Is a Nickname Name Enough?

Jake or Jacob, Josie or Josephine?

By Linda Rosenkrantz

The current Most Popular list is chockfull of nickname names, and there’s no doubt in my mind that the new one arriving next month will include even more. Girl and boy Charlies and Sams and Frankies, Jakes and Josies, starbabies named Hal and Hank.

They’re cute and catchy and couldn’t be more friendly or relaxed. But is there a downside?

Will a boy christened Will wish he could put William on his college application? (And will people assume that William is his full name?) And would a woman named Izzy feel she’ll never quite be taken seriously?

Or are these non-issues, with Ellie and Evie simply today’s Molly and Polly?

We want to know where you stand on this question: Does a full name have to go on the birth certificate (even if it’s not ever going to be used IRL), or is a nickname enough of a name?

Have you used/would you use a nickname name?

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45 Responses to “Is a Nickname Name Enough?”

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lesliemarion Says:

April 19th, 2017 at 11:41 pm

For awhile I wanted to have a daughter named Kate, just Kate, then I realized that I’d probably go instead with Catherine with options for her to be Kate or Cate or Kitty or Cathy or whatever.

As nuts as I am about the name Polly, I might have more likely chosen another name I like, Maryellen, and called her Polly.

So I think my internal direction is toward a fuller name with nn options, such as Arcadia (Cady) or Geneva (Ginnie or Neva) or Araminta (Aminta or Minta).

That way, if my daughter wanted a more formal, traditional, lengthy name, she’d have it and if she wanted one or more nicknames, she’d have those too.

Personally, I would hate to be named Ellie or Sadie or Jo or Gwen. Nothing against those names, but I’d prefer the fuller option of Eleanor, Sarah, Josephine, or Gwendolen.

I’m sure I have exceptions though — some nicknames I adore that I dislike the longer form of. Just can’t think of them now.

It does strike me as funny now that so many parents give nicknames as birth certificate names now while for the last couple of decades as a teacher nearly every kid I’ve taught was David, not Dave or Davey or Alexander, not Alex or Lex.

IslandMoon Says:

April 20th, 2017 at 1:13 am

I generally think if you are never going to use the longer form of the name, the nickname you are actually going to use should go on the birth certificate, though I think there’s a few exceptions.

I know three men named Sandy. I knew two of them were actually Alexander, so I asked the third, and he’s not, Sandy’s his whole name. I think it works fine. My little brother is Zander, and nobody has ever assumed he’s Alexander to my knowledge.

Archie is also such a common name here (for little boys) that if I met one, I would assume that was his full name, not Archer or Archibald.

Jorja Says:

April 20th, 2017 at 1:47 am

I think a nickname name is enough, especially if the baby will never go by their longer, more formal name.

Kara Says:

April 20th, 2017 at 3:27 am

I think it depends on the name in question. I know several babies named Sadie, not Sarah; it seems to have become a name in its own right, like Molly. I also often see in the forums “help me get to ___,” like they want to use a name that might have been derived from something else, but then they want to find a really convoluted way of “getting to it.” That method seems so counter-productive and confusing to me–just use the nickname! I can’t imagine being a student in a classroom and the teacher calls out Magdalena and having to reply ‘just call me Andie.’

Conversely, my dad has a nickname name, but it’s one that you would *never* hear as a name on its own. Think Tom but not Thomas. So there have actually been a lot of administrative errors and headaches over the years because he will say his name is Tom, and then it gets put into the system as Thomas. He’s even been denied medication at the pharmacy because his ID said Tom and the prescription said Thomas, for example.

I guess for me it would just depend on how far removed the nickname had been removed from its source and I’d go from there.

Araminty Says:

April 20th, 2017 at 3:32 am

I think it depends on the particular nickname in question. With Kate and Jake for instance, they work as full names in their own right and definitely don’t need another form on the birth certificate. However there are others – Jo, Francie, Lou – that would make me feel short-changed if they were my full name rather than Johanna, Frances, Louisa. Others like Beth, Tom and Will could go either way, and I’m comfortable with these generally as the birth cert name.

