Short boy names can be fun, but many of them, such as Sam, Jack, or Ben, feel like shortened, casual nicknames for longer, “proper” names. But not every short name for boys is a nickname, and we’ve got the examples to prove it.
We’ve also got the origins, the meanings, and fascinating facts about each of our options. We’ve even added one that we love but discovered may not be the best short name for your boy.
Ace is an English name meaning “of the highest rank.”
In addition to being an English name, Ace is also a Macedonian pet name for boys named Aleksandar — another form of Alexander, which, in turn, means “defender of man.”
Al is a short form of any name that begins with “Al.”
American actor, Al Pacino, was named Alfredo at birth, and politician Al Gore’s birth name is Alfred. Al Capone was Alphonse, and hockey player Al MacInnis is Allan.
Alf is a Norse name meaning “elf.”
In Norse mythology, a king named Alf proposed to a woman, Alfhild. To avoid marrying him, Alfhild disguised herself as a warrior but then had to fight him. Alfhild was so impressed by Alf’s skills in combat that she married him!
Alp is a Turkish name that means hero.
In German folklore, mythical creatures called alps sit upon a victim’s chest and control their dreams, inducing nightmares. The weight of the alp causes people to wake, but when they do, they are unable to move.
Anh is a Vietnamese name meaning hero, brave, petal, flower.
Anh is a gender-neutral name and is the most common given name in Vietnam. It is often used as part of a longer, compound name.
Ant is a short form of Anthony and its variations.
Singer-songwriter Ant Clemons is known for his collaborations with, among others, Beyonce, Kanye West, Ty Dolla Sign, and Chance the Rapper. His debut EP “Happy 2 Be Here” was nominated for Best R&B Album at the 2020 Grammys.
Aodh is an Irish and Scottish name that means “fire.”
This ancient Irish name can be pronounced AY, like the long sound of the letter “A” or EE, like the long sound of the letter “E.” In Scotland, it’s pronounced UH, like the short “u” sound in sun, or YOO like the long sound of the letter “U.”
Art has multiple roots and meanings.
Art can be short for the English name Arthur or the Spanish and Italian version Arturo, both meaning “bear king.” Art is also a standalone name in some Celtic languages that means “bear.”
The English name Ash comes from the tree of the same name.
Ash was initially used as a surname to denote someone who lived near ash trees, but it later evolved into a forename.
Ash is also a nickname for Ashley, Ashton, Artemus, and Asha.
Baal is an Ancient Greek name meaning “lord” or “master.”
Baal is the Greek version of the Ancient Hebrew name Ba’al, which was a title given to many gods, but chiefly the god Hadad. Hadad was the god of rain, storms, and thunder.
Badr is an Arabic name, meaning “full moon.”
Although Badr is a gender-neutral name, it is significantly more popular for boys than girls. Having said that, even in the Arab world, Badr is relatively uncommon.
Baer is a Limburgish name, meaning “noble and bright.”
Baer is a Limburgish name related to Albert, so it can be a suitable choice if Albert is a family name you feel pressured to choose.
Bao is a Chinese name that can mean “treasure,” “precious,” “jewel,” “rare.”
Pronounced POW, the meaning of this gender-neutral Chinese name can vary according to which characters are used to write it. It can also mean “honor” or “praise.”
Beau is French for “beautiful.”
In the UK and the Netherlands, Beau is a gender-neutral name, but in the US, it is almost exclusively used for boys. However, it is almost never used as a name in France.
Bede is an Old English name that may mean “prayer.”
St. Bede was an English monk born in the 7th century. He is famous for many things, including his works that record the effects of the moon on tides and how the shape of the Earth changed the length of daylight.
Björn is an Old Norse name, meaning “bear.”
Björn saw a brief flare of popularity in the US during the late 1970s and early 1980s. This is probably because of the popularity of the Sweedish pop group ABBA who had a member named Björn Ulvaeus.
Blaine is an English name that means “yellow.”
