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Baby Name Nicknames: The ubiquitous Addie

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By Aimee Reneau Tafreshi

I was at a 1950’s-style diner with my young daughter Addie when an older waitress asked me what the name was short for.   “Adair,” I said, and was shocked when the waitress told me that her grown daughter’s name was also Adair, called “Dare.”   I was impressed and also a little envious of this older mom’s ability to come up with not only an original first name but also a unique nickname that maintained the boldness of Adair. And here I was stuck with the ubiquitous Addie.

I took the task of naming my daughter seriously.  Some moms comparison shopped for nursery furniture or researched car seats; I test drove baby names. Did I want a baby that was hip like Clementine, well traveled like Esmé, classy like Catherine or happy as a Lark? Or was my future daughter an athletic Billie, a fashion-forward Daphne or an artistic Margot?

My uber cool work colleague, who had two children with names that could grace the pages of a Pottery Barn catalog, advised me to choose a name that would allow my child to stand out but not hang so out there that she is exposed to ridicule.

Martha? Nah, she’s too straight-laced. Sailor? Cute until she gets tipsy in a bar and starts cussing like one.

And then my finger landed on Adair. Unique? Check. Normal enough to get invited to senior prom?  Check.

I liked that Adair started with the letter “A,” as in my extensive baby name research I had read that people with first names starting with the letter “A” were more likely to make A’s in school, go to law school and basically lead overall better lives than the unfortunate children given names beginning with B, C or D. I reasoned that my name started with an “A,” I made A’s in school, and I indeed graduated from a reputable law school. So naturally, Adair was well on her way to the same future. She was probably studying Latin in utero. The fact that Adair meant “noble spear” added to its coolness factor. Adair would show no mercy on her future courtroom opponents as a high-powered litigator.

I had my daughter’s life all figured out — until my parents decided that they would call their granddaughter “Addie.” Luckily, I thought Addie made a charming nickname for a little girl. That is until I met Addie at the playground, Adie at the theme park, Adi at the zoo, and Addy my sister-in-law’s best friend’s daughter. There are so many Addies in my daughter’s ballet class that the teacher has color-coded them by hair color (brunette, blonde and strawberry blonde).

I am amazed by the number of preschool age girls with names beginning with “Ad-,” such as Adeleine (a personal favorite of mine, as it adheres to the traditional spelling of Madeleine, minus the –M), Adelaide (exotic place name choice), Adelie (reminiscent of the French movie heroine Amelie), Adele (evocative of the Jazz Age), and the Top Ten Addison.

I may have given my baby a name that has never been on the Social Security’s Top 1000 list – there were only 23 baby girls named Adair in the US in 2012 – but find myself with a child whose name is everywhere.  We’ve gotten used to these types of exchanges with other parents-of-Addies:

Other mom, with a tone of extreme surprise: “Oh wow, your daughter is called Addie too?

Me: “Yes.” Oh no, it’s another one.

Other mom: “Is your daughter’s name… (fill in the blank here; options include but are not limited to Addison (Thank you, Grey’s Anatomy, the early years)?”

Me: “No, it’s Adair.”

Other mom follows with a compliment for my name choice, a look of slight confusion, or in worst cases, silence.

Though my quest for the best name ever appeared initially to end in defeat, upon reflection, perhaps Adair/Addie’s combination of unique name and popular nickname is a blessing in disguise. If Adair wants to stand out and distinguish herself, she can use her more sophisticated legal name. If she wishes to blend in more with her peers – and so far, she barely raises her head when a preschool teacher attempts to call her “Adair” — then she can opt for the more user-friendly Addie.

The most fun part of meeting another Addie is discovering what that Addie is short for, and so far, I find all of the proper names to be beautiful and unique, like the Addies who bear those names. If I have another daughter, I’m a huge fan of the name Madeleine. Maddie and Addie will be inseparable.

