We love short and sweet baby names. They don't need much to bring a big statement in terms of style and substance, and that is all a boy or girl really needs to make a grand entrance.
It can only take two letters to form a fun and interesting name choice. Some are steeped in history while others have a more modern edge. Two-letter baby names can run the same range as a name with 15 letters. From the centuries-old Io to the throwback connotations of Al to the trendy and new Em, there are still so many options that could come from just putting two letters together.
Admittedly, many of the options are often used as nicknames of longer names, but there is no reason they can't stand on their own. If Liam is a cool take on William, then why can't Cy be a cool twist on Cyrus?
We found 20 unique names that fit the bill and would look great on any baby name list. Maybe one or two will stand out for parents who like the minimalist approach to choosing the perfect name for their little one.
Here are 20 two-letter baby names that pack a punch.
One of the most well-known super short names, Bo could be a great choice for a baby who is cool and collected. Bo comes from the same family as Southern or Wild West choices like Levi, Cash and Wyatt, maybe even Knox and Mason. It's a variation of the spelling for Beau, as in "gentleman caller," or its own stand-alone Scandinavian name.
It is the name of a sports legend Bo Jackson, who played baseball and football, and it's also the moniker for one of the American Idol finalists who exemplified Southern rock charm. It is also the name of the recently retired White House pet, the Obamas dog. The use of the name has been on the rise, but it is still unusual, ranking as No 496 on Baby Center's popularity list. It could also be a simple, gender-neutral choice for a girl. There are a few girls around with the name, according to the rankings.
Vi got its start as a nickname — a shortened version of Violet or Viola that takes a little bit of the saccharine away from the ultra-feminine flower name. It could also work as an ode to Virginia. It gives the name a bit more of an edge. Vi is No. 3,940 on Nameberry's popularity list, although Violet is one of the top 100 choices.
Vi is also a choice for boys in certain Asian languages, and it can be short for Victor or Vincent. Admittedly, though, it's much more popular for girls. YouTuber "mathemusician" Vi Hart carries the name proudly, and it has been used for characters on TV and in video games.
While Liv has become a standard shortening of the popular Olivia, Vi is a more unique twist to stand by itself. It could be a great name to pay homage to an older family member while giving it a modern edge.
Many dads with a love for baseball have suggested Cy for their little boy. It wasn't the given name of one of the most heralded leftie pitches in Major League Baseball history, but the name lives on in the Cy Young Award, which honors the best pitcher of the year.
Cy may have started off as a shortened version of Cyrus or just a nickname that caught on, but now it's a name in its own right — No. 737 for boys on Nameberry's 2016 list. It's similar to Cal and Gus, a short, sweet, throwback that is unique but doesn't sound unusual. Zoe Saldana chose the name for one of her twins, and it's the name of Iowa State University's cardinal mascot.
A similar option is Si, pronounced the same but spelled differently. It's considered neutral but probably lends toward the boy list and could be short for Silas, like the off-the-wall uncle from Duck Dynasty.
One of the more unique two-letter names, Zo is a unisex name that could be found on either a boy or a girl. It is used mostly in African countries and can mean "spiritual leader," but it can also be short for a number of names. It can reference the last syllable of names like Lorenzo, Kenzo or Alfonzo for a family that wants a shorter, unique twist.
Zo can be a version of Zoe, a name that has crept up into the Top 50 in recent years for girls. That name, Zoe, which means love. can be pronounced with the e-ending or without, so a mom might want to cut off the confusion by cutting off that last letter. It could also reference more unusual names like Zola or Zora while using a more simple, sleek structure. Zo may be a more modern-day version of an already interesting name.
Ed has been known as a nickname for a couple of generations, but these days it could also be a cool name by itself in the way that Gus and Liam have become popular shortenings of names. And Ed can cross gender lines pretty easily as well. It's most likely going to make people think of Edward first, but it could also give a nod to Edgar, Eduardo, Edwin or Edison, even Theodore. And of course, Ed Sheeran is making it cool again.
It could also make an interesting choice for a girl as a shortened version of Edie or Eden or the flowery version of Edwina. With many families opting for more masculine names for girls, it could find right in with a girl named James.
The Ed- names have gone down in popularity in recent years, probably as people switched to things like Ethan. But that just means that it's due for a comeback with a cool new twist, and we think Ed might just be the way to accomplish that.
It has been 20 years since the death of Princess Diana, yet the recent births of her two grandchildren George and Charlotte has revived royal fever in America. That's just one reason why Di would be a great choice for a baby girl. Diana Spencer, who became as well known for her philanthropic efforts as for her role as mother to William and Harry, was often referred to as "Lady Di," a name that suited her ability to rock the conventional while remaining classy and elegant. The shortened version is also the French twist to the name, which was given to the Greek goddess of the moon and the Roman goddess of beauty.
