25 Strikingly Beautiful Baby Names With Three Letters Or Less

Sometimes it only takes a few small letters to make a huge impact. With bearing children being so complicated and overwhelming, some parents like to keep as many things as simple as possible as they can. Why not translate that into baby names too?

A name doesn't have to be extremely long to make a splash. Some parents choose baby names that are such a mouthful that when they get to school teachers will never be able to get it right, and don't forget the difficulties your kid might have in learning to spell it.

For parents with the last name that is long and almost impossible to pronounce, we've got just the names for you. We've put together a list of short and sweet baby names that are familiar, cool and friendly. Some of these have been nicknames in the past, but are beginning to stand firmly on their own. Other names on this list are short and simple names that have just somehow been forgotten.

For parents looking for a name that is jam-packed with character and appeal in just a few little letters, this list has all that and more! Grab a pen and paper, and don't worry, there won't be too much writing involved with this short and sweet baby name list!

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25 Ari

Though Ari is mostly used for boys, it did break the top 1000 for girls last year. For the boys' side, Ari is comfortable in the top 500 at #491, its highest ranking ever. It's actually been in the top 1000 since it entered the American list in 1970.

Ari has known to be a nickname for several names like Aristotle and Ariel, but it has been standing on its own for quite a while too. Ari is Hebrew for "lion of God." Ari has been the name of several notable people like George Bush's White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, Entourage character Ari Gold, and talent agent Ari Emanuel.

Ari is short and sweet, yet strong and solid. This moniker has proven that it can stand on its own so well that it's moving closer and closer to the top.

24 Joy

This word name had a rough start when it hit charts in 1880. Joy literally went up and down the charts from 1880 through 1915, when it made a run for the top 200. Joy spent about 75 years in the top 100, when it began a decent around the top 500. It recently has made a small comeback and hit #351 last year.

Joy is a word name that means happy. The Puritans began to use the name Joy in the 17th century, linking it to the idea of "being joyful in the Lord." Along with other virtue names like Faith, Hope, and Charity, Joy began a revival in the 19th century.

Though Joy is still a popular middle name, it isn't a first name that you hear very often today. We do see it making a comeback as it recently hit its highest ranking in 20 years last year!

23 Bo

Another one of those rare two letter names is Bo. In the U.S. the spelling Beau is more popular, but Bo has hit #595, it's the second highest ranking ever. While Beau is at #268 on baby name charts and has been a top 500 name since 1976.

Bo is a popular Norse name meaning "to live." It's extremely popular in Denmark. Both spellings of the name have been considered more of a nickname in the past but are standing firm on their own now.

The Beau spelling has been a celebrity favorite lately, hence the sudden boost in popularity, which leaves Bo as a more unique and rare spelling. Bo has created a dapper image that is combined with southern charm and good looks. It's definitely a nice image to place for your newborn son!

22 Fay


In 1880 Fay started out very successfully and maintained a spot in the top 300 baby names until 1941. It was then that Fay started a great decline that led it completely out of the top 1000 by 1968. It hasn't been on the charts since.

Fay is English for "fairy." Morgan Le Fay, a sorceress of the Arthurian legends, was the original. It was a huge success during the 1930s, but names like Mae and Ray have slowly begun to take its place, even in the middle name department. An alternate spelling, Faye, also dropped off the top of the list, but broke back into the top 1000 in 2014.

Novelist Fay Weldon and actress Fay Wray were popular name bearers. Fay was also the name of several characters in novels like The Day of the Locust.

21 Dax

This French name has jumped leaps and bounds to enter the top 200 in 2017. Dax has spent most of its time on the Social Security Administration's list in the bottom 800 baby names. It began its road upwards in 2008 and hit its all-time high of #196 in 2017.

Dax is a French place name whose gotten some popularity in the states from Dax Shephard, character on the show Parenthood and Kristin Bell's husband. His parents got his name from the book The Adventurers, who had a character named Dax Xenos.

Dax in France is a popular spa community, giving it a peaceful and relaxing kind of vibe. Dax has, not surprisingly, become very appealing to American parents, who are loving risky cool kid names right now.

20 Mia


This short and sweet moniker is an international sensation. Not only did it reach #6 in the U.S., it is a top 50 name in England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Spain, New Zealand, Australia, Norway, and Italy. Mia has never been below the top 500, but it entered the top 100 in 2000, and has remained there since.

