is heavily associated with the Spanish fast-fashion empire of the same name.
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JackHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of John
  • Meaning:

    "God is gracious"
  • Description:

    Jack is a derivative of John that originated in medieval England. The name went from John to Johnkin to Jankin to Jackin to Jack. The name was so common in the Middle Ages that Jack became a generic term for a man.

EmmaHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "universal"
  • Description:

    Emma originated as a diminutive for Germanic names beginning with the ermen root. A very old royal name well used throughout the centuries—Queen Emma married King Ethelred the Unready in 1002—Emma is also historically associated with Lady Hamilton, the mistress of Lord Nelson and muse of painter George Romney.

NyxHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek mythology name
  • Meaning:

    "night"
  • Description:

    In Greek mythology, Nyx was a powerful goddess and the embodiment of the night, but when spoken, its negative meaning can't be ignored.

LenaHeart

  • Origin:

    English, Scottish, Dutch, German, and Scandinavian, diminutive of various names ending in lena
  • Description:

    This pet form of Helena and other ena-ending names, long used as an independent name, is attracting notice again as an option both multicultural and simple. Lena was a Top 100 name from 1880 to 1920.

RemiHeart

  • Origin:

    French, variation of Remy (a boys name)
  • Meaning:

    "oarsman"
  • Description:

    Adorable name that's fashionable and keeps gaining momentum. Remi entered the US Top 1000 in 2013 and is now approaching the Top 100. The Remi spelling is more popular for girls, while Remy is more popular for boys, both both spellings are in the Top 1000 for both genders. That's a remarkable success story for a name that, in the late 1900s, was given to only a handful of babies in the US.
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JakeHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew, diminutive of Jacob
  • Meaning:

    "supplanter"
  • Description:

    This unpretentious, accessible, and optimistic ("everything's jake" -- meaning OK) short form of the top name Jacob is itself widely used, though more parents these days are opting for the full name Jacob. Jake (born Jacob) Gyllenhall is its most prominent current bearer.

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.

BillieHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of Wilhelmina, Wilma
  • Meaning:

    "resolute protection"
  • Description:

    Billie is a tomboy nickname name, part of the growing trend for using boyish nicknames for girls and now destined for stardom along with its most famous contemporary bearer, music sensation Billie Eilish.

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.

ElleHeart

  • Origin:

    French
  • Meaning:

    "she"
  • Description:

    Combine the charming heroine of the movie Legally Blonde with supermodel Elle Macpherson and the trend toward all names beginning with "el"—Ellie, Ella, Eleanor—and you have one hit name.
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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.

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.

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.

HughHeart

  • Origin:

    English from German
  • Meaning:

    "mind, intellect"
  • Description:

    Patrician to the core, Hugh was firmly in the Top 100 until 1903. Now it's used very quietly, though the name is still in the Top 1000.

CocoHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish and French pet name
  • Description:

    Coco came to prominence as the nickname of the legendary French designer Chanel (born Gabrielle) and has lately become a starbaby favorite, initially chosen by Courteney Cox for her daughter Coco Riley in 2004. At first it was the kind of name that the press loves to ridicule, but we predict Coco's heading for more broad acceptance and even popularity.
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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.
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YaraHeart

  • Origin:

    Arabic
  • Meaning:

    "friend, helper"
  • Description:

    The multicultural Yara is also the name of a beautiful green-skinned Brazilian goddess and might make a more unusual spin on Mara or Sara.

GwenHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Gwendolen/Gwendolyn
  • Meaning:

    "white circle"
  • Description:

    While Gwen may have originated as a short form of Gwendolen and Gwendolyn, these days it frequently stands on its own. Rocker Gwen Stefani has given it a shot of cool, and parents are choosing it as a standalone more and more often—Gwen hopped back onto the US Top 1000 in 2013 after an absence of over 30 years. Gwen could also be short for Guinevere.

TeoHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Teodoro, Spanish
  • Meaning:

    "gift of God"
  • Description:

    An international take on Theo that would be easily wearable for a child in the US. Teo is traditionally a nickname for Theodore, but like Theo can stand on its own.

DashHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Dashiell, meaning unknown
  • Description:

    Dash is a nickname that can stand on its own and sounds, well, dashing. Connected these days with Kardashian enterprises.
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BeeHeart

  • Origin:

    Animal name or diminutive of Beatrice
  • Meaning:

    "she who brings happiness"
  • Description:

    We've seen Beatrice and Beatrix climb in popularity, along with traditional nickname Bea. And now there's Bee, giving it a buzzy nature world spin, plus a tie to popular late night TV''s Samantha Bee, not to mention Aunt Bee on the old The Andy Griffith Show TV show. Bee can theoretically be short for any girl names starting with B.

FordHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "dweller at the ford"
  • Description:

    The long association to the Ford Motor Company doesn't stand in the way of this being a strong, independent, single-syllable name.

ArtHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Arthur
  • Meaning:

    "noble one; bear man"
  • Description:

    Though short and brisk, no nickname name could have a more creative image. Comic actor Chris O'Dowd named his son Art, as in his native Ireland it's used as a name on its own, separate from Arthur., coming from an ancient word for “”a bear,”” and used in the sense of “”outstanding warrior”” or “”champion.”” A pagan High King of Ireland, Art’s rule was so honest that two angels hovered over him in battle.

ShayHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish, Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "stately, gift"
  • Description:

    A variant spelling of either Irish Shea or Hebrew Shai, Shay feels at once vintage and modern.

OakHeart

  • Origin:

    English tree name
  • Meaning:

    "tree from the genus Quercus"
  • Description:

    Oak, a symbol of solidity, strength, and longevity, is joining Cedar and Pine as a viable name, one that would work especially well in the middle.
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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.

GageHeart

  • Origin:

    French
  • Meaning:

    "oath, pledge"
  • Description:

    Gage was part of the craze for one-syllable surnames, with associations to tasty green gage plums and the mathematical gauge.

PaxHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "peaceful"
  • Description:

    Pax, one of the variations of names meaning peace that are newly popular in these less-than-peaceful times, got a lot of publicity when chosen by Brad & Angelina for their Vietnamese-born son. Parents attracted to Pax may also want to consider Paz, the unisex Spanish version, or Paxton, a growing-in-popularity surname choice that shares that magical X-factor.

BrynHeart

  • Origin:

    Welsh
  • Meaning:

    "hill"
  • Description:

    Bryn is an up-and-coming gentle, yet substantial, Welsh name that would also be effective in the middle spot. In Wales it's a traditional boys' name, but it's far more popular for girls now in the US.

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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