They grow over time too – Archie, Molly and Sally are fine as they are, but once would definitely only have been nicknames. Having said that though my personal style is to prefer for my children the full name on the birth cert.

MillieMM Says:

April 20th, 2017 at 4:04 am

I’m Millie while my sister’s Ellie. Growing up I was constantly asked if Millie was my “real name” though strangely my sister never had this issue? So I’ve got to say it totally depends on the name whether issues arise. Although we shorten each others names to Mill and Ell, we went through a stage when we’d elongate them too and call each other Millicent and Eleanore more often than our real names! I love long names, I call my sister’s boyfriend Daniel (this is his real name although he goes by Dan) and I call my best friend Evelyn (although her actual name is only Eve).
There are only a few nicknames that I would put on my child’s birth certificate and, in my opinion, I think these stand perfectly well as names in their own right; Eve, Lexa, Nina, Rose, Cade, Enzo, Finn, and Quinn.

AldabellaxWulfe Says:

April 20th, 2017 at 4:41 am

Here in the UK, diminutive names are currently all the rage, especially for boys. In the top 100 alone, Alfie, Archie, Freddie, Toby, Tommy, Bobbie, Frankie, Jamie, Ollie, Teddy, Ronnie and Sonny all make an appearance on the boy list. To brits, diminutives are seen as just as charming, distinguished and classical as their more formal counterparts and, as such, they are standard, and trendy, and all-around accepted.

Americans, I have noticed, seem to have a problem with this. Every now and again, someone will ask about, say, Milly or Benny, and will subsequently be met with a slew of criticism. The gist of the argument against them, from what I can see, is that they’re too childish and unprofessional. Which baffles me. To your average American (on yahoo answers, at least), the thought of a boy being named Eddie is repugnant, and yet, Riley is a wildly popular boy name over in the states. What is the difference? What makes Riley acceptable, and Eddie an embarrassment? Why is Riley a cool name that any boy would love, and any adult would appreciate, whereas Eddie would bring a boy embarrassment, make a man feel less mature, and even have the potential to ruin an opportunity for employment? It just doesn’t make sense. And seeing as the likes of Jimmy, Nicky, Kimmy etc. were once such standard choices in America just a generation or two ago, I really don’t see the apparent controversy.

In my personal opinion, the name that you intend to call your child is what should go on the birth certificate. And if, at the end of the day, little Richie and Lulu want something a bit more mature, then I see no reason why they can’t go by Rich and Lou. Nicknames don’t limit children, and that’s all I’ll say about it.

iacinelli Says:

April 20th, 2017 at 5:27 am

I’m Bella (Isabella) while my sisters are Alex (Alessandra) and Frankie (Francesca). It was always my parents intention to give give long names with short nicknames. Not once were we ever called by our full names, not even in school. But people would always constantly ask ‘are those your real names’.

In my opinion if a nickname name is what you want put it on the birth certificate, but if you want to but the long name on it them do, but let you’re child decide if they want to go by by their full name or the nickname option.

paulapuddephatt Says:

April 20th, 2017 at 5:31 am

Some names, like Polly, Molly, Sadie, Sally, Jack, Jake and Toby, are established enough to be almost better just used on their own. For the most part, however, I would suggest opting for Elizabeth, Charlotte, William, Michael, etc on birth certificates. It leaves more options to alter the name later on, and seems more stylish. You can still call a child almost exclusively by the nickname. I could go either way with Kate and Katie, as they are very established as given names, but Catherine, Katherine, etc are lovely, and have many other nickname options.

holly6174 Says:

April 20th, 2017 at 6:37 am

While I do think there are SOME nicknames that work as full names, especially those that most non-name-obsessed people may not even realize ARE nicknames (like Molly, Sadie, Sally, Maisie, even something like Gwen), I really, really, really dislike this trend and would absolutely never go with it for my own child, much to my mother’s chagrin (she really wants a granddaughter named Kate or Liza, not Catherine or Elizabeth, just Kate or Liza). I think for me it boils down to options, I grew up with a name that has very few nickname options (not Holly like my username, that’s my middle name) and I was always insanely jealous of the many Victoria’s and Alexis’ I grew up with who could be Vic, Vicky, Tori, or Al, Ally, Lexi or go by their full names if they chose.

