Great Lost Nicknames for Girls, Part 2
By Linda Rosenkrantz
We’re now at Part 3 (Part 2 for girls) in our hunt for lost nickname names worth reappraising and this time it’s girls’ names that have never ranked on the Top 1000 list. Consider them as fresh nicknames for classic faves, or for possible use on their own.
Barra (Barbara)—More unusual and softer than the traditional Bobbie, Barbie and Babs, Barra is also the name of a Gaelic-speaking island in the Outer Hebrides in Scotland, as well as a word name in Portuguese and Arabic—and a male name in Ireland. The actress daughter of early Miss America and later politician Bess Meyerson was named Barbara but always known as Barra.
Beah (Beatrice)—One of the less common short forms of Beatrice, it was borne by actress Beah Richards—who was originally named Beulah. In addition to Bea, some parents are now looking at Bee as a cute nature-name middle possibility.
Drea (Andrea)—Actress Drea de Matteo, known for her roles on The Sopranos, Desperate Housewives and Sons of Anarchy, showed that this shortening could stand on its own. Even if she was christened Andrea,
Fifi (Josephine)—An alternative to the more common Josephine nickname Josie, this one comes with a French accent. It’s also occasionally used as a nn for Sophie. Similar sassy choices include Gigi, Kiki, Lulu and Coco.
Fritzi (Frederica)– Actually a German short form of Friederike, Fritzi was the name of an old glamorous comic strip character and has a certain measure of quirky spunk. Cousin name Mitzi, on the other hand, has made many appearances on the Social security list—on continuously from 1930 to 1975.
Izzy/Izzie (Isabel, Isabella, Isadora)—There was a time when the name Izzy conjured up a balding, cigar-chomping pinochle player; this was before the meteoric rise of Isabel and Isabella, and before it was glamorized by Isobel “Izzie” Stevens, the Katherine Heigl character on Grey’s Anatomy.
Katica (Katherine)– And you thought you knew all the variations and nicknames for Katherine, from Kathy to Kitty to Kat. Well, although this dainty one has rarely been heard in this country, it is not uncommon in places like Hungary and Czechoslovakia and has definite stand-alone potential.
Livy/Livvy (Olivia)– Though the shorter form Liv has come back—largely through actress Liv Tyler—this extended version has not. I’ve always remembered it from a biography of Mark Twain I read as a child, in which he called his wife Olivia by her childhood nickname Livy. Livvy was also the nickname used for Olivia Walton on The Waltons. More recently, young Livvy Stubenrauch (shown) was the charming voice of Young Anna in Frozen.
Ouisa (Louisa)—Ouisa, pronounced Weeza, was the character played by Shirley Maclaine in Steel Magnolias, and has been used as a nickname for Louisa, Louise and Louisiana. Louise Jefferson, on The Jeffersons, was referred to as the phonetic Weezie by her husband.
Posy (Josephine)—Take Josie a step further and you get to Posy, a name at once sweet, perky and floral. Maybe it will get more attention via its role as a little sister in the Hunger Games franchise, and some might remember the character Posy Fossil in the childhood classic Ballet Shoes. British cartoonist Posy Simmonds was born Rosemary. Go figure.
Prue/Pru (Prudence)—With a lot more vintage charm than Sue, Pru goes all the way back in time to an 1695 Congreve play, and was also one of the witchy P-starting characters on Charmed, played by Shannen Doherty. In 2008, AOL named that Prue the tenth greatest witch in TV history.
Sukey/Sukie (Susan, Susannah)—Once a not uncommon nickname for Susan, it’s rarely heard today. In The Witches of Eastwick, based on a John Updike novel, Sukie was the name of Michelle Pfeiffer’s character, and on The Gilmore Girls it was worn by one of Lorelai’s friends. It’s most familiar these days in the Sookie spelling, as in Sookie Stackhouse on True Blood.