Mia is Italian for "mine; bitter." It is also a Scandinavian short form of the name Maria. Mia Farrow is credited with a lot of the name's success. Right around when the nighttime soap opera, Peyton's Place, aired in 1964 was when Mia entered the top 1000.

Kate Winslet named her daughter Mia Honey and Ian Ziering named his Mia Loren. This moniker is unstoppable. Mia is probably going to hold a seat in the top 100 for years to come.

19 Cal

Cal paints a warm and friendly image for a baby boy, which is also a nice thing to do for your son. Cal dropped off the charts in 1963, after it entered in 1880 and remained in the bottom 900. Parents felt that Cal was more suitable for a nickname than a given name, and we beg to differ!

Cal is a diminutive of Calvin, which, sadly, means "bald, hairless." Calvin was never lower than #250, which completely baffles me considering its meaning. It seems a little cruel to name your little boy bald and hairless. Cal is much more welcoming and cozy than the old-fashioned Calvin.

Cal could be a name used for a baby conceived or born in California, which gives it a cool surfer vibe. This moniker is definitely a name you can picture a baby growing into a man with for sure!

18 Eve

This short and sweet moniker has been a roller coaster ride up and down the baby name charts since 1880. It's highest point was in 1907 when it hit #414, until last year when it finally reached the top 200 and hit #161.

Eve is Hebrew for "life." Eve is literally the oldest name in the book. In the Bible, Eve was the name given to the first woman. Eve was chosen by Clive Owen and Jessica Capshaw for their daughters and rapper, Eve Jihan Jeffers, goes by Eve.

Eve is following the trend of popular names like Ava, Ada, and Eva, but offering a more classic and old-fashioned appeal. We expect to see Eve's recent success to become even greater as it heads toward the top 100!

17 Ty

This moniker was once considered a diminutive of names beginning with "ty" like Tyler, but it can and has definitely stood on its own. Ty entered the American lists in 1955 at the bottom of the charts. It hung around the top 500 until 1990, when it entered the top 200. It has dropped to 541 last years.

Ty was chosen by Wayne Gretzky and his wife for their son. Ty Cobb was a former baseball hall of Famer, although he began to gain a reputation for violence and racism, which may have deterred some from using the name.

Ty is one of the few names with fewer than three letters, making it even more special for parents looking for something short and sweet and to the point.

16 Zoe

This rare "Z" name is doing pretty well on charts as it reached the top 100 in 2000 and has stayed there since. It's been in the top 50 since 2010 and reached its highest point ever at #31 that same year. Zoe only dropped to #76 in 2017, giving it another comfortable year in the top 100. The alternate spelling, Zoey, reached even higher, coming in at #26 last year.

Zoe is Greek for "life." This moniker got its beginning all the way back in the 3rd century. The Alexandrian Jews translated the name Eve, which also means "life" to Zoe, the Greek equivalent. Zoe has been on several tv shows like Sesame Street, How I Met Your Mother and West Wing.

Zoe is one of those surprising three letter names that parents are loving. Alternate spelling Zooey, like Zooey Deschanel, is also getting a good deal of traction.

15 Ben

Ben is as strong and masculine as they come. It's usually a short form of Benjamin, which is currently at #6, but can stand on its own as well. Ben as a first name is at #709, but it spent a good part of the late 1800s and early 1900s in the top 100. It wasn't until 1994 that it started its descent.

Ben is Hebrew for "son of the right hand." Benjamin in the Bible was one of Jacob and Rachel's twelve sons, who would lead to twelve tribes of Israel. Ben is familiar, yet distinct. It's been seen throughout history like as in Ben Franklin, one of the most notorious name bearers.

It's difficult to find a short name that is so strong, yet sensitive and friendly at the same time. Ben brings all of that to the table and so much more!

14 Rue


Trust me, you will not "Rue" the day that you choose this short and sweet baby name for your little girl! Thanks to Katniss and the cute little curly haired girl from District 13 in The Hunger Games and to The Golden Girls star for making this name all that it is today.

Rue is an English word name meaning "regret" as well as a French street name. It is also an herbal plant that was introduced by the Romans for its medicinal purposes that helped reduced the symptoms of vertigo and epilepsy and helped improve vision.

Rue is also a popular middle name and surname. Actress, Sara Rue, named her daughter Tallulah Rue and Blanche from The Golden Girls' real name was Eddi-Rue. Rue is the perfect three letter baby girl name!

