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Girl Names with Built-in Boyish Nicknames

July 31, 2016 Abby Sandel

By Abby Sandel

When it comes to naming a girl in 2016, anything goes. Like your names elaborate, even frilly? Celebrity choices like Elizabella and Arabella might be for you. Prefer something borrowed straight from the boys? Celebs have named their daughters Wyatt and James, and names like Quinn, Logan, and Riley are popular for boys and girls alike.

Both trends represent extremes, but happily there’s a middle ground: the feminine name with a built-in boyish nickname.

Scrubs alum Sarah Chalke recently chose this approach for naming her new daughter with husband Jamie Afifi. They’re already parents to son Charlie Rhodes. Now the couple has welcomed daughter Frances, but they’re calling her Frankie. It’s an honor name, inspired by Sarah’s grandfather.

The mix of classic given name and a casual, gender-neutral nickname makes for a winning combination.

Let’s take a closer look at the name Sarah and Jamie chose, and some other great girl names in the same style.

Frances/FrankieFrances is the latest traditional girls’ name on the rise, up nearly 100 places last year to Number 514. Amanda Peet is also mom to a Frances called Frankie, while Jimmy Fallon’s Frances is a Franny. Drew Barrymore stuck with just Frankie, and Jason Bateman has a Francesca. But for a combination of the traditionally feminine and the sweetly retro, it’s tough to beat Frances nicknamed Frankie.

Charlotte/CharlieRegal Charlotte shares nickname Charlie with brother name Charles. The masculine forms have been steadily popular for boys, but lately they’re also gaining for girls. Besides Number 9 Charlotte, Charlie, Charlee, Charley, Charleigh and Charli all rank in the girls’ Top 1000.

Alexandra/Alex – Speaking of regal, commanding Alexandra has been worn by queens and saints. But it shortens to friendly, approachable Alex. Alix was a medieval French variant of Alice, and at least half a dozen television characters have been Alexandras called Alex. In the US Top 100 since the 1980s, Alexandra has recently fallen to Number 101 – but that’s still a lot of girl Alexes. They’re still going strong, along with another 1990s favorite: Samantha/Sam.

Josephine/Jo or JoeyJosie is probably the go-to nickname for Josephine, but there’s plenty of precedent for other choices. 1990s staple Dawson’s Creek gave us a Josephine called Joey, and Jo March is the enduring heroine of Little Women. Looking for something even more unusual? Finn might make a highly unexpected Josephine nickname.

Margaret/Rhett – A reader pointed out that Margaret’s –ret ending could easily lead to the nickname Rhett. From Margo to Gretchen, there’s no shortage of Margaret nicknames, but this is the most boyish by far. Margaret currently ranks Number 154 in the US.

Juliette/Jett – I first heard this suggestion on Swistle. Lisa Ling named her daughter Jett. Jette is a Dutch and Scandinavian nickname for girls’ names ending in –ette. And if you say Juliette five times fast, the sound is undeniably there. Combined, it’s a romantic given name with a high-flying diminutive. What’s not to love?

Jacqueline/Jack or Jax – Strictly speaking, Jacqueline is a feminine form of Jacob and James. But it shortens to another go-to name for boys: Jack. With names like Genevieve and Madeline in vogue, Jacqueline would fit right in – except Jacqueline was big in the 1960s, so it’s fallen to Number 258 in recent years. Still, nicknames Jack and the even more modern Jax could make this a great two-for-one choice.

Louisa/LouLovely Louisa requires no nickname, but could easily be Lucy or Lulu or Lou. And Lou feels like quite the shapeshifter. It’s the name of Heidi Klum’s youngest, Lou Sulola, but it’s also a 1970s television character, balding journalist Lou Grant. Today, Louis (Number 297) and Louisa (Number 908) both feel stylish, so we could meet a whole new generation of Lous – boys and girls.

Aurora/RoryAurora is a goddess and a Disney princess. The Number 70 name easily shortens to Rory. Early 2000s television staple Gilmore Girls made Rory a nickname for Lorelai (Number 651 today, with Lorelei at Number 448). It might also be a nickname for Marjorie (Number 799) or even Caroline (Number 62). The name of a twelfth century high king of Ireland, Rory is on the rise for boys and girls.

Do you have any favorite girl names with built-in boyish nicknames? Are there others that belong on this list?

About the author

Abby

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.

View all of Abby's articles

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