For generations, there was the name your parents chose, and then there was the name you actually used.
Some names were outgrown, of course. Others held on long after you’d expect them to fade. My great-uncle Flash was once a high school track star, but even as a portly gentleman in his 60s, he still answered to his nickname.
Of course, Billy and Mimi and Flash grew up in an era when lots of kids shared the same names, sometimes in the same family. Flash was really Anthony, as were a few of his cousins. Mimi is one of three Marys on her yearbook page alone.
Along with more freedom to choose our children’s names comes more insistence that the wider world use the name, exactly as we intend. We want our children’s name pronounced as we planned, spelled as we’ve chosen, and definitely not shortened without our blessing.
No wonder so many modern boys’ names feel nickname-proof. It isn’t just that we’re introducing our sons as William instead of Will. We’re choosing boys’ names that don’t leave any space for a short form.
The nine most newsworthy names this week are almost entirely nickname-free:
Ace – Rumor has it that Jessica Simpson is naming baby #2 Ace, a brother – or sister – for Maxwell Drew. In the 70s, Ace was the stage name of Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley – born Paul. Today, it is an up-and-coming, completely nickname-proof choice for a son.
Blaine – Did you hear about the Texas family who recently welcomed quadruplets? Their four sons also happen to be two sets of identical twins. The odds of such an event are one in 70 million. The boys are Ace, Blaine, Cash, and Dylan – babies A, B, C, and D. We’ve heard more than once case of parents naming their multiples in alphabetical order. Big brother is Memphis – another modern, nickname-proof choice.
Rex Rayne – UK DJ and television host Fearne Cotton is a new mom. Dad is Jesse Wood, son of Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Woods. Jesse is already father to Arthur and Lola. Once reserved for large dogs, the regal Rex is back as a great short name for a boy, an alternative to the wildly popular Max.
Ford – It isn’t just celebs or parents of multiples embracing short names for boys. This one comes from a recent birth announcement round-up: Ford Taylor. He’s preppy and presidential, but also an all-boy, muscle car pick. Ever since Owen Wilson named his son Robert Ford, I’ve been waiting to hear more of this one.
Link – Video game staple The Legend of Zelda includes a hero named Link. Plenty of today’s parents probably played the game in one version or another. Is it any wonder that Link surfaced in a recent birth announcement? We could hear more of him, for another reason, which leads to the next name …
Lincoln – This presidential surname is already on the rise. Nancy suggests that the successful historical drama could easily encourage more parents to use Lincoln. Strictly speaking, he’s not nickname-free. There’s Linc and maybe even Cole. But with boys called Ethan and Logan and Aiden everywhere, it is easy to imagine Lincoln fitting right in.
Felix – Hugh Grant surprised us all when he welcomed daughter Tabitha. Now Hugh and Tinglan Hong are new parents to baby boy Felix. Felix has become a celeb favorite, and he’s on the rise in the US, too. Is it time to declare him mainstream?
Holden – Backstreet Boy Howie Dorough has welcomed a second son, Holden John. He and wife Leigh are also parents to James Hoke. Holden is a literary choice for a son, and also – once – again – nickname-free.
Sebastian Taylor – I was waiting for something pretty outlandish from Wiz Khalifa and Amber Rose. Not so! They went with modern staple Sebastian. Like Oliver, Sebastian is a long name that can be shortened – but is almost always used in full.