Baby Boy Names: The long and short of it

boy baby names

by Pamela Redmond Satran

A friend is searching for baby boy names that start out long – three or more syllables long – and can be reduced to one-syllable nicknames.

If you’ve got a two-syllable last name, this is a good strategy. You end up with not one but two euphonic pairings.  And your child has the benefit of a proper, even imposing formal name as well as a short, friendly, accessible nickname.

Some stylish options for long baby boy names with short nicknames:

AbrahamAbe or Bram

AlexanderLex or Xan

Augustine or AugustusGus

Balthazar or Lazarus – Zar 


EdisonEd or Ned


Finnian or Finnegan or PhineasFinn



Isaiah – I or Zay




Jupiter — Jupe


Ludovic or LudovicoLu

Macarthur, Macgregor etc – Mack



NathanielNat or Nate

Octavio or OctaviusTav


Rafael or RaffertyRafe

SebastianBas or Seb






Zebulon or ZebediahZeb


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23 Responses to “Baby Boy Names: The long and short of it”

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iamamiam Says:

September 3rd, 2013 at 12:00 am

This same logic is why I love Truman (True) and Everett (Rhett) paired with 3-syllable surnames. Cormac (Mac), Gavin (Vin), Lennox (Len or Knox), Coltrane (Colt) could also work. Also, Montague (Monte) would work for a 1-syllable surname and Edison (Ed or Sonny) would work with a 2 or 1 syllable surname, respectively.

augusta_lee Says:

September 3rd, 2013 at 12:09 am

So glad to see Balthazar on other peoples’ radars! Personally I prefer Baz as a short form, and Fox for Frederick.

orphanedhanyou Says:

September 3rd, 2013 at 12:20 am

glad the writer didnt make nicknames up out of thin air by re-arranging the letters or adding random ones to create a nickname that sounds nothing like the real name!

WaltzingMoreThanMatilda Says:

September 3rd, 2013 at 3:51 am

I love all of these, but especially Ezekiel (Zeke), Rafferty (Rafe), and Thaddeus (Thad).

Another one would be Theodore, nn Ted. You might have thought that was too similar to Thad to include! 🙂

mge28 Says:

September 3rd, 2013 at 6:59 am

My little brother is Isaiah nn Zay. I didn’t know that was a legitimate nickname! It’s just something we call him. I know a really cool guy named Thad. Not sure of the full name.

Sunshine.10 Says:

September 3rd, 2013 at 7:02 am

Great post! I love Isaiah nn Zay! I had never heard that before.

Tina_and_Bert Says:

September 3rd, 2013 at 8:55 am

Ah! Thaddeus nn Thad and Whitaker nn Whit are on my long lists! I love them! I’ve also met a woman with a son named Sebastian nn Bash, which I think is charming and sweet. Her other son is Theodore nn Theo, which I kind of like better than Ted or even Teddy.

Frankie Says:

September 3rd, 2013 at 9:02 am

I love long boys’ names. They sound so much nicer than frilly, ends-in-a girls’ names. There are some great ones on this list – Solomon, Rafael, Jupiter, Valentine, Balthazar…

I also adore the nickname Oz, but can never find the perfect name for it. I kind of like it with either August or Boaz.

katybug Says:

September 3rd, 2013 at 10:39 am

Sullivan, nicknamed Van, was our second choice for our son. We ultimately decided against it because we didn’t think we could keep people from calling him Sully. Donovan, nicknamed Van, is another option, but only if you can accept Donnie as a nickname too!

niteowl13 Says:

September 3rd, 2013 at 11:56 am

I don’t recommend Jupe since it is skirt in French!

Goodkarmavt Says:

September 3rd, 2013 at 12:49 pm

I’d go for Leo with Leopold over Lee any day!

