August 5th, 2010
Nipping at the heels of Max and Gus are a bevy of three letter power houses. Parents wishing to pack a punch without taking up much space on the page will want to consult this list of potential cool. Old goodies Dan, Tim, and Tom need not apply. We’re moving forward here, folks.
Abe- Short form of the Hebrew Abraham, “father of many.”
Ace- Skilled person, one unit. With a bit of a soap opera feel when used on its own, this also works well as a nickname for anything. You could also turn that stereotype on its head, which would be truly aces.
Ari- Triple threat: Armenian for “brave”, Hebrew for “lion”, Norse for “eagle.”
Asa- Hebrew, “healer.”
Avi- Hebrew, “my father.”
Baz- Arabic, “falcon.” Also a nickname for Balthazar, Basil, and Sebastian.
Cal- Short for Calvin or Callum, with potential to be used on its own.
Che- Guevara lovers note: this name comes from the Mapudungun language as a suffix meaning “people.” However, it is also an Argentinian exclamatory phrase roughly translated as “hey you”, and rather like the F word in Mexico. Guevara’s given name was Ernesto.
Coe- Surname, “hollow” or “hill”
Dag- Norse for “day”
Dai- Both the Welsh short form of David and a Japanese name “large”, “great”
Dax- Popular with the Dutch.
Dom- Diminutive of Dominic, Latin- “of the lord.”
Dov- Hebrew for “bear.” I love that for English speakers this recalls a bird, but it actually means kind of the opposite.
Eli- Hebrew, “ascension.”
Eno- Brian Eno fans might pick up on this one, and have.
Geo- Greek, “earth.” Can be short for George.
Gus- Short for August, Augustin, Augustus, Angus, Gustav(e), or even Constantine– I move that Gus is the new Max. But what’s the new Gus?
Guy- You say “gye” and I say “gee.” May be derived from Wido, Germanic for “wood.” Worthy of a second look.
Huw- Yes, this is the Welsh form of Hugh, “bright mind, spirit.” The English version may be less of a headache.
Ian- Scottish form of John, “God is gracious.”
Ike- Diminutive of Isaac, Hebrew for “he laughs.” Famous Ike’s include Eisenhower, Turner, and the hurricane.
Ira- Hebrew for “watchful.”
Ivo- Ivo of Kermartin is the patron saint of Brittany. From the Germanic and means “yew.”
Jed- Short form of the Hebrew Jedidah, “beloved of Y_hweh.” Shedding his country image.
Kai- Hawaian for “sea.” ”Keeper of the keys” in Welsh.
Kip- Short form of Christopher, and used on its own.
Leo- Leonardo or Leonard pave the way for Leonidas, Leonides, or Leopold. Or “just” Leo.
Lev- Russian for “lion”, Hebrew or “heart.”
Lex- Better as a nickname for Alexander, and recalls Lex Luthor. This author is preferring Lev and Lux today.
Luc- France’s answer to Luke, and similarly pronounced.
Lux- Latin, “light”
Luz- Spanish, “light”, often used for girls, Maria de la Luz, etc.
Mac- Could be short for Cormac, any McName, or one of the Maxes
Max- Latin, “the greatest”; stands on its own just fine, but could also be used for Maxim, Maximilian, Maxime, Maxwell
Moe- Japanese for “sprout.” Bet you didn’t expect that.
Neo- Tswana (South Africa), means “gift.” German prefix for new.
Noe- Variant of Noah, Hebrew for “rest”
Obi- Igbo, “heart”
Pax- Latin for “peace”, Angelina Jolie’s choice for her son from Vietnam.
Paz- Spanish for “peace”
Pim- Dutch diminutive of Willem. Could work for your wee William, too.
Poe- English surname, most famously of the poet Edgar Allan Poe
Raj- Sanskrit, “prince” or “king”
Ram- Hebrew, “exalted” and Sanskrit “pleasant.” Still, I see the animal first.
Rex- Latin for “king”, gaining steam in Britain and a great sub for Max if you’re in Brooklyn.
Rio- Spanish and Portuguese for “river.” According to Behind the Name, this also has multiple meanings in Japanese: 莉 (ri) “jasmine” or 里 (ri) “village” combined with 央 (o) “center”, 緒 (o) “thread” or 桜 (ou) “cherry blossom”
Sid- Short for the English Sidney, “wide island”
Taj- Sanskrit, “crown”
Teo- Diminutive of Teodor, Mateo, and other names containing “teo”, which is derived from the Greek for “god.”
Tor- Modern Scandinavian form of Thor, “thunder”
Ugo- Italian form of Hugh, “mind, spirit”
Uli- Diminutive of the German Ulrich, “prosperity and power”
Val- From the Latin valens, “strong, healthy”
Wes- Short for Wesley or Weston, but works well on its own.
Wyn- Welsh, from Gwyn- “white, fair”
Xan- A Galician cognate of John, and a oft-forgotten nickname for Alexander
Zeb- Short form of Zebadiah or Zebedee, this could work by itself on a hip babe.
Zev- Hebrew for “wolf”