In the Nick(names) of Time: The oldies are back!

By Linda Rosenkrantz

For a while there it looked like nickname names were on their way out. Baby William was called William and not Billy or Willie and James was James, not Jimmy or Jim.

That part still holds true to a great extent, but suddenly there’s a whole raft of fresh-sounding nicknames, many of them vintage ones making a return (and strangely enough, some of the oldest are the most appealing); and a number of them are popular enough to be used on there own.

Here are some of the hottest new nicknames right now, mostly with the older pet forms they’ve replaced:


Bee for Beatrice, along with the still used Bea

Cat and Cate for Catherine—no more Cathy

Cece for Cecily who used to be Sissy

Charlie and Lottie for Charlotte, and we’ve even heard Chaz

Dot is back as the short form of Dorothy, as is Dolly; bye bye Dodie

Drea for Andrea, who is no longer Andie

Elsie and Libby for Elizabeth, replacing Liz and Beth—and Betty may be joining them soon

Fifi and Posy are back in for Josephine, along with the still popular Josie

Florrie and Flossiethese Bobbsey Twinish nicknames are back on the horizon for Florence, alternatives to Flo

Frankie is firmly in for Frances, replacing Fran and Fanny—one of several boyish early 20th century nicknames now found on girls (illustration: Drew Barrymore and daughter Frankie)

Gertie is so much more retro-cute for Gertrude than Trudy

Jules/Jools for Julia, rather than Julie

Kitty is edging out Kathy for Katherines, with the sophisticated Kay also under the radar

Lulu for Lucinda, replacing Cindy; she’s also being used for Tallulah

Maisie for Margaret, the new but older Maggie

May back for Mary, stepping in for Molly

Minnie for Wilhelmina, who used to be Willie or Billie or Mina

Nell for Eleanor, who’s often still Ellie; Nell is also now used for Penelope

Nico for Nicole, fresher than Nicky

Sadie, the old-time nickname for Sarah is back

Thea for Cynthia, who used to be Cindy; also a nn for Dorothea

Tillie for Matilda, rather than Mattie

Trixie for Beatrix, along with Bea

Vivi for Vivienne, more fun than just plain Viv

Zuzu for Susanna, who is no longer Susie


Alfie and Freddie for Alfred, not Al—thanks to the Brits for pointing the way

Benno for Benjamin and other Bens—far fresher than Benjie

Bertie for Albert, who’s no longer Al, and for Robert, no longer Bobby

Bram for Abraham and Abram, replacing Abe

Cale for Caleb, an update of Cal

Cole for Nicholas—cooler than Nick

Drew for Andrew, rather than Andy

Gus for August and Augustus, not Augie

Hank and Hal coming back for Henry, thanks in part to some celebs

Jem in for Jim, via To Kill a Mockingbird

Joss for Joseph and Joshua, the newer Joe and Josh

Kit for Christopher, back in for Chris

Ned is back replacing Ed/Eddie for Edward

Ozzie for Oscar

Rafe for Raphael and Ralph

Sasha-The Russian nickname for Alexander (and Alexandra), rather than Alex

Theo now firmly in place for Theodore, standing in for Ted and Teddy—who themselves may return

Ward another Ed replacement for Edward

Will is the new Bill, though of course Liam has moved in as the other, mega popular Irish short form of William

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7 Responses to “In the Nick(names) of Time: The oldies are back!”

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Maerad Says:

March 29th, 2016 at 7:07 am

As much as I enjoyed the list, I feel like a lot of these nicknames have been around for quite a while. I also think that Trudy is a really cool name, much better than Gertie. I also went to school with a Charlotte who went by Chaz so it doesn’t feel groundbreaking. Perhaps it’s because I’m British? The only one I’ve really noticed is the nicknames of Elizabeth (all the ones my age are Lizzies, all the little ones are Libbies!).
Who knows, I do love some of the names/nicknames though!

indiefendi2 Says:

March 29th, 2016 at 9:09 am

I’ve been seeing this a long time coming. Thea instead of Cindy, Maisie instead of Margaret, Jules instead of Julie, and definitely Drea instead of Andie. On the boy side Joss Whedon is holding it down for the Josephs of America. I definitely like Benno instead of ol’ Ben. I agree with just about all these musings.

Impwood Says:

March 29th, 2016 at 11:15 am

I can’t help liking many of the “old” nicknames that are being replaced; most notably Bobby – friendlier than Bertie, Joe – ditto, Cathy, Fanny, Julie – it’s so pretty!, Ted/dy, and Susie.
I also agree with Maerad that in the UK many of the “new” suggestions have been around for a little while now. I know a Bea and a Frankie who are contemporaries of mine, and a Maisie who is a mother now. I know at least three (male) Sashas who are in my age group, too, and a Hal too.

mill1020 Says:

March 29th, 2016 at 12:54 pm

I love almost all of these. The only thing that’s keeping me from falling hard for Dot/Dottie/ Dorothy is the Dottie Sandusky association.

ashbee Says:

March 29th, 2016 at 3:45 pm

I like the old and new ones. I guess the newer ones just sound more fresh.

Haids1987 Says:

March 30th, 2016 at 11:40 am

It’s interesting the way that names go in waves, because the parents of people my age (late 20’s, early 30’s) would have been bored with the original nicknames, so of course they would not have given those names to their children. People who are parents now didn’t hear most of the “originals” growing up, so the “revamped” nicknames are making a comeback. It only took a couple generations’ worth of a break to appreciate them again.

It’s really cool to see these old names coming back in an updated way. I actually like Dodie. I think it’s a sweet little term of endearment. And Maisie is too cute! Most of the boy names, however, I’m not really too keen on. Benno? It sounds like a medication.

dreapress Says:

March 30th, 2016 at 9:14 pm

I grew up being called Andie as a nn for Andrea. When I got married my husband started calling me Drea, so my nn has grown with the times, haha.

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