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Category: vintage nicknames

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I don’t you know if you’ve noticed a growing trendlet—at least among celebrities—for what we might call generic-boy-nickname-names.  In other words, these aren’t specific short forms like Charlie or Archie, but ol- timey macho boy tags like Buddy and Buster.

In the recent past, we’ve seen Noel Gallagher’s Sonny, a choice shared by British singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor—as well as Adam Sandler’s daughter Sunny; Jamie Oliver’s Buddy Bear Maurice; Michele Hicks and Jonny Lee Miller’s Buster Timothy; the three Aces of Natalie Appleton, Tom Dumont, and Jennie Finch and Casey Daigle; the two Dukes of Diane Keaton and Justine Bateman; and the Junior of Peter Andre and Katie Price.

We can’t help wondering if this is yet another offshoot of the midcentury Mad Men phenomenon, bringing us back to the days of Father Knows Best’s Bud (birth name James Anderson, Jr.) and J. D. Salinger’s Buddy Glass (real name Webb Gallagher Glass), and Marlon Brando, who was known to friends and family as Bud.  In those days, though, Sonny or Buster were not usually put on the birth certificate, and over time those pet names began to be relegated to pets.

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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):

ARTIE

BENNIE

BERTIE

BILLY

BOBBIE

BOBBY

CHARLIE

DONNIE

EDDIE

FRANKIE

FREDDIE

GEORGIE

JACKIE

JIMMIE

JOE

JOHNNIE

LENNIE

LONNIE

LOU

OLLIE

ROBBIE

SAMMIE

THEO

TOMMIE

WILLIE (in the top 100, accounting for over 3,000 girls–maybe because Wilma, Willla, and Wilhelmina were all on the list as well that year)

Think any of them is ready for a comeback?  What do you think of boys’ nicknames for girls in general?  Too flimsy?  Too confusing?

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Vintage Nicknames: Boys’ Edition

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Last week we blogged about vintage nicknames for girls; now it’s boy time.

Nicknames are tres chic these days, which is why it makes sense to search for new old sources for fresh examples.  Here, choices from a long list of vintage nicknames from 18th and 19th century America from the Connecticut State Library.

Not only are some of the proper names used in Colonial and Victorian times now rarely heard, but the nicknames may be antiquated too.

I’ve left off the predictable choices like Rob for Robert or Jack for John  What’s here are  either surprising combinations or short forms for still-used names that are in danger of becoming obscure.

Here, some vintage nicknames that will distinguish you from the Jakes, Charlies and Wills currently heard in every pediatrician’s office.

NICKNAME / Proper Names

AUGIE / August

BAT / Bartholomew

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Vintage Nicknames: Girls’ Edition

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Five minutes ago, I didn’t know I was going to write a blog on this topic.  And then searching for something else (I can’t even remember what!) I came across a long list of vintage  nicknames from 18th and 19th century America from the Connecticut State Library.

Not only are some of the proper names used in Colonial and Victorian times now rarely heard, but the nicknames may be antiquated too.  But nickname names are back in fashion., making it a prime time to dig up some new (or new old) examples.

I’ve left off the predictable choices like Margie for Margaret or Abby for Abigail.  What’s here are  either surprising combinations or vintage nicknames for still-used names that are in danger of becoming obscure.

Here, some ideas for pulling ahead of the Gracies, Evies, and Ellies currently heard in every pediatrician’s office;

NICKNAME/Proper Name

ABBY / Tabitha

BAB or BABBIE / Barbara

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