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Quirky Vintage Nicknames for Boys: Huey, Louie and Howie

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By Angela Mastrodonato of Upswing Baby Names

The Victorian nickname trend that’s hot in the U.K. is getting attention in the U.S.—for girls.

The Brits have embraced this genre on both sexes. Alfie and Charlie are in the U.K. top 10. Archie, Freddie, and Harvey round out their top 50.

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.

Alfie – The title character from the 60’s film (remade in 2004) was a bit of a cad, but that hasn’t stopped the English and Welsh from naming almost 5,000 newborn boys Alfie in 2012 (which placed it at #7).

Archie – is well-represented in U.S. pop culture with All in the Family and the infamous comic books. Archie was in the bottom U.S. top 100 during the late 19th century. Contemporary Americans might appreciate Archie more as a nickname (for breakout name Archer) than a given name. The traditional long-form, Archibald, may seem fusty to many Americans, but makes a wonderful choice for those who love off-beat vintage names.

Freddie / Freddy – are famous through Freddy Krueger and Freddie Mercury. And both names are big in the U.K. Freddie was #38 in the U.K. last year, and Freddy was #238. Both spellings are at the bottom of the U.S. top 1000.

Gordie – Made famous by the Canadian hockey player, Gordie Howe, this diminutive of Gordon remains under-the-radar in the U.S. and the U.K.

Harvie / Harvey – This ancient name, brought to England after the Norman conquest, seems nickname-like, but doesn’t have many long-forms. What it does have is at least two style-markers: the similarity to hit-name Henry and the V found in fashionable names like Calvin, Everett, and Oliver. No wonder Harvey is a hot vintage revival name in the U.K. The diminutive Harve is more unusual and makes a concise statement.

Howie – is strongly associated with Howie Mandel, the Canadian comedian and Deal or No Deal host. The name may have aged, but could get a makeover on an adorable toddler.

Hewie / Huey – Forget Donald Duck’s nephew or the 80’s pop star. This diminutive of Hugh might be a tad dorky, but also super cute, and perfect for those who like geek-chic.

Jamie – became predominantly feminine in the 70’s, but has declined on both genders in recent decades. The name could see new life on boys due to charismatic celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.

Louie – The phonetic English spelling of Louis was long associated with the oldies hit tune, Louie Louie. Here’s another name in the U.K. top 100 that doesn’t even crack the U.S. top 1000. Louie is charmingly homespun and makes a fashionable choice on its own or as a nickname for Louis.

Marty – is perhaps familiar as the protagonist from the classic Back to the Future movie trilogy. Marty McFly comes into his own, and his name could do the same. Familiar to most, wearable on many, and seldom heard on boys under 5.

Rollie – This diminutive of Roland has become obscure in recent decades. Until the early 50’s, it spent some time in and out of the bottom-top 1000. For parents who can look past the “rollie-pollie” slang term, Rollie is a cute, little-known representation of this genre.

According to American conventional wisdom, the ideal is a formal name for business purposes and a casual nickname for social purposes. But more Americans are beginning to see the homey appeal of these names and could promote them to the birth certificate on both genders.

Angela Mastrodonato created  Upswing Baby Names to celebrate names on the upswing. She is a big-time name watcher, and has a growing list of names she watches by tracking their popularity each year. Sign up here to get your copy of this Watch List.

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upswingbabynames

Angela Mastrodonato created Upswing Baby Names to celebrate names on the upswing. She is a big-time name watcher, and has a growing list of names she watches by tracking their popularity each year. Sign up here to get your copy of this Watch List.
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