I guess you could say that Tori could choose to go by Victoria even if it’s not on her birth certificate if she decided to, but I think that it would be a lot easier for Nathaniel to decide to be Nate than it would for Jake to decide to be Jacob.

That is all more about nicknames that are common and easy for people to see, nobody would question Alexander wanting to be called Alex or Jonathan choosing to be Jonny, so I will say that in the cases where it’s not necessarily an easy jump that most people will make (Sarah -> Sadie or Sally) I don’t mind as much going for the nickname on the birth certificate.

EmmaMay Says:

April 20th, 2017 at 8:35 am

I think it depends on the nickname. Those like Polly, Jack, Sadie, etc. seem perfectly fine on their own, imo, because they hardly resemble the names they are ‘short’ for (Mary, John, Sarah…) Others like Max, Molly, and Mia seem like enough on their own just because they’ve been pretty established already as such. But some names do in fact seem incomplete without a full name (Will, Alex, Ellie, etc.), which is where I hesitate. Girls with cutesy nns such as Rosie or Gracie will forever be asked if that’s short for Rose or Grace respectively, so it seems like it might not be worth it, I think.

Eu Says:

April 20th, 2017 at 9:11 am

I agree with AldabellaxWulfe. I know a lot of British families so the nickname trend is firmly established for me. There are some that strike me as a little childish (Bertie), but in general I have sympathy with parents who love Alfie but not Alfred just going with the names they love.

I particularly agree with AW’s point that the typical American name lover’s response is bizarre — that Rosie cannot be a name when Jimmys and Bills were rife a mere generation ago.

I also think we have a romanticized view of the past, in which all families were full of Elizabeths and Catherines going by a plethora of sweet nicknames. My grandfather was born just-Fred in 1917, and his sister was just Sally, although there was also an Elizabeth in the family.

The idea that a longer name gives more options is a good one — unless you as the parent don’t like the options. I do not much like the name Elizabeth, for example, whereas I very much like Eliza. It would be counterintuitive to use the full name and potentially end up with a daughter called Liz or Beth!

JustBrowsing Says:

April 20th, 2017 at 9:15 am

I always want a full name with nickname possibilities – sometimes I start at the full name and sometimes I work backwards from the nickname I like. There are very few exceptions for me.

Nathalia Says:

April 20th, 2017 at 9:45 am

As a baby boomer who grew up in the U.S. with SO many Jim, Steve, Bill, Cindy, Patty, Kathy-type names, I simply never understood why they all had formal names that were never EVER used. Maybe their parents struggled to decide between Catherine or Kathleen, but to us they were always “Kathy”. I personally liked the full names better, (probably because they were more unusual at the time), and it seems like many of my contemporaries agreed, because the children of my friends and relatives were often called by their real formal names. Now nicknames are coming back. To me, this is just a style that comes and goes at different times in different countries, and both options are perfectly acceptable. I personally would put on the birth certificate the name I intended to call the child, but I see no problem with others making a different choice. I’d like to suggest that we enjoy the ride and the variety, rather than hunkering down in one corner or the other.

mill1020 Says:

April 20th, 2017 at 10:24 am

You can have the best of both worlds by using a long form on the birth certificate and a shorter form in everyday life. That way, your kid has more choices if he wants to experiment. When you cut to the chase with a nickname name, you’re kind of boxing them into it.

