Names that start with Bo are white hot. They include both baby boy names and girl names, too.
Some Bo names boast history galore. Others are newcomers, seldom heard until the last twenty – or even ten – years.
Bright and energetic, Bo stands on its own, too, of course.
In fact, Beau reads like a Southern gentleman. Or maybe a cowboy.
And there’s even Bow, too, as in jazz age icon Clara Bow and, more recently, the character played by Black-ish‘s Tracee Ellis Ross.
But beyond the single syllable, lots of longer names start with Bo. Also worth noting: not every possibility on this list begins with the letter B. They could offer the best of both worlds – a casual-cool nickname, and a formal version, too.
Beau comes from the French word for handsome, and it has a long history of use. Regency England gave us fashionista Beau Brummell; early twentieth century adventure novels introduced the noble hero Beau Geste. A long list of television shows boosted the name from the 1960s onward, but Beau has really come into its own in the twenty-first century.
Just two letters, but lots of style. Bo is an alternate spelling for Beau, and perhaps the more logical syllable to lengthen. (Boden, Bowen, Bowie, and Bolton are just a few options later on this list.)
A rare Scandi spelling, and more common as a surname.
In the case of the Black-ish character, Bow is short for Rainbow. But it’s also a valid surname spelling, with multiple origins and meanings attached.
Boone takes the long open O of Bo and trades it for the ‘oo’ in blue. But if a single-syllable name ever required further shortening, changing Boone to Bo seems possible. Boone is another surname, derived from the French bon, meaning good.
Seldom heard as a first name, Booth originally comes from a Middle English word for a small hut. Think of a toll booth. Early twentieth century author Booth Tarkington is one notable bearer. (It was his mother’s maiden name.) As with Boone, the vowel sound changes, but Bo remains a logical short form.
GIRL NAMES BEGINNING WITH BO
It’s impossible to leave this particular baby name off the list of names that start with Bo. A warrior queen who led her tribe to victory against the Romans before finally meeting her end, Boadicea appears in plenty of artwork and literature. The historical figure’s exact name is in dispute, as is the pronunciation. But there’s a case to made for a first syllable Bo, and it’s a fierce name for a daughter.
Writer Rebecca Woolf added this name to the list when she named one of her twins Boheme Shalomback in 2011. (Her sister is Reverie Lux.) Boheme brings all those operatic overtones, a dramatic choice that’s, well bohemian, but shortening it to Bo is friendly and upbeat and accessible, too.
A unisex Yoruba name with a powerful meaning: “comes with wealth.”
Retro and flirty, Bonita is the Spanish word for pretty. It dots the map, from Florida’s Bonita Springs to California’s Bonita Falls.
Okay, Bonnie already is a nickname. But if you’d like to shorten the name of your baby girl Bonnie even more, Bo is one logical choice.
A former Top Ten star, Deborah is languishing in style hibernation at the moment. But call Deborah Bo instead of Debbie, and it’s fresh and new again.
Also spelled Ysabeau, this is a rare French form of Isabel – which makes it a cousin to Elizabeth. There’s a powerful vampire matriarch Ysabeau in Deborah Harkness’ All Souls trilogy, also known as the television series A Discovery of Witches. (Ysabeau is played by veteran Scottish actress Lindsay Duncan in the show.)
Maybe it’s more My Little Pony than actual human child, but there’s no question that Rainbow shortens to Bo.
ROBERTA, ROBIN, BOBBIE
Only Bobbie actually starts with Bo, but plenty of boys named Robert have used the nickname across the generations. That suggests it could be the right choice for a Roberta or a Robin, too.
BOYS NAMES THAT LEAD TO BO
A handful of surnames include the right letter combination, if not quite the right sound. Abbott – with one T or two – serves as an alternative to favorites like Beckett and Everett, and offers this cool nickname option.
It’s a surname derived from a scenic view – beau means lovely, and regard means to look at. The name feels slightly Southern, perhaps thanks to characters in now-problematic pop culture sensations like Gone With the Wind and The Dukes of Hazzard. But it remains a handsome, traditional choice that works fits with surnames like Remington.
Another Beau- surname possibility.
In the Bible, Boaz is the husband of Ruth. His name means swiftness – an active, appealing meaning.
