How many names does it take to make a trend?
Well, with the number of nicknames for girls —both starbabies and civilians— coming from the boys’ camp these days, it’s starting to feel like a trend. Call out Charlie or Sam in a playground and no telling what gender child will come running. And if you look in the celebrity section you might also see a Johnnie, a Billie, a Lou or a Frances-called-Frankie dressed in pink.
Each of these nicknames for girls has a slightly different back story. Sam is a recent arrival, legitimizing the short form that so many Samanthas are called (anyone remember that ill-fated 80s sitcom My Sister Sam?)—but recent enough that it has never appeared on the Social Security list. Charlie, on the other hand, has been on the girls’ list on and off for over a century, first from 1880 to 1951, after which it dropped off until 2005, when it reappeared. Billie has been in the Top 1000 for all but one year since 1886, reaching a high point in the 1930s, when it was in the Top 100.
So though boyish nicknames for girls feels like a new trend, it has happened before. In the unisex-oriented 60s and 70s–and even earlier– there was a fad for changing the last letter of a boyish nickname from y to i or ie, so that at that time nursery school lists were populated with girls named Andie, Randi, Ronni, Ricki, Micki, Shelli and Kelli.
But you have to go even further back to see the full flowering of this particular naming pattern. In 1930, there were enough girls with the following male nickname names to land them on the most popular list (of course some were pet forms of girls’ names as well):
Think any of them is ready for a comeback? What do you think of boys’ nicknames for girls in general? Too flimsy? Too confusing?