Cute Comeback-Kid Nicknames for Girls
By Linda Rosenkrantz
After a brief hiatus following the Sandy–Mandy–Cindy–Mindy years, nickname names are making a strong comeback. Just recently we’ve seen starbabies with names like Andy (for a girl), Art, Cy, Gus, Josh and Sid on their birth certificates. So with this in mind, we’re embarking here on a 4-part-long search for fresh vintage nickname ideas.
Today we consider girl nicknames that were used frequently enough at one time to make it into the Top 1000 list. Some dropped off because their mother names were no longer current (Effie/Euphemia), some just because they’d come to sound too grandmotherly, and others, like Freddie, that had become strictly male.
Aggie—Short for both Agatha and Agnes, Aggie fell off the list in 1909, after seeing quite some use at the turn of the 20th century. With Agnes and Agatha beginning to stir, Aggie could make a comeback—even becoming the next Maggie?
Dovie—a lovey-dovey nickname name, it ranked on the list from the 1880s to 1940, and boasts a nice tie to the bird name.
Effie—Yes, the short form of the long gone Euphemia. Effies have been seen recently in the Sister of the Traveling Pants and The Hunger Games, as well two British soaps and I can see it possibly resurrecting as a funkier Ellie. Effie was a Top 100 name in 1900, vanished by 1959.
Flossie and cousin Florrie were adorable and popular nicknames for Florence back in the day, as was the more unusual Floy. The name of one of the younger Bobbsey Twins, Flossie peaked in 1905 at Number 147, then fell off in 1950, after a surprisingly long run.
Frankie is one vintage nickname that’s already making a comeback for girls, especially since Drew Barrymore used it for her second daughter and it’s now in the title of the new Lily Tomlin–Jane Fonda sitcom. Frankie was on the list until 1970, and we can definitely see it hopping back on.
Freddie and Georgie were both very much unisex nickname names in the first half of the 20th century—Freddie reaching #414 for girls in 1937, Georgie at 338 in 1902. And both stand a chance of following Frankie back as more tomboyish nicknames than the frillier Millie and Tillie.
Ginger—Ginger has a double history, both as a pet form of Virginia and as a descriptive nickname for a redhead. It peaked in the 1970s (#187 in 1971), perhaps because of the movie star character on the TV show Gilligan’s Island, or memories of real movie star Ginger Rogers (shown).
Hetty—This is one of several nicknames for the once popular Henrietta; it ranked at Number 275 in 1901, retired in 1941. Like many of these names it was spelled with both an ‘ie’ and ‘y’ ending. Harriet short form Hattie was used by Tori Spelling.
Letty—A diminutive of both Letitia and Lettice, Letty has come back to life as the character name of Michelle Rodriguez in Fast and Furious. Letty Aronson is Woody Allen’s film-producer sister, Letty Cottin Pogrebin a noted feminist writer. Letty ranked in the late 19th to the early 20th century.
Lottie—If you’re looking for a vintage pet name for Charlotte, this might be for you. It has made a comeback in England and Wales, where it’s at Number 104; was a Top 100 name in the US in 1900, has been gone since 1959. Lotta was also in use.
Madge—If you can get the Madonna reference out of your mind, you might respond to this midcentury (and before) all-purpose nickname for M-starting classics, which was frequently used on its own till 1948. Madge Undersee is one of Katniss’s friends in The Hunger Games.
Nan was a regular on the list from 1900 to 1962, and somehow has an earlier vintage feel than mother name Nancy, maybe due to its Bobbsey Twins connection. A noted contemporary bearer is the photographer Nan Goldin (born Nancy). A similar sibling is Fan—my own mother’s nickname.
Stay tuned for the boys’ nicknames at one time in the Top 1000, and then girls’ and boys’ nns that have never ranked. Do you have a pet pet name for girls that you might consider?
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on June 24th, 2015 at 11:16 pm
I really like Dottie & Liddie. I knew Libby was a nickname for Elizabeth but I hadn’t heard Liddie. Super cute!
I hope Freddie doesn’t catch on again for girls because that’s my son’s name. If it does, we’ll just call him Frederick.
on June 25th, 2015 at 12:27 am
I was intrigued by Jettie so I did a little investigating to see what I could uncover.
My immediate connection was to the gemstone jet. It was fashionable from Victorian days through the roaring twenties. While it started as mourning jewelry, the long bead jet necklaces of the 20s were not a somber choice. I think Jettie could have been a nickname turned name for blackmailed babies, but that is just a guess.
I did find three references of Jettie as a female nickname for three different proper names in nonfiction books for women born from 1850s-1920s. The full names were Juliet, Juanita, and Jessie. This was a quick Google Books search, but it is a starting point.
Or perhaps there was a lot awareness of civil engineering jetty construction along the shoreline. Jetties do seem to become popular tourist destinations.
I hope others might have more personal experiences to share, but it has been fun to search and ponder.
on June 25th, 2015 at 12:29 am
Ah autocorrect- black-haired babies, not blackmailed. I did correct it once, but it slipped by the second time.
on June 25th, 2015 at 4:10 am
I love some of these names. Dottie is my favourite but I’d also consider Liddie and Aggie.
