Like Peter Parker and Clark Kent, everyday names that helped hide their bearers’ secret superhero identities, these nicknames shouldn’t cause anyone to bat an eye. If you want to pick an exotic name that will give your child the option of an “ordinary” nickname—or if you love a common nickname but not the common full name—or if you just enjoy playing with names—here’s a handful of under-the-radar nicknames for some long, bold, strange, or otherwise guilty-pleasure-worthy firsts.
Annie—Formal options for the cheerful Annie abound, from the classics Ann(e) or Anna through the French Antoinette and the Welsh Anwen. Today my favorite is another Greek choice, the mythological Andromeda.
Polly—Another vintage nickname that could come in handy if you, like me, have a soft spot for joyously over-the-top Greek muse name Polyhymnia.
Andy—I know that for some folks it’s the other way round, but if you love the amiable Andy while disliking Andrew, why not consider, perhaps, the dashing Shakespearean Orlando? Isandro and Enando are options even more unusual.
Joe—Who doesn’t know a Joe? But who does know a Joe whose nickname stands not for Joseph or Josiah but for undiscovered Biblical Joash? There are also Joab, Jotham, and Joachim, to name a few others. You could also, of course, nickname your Joash Ash.
Matt—Matthew has hovered in the Top 10-20 for decades, and Matthias has begun moving up. How about using rough-and-ready Matt to nickname the sophisticated Mathurin, a French saint’s name never in the U.S. Top 1000?
Ron—I could see modern parents reviving Ron, thanks to Harry Potter character Ron Weasley. No one seems to like Ronald these days, though. What about Oberon? The fairy king’s name from A Midsummer Night’s Dream can also be spelled Auberon, close cousin to Aubrey.
Tim—everyone will assume Tim is really Timothy, but what if he’s really Mortimer? The resemblance to mortician and mortuary is no accident—they share a root with Mortimer—but the name has its fans, due perhaps to the character in Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend and Cary Grant’s character in Arsenic and Old Lace. Tim would also work for Septimus, a Latin number-name featured in the recent Valentine’s Day post.
I’m sure these possibilities are only a beginning. Any other creative secret-identity nickname ideas?