Category: Middle, Last and Nicknames
by Linda Rosenkrantz
A Berry recently posted a request for a blog explaining the origins of some of the common nicknames—more properly diminutives or pet forms– for classic names that seem to be miles apart. And of course we aim to please, so…..
There is a certain logic to it all, as well as some whimsy. The simplest road to a pet form is, obviously, by shortening it to its first one or two syllables, as in Di for Diana, Ben for Benjamin, Archie for Archibald and Eliza for Elizabeth. Occasionally, a middle syllable will do the job, leading to Liz for Elizabeth and Xan for Alexander. (Where this gets a little tricky is when the pronunciation of the base name has changed over the years—Richard seems to have been often pronounced Rickard at one time, resulting in the nickname Rick and his rhyming cousin Dick, with Dick then becoming so popular that the phrase “every Tom, Dick and Harry” became a euphemism for Everyman. Or a sprinkling of the letters in the name could lead, say, from Dorothy to Dot.
The Victorian nickname trend that’s hot in the U.K. is getting attention in the U.S.—for girls.
Believe it or not, these names have potential on modern American boys.
Charlie is an example of a nickname-style name that is steadily becoming more popular in the U.S, although it has yet to capture the success it enjoys across the pond, where it ranked at #4 last year.
In the U.S. Charlie is a comeback name that was fashionable in the late 19th century when it consistently ranked in or near the top 30. Through most of the 20th century, Charlie gradually declined to its lowest rank in the 90′s when it ranked in the 400s. This past decade, Charlie has rebounded. Last year it reached #233.
Here are some other nicknames that share the same boyish charm as Charlie. Many were once popular in the U.S. and have comeback potential.
But no. After a long day of working on Nameberry, what do I do for relaxation but turn to the hallowed pages of The London Telegraph, where I peruse the birth announcements in search of….more baby names.
This time, what caught my eye were all the three-named babies. Maybe the oh-so-British three-name arrangement struck me because of the young prince George Alexander Louis, whose own three names are a departure from the usual royal four. Was that Will and Kate‘s way of signaling that they were just like us…or at least like other young upper class British parents?
A few things we noticed about the three names of the babies noted here:
– More surnames such as Kynaston and Constable in the middle which are not mothers’ maiden names but may well be family names
In case you’re interested in finding three great names for your own baby, you might find some inspiration in these wonderful recent British choices.
A friend is searching for baby boy names that start out long – three or more syllables long – and can be reduced to one-syllable nicknames.
If you’ve got a two-syllable last name, this is a good strategy. You end up with not one but two euphonic pairings. And your child has the benefit of a proper, even imposing formal name as well as a short, friendly, accessible nickname.
Some stylish options for long baby boy names with short nicknames: