By Aimee Reneau Tafreshi
I was at a 1950’s-style diner with my young daughter Addie when an older waitress asked me what the name was short for. “Adair,” I said, and was shocked when the waitress told me that her grown daughter’s name was also Adair, called “Dare.” I was impressed and also a little envious of this older mom’s ability to come up with not only an original first name but also a unique nickname that maintained the boldness of Adair. And here I was stuck with the ubiquitous Addie.
I took the task of naming my daughter seriously. Some moms comparison shopped for nursery furniture or researched car seats; I test drove baby names. Did I want a baby that was hip like Clementine, well traveled like Esmé, classy like Catherine or happy as a Lark? Or was my future daughter an athletic Billie, a fashion-forward Daphne or an artistic Margot?
Nameberry’s predictions for baby names 2013:
Vintage names have been cool for a while now, but old school nicknames are just starting to come into their own.
The Brits have led the way on the revival of the retro nickname, with their fashionable little Alfies and Evies, Freddys and Teddys — though Teddy just might be a girl.
Using one of these new old nicknames for your child can be a way to give a fresh spin to a classic name, to distinguish a little girl from her namesake grandma, or to set your Henry apart from the five others on the block.
Here, a roundup of classic and vintage names and their old school nicknames.
You do your best (Of course you do! You’re here!!) to give your child a name that’s elegant, enlightened, perhaps even nickname-proof.
And then — maybe from older siblings, from nursery school friends, maybe even from you! — your child ends up with another, unexpected nickname.
Maybe the nickname is cute, maybe it’s horrifying, but in any case it was unplanned.
What do you call your child that you never expected to? What nicknames have they taken on, from the outside world or inside the family nest? What about your own unexpected nicknames and those of your siblings? What are those unexpected nicknames, and where did they come from?
Conventional wisdom holds that baby names tend to follow the Hundred-Year-Rule, cycling back after a century has passed. But with everything speeding up exponentially in modern life, and with the great interest in all things mid-century, we’re thinking maybe we should change that to the Fifty-Year-Rule.
Which prompts us to a close look at the Top 1000 names of 1962.
At first glance, the Top 10 are not very inspiring—mostly classics for boys: Michael, David, John, James, Robert, Mark, William, Richard, Thomas, and Jeffrey, and for girls names very much of the period: Lisa, Mary, Susan, Karen, Linda, Patricia, Donna, Cynthia, Deborah, and Sandra.
But digging deeper into the data, we find an interesting mix of revival possibilities—all of them missing from today’s Top 1000, and most of them gone for decades. Towards the lower end we find vestiges of a still earlier time—names like Percy and Virgil, Myrtle and Minerva— as well as nickname names that have been lost to time, some ethnic choices no longer prominent here, plus more archetypal midcentury names which might possibly be ready to return.