BODE, BODIE, BODHI
Multiple origins and meanings lead to this list of two-syllable names that start with Bo. Bodhi comes from Sanskrit, and means awakened or enlightened. It’s a favorite with parents seeking something slightly spiritual. Bode and Bodie come from a range of European roots.
Boden might bring to mind the colorful, British clothing brand. It’s named for founder Johnnie Boden. Despite – or maybe because of – that, Boden has emerged as a fast-rising favorite in recent years. Bodin is another spelling, as is Beauden.
The Slavic name Bogdan means “given by God.” In Czech, the ‘g’ becomes an ‘h’ and Bogdan becomes Bohdan – a reasonable way to get to Bo, with a rich heritage tie-in as well.
As in Hollywood legend Humphrey. (Though the actor was known as Bogie, rather than Bo.) The actor’s surname turned into slang over the years, and Bogart can also mean “to hog” something or to get something by bullying. But those associations are fading, while the actor remains an icon.
Looking for a hero name? Simon Bolivar helped liberate South America from Spain. Bolivia is named in his honor – and might belong on this list of names that start with Bo, too.
Not so long ago, this song brought to mind soft rock crooner Michael Bolton. More recently, it was John Bolton, the former Ambassador to the United Nations and National Security Advisor. But mostly Bolton is an English surname name that sounds right at home with Colton and Easton.
Originally a given name meaning good fortune, the Italian Bonaventura shifted to the surname spot, and became Bonaventure in French. It’s a big name, but an auspicious one, too.
It sounds like the name of a medieval monk. But New York Times bestselling author of children’s fiction, Cornelia Funke, gave the name to a character in 2004’s “The Thief Lord.” Boniface “Bo” Hartlieb, younger brother to Prosper, suggests that Bo can make even Boniface accessible.
Early civil rights leader Booker T. Washington is one notable bearer of the name. There’s also the Booker Prize, given annually to the best novel written in English. It fits with so many R-ending favorites for our sons.
Like Boniface or Bonaventura, Boris is a big, unwieldly, and seldom-heard name … but it’s made far more wearable by Bo.
A popular place name, and a possible way to get to Bo.
Football player Drew Brees has boys named Baylen, Bowen, and Callen. Saturday Night Live cast member Bowen Yang is perhaps the most famous bearer of the name.
A hero name, thanks to singer David, and a sharp choice, too, thanks to the Bowie knife.
ROBERT, ROBIN, ROBINSON
A steady classic, relatively underused in recent years, Robert benefits from an updated nickname. It means “bright fame,” and ranked in the US Top Ten for a century – from the 1880s into the 1980s. That makes it a venerable classic that would be relatively uncommon on a child today. Related names like Robin and Robinson could just as easily use Bo for short.
Do you like any of the names that start with Bo?
First published on April 18, 2014, this post was substantially revised and re-posted on March 9, 2023.
My son is Beau William.
We named our son Bo with middle name Michael. Most people like it and it fits him. Bo’s a cool name for an athlete.
I’m surprised Bonnie wasn’t mentioned. That is one of our top names for a future daughter, called Bo and sometimes Bunny.
What about Boris?
I don’t like Bo or Beau at all. Bow I would consider a cool nickname though.
You could also use Mirabeau (I’d use it for a girl, though I found it as a boy name)
Bo is great. My personal tastes lean towards the long and elaborate but I still like tiny little Bo a lot. For a girl, I like Isabeau best, but with that I’d probably shorten it to Beau rather than Bo. For a boy, I’d stick with just Bo and not bother with any longer forms. I do, however, think Robert is a good way to get to Bo. I mean, it’s only one letter short of Bob, right?
And how about Beaumont? It’s very aristocratic in sound (which is why I love it, obv.)
Oh, Beaumont is great!
Elizabeth Williams says
One comment about Bowie: As a knife, it’s actually pronounced Boo-eey.
Megan M. says
I saw the name Beaudine written somewhere, which I imagine is pronounced like BO-deen, and I think it’s soooo cute for a Southern girl.
As for Rainbow, there’s an author named Rainbow Rowell (it’s her real name) that has totally changed my perception of that name because she is obviously super smart and cool. LOL