Our daughter, Elise, complains that she is not an Elizabeth, though we’ve explained to her that it’s a separate name and not strictly a diminutive. She’s not convinced! I think friends and teachers ask her about her name, and she’s decided it would have been better to be an Elizabeth or Elisabeth who is nicknamed Elise. I personally wouldn’t change it but will understand if she does when she’s older.

clairels Says:

April 20th, 2017 at 11:46 am

@Kara I agree with you 100%. The idea of “getting to” a nickname drives me up a wall. You don’t have to “get to” the name you like. You should just use it. It will make your child Ellie’s life so much easier on the first day of class when she doesn’t have to explain to her teacher that she doesn’t go by Elsinore. And if they want to change it or go by something else, they can. People do it all the time.

In fact, this idea is so pervasive that I notice that many people want to turn full names that happen to be short INTO nicknames. For example, a boy doesn’t have to be Finneus or Finley or Finnegan. He can just be Finn.

Bottom line, use the name you’re going to use.

Aunt_ning1 Says:

April 20th, 2017 at 12:47 pm

I grew up with an Uncle James and an Uncle Jimmy that were brothers. In my mothers family, and in the area of Oklahoma that they lived they were considered 2 separate names. James Andrew and Jimmy Leon. My Uncle Jimmy though has had nothing but a head ache his whole life explaining to people his name is NOT James.

My son is named James Louis (not after my uncle but after the middle names of his two grandfathers) and I tell everyone he is DEFINITELY NOT Jimmy, however I do call him Jamie on occasion. If he had been a girl he would have been Molly Rose.

Normally though, I prefer the longer forms of the name with several nickname options. Like Katherine, Elizabeth, Thomas, Richard and such.

zsazsa00 Says:

April 20th, 2017 at 1:23 pm

This is a tough one but overall it is opinion based. Though I feel the real issue behind this breaks down to respect. I know plenty of people with longer names, Sandra/ Matthew/ Kojesta (the main people that come to mind) who keep getting stuck with a short form/ nick name they don’t want. The birth certificate, should be what a baby will be called, and having a longer more mature name with a common nickname doesn’t mean it won’t get used. Even if Ed is always Ed maybe he likes writing out Edward for legal stuff. But when someone has a nametag or a desk plaque with a full name on it I find people can jump right to the nickname which I find disrespectful. I has a Lillian at work who’s plaque said Lil. So yeah she was Lil. I got a Katherine who goes by Kathy, but until she makes it known what her preference is I didn’t assume anything. And I think people need to stop doing that. My friend Kojesta doesn’t mind close friends calling her Koko, but when she meets someone knew who has heard they nickname from another and uses it without bothering to learn her name, that’s an issue. She doesn’t mind people asking if Koko is her real name.

Tina_and_Bert Says:

April 20th, 2017 at 2:03 pm

This is such a personal choice, but for me I like a longer name. I just don’t particularly like most nicknames, and my kids mostly go by their full names. But it is nice for me to think that, if they should one day tire of the names I gave them, they can have their pick of possible nicknames from their long, formal names. But if a person only loves a nickname and is merely giving the long form in order to back into the preferred nickname, I would advise them to just put the preferred name on the birth certificate. I guess that runs the risk of the kid wishing they had a long form for special occasions, or just because they like it better, but naming baby humans is always a shot in the dark. The opposite can be true, too: a kid may like their long name and refuse to be nicked, but people insist upon calling them by diminutives. E.g., my mother’s name was Kimberly and she was often being called Kim, even though she hated that name and always introduced herself as Kimberly.

holloway Says:

April 20th, 2017 at 2:57 pm

I think that picking a long name that you are indifferent to just because you like the nickname doesn’t make sense, but if you like the full name and the nickname go for it. In my family we all have long names that wound up with a bunch of nicknames, our parents didn’t intend for this and apparently my father was actually very concerned that my brother Brandon would be called Brandy (which we did actually call him). In all our home videos from when we are babies they refer to us by the names on our birth certificates it took time for Jordan to become JJ, Jordi, or Jords, Brandon to become B, Bran, or (briefly) Branflakes. I like the idea that you choose a full name you like and let the nickname come naturally, although its definitely a good idea to imagine the possible nicknames ahead of time.

