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?
Maybe because Nameberry attracts such serious name lovers, many visitors to the site can’t settle for choosing just one name for their babies.
I’m not talking about the trend toward picking two middle names but about the taste for baby girl names that have two very different versions: a classic, elaborate, elegant, formal name with a cute, modern, spunky nickname that may be very distinct in sound and feel.
These two-for-one names seem to work best for girls, as evidenced by a recent message board rundown of the possibilities. And of course it’s a phenomenon we’ve come across frequently on Nameberry before.
Many parents, in fact, say they’re only interested in baby girl names that go two ways. And most don’t want to settle for the obvious, traditional short form — Penny for Penelope, for example — but are seeking a proper name and an inventive short form.
Some examples of fresh two-for-one names for girls, with thanks to our wonderful berries for some of these creative ideas:
If a name is in the Top 10, it might be easy, but what if they’re further down the list….and how far is far enough? Judging popular names gets even more difficult when they’re short forms, maybe not so popular at all on their own.
Just how ubiquitous is Lily?, an expectant mom asked recently on our forums. Lily as itself is Number 17 on the official popularity list; up there, for sure, but there are only a third as many Lilys as there are girls who get the number one Isabella. So is Lily really one of those names you’re going to hear coming and going?
Sadly, the answer may be yes, and here’s why.
Lily, along with a handful of other nickname names, is not only popular on its own, but it’s used as a short form for several other popular names: Lillian, Liliana, and so on. The result: Many more Lilys than you might guess.
This phenomenon can be applied to names with many spelling variations: Leila or Michaela or Mackenzie in their rainbow of flavors. But today’s focus is on nicknames gone wild. Sure, these are adorable, but they all come with a warning label: rampant popularity ahead.
Addie – Addie is sweet and old-fashioned and even fresh-feeling, a followup to the now-overused Abby. But Addie is coming up fast thanks to a host of newly-popular mother names, from the trendy Addison to cool classics Adeline and Adelaide, often chosen specifically because they come with cute short form Addie.
Alex – Alex may be the unisex nickname name of the decade, not only a Top 100 name on its own for boys for a short form for boys’ Number 6 Alexander along with a huge contingent of popular girls’ names: Alexis, Alexa, Alexandra et al.
Let’s say you like the casual and peppy energetic feel of some nicknames, the short, relaxed sound of others, but you still want on your baby’s birth certificate a name that has roots and substance and meaning—one that will be accepted as a “real” name. There definitely is a category of names that allows you to have it both ways.
Let me modify that a little: Yes, quite a few of the names below did start historically as diminutives or pet forms of others—Nell emerged as a nickname for Eleanor or Helen and Cleo is, obviously, a short form of Cleopatra. And some suffer from guilt by association–the biblical Jesse sounds an awfu lot like Bessie and Tessie. But the point is that they have stood on their own for long enough to have their own substantive histories, not to be dismissed as ‘just a nickname.’
Here is a list of options that fill that bill—light in feel but strong on tradition.