Di is also a Chinese concept for the earth, and if you prefer, it could be pronounced like Dee. The name would definitely be unique, but people would always think that it is a name fit for princess — a princess with a good heart and a little bit of sass.
Unlike many of the names we've gone over so far, Li is not a shortened version of a name. It has always stood on its own as a popular baby name in China. Li means "strength" or "upright." It can be used for a boy or a girl, and while it is a gorgeous name all on its own, it can be part of a compound name.
Of course, Lee or Leigh were once very popular names in American as well, so the spelling Li could give an east-meets-west feel feel for a name that has long been in the family or a shortener for names from Lisa to Lisandro. Li can be great in the middle spot or up front, and it go with just about anything. It's less common these days, so it can give a vintage feel while also giving a new twist on an old favorite.
Nameberry calls Po "the Bo of the new millenium." It's another cute, short name that could be for a boy or a girl, and while it's really unusual, it's recognizable enough so that it isn't weird. It can bring about memories for just about everybody — it was the name of the red Teletubby and it's also the name of main character in Kung Fu Panda (and a real life panda born at Zoo Atlanta that was named after the movie).
Po, of course, is one letter off from Poe, as in Edgar Allen, one of the great American writers who is known for classics such as the poems "The Raven" and "Annabel Lee" and the short stories "The Tell-Tale Heart" and "The Pit and the Pendulum." For nature lovers, Po is also the name of the longest river in Italy. It's a short name that can mean many different things and make a brief but powerful statement.
Io may be the oldest two-letter name still in circulation. The name dates back to Greek mythology, and while the name is beautiful, it isn't exactly a happy tale. In the legend, she was a priestess for Hera, the wife of Zeus, but Zeus lusted after her and made his wife jealous. There are various versions of the story, but the gist is that Io was turned into a cow. She was eventually returned to being a human and had a child with Zeus, which made her an ancestor of Hercules.
Io is also the name of one of the moons of Jupiter, as many Greek and Roman mythological figures are the namesakes of celestial bodies. The name is certainly unusual, but it gives a sense of mystery and beauty. It's the only two-letter name that consists solely of vowels, so it stands out even on a short list and would make a very interesting pick.
A baby Ro could bring some new pizzazz to more old-fashioned names that have fallen out of favor. Robert is a traditional name that has been passed down generation by generation, sometimes swinging to Roberta when an all-girl generation interrupts. For parents who want to honor the past while meeting modern-day trends, Ro could be an interesting choice.
So far, most of the Ros of the world mostly take the moniker as a nickname, but there are a handful that bear the name by itself, especially in the middle spot. It is a modern twist on Rose or the many variations of it, and it could definitely work for either gender.
We expect a child named Ro would be a go-getter, someone who would be like a strong rower and push themselves to their limits. He or she will be candid — what you see is what you get. We imagine a little Ro as ambitious and a bit sassy, definitely headed for success.
This name may be the most famous in terms of the silver screen. After all, Judy Garland repeated it over and over again in "The Wizard of Oz," when she cried out for her Aunty Em. The short quip may be the new trend for the every popular pick that evolved from perennial favorite Emily to Emma. Shorten it once more, and you have Em. There is also Emme, which doesn't have a silent e at the end. And other interesting choices like Ember that could become more brief.
Em is a pretty unusual choice, but it isn't hard to pronounce. It has the soft, sweet ending that some parents adore, and it can allow us to continue the Emily/Emma love in a new and unique way.
The next throwback nickname-turned-name could be Al. Like Max or Gus, it's got old-school charm, plus it can give a nod to so many of the names that have been the favorite of the last half century.
Al started out as a nickname to Albert or Alfred, but it could also pay homage to an Alexander, Alastair or Alvin. (It could even become the new Lexi for parents who are tired of that alternative to Alexandra.)
There are a ton of Als who were at the top of their game. From jazz great Al Jolson to weather man Al Roker, politician Al Gore, two generations of race car drivers named Al Unser, funny man Weird Al Yankovic and award-winning actor Al Pacino, some of the most talented men in around have been named Al. If soulful Al Green helped in baby-making, maybe the parents-to-be should consider naming the baby Al to thank him. It's a short, succinct choice that has a punch.
It isn't the most popular name pick in the United States, but Lo is in the top 100 in Sweden, and it's originally a Spanish baby name. It rolls off the tongue and is an especially sweet diminutive that can make the easy transition from nickname to name.
One of Lauren Conrad's best friends in "The Hills," who was also named Lauren, went by Lo, and it was also a nickname for the title character in Lolita. Lo was originally a nickname for Delores, but it can work for so many other names that were popular in our grandparents' generation that might be a good way to acknowledge but not copy. It works for Lois or Louisa, and it can work as a hip alternative for Lolly or Lorraine. Lo is a cool girl name, and it only takes two letters to get there.
