Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Bo

Bo is most often associated with Scandinavian origins, from the Old Norse nickname Búi meaning “to live”. It was an epithet given to one who stayed put, or “lived” in one place, as opposed to the nomadic hunters of ancient times. Aside from Bo’s Nordic beginnings, there are multiple other etymologies to which Bo may be ascribed. Parents have the option to pick whichever one fits their fancy. For instance, Bo may be related to any number of other names (both masculine and feminine) as a diminutive. Such names for which Bo is often used as a nickname include Robert (Bobby), Beauregard, Beaufort, Boniface, Boden, Bode, Boris, Bonita or Bonnie. Bo is also pronounced the same way as the French Beau (meaning “beautiful”) or the Chinese character 波 (meaning “wave”). As a two-letter, one-syllable name, Bo is also one of the shortest given names used in the English-speaking world (the only other ones we can think of are Al, Jo and Ty). You get a lot of bang for your buck with a name like Bo. Another interesting factoid about Bo: it’s primarily used as a girl’s name in Europe (most specifically in the Netherlands and Belgium). But in America, Bo is all boy.

All About the Baby Name – Bo



The number Eight personality has everything to do with power, wealth and abundance. Somehow, this personality has been blessed on the material plane, but their authoritative and problem-solving traits provide evidence that their good fortunes are not just the luck of the lottery. They are well earned. This is the personality of CEOs and high-ranking military personnel. Eights are intensely active, hard-driving individuals. Success is only meaningful to them after a job well-done.  They are remarkable in their ability to see the larger picture right down to the smallest details, and organize a strategy around success. They then have the ability to direct a group around them toward any goal, and realize individual potential to get the most out of their team.



There’s no two ways about it. This teeny-tiny name packs a lot of punch in its small, unassuming frame. Bo is a name that comes at you from many different directions depending on what source of the name you prefer. But we will say this: it sounds pretty nicknamey. As an independently given name Bo is a choice for parents who like simple, informal and laid-back names (as opposed to fancy-pants names like Beauregard or Boniface). Bo first appeared on the American masculine naming charts in 1977 and climbed to low levels of moderation throughout the 1980s and early 90s. The name saw its biggest push ever up the charts in the year 1980 (almost 300 positions) thanks to a popular action-packed TV show called “The Dukes of Hazzard” (1979-1985). The show featured a central character named Beauregard "Bo" Duke played by 1980s heartthrob John Schneider. Of the two “Duke” brothers in the show, blonde-haired Bo is the wilder one who is often behind the wheel of the General Lee giving way to car chases with the bumbling back-country sheriffs. Further popularizing the name Bo in the 1980s and early 90s was talented athlete Bo Jackson (born Vincent Edward Jackson) who was prominently featured in a famous Nike ad campaign “Bo Knows”. Bo Jackson is the only person to have professionally played on an NFL football team and MLB baseball team in the same season. And of course let us not forget the pioneering musician Bo Diddley (born Ellas Otha Bates) or the corn-row wearing actress Bo Derek (born Mary Cathleen Collins). Today Bo has retreated back down to the very low end of the Top 1000 list and is now dangerously close to falling off the charts completely. And although the name has yet to appear on the female naming charts, a lot of people consider Bo gender-neutral (Little Bo Peep, anyone?). It’s also a popular moniker for our loveable canine friends and is, in fact, the name of America’s “First Dog”, Bo Obama. Who knew there was so much to be said about this inconspicuous two-letter wee-bit of a name?

Quick Facts













To live










Cultural References to the Baby Name – Bo

Literary Characters


Bo Hartlieb is one of the two orphaned brothers in the 2000 novel by Cornelia Funke, The Thief Lord, which was also made into a German-British 2006 fantasy movie. When the boys are put under the care of a mean aunt and uncle, the aunt intends to keep Bo, who is a charming five-year-old, but to send Prosper, who is twelve, off to boarding school. So the two children escape to Venice and fall under the spell of the masked leader of a gang of youngsters, the “Thief Lord”, Scipio, who instructs them in the art of stealing to support themselves. It is not long before Detective Getz, who has been hired by the aunt and uncle, is on their trail, due in large part to his crafty initiation of a conversation with the innocent little Bo. Adventures and misadventures, fantasies, magic, time travel and plot twists galore follow, as the boys find themselves caught up in the intrigue and mystery of their new life. Angel-faced, adorable Bo proves himself to be more than equal to the task of keeping up with the older children, and he and his brother are amply rewarded with a new and loving guardian of their own at story’s end.

Childrens Books


We cannot find any childrens books with the first name Bo

Popular Songs


The story of Bo Diddley
a song by Bo Diddley

Hey Bo Diddley
a song by Bo Diddley

Bo Diddley's Gunslinger
a song by Bo Diddley

Bo Diddley
a song by Bo Diddley and covered by several others artists such as Buddy Holly, Janis Joplin, The Animals, Emerson Lake & Palmer and others

Bo Bo's Party
a song by Melanie

Bo! Bo! Bo!
a song by Boogie Down Productions

Famous People


Bo Diddley (musician)
Bo Jackson (baseball/football player)
Bo Bice (singer from American Idol)
Bo Derek (actress)
Bo Hagan (football coach)
Bo Belinsky (baseball player)
Bo Outlaw (basketball player)
Bo Pelini (football coach)
Bo Ryan (basketball coach)
Bo Schembechler (football coach)
Bo Obama (First Dog of the U.S.)

Children of Famous People


We cannot find any children of famous people with the first name Bo

Historic Figures


Bo Diddley (born Ellas Otha Bates) was one of the giants of twentieth century American rhythm and blues, being not only a songwriter and guitarist, but also an extraordinarily unique vocalist. Born in Mississippi and moving to Chicago at a young age, Bo Diddley’s early influences were the lively beats he heard in the Pentecostal churches of his youth. Inspired also by John Lee Hooker, Bo spent a good deal of time playing on street corners and pick-up bands before landing a spot on Chicago’s South Side. Along the way he adopted the stage name of Bo Diddley, for which we are all grateful. Making an appearance on the legendary Ed Sullivan show in 1955, Bo went on to ever increasing exposure and fame, recording, performing and touring both at home and abroad (and having as a supporting act in Britain in 1963 none other than The Rolling Stones). Over the years he appeared and recorded with a variety of stars, including Marvin Gaye, The Grateful Dead, Cheryl Crowe, Les Paul, Little Richard, The Everly Brothers and B.B. King. While he continued his musical career for almost his entire life, he also had the distinction of serving as a Deputy Sheriff in New Mexico in the 1970s! He died of heart failure at his home in Florida, and the accolades from around the world were overwhelming. The recipient of countless awards during his life and after, he was summed up by Mick Jagger, who said, "We will never see his like again”. We know, not the most original of quotes, but how many people have Mick Jagger commenting on their lives? We’ll venture to be just as banal by saying, sincerely, that he was one of a kind.