Bláán was a Scottish forename and the Gaelic word for yellow. Bláán was later adopted as a Scottish surname which became Anglicized as Blaine.
Then, when the surnames as forenames trend began, Blaine once again became a forename.
Blair is a Scottish name that means “field,” “plain,” or “battlefield.”
In the anime and manga series Soul Eater, Blair is a black cat with magical powers, which include the ability to cast pumpkin-shaped explosions and summon a giant pumpkin that flies.
Blaise is a French boy name, meaning “lisping.”
In 1642 French mathematician, physicist, and inventor Blaise Pascal invented the first successful mechanical calculator. The then 18-year-old did so to help his father, who was a tax collector.
Blake is an Old English name that means “black” or “pale.”
It is unknown whether Blake comes from the Old English word blæc, which means “black,” or blac, which means “pale.”
Blythe is an Old English name, meaning “kind,” “joyous,” or “cheerful.”
The title of the Noel Coward play, Blithe Spirit, comes from Percy Shelly’s poem Ode to a Skylark. The first line of the poem is “Hail to thee, blithe Spirit.”
Boyce is an English name that means “wood.”
Until the 1960s, Boyce was a relatively popular short name for boys in the US. It was most popular in 1938 when it reached #529 on the top 1,000 boy names chart.
Boyd is a Scottish name that may mean “yellow” or “fair.”
The meaning of Boyd is disputed. An alternative theory is that it was used for people from the Isle of Bute, which in Scottish Gaelic is the Isle of Bhoid.
Bram is a short form of Abraham, which means “father of many.”
While the English language pronunciation of Bram is just how it’s spelled — BRAM, in many Germanic languages, it is pronounced more like BROM.
Bran is a Welsh and Irish name that means “raven.”
Bran Ferren is the former President of Research and Development of Walt Disney Imagineering. He is described as an artist, inventor, technologist, scientist, and entrepreneur.
The Old English name Brent may mean “steep hill.”
Actor Brent Spiner is best known for playing Data in the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation and the subsequent four movies. Spinner reprised the role for the Star Trek spin-off series Picard.
Brice is a French and English name, meaning “speckled.”
Brice de Nice is a French comedy movie that follows the story of Brice, a would-be surfer who lives a wild party lifestyle financed by his father’s money. When Brice’s father is arrested, Brice has to stand on his own.
Brock is from brocc, the Old English word for badger.
American mixed-martial artist Brock Larson shares this forename with American-Canadian mixed martial artist and professional wrestler Brock Lesnar. Coincidentally, both Brocks were born in 1977 within six weeks of each other.
The English name Brook means “small river.”
Brook was initially a masculine name but began to see use as a short girl name in the early 20th century.
Burke is an Old English name that means “fortress.”
While this name comes from England, it is no longer used there. This is because the word berk, which has the same sound as Burke, is a slang term for an idiot.
Carl is short for a Germanic name, Háriolus, meaning “army.”
Many sites will tell you that Carl is an Old Norse name that means “free man.” However, that name is Karl which, although they sound the same, is an entirely separate name (1).
Cass is short for Cassidy.
Cassidy evolved from the Irish surname Ó Caiside, which means “descendant of Caiside.” Caiside means “curly-haired.” So Cass ultimately means “descendant of the curly-haired.”
Chance evolved from the English name Chauncey.
While most people assume that the name Chance is simply an English language word that means “luck” or “fortune,” this is incorrect.
Chance began as the name Chauncey which is a Norman name, the meaning of which is now unknown.
Chase began as a nickname for someone who hunted.
The Chase Vault in Barbados is famous for the legend of the moving coffins. It’s said that on five occasions, the vault was opened for burials, and all of the existing, heavy lead coffins had moved from their original positions.
Clark began as an occupational surname for a cleric or scribe.
Despite the fact many people assume it’s a relatively modern use of a surname as a first name, Clark has been in the US’s top 1,000 boy names every year since 1880, peaking at #175 in 1881.
