Midcentury Nickname Names: Buster and Buddy are back

Midcentury Nickname Names: Buster and Buddy are back

I don’t you know if you’ve noticed a growing trendlet—at least among celebrities—for what we might call generic-boy-nickname-names.  In other words, these aren’t specific short forms like Charlie or Archie, but ol- timey macho boy tags like Buddy and Buster.

In the recent past, we’ve seen Noel Gallagher’s Sonny, a choice shared by British singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor—as well as Adam Sandler’s daughter Sunny; Jamie Oliver’s Buddy Bear Maurice; Michele Hicks and Jonny Lee Miller’s Buster Timothy; the three Aces of Natalie Appleton, Tom Dumont, and Jennie Finch and Casey Daigle; the two Dukes of Diane Keaton and Justine Bateman; and the Junior of Peter Andre and Katie Price.

We can’t help wondering if this is yet another offshoot of the midcentury Mad Men phenomenon, bringing us back to the days of Father Knows Best’s Bud (birth name James Anderson, Jr.) and J. D. Salinger’s Buddy Glass (real name Webb Gallagher Glass), and Marlon Brando, who was known to friends and family as Bud.  In those days, though, Sonny or Buster were not usually put on the birth certificate, and over time those pet names began to be relegated to pets.

Or so it seemed.  Looking at the Social Security data, you might find it surprising that Buddy did make the list every year from 1904 to 1988, peaking at 216 in 1947; Junior entered the list in 1896, reached a high of 416 in 1925, and still ranks at 715.  Buster was on the charts from 1880 to 1957, reaching 238 in 1909, while Sonny has been there from 1927 to 2009; its highpoint—at 471– was in 1935, last year it still ranked #857.

Another related name is Ace, which sounds a bit fresher and more spirited than the others, with its high-flying, comic-book-hero flair.  Ace flew in and out of the radar at the turn of the last century, and then landed back on the popularity list in 2006, where it now sits at #608.  Possible—though unlikely– namesakes: Ace Ventura, Pet Detective, bad boy Ace Merrill (born John) played by the young Kiefer Sutherland in the 1986 classic Stand By Me and KISS’s Ace Frehley, born Paul David.

Would you ever consider one of these names for your son?

About the Author

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.