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

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

About the Author

Linda Rosenkrantz

Linda Rosenkrantz

Linda Rosenkrantz is the co-founder of Nameberry, and co-author with Pamela Redmond of the ten baby naming books acknowledged to have revolutionized American baby naming. You can follow her personally at InstagramTwitter and Facebook. She is also the author of the highly acclaimed New York Review Books Classics novel Talk and a number of other books.