Cole began as an Anglo-Saxon nickname, meaning “charcoal.”
In medieval Europe, Cola was a nickname given to people with dark features. It then saw use as a forename before evolving into a surname spelled either Cola or Cole.
Coos is a Dutch nickname for Jacob.
Rather than pronouncing this as it is spelled — COOs, the Dutch pronounce Coos as KOSE, which gives the O a long vowel sound.
This Swedish and Norwegian name means “day.”
It’s probably worth pointing out that in Australia, “dag” has two meanings. The first is an affectionate insult for an eccentric, unfashionable, slightly foolish person. The second is short for daglock, which is the poop-caked wool around a sheep’s butt.
Dale began as a surname for someone who lived in a dale.
Dale is frequently seen as an old man’s name, perhaps because its peak popularity in the US was in 1953. The name fell out of the charts entirely in 2010.
Dirk is a Dutch name, meaning “leader of the people.”
Dirk Gently is a fictional character and protagonist of three books by Douglas Adams. The books Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul, and The Salmon of Doubt have been adopted into a TV series.
Drake is an English surname, meaning “dragon.”
Drake evolved from the Old English byname Dracca and the Old Norse byname Draki both of which come from the Latin word dracco, meaning “dragon.” The English name for a male duck being drake is coincidental.
The Scottish name Duff means “dark.”
Military leader, journalist, and businessman Duff Green organized three manufacturing plants for the confederacy during the American Civil War. After the war, he apologized for his support of the confederacy, was pardoned by Andrew Jackson, and paid a fine of $20,000.
Dulf is a Limburgish name meaning noble “wolf.”
This is the short and sweet boy name you might want to avoid. Although we love the unique sound of Dulf, we discovered it is short for Adolf, which has negative connotations for most people.
Ernst is a Germanic name that means “serious.”
The name Ernst was carried to England in the 18th century when the German House of Hanover took over the throne of the UK. To make Ernst sound less Germanic, the name was Anglicized to Ernest.
Fahd is an Arabic name meaning “panther.”
Fahd is also transliterated into the English language as Fahad and Fahed and can mean “cheetah” as well as “panther” or “leopard.”
Faust is a German name that means “auspicious” or “lucky.”
Dr. Faust Iosifovich Shkaravsky was a military officer, physician, and forensic expert. He led the team that performed autopsies on Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun and was instrumental in the prosecution of Nazis after World War II.
Fen is a Chinese name meaning “exert” or “strive.”
In addition to being a Chinese name, Fen is also a Frisian name. The Frisian name began as a short form for names starting with the element Frid, which means “peace.”
Finn is an Irish boy name meaning “white” or “fair.”
Finn is also an entirely separate Old Norse name. In this case is evolved from Finnr, meaning “Sami, a person from Finland.”
Fion is an Irish variant of Fionn, which also means “white” or “fair.”
While native English speakers tend to pronounce this FEE-on or FIN, the correct Irish pronunciation is either FOON, to rhyme with soon, or FEEN, to rhyme with seen.
Flann is a Gaelic name that means “red.”
This name is pronounced exactly as it’s spelled: FLAN. Flann is the ideal name for a baby with red hair or for someone who feels pressured to use a family name such as Adam, Russell, or Reed, all of which also mean “red.”
Flick is an English nickname turned forename.
In the 1983 holiday classic A Christmas Story, Flick is the name of the boy who is “triple dog dared” to lick the frozen pole. Flick is left outside alone until the fire brigade comes to rescue him.
Floyd is an English variant of Lloyd, which means “gray.”
Singer, songwriter, record producer, and multi-instrumentalist Billie Joe Armstrong is the lead vocalist and lead guitarist of the band Green Day. Armstrong’s original 1956 Les Paul Junior guitar is called Floyd.
Flynn is an Anglicized form of the Irish surname Ó Floinn.
Because Ó Floinn can be translated as the descendant of Flann, and Flann means “red,” Flynn would be an excellent name for the child of a redheaded parent, grandparent, or another ancestor.