Aimee Reneau Tafreshi is a former litigator, mother of three and wife to a Navy submariner. She is passionate about all things baby names. She has previously ghostwritten for a prominent Texas-based copywriter and also written for “Study Breaks” magazine, The Daily Texan, and The Whisper, a legal e-publication. She is finishing her first novel while traversing the globe in support of her husband’s Naval career.

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About the author

Aimee Tafreshi

Aimee Tafreshi is a former litigator and mother of three young children. She is passionate about all things baby names. She is also a contributing writer for Little World Organics and has written for Fé Fit, Study Breaks magazine and The Daily Texan. She is working on a legal thriller while traversing the globe in support of her husband’s peripatetic career. You can follow her blog at aimeetafreshi.com.
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26 Responses to “Baby Name Nicknames: The ubiquitous Addie”

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KMG729 Says:

August 28th, 2013 at 1:00 am

My daughter is an “Adelaide” that goes by “Addy.” I am often stopped and asked if she is an “Addison” and when I say no I have gotten a lot of the same reactions – “Wow, that’s beautiful! What a nice way to tie a unique and common name together.” I love that my daughter can distinguish herself when she’s older, but now feels like she can fit in with her nickname. Loved this article!

livia Says:

August 28th, 2013 at 4:19 am

I love Ad- names, and I love Addie, no matter how popular it is.

R_J Says:

August 28th, 2013 at 6:19 am

I had a dream last night where for some reason I was insisting in the name Adelaide, nickname Della. My husband thought that was silly and wanted it to be Addie. I must be blog-psychic. 🙂

Great blog!

navygirl7 Says:

August 28th, 2013 at 7:40 am

I love Adele. It’s short enough that I would never call her Addie, but I know other people might…

orphanedhanyou Says:

August 28th, 2013 at 8:16 am

i dont get why people shorten already short names in the first place. why name someone something only to never called them that name? sometimes yes, but to the point they dont even look up when someone calls it?

lindsW Says:

August 28th, 2013 at 9:17 am

Love Addie and Adair…

But a warning to those who give unique first names combined with common nicknames. My niece is Louisa on her birth certificate but has been Lucie since day 1, until she started Montessori school, where she is now firmly Louisa. Upside — she’s like Madonna there. I picked her up one day and asked for “Louisa (last name).” The pick-up monitor used only Louisa when calling for her and out she came…

alphabetdem Says:

August 28th, 2013 at 11:05 am

I met a little girl the other day, and I asked what her name was. She was shy, so her mom replied “Ginny!” I asked what it was short for, expecting Jennifer or Genevieve. She shocked me: Guinevere! I loved that she used Guinevere, but really? She resorted to Ginny as a nickname?

tori101 Says:

August 28th, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Cool post!! Love your child’s name Adair how cute!

@ alphabetdem I love the Ginny nickname and Guinevere is lush

amac25 Says:

August 28th, 2013 at 4:08 pm

My little sister had a hard time saying Annie, so my nickname became Addie. It only stuck with family though, but I always liked that one.

EmilyVA Says:

August 28th, 2013 at 4:27 pm

I love the name Adelaide. My favorite nickname is Della. I love Della and might use it on it’s own. Anastasiaruby says her favorite for nickname for Adelaide is Lady. I like that is has so many nicknames.

I think parents on nameberry seem to take nicknames so seriously. So much drama! Like there is only one correct answer and one name she can be called and if you pick the wrong nickname it’s set in stone. Um, not really. If you name her Adair, you prefer Dare all of a sudden you can use Dare. That’s one of the points of long formal names; Options for nicknames.

I also wouldn’t expect Ginny as a nickname for Genevieve or Jennifer. I would have expect her to be named either Virginia or Ginevra. Guinevere is interesting though!

Great Post! Even more true for boys name, as I expect people who used William are finding out.

Sunshine.10 Says:

August 29th, 2013 at 7:50 am

I really enjoyed your post! Adair is a stunning name choice — love it.

GrecianErn Says:

August 29th, 2013 at 11:09 am

I went to college with an Addie from Oklahoma. That was her whole name.