Winnet—One of the more unusual names on the list, Winnet was used as a diminutive of Winifred in 18th-19th century America. She could fit in with current et/ette-ending trend names and as another road to Winnie.
Zuzu (Susan)—In the enduring Christmas classic, It’s a Wonderful Life, Zuzu is the name of the engaging young daughter of the Jimmy Stewart character. It’s a Czech diminutive of Susan/Zuzanna, and was used for her daughter by Top Chef’s Tania Peterson.
Would you use any of these as a first?
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on August 12th, 2015 at 11:32 pm
Love Vivi, Livvy, & especially Prue. I wish Prue came from another name besides Prudence!
on August 13th, 2015 at 12:55 am
I think I’m falling in love with Barra…and I’ve never cared much for Barbara. I also like Winnet.
on August 13th, 2015 at 2:11 am
I love Katka, Livvy and Zuzu!
Cool to see some Slavic-used nicknames on this list! Bara is also a really common nn for Barbara in the Czech Republic and Slovakia (Czechoslovakia doesn’t exist anymore – not since 1993) and Katka’s are everywhere (no i between and with a K). Zuzu can also be Zuzka there.
on August 13th, 2015 at 4:00 am
I love Prue too but I’m not a huge fan of Prudence.
I love Beatrice and the nickname Bee but not Beah, it sounds too much like beer.
on August 13th, 2015 at 5:14 am
Katica is intruiging. To me, it sounds the most usable as a full name on the list.
on August 13th, 2015 at 8:00 am
I love Beah. If I had a Beatrice or Beatrix (or even a Beulah!), I would definitely call her Beah most of the time. I don’t think I’d use it as a standalone name, though.
Sukey works well enough on its own, but I don’t like it much. I prefer Sosie and Sunny.
on August 13th, 2015 at 8:57 am
LOL – to Beah sounding like Beer. Essa – it does sound like someone from Boston saying Beer. Hey, grab me a Beah!
on August 13th, 2015 at 2:33 pm
” … it is not uncommon in places like Hungary and Czechoslovakia and has definite stand-alone potential.”
Czechoslovakia hasn’t been a country since 1993. The Czech Republic and Slovakia are now two separate countries.
Fritzi and Zuzu are cute! I think Barra, Beah, Drea, Katica, Posy, and Winnet work well as given names.
on August 13th, 2015 at 4:26 pm
@Essa and @AshleyLouisa, I was thinking that Ouisa (Weeza) sounded like someone from Boston talking about the band Weezer, haha.
on August 13th, 2015 at 6:43 pm
I don’t think that Vivi, Livvy, or Izzy are very lost, but I love most of these names!
on August 13th, 2015 at 10:06 pm
I absolutely adore Sukey, and understand it was also used as a nickname for Sarah, along with the usual Sadie/Salley.
I thought the It’s a Wonderful Life little girl’s name was spelled Zsu Zsu. but I could be wrong. I always thought it was strange she had such an unusual name (nickname?) given that her siblings are called Janie, Petey, and Tommy
on August 14th, 2015 at 1:47 am
Barra is intriguing…but I’d be worried about her being teased & called Barracuda.
My preferred nn for Isabella is Isa. It’s used in a Catherine Gaskin novel (The Ambassador’s Women) for a significant character. Isa’s daughter is known as Livy, which I like as well.
I like Drea as well.
I agree w/Smartie352 that Katica is the most usable name as a full name from the list.
on August 14th, 2015 at 11:46 am
I know people called Vivi, Livvy, and Izzy, as well as some just name Livi without a longer form. Izzy may be lost as a male name, but only because it’s so widespread as a nickname for Isabel.
on August 14th, 2015 at 10:07 pm
My grandmother of Scottish descent was named Rebecca, but her parents nn for her was Rea. That was the name she was known by, and I much prefer it to Becky, or Becca. It also sounds more like a name that I would use today.
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on August 24th, 2015 at 11:40 am
[…] This post was originally published on Nameberry by Linda Rosenkrantz. […]
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