Remember when Tyler was one of the trendiest baby names, and it seemed to land on every cool kid around? It's been a decade or so, but now it could be ready for a comeback in the form of short and sweet Ty. The name can also give a nod to Tyrus or Tyson, and it can be the hipster version of this decade.
There are plenty of celebrities named Ty, from well-known carpenter Ty Pennington, host of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," to funny man Ty Burrell of "Modern Family." There's even cowboy Ty Murray, who is married to Jewell, and the late baseball legend Ty Cobb. The name definitely keeps the cool guy edge, and it's a great alternative for the new millennium.
In its short form, the name is in the top 500, so we think it's the perfect point of unusual but not unheard of, and it's a great two-letter name for a little boy.
Looking for a K name that doesn't belong to a Kardashian? We've got two letters for you — Ki. The name is pronounced "Kee," and it is an interesting choice that is very uncommon. In fact, while South Korean archer Ki Bo-Bae won gold at the 2016 Olympics, there wasn't a single baby who received the name that year in the U.S. But isn't it a beauty. It means "arisen" in Korea, and it is also the name of the Sumerian earth goddess who was involved with the sky god An.
Ki is a nickname for several up-and-coming names, including Kia, Aki, Ikea and Kiki, and it could be a nickname for Kimberly or Keely or any other interesting K name. We think it has all the makings to become an off-beat but beautiful baby name for parents who are hoping to pick a one-syllable, cool moniker. Those two letters can take a little one far.
This one may be a little too out there for some, but Ab has become a fairly common nickname for people who choose biblical baby names like Abraham, Abram, or Abel. It could easily convert to a stand-alone name, especially for the child of fitness buffs who like to get their WOD on.
Ab is a name on its own in Arabic and African traditions. It means "lion," which is a great image for a little boy ready to take on the world. Little Ab could be ferocious when provoked but also a guardian and warrior for his family. The lion is a signal of strength and power, which can be a great ideal for a little one to live up to.
Maybe because of those connotations, the name peaked up in the last decade or two, but as we mentioned before, some worry that it points, well, to the gut. It can pack a punch, but it isn't for everybody.
What better all-American two-letter name than Jo. It harkens back to the day when you could always rely on good ol' Joe to help you out, when JoAnn was the homecoming queen and Betty Jo was everyone's best friend. Jos —both female and male versions — were the teens wearing the lettermen jackets in the '30s and '40s and '50s and into the '60s. The name dropped in popularity a bit, but there will always be something respectable about Jos.
George has experienced a resurgence, and so have other old-school names like Jack and Gus. We think that Jo(e) would fit right in. Traditionally, Jo without the -e has been reserved for girls, but gender traditions don't mean a lot these days, so this could work for a boy or a girl. It's a great pick for bringing back some vintage charm. Bringing back the trusty old moniker would give a baby a connection to the good ol' days for which we all yearn.
It's been more than 75 years since Dorothy took her trip to Oz, and in the new millennium, that place has a very different image thanks to a television show. But Oz still has a whimsical, magical feel, while seeming strong and stalwart. All those images can bring a new, interesting image to a baby named Oz.
The name is actually Hebrew, not Munchkin. It means strength, powerful and courageous. And until Dr. Oz entered the scene, the most famous American bearer of the name may have been Ozzie Nelson, who was America's dad on the Ozzie and Harriet Show in the 1950s. It could be a shortened version of Ozias, Osgood, Osmond or Osborne, but we think the two-letter version outdoes them all.
Oz is certainly an unusual pick, but everyone is familiar with the word and inspired by the image. A baby boy bearing the moniker is sure to do great things.
When most people hear the name Mo, the first person they think of is the last named member of the comedic trio Larry, Curly and Moe, who had an e on the end of his name. But in recent decades, the name Mo has become more and more popular. It used to live mostly in nicknames for names like Morris or Maureen, but now parents can pick it to stand on its own.
It's the name of baseball great Mo Vaughn and basketball star Mo Williams, of politician Mo Udall and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Mo Yan and famed children's book author Mo Willems, comedian Mo Rocca, several actors and actresses and singers, social media sensations and others. The name is unusual enough to draw attention but with the weight and energy to give a kid named Mo a great start in life. It conveys hard work alongside fun and is a name that will be around for a long time.
One of the most adorable picks on our list, little Lu could be just what a parent is looking for to turn a few heads. Heidi Klum named her youngest daughter Lou, although the spelling was different, in 2009, and some laughed a little at the traditional male name. But Lu may be a more feminine twist that follows in the recent trend of names like Lucy, Luna and Lulu.
It's a brief but beautiful moniker that can turn heads without much effort. Once a steady but unusual mix among the top 1,000 in the United States, Lu has been all but absence from the list since the 1960s, but we think it could be ripe for a come back, especially in the middle name slot. Any little girl named Lu is lucky to be attached to such a powerful yet charming moniker, and we think that she will go far in life with it written atop her resume.