13 Ian

Ian is one of my favorite baby boy names because of all that it is rolled up into one short and sweet name. Ian has been in the top 100 since 1982. It came to American in 1932, but only entered at #933. By about 30 years later it entered the top 500 and quickly climbed to the top 100.

Ian is the Scottish version of John, which means "the Lord is gracious." Before Ian even crossed the shore to America it was already a top 20 name in England and Scotland. It was brought to America by Ian Flemming, the creator of James Bond. Other famous name bearers are actor Ian McKellan and novelist Ian McEwan.

This moniker has joined other popular Scottish names like Collin and Kade in the top of American lists. This import is likely to remain in the top 100 for a while!

12 Ada

Maybe Ada can start replacing the overused Ava. Ava spent almost 45 years in the top 100 and then began to descend almost completely out of the top 1000 by 1985. It began another trek up the charts and reached #52 last year, it's highest ranking ever! It's also a top 100 name in England and Norway.

Ada German for "noble, nobility." Ada has been used in novels and movies alike. Charles Dickens used it in The Bleak House and Nicole Kidman played Ada in Cold Mountain, and Ada is also a character on Peaky Blinders, to name a few.

If you add an "h" to the end, you get the first girl's name mentioned in the Bible in the book of Genesis. Ada was a huge name in the 19th century and early 20th and parents are beginning to appreciate it once more.

11 Max

This unisex name has reached #118 on baby name charts! Maxed had a pretty steady ride in the top 150 baby names and didn't drop to the 400s until 1964. It never left the top 500 baby names, which means parents love it! In 2010 it reached #98, its highest point ever.

Max is a diminutive of the English and German names Maximilian and Maxwell, which mean "greatest." Max went out of favor with other German-sounding names after World War I. Now Max is back at the top in the U.S. and Australia, Germany, The Netherlands, New Zealand and Britain.

Max is loved by celebrities too. It was chosen by Christina Aguilera, Cynthia Nixon and Charlie Sheen, and Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony. Max is back at the top!

10 Kit


Kit is actually a unisex name. It used to be used as a nickname for the name Christopher, but my guess is that this name sounds a little too feminine to use for a baby boy today. For a girl, however, this name is retro and adorable.

Kit is a diminutive for Katherine, but this upbeat and jovial moniker is definitely able to stand alone. Kit Kittredge is an American Girl Doll, which was also turned into a movie starring Abigail Breslin in 2008.

Kit is said to be of Greek origin when it stands alone. This name would also make a great nickname, but is just as cute as a first name. Kit is spunky and has a 1950s feel that completely fits in with the vintage trend that parents are loving today.

9 Mae

harper little girl baby name

Mae is another name on this list that has completely surprised parents by its drastic jump from the 500s to the #70 spot in 2017. Mae entered the charts in the top 100 and stayed there until 1919. It didn't go far though, at least not until 1968, when it almost fell completely out of the top 1000 and stayed there until 2010.

Mae is a diminutive of Margaret and Mary. In Portuguese, Mae means mother. Madonna played Mae in A League of Their Own and several actresses bore the name like Mae Clarke, Mae Marsh, Mae Busch and Mae Murray.

After a 40 year vacation, Mae is finally back on track as one of the most popular names in the U.S., and not just as a middle name.

8 Eli

Eli spent most of its early days in the top 300 baby names, but it did have a pretty big drop to the 700s in the 1960s. This moniker didn't stay down for long though as it began a steady climb up the charts where it landed at #45 in 2017.

As one of the top 50 baby boy names in the country, Eli brings a lot to the table. This short and sweet name is Hebrew for "ascended, uplifted, high." Eli in the Bible is found in the Old Testament. He was the last prophet and priest of Israel, who trained Samuel.

Eli Manning is probably one of the most famous name bearers. It was also recently chosen by CNN anchor Campbell Brown and Saturday Night Live's Rachel Dratch. This three letter name is jam-packed with charm and masculinity that parents are loving!

7 Rio

Rio is a top 300 baby name in England but hasn't quite made it that far in the U.S., despite it's liking by celebrities. Rio is actually occasionally used for girls, like in the 1980s Duran Duran song, called Rio.

Rio is Spanish for "river" like the Rio Grande and it is also a South American place name, as in the Rio de Janeiro. Rio for a girl is Japanese and means "place of the cherry blossoms." It's one of the most popular girl names in Japan.

