Name Sage: Girlish Baby Names with Boyish Nicknames

a Name Sage post by: Abby View all Name Sage posts

Shae writes:

My wife and I are expecting our first daughter in early July and cannot lock in a name.

I love distinctively classic feminine names that have a touch of alternative, like Florence, Clementine, and Estelle.

My wife likes more “tomboy” names like Pippa, Hudson, and Quinn. None of these even come close to something I would choose.

Based on this we are trying to find names that fit my criteria with an appropriate nickname that my wife loves. We have come up with Harriet/Hattie and Madeline/Maddie. But neither name feels right.

We do both absolutely love Clementine, but the nickname is always a bit of troublesome here.

Her middle name will be Ila -it’s a family name. Our surname is short, simple, starts with an M, and lends itself easily to almost every name.

If it were up to me, I would choose Florence Ila. I love the romance, but it’s a bit too much for my wife.

Names we love but have crossed off are Lola (clashes with Ila) and Esme (too repetitive with our surname).

The Name Sage responds:

I think you’ve already keyed in on the best strategy: a longer, more feminine given name and a shorter, more unisex nickname for everyday use.

Happily, there are dozens and dozens of possibilities! Because Clementine, Florence, and Estelle are a little less common, I’m guessing that you’d prefer to avoid some of the really obvious choices, like Alexandra called Alex or Charlotte called Charlie.

Let’s start with your short list. There are a few names that might work, with just a little bit of creativity and compromise.

Clementine, called Cleo or Coco – First, since you both like Clementine, let’s see if we can find a great nickname. Clemmie might be the default, but I’ve seen both Cleo and Coco suggested. They’re unexpected choices, I think they have the same appeal as Pippa or Quinn.

Louise Ila, Lois Ila, or Lorraine Ila called Lola – A few years ago, I met a Lorraine Alice, named for her grandmothers, who answered to Lola. Clever, right? You could do something similar, choosing a more traditional first name starting with Lo, and pairing it with the –la of Ila.

Josephine called Pippa Pippa is traditionally a nickname for Philippa – that’s Pippa Middleton’s full name. But it could work for other names, too, and my favorite for you is Josephine. It’s elegant, traditional, and feminine. Josie is the go-to nickname, along with just Jo, as in Jo March of Little Women fame. But the Spanish Pepe comes from José, and I’ve seen Posy suggested for Josephine, too. So why not another P name, like Pippa? I’ve also seen parents considering Finn as a nickname for Josephine, which seems like another great compromise.

But if Clementine, Pippa, and Lola are off the table, there are still plenty of names to consider:

Aurora, Marjorie, Lorelei, Coraline, or Victoria called Rory Rory is traditionally an Irish boy’s name, but it’s been used for girls in small numbers, too. The Gilmore Girls gave us Lorelai called Rory. There are plenty of other traditional feminine names with a strong “ro” or “or” sound that could shorten to Rory, too.

Rosemary, Rosemarie, Rosamond, Romilly, or Romelia called Romy Rory always reminds me of Romy. It’s originally a German nickname for Rosemary. Like Pippa and Coco, it’s more popular for girls

Georgia, Georgiana, or Georgette called Georgie Georgia is one of those names that everyone likes, but remains relatively underused. Georgiana and Georgette are pretty rare. Any of the names shortens to the boyish Georgie, which feels very retro and fun in 2016.

Margaret or Marguerite called Maisie, Greer, Grete, or Rhett – The most traditional names tend to be the most nickname-rich, and Margaret is no exception. Since Hattie made your maybe list, I wonder if nickname the Scottish Maisie would appeal? Grete is German, and it makes sense if you say Marguerite fast. Greer is a surname derived from Gregory, not Margaret – but with the strong “gr” sound in Margaret, I think it works. And Ret/Rhett is a super-boyish nickname name option that could work for Margaret, too. (I can’t take credit for the last one – the marvelous Aela Mass suggested it first!)

Juliet or Juliette called Jet or Jett – If we’re thinking about Rhett, why not Jett? In this case, Jett has a little more history as a feminine name. Jette is used in Dutch as a nickname for –ette ending names like Henriette. Juliet is quite the romantic pick, and pairing it with nickname Jett makes it edgy and cool.

UPDATE: She’s here! Welcome Estelle Ila, and thanks to all for your help.

