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Nickname-Proof Boy Names

Nickname-Proof Boy Names

Their lists are so close – but agreeing on the right name for their son has proven impossible! Can they find a nickname-proof name with a possible built-in nickname? It sounds crazy, but the answer might be yes …

Angela writes:

When we decided we were ready for kids, we discussed names and knew Stella was our girl name. Our daughter was born in 2014 and we named her Stella Lucille. Lucille was my grandmother’s name. Now we’re expecting our second, a boy due just in time for Thanksgiving!

Unlike with Stella’s name, there is nothing that jumps out and gives me the “This is it! The perfect name!” feeling. Every boy name seems so common to me.

I know Stella is growing in popularity, but to me it sounded fresh yet vintage. I would love something with that same feeling for our son. All of the names I see are just okay.

Our short list includes August, Bennett, Harrison, Hugh, Maxwell, Theodore, and Raymond/Ray. We also like Gus, Luke, Leo, Owen, Evan, and Ryan.

I like Owen August, but my husband doesn’t like it. I also love Bennett. It was my grandmother’s maiden name; however we have a very close friend named Ben, and it comes from the same grandmother that we honored with Stella’s middle name.

My husband’s favorites are Leo, Gus, Ryan, and Evan. He really wants a masculine, normal sounding name.

I would like a name which isn’t too common, but not off the wall. I prefer names without obvious nicknames, but since my husband is William, called Will, he doesn’t mind nicknames.

Any help you can give would be great!

The Name Sage replies:

You and your husband have very similar taste in names. Usually that’s a good thing, but sometimes – like this time! – you can get stuck with a long list and no obvious frontrunners.

It also sounds like you’re divided on nicknames. Stella is nickname-proof, but many of the names you’ve considered would inevitably be shortened. Nearly every Theodore I know is a Theo – and the rest are Teddys. Maxwell is almost always Max, and I’ve yet to meet a Raymond who isn’t sometimes Ray.

If avoiding a nickname is important, there are a few possible compromises:

  • Since your husband is pro-nickname and you’d prefer to avoid them, choose a name from his list that just happens to be nickname-proof.

  • Use a nickname you both like as your child’s formal name.

  • Or, lastly, choose a name that doesn’t lend itself to a default nickname, but could potentially be shortened by your husband at home. Everywhere else, your son uses his full formal name.

  • If that last category appeals, there’s a perfect name already on your list: August. August feels nickname-proof, but could easily be shortened to Gus, one of the names that your husband prefers.

    If Owen August isn’t quite your husband’s style, I wonder if August Owen, called Gus at home by dad, would be the perfect compromise? Stella and August sound great together.

    Let’s look at some other possibilities:

    Everett – A mix of your husband’s favorite Evan and your beloved Bennett, Everett is a rising favorite, currently ranked #135. It could shorten to Ev or Rett, but I think the average Everett would normally use his name in full.

    Theo – Your husband likes Leo, and Theodore has made your maybe list. Would you consider just using Theo?

    Hugo – Take Hugh, add Leo’s ‘o’ ending, and you have Hugo. Hugo is upbeat and friendly, but also traditionally masculine and strong.

    Jude Jude reminds me of Luke, but it’s less popular. It’s nickname-proof, and I think it has the same vintage but fresh vibe as Stella.

    Julian Julian has ranked in the US Top 50 for the last few years, but it still seems to hit that familiar-but-not-overused note. If you were so inclined, a Julian might sometimes be called Jude at home.

    Declan Ryan reminds me of Declan. They’re both Irish in origin, and both have become mainstream favorites. There are two differences: first, Ryan has been in the US Top 100 since the 1970s. It’s a modern staple, but that’s not quite what you had in mind. Declan is newer, and your husband might appreciate possible nickname option Dex.

    HenryHenry might feel a little more traditional than you’d planned, but I think it has the same vintage-fresh appeal as Stella. And while there are nicknames galore for Henry, it’s not the kind of name that is automatically shortened – even though he might be Hank at home.

    Miles – I’m not sure Miles has the same nickname potential as Henry or August, but it definitely feels like a brother name for Stella.

    Overall, my favorite is still August. If you don’t mind the idea of August sometimes being Gus at home, and your husband is fine with August always being August out in the world, it seems like an obvious compromise. August’s style is vintage, and it’s impossible to call a name associated with the Roman emperors anything other than strong.

    August Owen makes a great combination, but you might also consider looking at family names from your husband’s side, since Stella’s middle comes from yours.

    Readers, what would you suggest to Angela and William? Are there more familiar but not overused names for boys that have a subtle potential nickname?

    About the Author

    Abby Sandel

    Abby Sandel is nameberry's Senior Editor and resident Name Sage. Look for her baby name news round-ups every Monday, and her Name Sage columns on Wednesdays. Abby is the creator of the baby name blog Appellation Mountain and mom to Alex and Clio. For a chance to have your questions answered, contact Abby at namesage@nameberry.com.