Nan is another name for a grandmother in England, so I don’t think it’s useable. It would be like naming your daughter Grandma, Gran or Granny.
on June 25th, 2015 at 4:13 am
Is Dovie short for anything?
on June 25th, 2015 at 7:55 am
I have been considering trying to get people to call ME “Effie” (for Stephanie–think it will work?)
I recently read ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’ by Thomas Hardy (new film version just came out), and that has a Liddy character in it, and I think it’s short for Lydia.
I would never put a nickname name on a birth certificate, but I am loving this post because I do love to have lots of nickname options, especially vintage ones! 🙂
on June 25th, 2015 at 8:42 am
I think Reggie and Lenny are adorable nicknames For girls.
on June 25th, 2015 at 9:00 am
The only name on this list that I truly like is Effie. Maybe I’m being conservative, but in my opinion, these names should be used only as a pet form and require a proper, longer name. I’d much rather be named Alexandra and have everybody call me Alex rather than just be named Alex.
on June 25th, 2015 at 11:15 am
I’m totally split on most of these names– I either love them or hate them. My favorites are Dottie, Dovie, Georgie, and Letty/Lettie. However, I don’t like them as given names– I prefer the name to be long-form on the birth certificate.
I like @mermuse’s suggestion of Effie as a nickname for Stephanie.
Jetta was a Dutch variant nickname for Henrietta– pronounced Yetta. Possibly Jettie has a similar origin? Although if it’s pronounced like Yeti, I don’t see that as useable today.
on June 25th, 2015 at 12:08 pm
I like Effie, Dovie, and Dottie! They’re so cute.
on June 25th, 2015 at 10:21 pm
I LOVE Lettie. It’s #3 on my list. I would use it as a nn for Scarlett or Arletta. Lottie is right up there too. I would use it for Loretta. Gussie (Augusta) and Nella (Penelope) are also on my long list. I love this whole list. It’s very much my style.
on June 26th, 2015 at 3:13 am
Fun list! I too love Lettie. I actually thought it would be a cute nn for Violet. Also like Effie. I know a lot of people are opposed to using nn type names as given names, but I have nieces named Lucy and Maggie which seem to be widely accepted as stand alone names. So why not my other young niece named Dottie (who happens to have a brother named Skip!) or my best friends daughter named Sylvie? I happen to think Sylvie is perfection but do not care for Sylvia. I recently met a lovely teenaged girl named Augusta nn Auggie and it was surprisingly cute on her. But my most favorite nn type name of all would have to be Loie, which is what my grandma named Lois was called her whole life. I think it is so unusual and could be so cute on a little girl today.
on June 26th, 2015 at 12:06 pm
Angmarie77, here’s a link to the only person I’ve heard of w/the name Loie…I wonder if your grandmother got her nn from this Loie?
on June 26th, 2015 at 1:46 pm
My favorite vintage nickname names are: Jenny (ie), Meggie, Maggie, Maisie, Maidie, Daisy, Molly, Millie, Mamie, Dolley, Hattie, Hetty, Abbey, Annie, Betsey, Lizzie, Lydie, Sosie, Sukey, Sudie, Lottie, Kitty, Katie, Lettie, Bessie, Jinny, Becky, Emmy, Nelly, Josey, Muffy, Mattie, Sadie, Salley, Jemmy, Nolley, Gracey, Addie, Jessie, Winnie, Tessie, Lolly, Lally, Edy, Ettie, Nettie.
on June 26th, 2015 at 8:33 pm
I forgot Lulie and Tillie. Ellie seems so yuppie to me yet.
on June 27th, 2015 at 2:45 am
I know a Lolly, nn for Lauren. I love a lot of these nn’s but I wouldn’t use them as stand alones, I think a child needs proper name that can be shortened it for everyday use! (Mine is Emilia, I get Emmy, Ems, Mia, Milly)
on June 28th, 2015 at 10:23 pm
@angmarie77 my older sister is named Lauren and we have always called her Loey! I love it and even though I wouldn’t use Lauren I would totally get to Loey a different way (Chloe? Laurel? Flora?).
on August 12th, 2015 at 12:19 pm
I love Lottie and Florrie, and I think that Georgie, Frankie, Freddie, and the like are also incredibly charming. Dovie is just too irresistibly sweet—-why haven’t I heard of this one before I wonder? 🙂 I adore nicknames, though I’d likely use a full name instead (depending on the name itself I suppose).
on December 3rd, 2015 at 11:31 am
My godson starting calling me DoDo when he was first able to talk (he was trying to say my last name), and my grandma told me that she had a friend named Dorothy who they used to call Dodo. I think that’s really sweet! Certainly not appropriate for a first name, given the doofusy connotation, but cute nonetheless.
on December 21st, 2016 at 8:32 am
I have only just come across this – in my experience, Jettie is a nickname for Jeanette!
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