Folke is a Swedish name, meaning “people.”
Folke is a relative of the Ancient Germanic word fulca, which means “legion” or “army.” It is also related to the Old Norse word folk, which means “chief, people.”
Frey is a variant of the Old Norse name Freyr, meaning “lord.”
In Norse mythology, Frey is the twin brother of Freya and is associated with sunlight, rain, and fertility. He is the husband of Gerd, a frost giantess.
Gabe could be considered an English name, meaning “strongman” or “hero.”
Gabe is short for the Hebrew name Gabriel which has a literal meaning of “God is my strongman.” It is from the Hebrew words גֶּבֶר or gever, which means “strongman” or “hero” and the word אֵל ‘el, meaning “God.”
Gael is a Breton name that references Gaelic peoples.
The Gaels are an ethnolinguistic people from what is now Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. In medieval Europe, you had to be able to show direct descent from legendary Irish figure Goídel Glas.
Garth is an Old Norse name, meaning “garden” or “enclosure.”
Another entirely separate, it is a shorter form of Gareth that was first used in Arthurian legends. This form is thought to have evolved from the Welsh name gwaredd, which means “gentleness.”
The English name Giles means “young goat.”
The Greek word αἰγίδιον or aigidion became the Late Latin name Aegidius. When Saint Giles traveled from Greece to France, his name evolved into the Old French boy name Gidie, which in turn became Giles.
Grant is an English and Scottish name, meaning “great” or “large.”
Castle Grant in the Highlands of Scotland was the seat of the Clan Grant. Called Freuchie Castle when it was built in the 15th-century, it was renamed Castle Grant in 1694.
Greg is an English boy name, meaning “alert” or “watchful.”
In the US, Greg hit the top 1,000 boy names in 1938. It climbed steadily until its peak in 1962, and then fell out of favor again, disappearing from the charts in 1996.
This rare Scottish version of Gregory means “watchful” or “alert.”
There are 690 Griers in the world, with 613 of them in the US. Although this is a traditionally masculine name, 147 of the US Griers are girls.
Haik is an Armenian name that probably means “Armenian.”
It’s thought that Haik comes from the Arminian word հայ which translates as “hay” and հայ means “Armenian.”
Heath is an English name for someone who lives on a heath.
Australian actor Heath Ledger won a posthumous Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as The Joker in the movie The Dark Knight.
Hugh is an English name, meaning “heart, spirit, mind.”
Another interpretation of the meaning of Hugh comes from its use in Scotland and Ireland. In Scotland, Hugh is used as an Anglicized version of Ùisdean which means “stone island.” In Ireland, it is an Anglicized version of Aodh, meaning “fire.”
Joel is from the Hebrew name וֹאֵל, meaning “Yahweh is God.”
Joel was not used as a forename in English-speaking countries until after the Protestant reformation of the 16th and 17th centuries.
Juan is a Spanish form of John which means “Yahweh is gracious.”
Juan is also a Chinese name, although in this case, it is a girl’s name that means “graceful and beautiful.”
Judd is a Medieval English nickname.
Judd evolved from Jordan, which itself came from the name of the river in Jordan and Israel. The Hebrew name of this river was רְדֵן or Yarden, which comes from רַד or yarad which means “to flow down.”
Jude is an English name, meaning “praise.”
Jude was used in some English translations of the Christian Bible to distinguish the two disciples of Jesus named Judas.
Keefe is an English name, meaning “beautiful’s descendent.”
This Anglicized version of the Irish name Ó Caoimh is likely to be mistaken for the Scottish name Keith, which means “wood.”
Kyle comes from a Gaelic word, meaning “channel,” “narrows,” or “straight.”
American rapper, singer, songwriter, and actor Kyle, also known as SuperDuperKyle and KiD, made it to number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2016 with his debut single iSpy.
Lech is a Slavic name. It indicates someone of the Lendian tribe.