ARhythmofNames Says:

April 20th, 2017 at 3:00 pm

I like it both ways. I love long names with the option of nicknames but then I also love short, sweet and simple names.

Maple10 Says:

April 20th, 2017 at 3:18 pm

2 for 1 names are my thing!
Why not let little Penelope decide if she’s more of a Penny, Poppy, or Nell. Or maybe Penelope suites her just fine. What a great gift to give to your child!

gmdx Says:

April 20th, 2017 at 3:41 pm

It’s very situational for me. I think Eliza or Rosie would be okay on a birth certificate, but Kit is too short and all the traditional full (male) names are unusable due to personal associations so I’m perfectly okay with asking “how do I get to Kit?”
I think it is largely due to wanting more options. Eliza and Rosie can still be Ellie or Lizzie or Rose, but Kit can’t suddenly become Christopher.
Another name on my list that comes to mind is Dove, nicknamed Birdie. I think Birdie is adorable, but I see it as a family nickname more than one that she would have to use at school or work.
My own name is practically unnicknameable and I always wished I was called Margaret because it has more nicknames than any other name that I can think of.

Euterpe Says:

April 20th, 2017 at 4:31 pm

My husband’s family has a long tradition of putting nickname names on the birth certificate. His grandfather was supposed to be Ed Carl, but the nurse changed it to Edward Carleton. His father is a junior, but everyone always called him Bub. My husband’s name is Luke, not Lucas. His sister’s are Kattie (yes, with 2 t’s), not Katherine and Cally. My mother’s birth name is Mary, but no one ever called her that and now her official name is Molly. Her nephews still call her Aunt Mary, and it actually irritates me because that’s no longer her name. So there’s history there. I myself prefer the longer versions of names, but I pretty much always use that longer form. My nephew is Ezekiel, and i almost never call him
Zeke. I also prefer longer forms because you can’t always predict what people will call your kid. Ezekiel is frequently called Zekey-poo by people at his school.

clairels Says:

April 20th, 2017 at 4:56 pm

@Aunt_ning1 My Grandpa Harry, just Harry, grew up with a brother Harold. I also have an old family friend whose birth certificate says Johnny and has to correct people when they try to call him John.

@zsazsa00 Says My mom Barbara’s pet peeve is being called Barb (even though her whole family does it and has for 60 years, so they aren’t going to change now). There aren’t that many names where people automatically default to a nickname pretty much every time, but that’s one of them, and it drives her crazy.

Bobcat108 Says:

April 20th, 2017 at 7:24 pm

I’m in the full-name-on-the-birth-certificate camp for several reasons. One is that I like the option of using a nickname or a formal name. As was customary back in the ’60s, I was given a formal name as well as a nickname that I always went by. The formal name never came out…unless I misbehaved. And if I had really misbehaved, the middle name was added too. This meant that I don’t have negative memories attached to the name that I always go by. As an adult, having a formal name means that if someone addresses me by it, I immediately know that it’s not someone I know well…helpful in knowing whether something is junk mail immediately!

For the previous posters who had mentioned that Jimmy et al. were common names in the past, I can attest to the fact that at least 9 out 10 of those Jimmys were Jameses on their birth certificates, at least from the mid-part of the 20th century.

When my ex & I chose our daughter’s name, the one we went w/had one obvious nickname, but we didn’t use it, & when my daughter was 7, she chose a nickname for herself that wasn’t obvious from her birth name, but her nickname starts w/the same first two letters as her given name & all of the letters in her nickname are in her birth name, so it’s not a real stretch to see how the two names are related.

For me, names ending in the -ee sound can sound childish, especially when they can easily be seen as nicknames; e.g., Eddie, Billy, Jimmy, Steffie, Andie, etc. Names that end in the -ee sound that don’t appear to be nicknames, though, don’t have as much of that childish feel to them; e.g., Riley, Molly, Leonie, etc. That’s just my opinion, though, & why I think that there’s no “right” or “wrong” to the whole idea of using nicknames on the birth certificate.