I like it a lot.

iwillpraise Says:

August 29th, 2013 at 12:42 pm

When I have a daughter, she will be Adelaide <3

Although it may appear to be an "exotic place name choice" to everyone these days, to be honest, the PLACE Adelaide, Australia was named to honor the lovely [PERSON] German princess who married into the English royal family. Why else would Queen Victoria use it as one of her daughter's middle names if not to honor a worthy namesake? Of course, my daughter Adelaide won't be named after the princess (although I think it's pretty cool), I got the name from a just-as-wonderful literary namesake also from the 19th century. As soon as I read the name at age 16, there was nothing else that could shadow its beauty and rarity….. I am thankful my husband loves it too 🙂

Over the last 11 years however, I've been quite aware of how many "Addie"s have come into the picture. I almost want to resort to a first-middle combo for mine to identify with (you better believe I'm being very particular with my choice!). Or maybe I should just stick with the adored full name Adelaide- really, how hard is it to say this as opposed to Addie? it's only 1 syllable more.

My dear friend, Adrianna – better known as Adri – has an aunt who calls her Addie. But most of the Addie's you hear today (even elderly Addie's – and yes, I even ask them what their full name is in hopes to find an Adelaide!) are short for Adeline/Adelyn/Addison. @ EmilyVA -I used to adore the nn Lady because it is totally my cup of tea, until I overheard a co-worker of mine use a customer's name "Lainey" in a sentance – I mistook it for "Lady", so it sounded like she was being sarcastic: "Ok, lady"…. I just about fell over when I heard it and it's changed my mind forever.

also @ EmilyVA – Have you ever tried to change your "name" in one day?!? Try it and see. It's difficult and even more so when switching from something like Addie to Dare with 2 distinct sounds and feels. Use my name for instance: I am Kimberly nn Kimmie – Kim or Kimber is easy, yes. But what if I told my mother (who's known me all 27 years of my life!) that I desire to be called Imber. Don't you think that would be quite difficult??

jmsouthern Says:

August 29th, 2013 at 6:34 pm

I named my daughter Calyssa, with the intention of giving her a pretty, unique, distinctive name with a bonus: the well-accepted, cute nn Callie. However, “Callie” never stuck on my daughter; she’s now nearly 10 and goes by nothing but Calyssa. Ah, well…

Adelaide is on my short list, should I ever be so fortunate as to have another daughter, for the same reasons I chose Calyssa’s name” pretty, distinctive, bonus cute nn.

@iwillpraise I don’t think of Adelaide as a place name either. I think of it as a literary name; in Johanna Spyri’s classic Heidi, it is revealed that the titular Swiss orphan’s given name is Adelaide, after her mother. In some English translations it’s spelled Adelheid, which makes it easier to see the genesis of her nn.

EmilyVA Says:

August 29th, 2013 at 8:58 pm

@Iwillpraise Who said anything about one day?!?!?!??!?!?!?!???!!!!!! I didn’t say that. I also think yes Addie and Dare are different from each other, but neither is that different from the actual name Adair so no it wouldn’t that different. Several of my friends and family have changed the names they go by and most people remember how they prefer to be addressed. I do think it would be hard to go from being Hannah to Persephone. Especially in one day!!!! I know several people who by several forms of their name and it’s not a big deal. I think it can be done as long as there is a connection to the original name.

morgantaylore Says:

August 30th, 2013 at 12:30 am

Is anyone else wondering what the “pottery barn” names are? I”m so intrigued now!

legaleagle Says:

August 30th, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Thanks everyone for the great comments and feedback. Morgan, the “Pottery Barn” names were Lila and Grady. Nothing too groundbreaking but kind of in line with what I have seen in the past in Pottery Barn catalogs. : ) @iwillpraise — a couple years after I had Adair, my mom discovered in looking at my grandmother’s old letters that she kept that there was a cousin Addie way back in the family tree, and we found out it stood for Adelaide. I agree that Adelaide is much more than a place name, and in hindsight, I thought, gee, I should have gone with Adelaide since it was a family name. But it’s kinda cool that Addie was a family name too.

legaleagle Says:

August 30th, 2013 at 5:36 pm

@Navygirl I was this close to naming Adair “Adele,” and did not — funny she shares the same birthday with Adele the singer. I absolutely love Adele for a girl’s name (and the singer too, ha ha).

notcinnamon Says:

August 30th, 2013 at 10:31 pm

As a name nerd all my life, I took Adair (Adaire, actually) to the hospital with both babies, where it was a truly last-minute elimination. It is utterly gorgeous. Not a fan of nicknames anyway, I can’t imagine lumping lovely Adair in with all the Addys…but to each her own. Congratulations on the most lovely of first names. What is her mn, by the way?

kristenvg Says:

August 31st, 2013 at 8:59 pm

We ended up with a similar situation. Our daughter is named Lucienne- a name which my husband and I love. Our families thought we were insane and my father flat our refused to call her that. She goes by Lucie, but does answer to Lucienne as well. Nice, normal nickname, and a wonderful, unique legal name if she wants it. Best of both worlds!

Kbolt Says:

September 5th, 2013 at 9:39 am

Our baby girl is just simply Addie. She was named after her great grandmother. I had never heard the name until meeting her before I married my husband. She was a precious and spunky lady near and dear to my heart. Our Addie is so much like her. She also is called by her first and middle names and answers to “Addie Marie” which breaks up the similarity with other Addie’s. since she was born 10 years ago we have run into a sea of Addie’s, just as nick names though. None are like her and just named simply Addie.

We also have a son named Ezra, which is also a family name. We love the uniqueness and the boldness of it. Family members have tried to shorten it to “E” or “Ez” but none have stuck.

Btw love Adair!!

invadermo0se13 Says:

January 15th, 2014 at 1:50 pm

My daughter’s name is Adeleine Jade and whle her nickname is “addie” or as her father spells it “addy”, I don’t feel like she blends in at all with the other “addies”. I tend to call her by her middle name Jade and often use Addie-Jade, or Jadey when calling to her. I love that Addie is simple for her to say (she is 16 months) and she will point to herself and say “addie!” I also think its fun to hear what other addies full names are. So far we have yet to meet another Adeleine, and we often get complemented on how unique it is. I recently met another adult addie who’s full name is Adamina, which I think is lovely and unique. To me Adeleine seems like a very flowy, feminine, yet strong name. Combined with an edgier middle name Jade, and I’m in love. Addie is a cutesy nickname, but when she gets older she will be able to use Adeleine, or even Jade if she likes that better. I’ve never heard Adair before but its a great name too!

SparkleNinja18 Says:

May 13th, 2014 at 4:51 pm

I love the name Adair! My favorite girls’ name is Adalyn and even though I wouldn’t try to call her Addie (my name is Abby!) I’ve been told the nickname Addie is inevitable. Oh well.

LeighG Says:

May 29th, 2014 at 7:41 pm

I am excited to find this post, as I have a daughter named Adair, born Dec 2010. We didn’t shorten, or give her a nickname, I think she will grow into it beautifully. (Though her siblings lovingly call her “Dare-dare”). I have gotten the whole spectrum of responses, from silence, to surprise, to adoration. But names are so personal and taste is so varied. I would be tickled to find another little girl named Adair someday…but not TOO many!

ARead Says:

October 1st, 2014 at 9:15 pm

My daughter Adelaide is just Adelaide at the moment (she’s 8 months old), it’s really not too much to say. We called her Laidy before she was born because we had to adhere to my husband’s British tradition of not announcing the baby’s name till she was born and calling her “little Laidy” felt like a sneaky and clever way around that, lol!

I love that she can be Adelaide now, Laidy in preschool, Addie in grade school, Della in college, etc., or whatever she chooses!

@iwillpraise: which book did you first read the name “Adelaide” in? I first read it in a series about a girl named Elsie Dinsmore and, like you, vowed that I would name my first daughter that!

Addie88 Says:

October 9th, 2014 at 5:57 pm

My name is Addie, and it’s not short for anything. I’m 26.

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