In Slavic legend, three brothers Lech, Rus, and Czech, went on a hunting trip. Each brother followed a different prey, traveling and settling in opposite directions. Lech founded Poland, Czech founded the Czech nation, and Rus founded Russia.
Leif is an Old Norse name that means “heir” or “descendant.”
In Iceland, Finland, Sweden, and western Norway, Leif rhymes with safe, while in the rest of Norway, Denmark, and some of the Faroe Islands, it sounds like life. The rest of the Faroe Islands pronounce it as LOIF.
Lorne is from a Scottish place name of unknown meaning.
The use of Lorne as a forename began after the Marquis of Lorne was the Governor-General of Canada from 1878 to 1883. The Marquis was incredibly popular with some elements of society, who started to name their children in his honor.
Luke is an English name, meaning “from Lucania.”
The common misconception is that Luke is from the Latin word lux, which means “light.” However, the Late Latin version of this name is Lucas, which comes from the Greek Λουκᾶς or Loukas, which means “of Lucania.”
The English name Merle means “merry hill.”
Merle is a form of the name Merrill, which itself is a contraction of the words merry hill. The spelling was influenced by the French word merle, which means “blackbird.”
Miles is an English name of disputed meaning.
Miles may have evolved from the Germanic name Milo, which is of uncertain meaning, or from Milu, which is a Slavic name element, meaning “gracious.” It is often listed as being from the Latin word miles which means “soldier.”
Niles is a Danish name, meaning “victory of the people.”
While Miles is a Danish version of Nicholas, which is where the meaning comes from, it is also a completely separate Dutch name. The Dutch Niels is a short form of Cornelius, which may mean “horn.”
Noel is the French word for Christmas.
The French boy name Noel is written as Noël, and pronounced as a two-syllable name: NO-EL, with Noëlle being the girl’s version. However, in English, it’s a gender-neutral name written as Noel and pronounced NOLE.
Piers is a Medieval French form of Peter, meaning “stone.”
Piers Sellers was a British-American meteorologist who moved to the US in 1982 to become a research meteorologist at NASA. In 1996, he was accepted for astronaut training and took part in three space shuttle missions.
Piet is a Dutch form of Pete, which means “stone.”
Dutch painter Piet Mondrian is considered to be one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. One of the pioneers of abstract art, Mondrian changed his surname from Mondriaan because he thought it was “more international.”
Reid is an English name that means “red.”
Reid evolved from the English surname Reed, which was from the Old English read, which means “red.” It began as a nickname for a person with red hair or a ruddy complexion.
Rhett is an English name, meaning “counsel” or “advice.”
This English name was an Anglicized version of the Dutch occupational surname de Raedt. This in turn comes from the word raet, which means “counsel.”
Rhys is a Welsh name that means “enthusiasm.”
Rhys ap Tewdwr was an 11th-century king and a number of princes, noblemen, and landowners. Rhys is a masculine name with the English version Reece, or Resse, becoming the gender-neutral form.
Saul is a Hebrew name, meaning “asked for” or “prayed for.”
The meaning of this simple, short, and sweet name for boys makes it ideal for a family that has waited a long time for their child.
Seth is an English version of a Hebrew name, meaning “appointed.”
Seth was also the name of an Egyptian god of the desert and chaos. Seth, which is from the Greek version of the Egyptian, swth or sth, slayed Osiris, the god of the underworld.
Shad is an Arabic name that means “happy.”
Shad should not be mistaken as a short form of Shadrach, which is a completely different Hebrew name that means “command of Aku.” Aku was the Babylonian god of the Moon.
The English name Shea means “majestic.”
This short gender-neutral name is an Anglicized form of the Irish boy name Séaghdha, which is thought to mean “esteemed” or “majestic.”
Siet, a Frisian name, means “victory.”
Siet began as a nickname for any name beginning with the Germanic word element sigu. It later became a standalone name and makes an interesting alternative to Nicholas, Sigmund, and Siegfried, all of which have “victory” in their meaning.
The Old Norse name Sven means “boy.”
