Using the N-order finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) method, we show that optical resonances of the bowtie nanoaperture (BNA) are due to the combination of a guided mode inside the aperture and Fabry-Perot modes along the metal thickness. The resonance of lower energy, which leads to the well-known light confinement in the gap zone, occurs at the cutoff wavelength of the fundamental guided mode. No plasmon resonance is directly involved in the generation of the light hot spot. We also define a straightforward relationship between the resonance wavelengths of the BNA and its geometrical parameters. This brings a simple tool for the optimization of the BNA design. © 2010 Optical Society of America.