JH Says:

September 3rd, 2013 at 1:11 pm

My son’s name is Leo…just Leo after my grandpa. I love Frederick if we have a second boy but I don’t really like Fred. I love augusta_lee’s suggestion of Fox! I liked that name too but didn’t want that to be a boy’s real name.

tori101 Says:

September 3rd, 2013 at 3:09 pm

My favourites are…
Abraham ‘Bram’
Alexander ‘Lex’

Have you thought of Leonardo? Nickname Leo.

wgcathyhillary Says:

September 3rd, 2013 at 7:12 pm


wgcathyhillary Says:

September 3rd, 2013 at 7:13 pm

Sorry for that comment, my computer did something weird ahaha

iwillpraise Says:

September 4th, 2013 at 11:50 am

I’ve never known any real-life Theo’s, but hearing the name only reminds me of the Huxtable’s son on the Cosby Show. Likewise, Whitaker will always be reminiscent of John Avery Whitaker nn Whit, the wise shopkeeper/inventor of “Whit’s End” in Adventures in Odessey 🙂

I’ve always really liked all the Jeb, Jed, Judd names – they are just too cool. Rafe gives the same vibe (I prefer the Rafferty version). My husband would say the same about Ezekiel nn Zeke; and even tho he can, I’m not entirely sure that I can envision a son bearing that moniker! Sebastian has been on my radar ever since I saw how cute Bastian was in Never Ending Story, but hubby doesn’t care for it.

Not until recently had I met a human named Solomon (only a big black Labrador Retriever!). Little Soli was about 4, but I think nickname Solo would be that much more awesome (a great nod to Star Wars!).

Gabe is cool too, just more of a “classic cool” which is more my style and one of the few boys nn’s I love. Just like Josiah, Tobiah/Tobias nn Toby could fit this list. Toby is one of the only other ones I love. I know a Josiah nn Joey who is still in elementary school. As a teenager, I fell in love with the name Josiah, and boy, was I surprised when I found out little Joey’s full name wasn’t Joseph!!

LuMary Says:

September 5th, 2013 at 1:10 pm

As an evangelical Christian, many of the following seem shopworn, but here’s my two cents on the fly:

Jeremiah, Jeremy – Jem
Zachariah, Zacharias, Zachary – Zach, Zack
Barnabas, Barnaby – Abe
Zebediah, Zebedy – Zeb
Timothy – Tim
Isaiah, Isaias – Ike
Obadiah – Obe, Ad
Theodore, Thaddeus – Ted
Simeon – Sim, Sims
Ichabod – Ike
Malachi – Mac
Lemuel – Lem
Elijah – Lije
Elisha – Lishe
Lazarus – Laz, Zar
Daniel – Dan
Joshua – Josh
Abiel – Abe
Gideon – Gid

LuMary Says:

September 5th, 2013 at 4:28 pm

More come to mind:

Dominic – Dom, Nick
Nicholas – Nick, Cole
Xavier – Zave
Hezekiah – Zeke
Benjamin – Ben
Ulysses – Ule
Christopher – Kit, Kip
Sylvester – Sly

LuMary Says:

September 5th, 2013 at 4:46 pm

Jonathan – Jon, Nate, Jake
Absalom – Ab, Abe
Adoniram – Ad
Atticus – Ace
Nehemiah – Nye
Josiah – Sy
Samuel – Sam
Habakkuk – Abe, Ab
Sebastian – Bash

LuMary Says:

September 5th, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Demetrios, Demetrius – Tri (Tree), Deme, Mo
Maximos, Maximus – Max, Mo

gailk Says:

September 6th, 2013 at 9:59 pm

I have recently fallen in love with the slightly shakespeare-ish name
Benvolio- nn Ben, Benny, or Lio (like Leo)

LuMary Says:

September 9th, 2013 at 8:35 am

More came to mind:

Timothy – I forgot to mention Ty as a nickname (above)
Ebenezer – Eb, Ben
Oliver – Noll (sounds feminine to me, though)
Tolliver – Toll
Rutherford – Ford
Wellington – Wells
Emmanuel – Mel
Bartholomew – Bart, Art, Toll
Eleazar – Laz
Jacoby – Jake, Cobe
Raphael – Ralph

Bahamut Says:

September 9th, 2013 at 2:06 pm

I suppose one could also come up with Russ as a possible nick for Lazarus.

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