The first documented usage of Sven in Sweden was in 1389 and the strongest period of use was between 1920 and 1939. It was rejected as a legally approved name in Iceland in both 2005 and 2007.
An Irish name, Tadhg means “poet.”
Tadhg, the 17th most popular boy name in Ireland in 2020, is pronounced like TIGE (with a long I and hard G sound). The Anglicized version is Tieg, which is also used as a racial slur used to describe a stereotypical Irishman.
Trey is an English name, meaning “three.”
Trey began as a nickname for a third child in the family, so it is an ideal name choice for baby number three.
Varg is an Old Norse name that means “wolf.”
If you have ancestors called Adolf, Rudolph, Beowulf, Conall, Conan, Shaw, or Boris, Varg is a suitable tribute to them as all of these names mean “wolf” or something similar.
An English name, Vince means “to conquer.”
Vince began as a short form of the name Vincent and is pronounced in a single syllable: VINS. However, the Hungarian Vince is pronounced VEENT-seh.
Wade is an English language name with two meanings.
The first form of Wade is the transmuted use of the surname Wade, from the Old English place name wæd which means “a ford.”
The second Wade is from the Old English forename Wada which means “to go.”
The Irish name Ward means “son of the bard.”
Ward is the Anglicized form of the Irish occupational surname Mac an Bhaird, which is where the meaning above comes from. It is also from an Old English occupational surname, weard, meaning “guard” or “guardian.”
Wilt is a short form of the English surname Wilton.
Wilt comes from Wilton which is the name of various towns in England. Depending on the town it means “well town,” “willow town,” or “On The River Wylye.” Wyle, meanwhile, is thought to mean “tricky” in Gaelic.
Yves is a French boy name, meaning “yew.”
This Medieval French name evolved from the Germanic name Ivo, and it is this second version that is still in use across much of Europe.
Zane is an English name of unknown meaning.
The first known use of Zane as a forename was by author Zane Grey. Zane was his middle name in recognition of his mother’s maiden name.
Zane is also a Latvian girl’s name, meaning “lily.”
The Hebrew name Zed means “justice of Yahweh.”
Short for Zedekiah, Zed made its only appearance on the US top 1,000 boy names chart in 1894. That year it ranked #857 when 7 boys were given the name.
Zeke is an English name, meaning “God will strengthen.”
Zeke is short for Ezekiel, the English form of the Biblical Hebrew name חֶזְקֵאל or Yechezkqel. This English version came into being during the Protestant Reformation.
Want more ideas for baby names? Check out our other articles!
- Names Inspired By Greek Mythology
- Warlock Wizard Witch Baby Names
- Baby Names That Mean Fire
- Baby Names That Mean Water
- Baby Names That Mean Moon
- Baby Names That Mean Warrior
- Names That Mean Wind, Sky, Storm
- Names That Mean Winter, Ice, Snow
- Fantasy and Sci-fi Baby Names
- Evil and Demon Baby Names
- Nerdy and Geeky Baby Names
- Last Names as First Names
- Pacific Islander Baby Names
- Strong Baby Girl Names
- Strong Baby Boy Names
- Italian Baby Girl Names
- Italian Baby Boy Names
- Victorian Girl Names
- Victorian Boy Names
- Japanese Girl Names
- Japanese Boy Names
- Korean Girl Names
- Korean Boy Names
- French Last Names
- French Girl Names
- French Boy Names
- African Boy Names
- Biblical Girl Names
- Biblical Boy Names
- Flower Baby Names
- Magical Baby Names
- Badass Baby Names
- Exotic Girl Names
- Sexy Girl Names
- Exotic Boy Names
- Space Baby Names
- Earthy Names
- Sun Names
- Elf Names
Short Names for Boys
Short boy names do not have to be boring nicknames adopted as full names. On the contrary, there are numerous short and sweet boy names that are simple yet still uncommon and unique.
And don’t forget, boys with short names will have an easier time filling out forms where their name is required multiple times!