Rio has been used in films like Marlon Brando's One Eyed-Jacks. Rio was chosen by Tom Dumont, the band No Doubt's guitarist for his son Rio Atticus. This moniker hasn't reached the popularity charts yet, but we have no doubt that it will soon!

6 Fox

eric cute baby boy

This surprising name has made huge waves with parents recently. It went from nonexistence on charts to #153 by 2017. It entered charts in 2016 in the high 700s, and somehow jumped to the top 200 in just one year.

Fox is an animal name that was made popular by the X Files', Fox Mulder. The creator of the show, Chris Carter, used the name because he had a childhood friend named Fox. This moniker was one of the fastest rising baby boy names of 2017. The revival of the show might be to thank for that.

Fox is stylish and different, but don't forget that the animal is sly and sneaky, which might not be a deterrent for most parents! It would also make a pretty cool nickname choice!

5 Ivy

Amber baby girl
Amber baby girl

This botanical name has had several ups and downs on the charts, but landed itself at #33 in 2017, its highest ranking ever. It beat its first record at #112, its fifth consecutive year in the top 200.

Beyonce and Jay-Z chose Blue Ivy for their little girl, giving Ivy a boost in popularity. Poison Ivy is also a character on the Superman comics, giving it a sexy and sultry kind of feel. Ivy has been an American Girl Doll and a character on Gossip Girl and Downton Abbey.

Ivy is also seeing international success as it reached the top 50 in England, Scotland, Australia, The Netherlands and New Zealand. This short three letter moniker is definitely a keeper. We should be seeing it in the top 100 for years to come!

4 Lee

This historic name is jam-packed with substance and strength in its three little letters. Lee is still a popular middle name, and the spelling Leigh is popular for girls, but as a first name, Lee has somewhat dropped off the charts.

Lee is Scottish and Gaelic for "pasture, meadow." It spent most of its time on American charts in the top 300 baby names, but in 1990 completely dropped off. Its highest point ever was in 1955 when it reached #182.

Lee and Leigh were both very popular in the 50s-70s, but are now being used more as middle names. It's also a popular surname, like Robert E. Lee. Despite Lee's recent drop off the polls, it still remains a strong yet sensitive name that you can't go wrong with!

3 Zak

Zak has been seen more and more often standing on its own. It's ranked #243 in England but hasn't quite made it onto American charts just yet. Though its diminutive, Zachary is currently ranked #90.

Zak is a diminutive of the Hebrew name Zachary meaning "the Lord has remembered." Zachary has become a more and more traditional and old-fashioned sounding name, so much so that contemporary parents are looking more to names like Zak, Zachariah, and Zane. Zac is a popular spelling of the name, used by Zac Efron and Zac Hanson, as well as Zach used by Zach Braff and Galifianakis.

Zak is definitely a more risky choice since it is more commonly used as a nickname, but no risk no reward right? The spelling is unique and using the short form as a first name is definitely more distinct.

2 Kai

Adorable Baby Boy
via BabyCenter

Kai is another surprise on this list that is causing quite a stir in the baby name world! Kai reached the top 25 in 2017 after a near non-existence in the past. It only entered the American list in 1980, and it took a slow and steady climb to the top. Kai hit #145 in 2015 and stayed there in 2016, but entered the top 25 last year.

You can take your pick of this moniker's meaning. It appeals to parents cross-culturally because of its many meanings in many different languages. It means "sea" in Hawaiian,  "forgiveness" in Japanese, "willow tree" in Navajo, and "food" in Maori.

Kai is an international success in, reaching the top 1oo in Britain, Canada, and Australia as well. Kai used to be rare, but for parents wanting something distinct, Kai might not be that anymore.

1 Van

This Dutch name is so ready for a comeback! Van was in the top 500 from 1880 until 1969. It dropped down to the high 900s until 2005 and still didn't make it back into the top 500. Today, Van is ranked #911, but with the retro name trend parents are loving, there is no reason it can't make a huge comeback!

Van is Dutch for "of." It's familiarly used as a prefix, like as in Vincent Van Gogh and Dick Van Dyke. Popular name bearers are actors, Van Johnson and Van Heflin, and musician, Van Cliburn.

Van is a mid-century success that is ready and waiting for parents to give it another shot. This moniker would also make a pretty cool middle name considering its connections to surnames.

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