I work as an academic librarian & meet lots of people in the 18–22 age range, & find it fascinating to see their names. Anyone that I work w/on a one-to-one basis I ask which form of their name they prefer…the most recent was a Thomas, who said that he usually gets called Thomas, but Tom, Tommy, or T-Dawg are pretty often used too. 🙂

lesliemarion Says:

April 20th, 2017 at 7:46 pm

For me there is a difference between what I want to call my child and have her called and what she might want to be called.

So, yes, if I loathed Elizabeth, I might go for Bess or Betsy (two nn’s I love), but in order to give her more options I might go with a more versatile first.

We get to ponder these names endlessly, but it is the child who bears the name through life and I’m all for names that provide many choices.

That being said, I love my name (Leslie) which offers few nn choices, so go figure.

Myosotis Says:

April 20th, 2017 at 8:01 pm

I 100% agree with @AldabellaxWulfe. I think in most cases, a nickname is enough. I’ve never really understood why putting Evie, Tilly, Katie, Trixie, Jake, Kit etc. on the birth certificate would be an issue. But that might be because I live in the UK, where nickname names are more prevalent, so maybe I’m just used to them. I think it’s a bit of a waste if the full name on the birth certificate is only used for the nn. I’ve had friends ask to be called a completely different name and been fine, so I don’t see why nicknaming can’t work in reverse, so Jake could ask to be called Jacob or Evie could be Evelyn, Eve, Eva, or (my personal favourite) Evanthe. I like coming up with nns, and often there are some I really like, but I prefer them to arise naturally if at all, and just use names I love.

Impwood Says:

April 21st, 2017 at 12:14 am

I wouldn’t give a child a diminutive name without a longer form. Nicknames can be used perfectly well in the professional world, I agree, and most children given a nickname name with no long form never feel uncomfortable with this. My argument is more that a name’s roots are still its identity, and so hypocorisms are only suitable for the situation in which they arose: as terms of endearment.
The suffix -y/ie is still used for pet-forms and child-forms of words (e.g. doggie, daddy) and they give an additional meaning of “dear little” to the name they are added to. The same applies for the French -on, -et/te, -ot/te, and diminutive endings in other languages. I would want it to mean something when people call me by a diminutive: I would hate to have people calling me by a term of affection by default. There are also situations where they are simply out of place, like a felinologist writing their thesis on kitty behaviour.

It’s a little different for nicknames that are simply shortenings (Kate, Bill, etc.), but I would still only give a child of mine the complete form of their name, so they can make it their own.

sparkleflaame Says:

April 21st, 2017 at 3:49 am

I like the idea of using the name someone will end up being called anyway. You have to meet people and introduce yourself all the time…why make it complicated?
Anyway, having a nickname as your first name almost has a more iconic and cool feel to it. There is something endearing about it.
‘Jimmy’ Hendrix, ‘Will’ Smith, ‘Gwen’ Stefani…see? All cool names that have a ring to them (: In my opinion, “nicknames” sound just as strong or stronger and have more ‘meaning’ than the full version of the names in many cases.

A side note…My name is Elisse, (pronounced E-Lease). I have never thought my name sounded like a nickname.
Recently though I had a friend tell me it sounds like simply a nickname or a middle name (ouch). All names are real names! In my opinion (:
Since Elisse can’t be shortened anymore, I guess I can see what made her say that. (It can’t be shortened for me because I wouldn’t want to change the long “Ee” sound in my name to a short “Eh” like in Elle or Ellie, it wouldn’t feel like my name at all so Elisse it stays)
Thankfully I have rarely been asked if I have a full name so most people would agree my name does not sound like a nickname. My name is my name which makes things easier….especially since a lot of people can’t spell it or pronounce it anyway. 50% of the time I get called Elissa or Alissa or E-LEE… by coworkers, aquaintances and distant family… So my name has enough of its own struggles. Also been told the two s’s are wrong… XD

mermuse Says:

April 21st, 2017 at 8:46 am

Simply put: No way.

germanstar Says:

April 21st, 2017 at 9:56 am

I would use only a full name on the birth certificate. First of all, I don’t think it’s complicated to say “I am Caroline Lastname but you can call me Carrie”. As a person that goes by a nickname of her middle name, I can reassure anyone asking me about it, that it is not difficult at all. At school, the working place etc. I’m always Rea but for friends and family I am Nora. When I meet someone for the first time, I introduce myself with my full name and kindly ask them to call me Nora. It’s very simple.
Secondly, I believe that a person may don’t like a nickname. If the full name is on the certificate, they can choose another nickname, or the full name itself. An Amanda may not want to be Mandy but Amy, a Thomas may want to be Thomas and not Tom.
Also, some nicknames just don’t work as a full name, especially for a grown up person. Amy, Ellie or Nico may be fine, but in my opinion Gigi, Ollie and Izzy are too childish for an adult. Genevieve, Oliver and Isabella would be safer choices for college and work documents. Many people form different opinions regarding someone’s name, so Ollie may not be taken seriously, Jojo may not sound professional and everyone may think that Tilly is a five-year old and not a, say, lawyer. Even if the name doesn’t make the person, it’s a fact that it has a major part in how the person is perceived.
In my firm belief, putting a name (or two, three etc.) names on a person’s birth certificate requires responsibility and logic. It should work for both a model, and a politician, both a teacher and a scientist and so on. I mean that, since we can’t predecide their furure, we should not give them a name that may limit their choices. Terms of endearment and nicknames that are too cute, like Kiki, Lulu etc. are something I would never put in the birth certificate.
There are nicknames that are, or have been, widely used, like Odette, Adele etc. I am not strongly against them on a birth certificate, but I would still choose Odelia and Adelaide. However, they would definitely work.

annieteach Says:

April 21st, 2017 at 12:13 pm

In my opinion, it’s our job as parents to give our kids the best possible future, and to allow for whatever choices our kids decide to make in their lives. If my daughter, for example, ends up publishing her research someday in a medical journal, I hope she will be proud of the name she sees in print… and never has to wonder if others respect her as a professional when they see her name. If my son owns his own business, I want him to be proud of the name on his business card when he hands it to clients. Giving a child a reasonably dignified (but approachable) name, or at least the option to use a more formal name for certain occasions, seems to be the kindest thing I can do for my son or daughter when I’m naming them.

nml28 Says:

April 21st, 2017 at 6:33 pm

I’m fine with names that were originally nicknames but have been recognized and accepted on their own, like Molly or Jack. But I don’t really get the thing about “naming them what you’re going to call them” cause the kid is gonna end up in a lot of different situations besides just being at home with their parents. They could have a full name to use in the workplace and whatnot, and more options to choose their own nickname. I mean I like the nickname Kathy for Katherine but she might want to be called Katie at school or whatever. Also having a full name you love with a cool nickname is like two great names!! That’s my 2 cents

jame1881 Says:

April 22nd, 2017 at 11:27 am

The quality I most look for in a name is versatility. So, if the nickname could sound cool on a macho punk rocker and a girly princess, it would be fine. However, that doesn’t usually happen with nicknames. Tom is solidly masculine, while Ellie is light and feminine. I think a longer name is better, allowing the kid to grow up as a Thomas, Tom, Tommy, or Titi as they choose.

JulesBerry Says:

April 22nd, 2017 at 12:22 pm

My name is Jill and when I was younger I often got asked if I was Jillian. Nope. Jill actually came before Jillian! 4 out of my 5 siblings had longer names with a traditional nickname. I always wished I had had that option.

Obviously don’t pick a traditional name you don’t like to get to a nickname, but I always envied others that had the option of a more formal sounding name or lots of nickname options.

MorganaRose Says:

April 22nd, 2017 at 1:10 pm

All of my friends are giving their kids nicknames but why not give them a longer name that gives them options as they get older. Maybe YOU think they’ll only ever want to be called Kit but they could very well grow up and want to be Catherine.

sablemae98 Says:

April 22nd, 2017 at 7:53 pm

I personally like longer names with multiple nicknames. Even if you plan to exclusively call Katherine Rose “Kate,” it’s just much more fulfilling to yell a full name when you’re good and angry.

Of course, this is the reason I prefer long names on general over short names. Or at least, multiple syllables. It’s much for satisfying. 🙂

laurentaylor Says:

April 22nd, 2017 at 8:22 pm

Two of my daughters names are nicknames. We chose to use Bella and Gracie (not Isa/Ara/Annabella and Grace) simply because we had no intention of ever calling them by a longer name. The way we figured it, if in the future our daughters wanted to be called by more formal names, they could choose so. If a Grace can be Gracie why can’t a Gracie be Grace?

ErinB2011 Says:

April 23rd, 2017 at 4:28 am

We call our son Clem. His full name is Clement. I hemmed and hawed over this one, because while I love Clement, I LOOOOOOVE Clem. I never intended on calling him Clement on a regular basis. I was really drawn to old grandpa nickname names, and my husband wanted to give him a full formal name just in case he wants to use it some day. I do find that I have to repeat myself often when people ask me what his name is, but I think that’s because not many people are calling their boys Clem/Clement these days.

Liz Kent Says:

April 23rd, 2017 at 9:13 am

You shouldn’t give your baby a name for the sake of it. All names have longer versions – for example, Emma could be short for Emmeline. My real name is Elizabeth, but I go by Liz, and my parents always wanted me to be called Liz. I find it annoying to have such a long name like Elizabeth … Especially as a young child, it’s difficult to spell it correctly.

My sister’s son is called Will. He sometimes struggles with people thinking his name is William or Wilbur, but my sister didn’t like those names, so she didn’t want to call him that. It’s not as big a problem as people might think.

Liz Kent Says:

April 23rd, 2017 at 9:15 am

If you worry about a name being too informal, use an opposite name as a middle name. Eg: Kate Seana, Daisy Amanda, Abby Elizabeth.

KristenKayla Says:

April 24th, 2017 at 12:35 pm

I’m the only sibling out of 4 who doesn’t have a short name, or a nickname. Joshua is the only one with a nn (Josh, shocking, I know). The other two, Josie and Avery, have very short nn-esque names that suit them very well. I couldn’t imagine Josie as a Josephine, or Avery as a more dignified Albert or Charles. They make the names their own. With my sister we often tag her middle name into talking with her or introducing her (“Josie Belle”). Her name never feels too childish or informal, even as an adult. Avery’s still a little cute kid, so its hard to tell, but he wears the name well and tagging his middle name (“Avery Alan”) always makes him sound dignified and mature.

AmLou031 Says:

April 24th, 2017 at 7:29 pm

As someone who has a name that is not easily shorten i was desperately jealous of people whos name had nickname potentials. So when it came to naming my own babies i wanted them to have the option of multiple nicknames.
I wanted a Milly and went with Emilia, i love Anna but my husband did not so we comprimised and had a Savannah and then i wanted Theodore. I never intended for their nicknames to be anything but Milly, Anna and Theo but none of them choose to go by those nicknames anymore and all are still under 5. I love that they have so many different options available to them.

I think its definetly personal choice, given a formal name gives the child that option as they age. But not everyone needs/wants that option

Hayden_Taylor Says:

August 27th, 2017 at 6:38 am

For me, personally, I love having full names with nickname options. In fact, it’s pretty much required that my name has nickname options. It’s just what I love.

In general, I think it depends on the name. Some nicknames feel like they have better aging potential than others. Kate, Zeke, Max, Theo, etc all can be nicknames but feel perfectly strong age well on their own. Vivi, Annie, Joey, etc feel young. I think I often prefer those “eee” sounding endings as nicknames only. 🙂

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