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About the author

Abby

Abby Sandel is nameberry's Senior Editor and resident Name Sage. Look for her baby name news round-ups every Monday, and her Name Sage columns on Wednesdays. Abby is the creator of the baby name blog Appellation Mountain and mom to Alex and Clio. For a chance to have your questions answered, contact Abby at namesage@nameberry.com.
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38 Responses to “Name Sage: Girlish Baby Names with Boyish Nicknames”

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JulesBerry Says:

April 19th, 2016 at 11:12 pm

I love Juliet. It’s what we’ll name our third if it’s a girl. Other ideas…

Frances/Francesca nn Frankie
Frederica/Frederique nn Freddie

tree_loves_eth Says:

April 20th, 2016 at 12:00 am

I love the suggestions of Romy and Greer!
I don’t know if these nicknames are too girly, but I love Emmy for Clementine and Wren for Florence

mill1020 Says:

April 20th, 2016 at 12:00 am

Samara called Sammy.

icantwait Says:

April 20th, 2016 at 12:06 am

I think Rory would totally work as a nickname for Florence, too.

JLS123 Says:

April 20th, 2016 at 2:08 am

Torrance nn Tor or Torie or Rinny. Torrance Ila is cute and its a bit like Florence in ending.

Winona nn Winnie or Nona or Noni.

Clarisse nn Reece

Massima nn Sim, Simi or Sima. Very romantic.

Gwyneth nn Gwen, Nettie, Winnie.

katoolah Says:

April 20th, 2016 at 2:13 am

There’s also:

Felicity nn Flick or Fizzy
Theresa nn Tess
Edwina nn Eddie or Teddy
Wilhelmina nn Will, Billie, Minnie
Dorothy or Dorothea nn Dot
Matilda nn Mattie

Keep us posted on what you end up going with! My SO likes frilly names and I like spunky nicknames, so I’m interested to see how you go! 🙂

nat108 Says:

April 20th, 2016 at 4:20 am

Florence nn Flossie, Lo, Wren/Ren, Flynn, Finn
Clementine nn Minnie, Ty, Clint, Cleo, Emme
Estelle nn Telly

Moonchild96 Says:

April 20th, 2016 at 4:32 am

I’ve always thought that Rhiannon nn Rio was the perfect balance of femininity and strength and I also think Rhiannon Ila sounds nice as a first/middle combo

Maple10 Says:

April 20th, 2016 at 6:21 am

Such great suggestions! I love two for one names. More posts like this!
I think clementine nn Cleo is perfect for this couple! I also love Juliet nn Jet and Georgette nn Georgie.
Francesca- Freddie
Beatrice- Bea
Cordelia- Cory
Willemina- Billie

Maple10 Says:

April 20th, 2016 at 6:23 am

*francesca- Frankie
Winifred- Freddie

kashed22 Says:

April 20th, 2016 at 6:39 am

Theodora- Teddy

cyoung325 Says:

April 20th, 2016 at 6:56 am

My first thought was Francesca or Frances nicknamed Frankie. I also think “Tiny” could be a cute nickname for Clementine. Some others:

Matilda “Mattie”
Madeleine “Maddie”
Felicity “Flick”
Arabella “Ari”
Catherine “Cat”
Penelope “Nell”

jo1654 Says:

April 20th, 2016 at 8:31 am

Katherine – Kit (I’d love to meet a little Kit)
Penelope – Nell (maybe too popular)
Francesca – Frankie
Beatrice – Bea

I love the suggestions of Florence Ila “Lola” too

meek Says:

April 20th, 2016 at 9:01 am

Vivienne or Lavinia nn vinnie

NaomiNY Says:

April 20th, 2016 at 9:11 am

Beatrice- Bee, Tris
Felicity- Flis, Flicka
Aurelia- Aura, Lee/Leigh, Rory
Penelope- Penn, Penny
Emmeline- Emmy, Mel
Matilda- Mattie
Melody- Mel
Isolde- Izzy
Dorothy- Dodi, Dori
Ophelia- Lee/Leigh
Wilhelmina- Billie, Willa
Jocelyn- Joss

oliviamcdonald Says:

April 20th, 2016 at 10:49 am

Marisa- Missy, Maisie, Ris/Riso, Mara
Penelope- Penny, Nelly, Poppy, Pepper, Pippa
Araminta- Minty
Agnes- Nessie
Aquilla- Quill
Theresa/ Teresa- Reese, Tess
Emmeline- Emme
Juliet, Scarlet or Violet- Lettie
Olive- Ollie
Vera or Violet- Vee
Gwyneth- Gwyn
Georgiana- Gia
Theodora- Teddy, Thea, Thora, Dora
Seraphina- Sera, Phinn, Finn
Angelica/ Anjelica- Angel, Jelly
Adeline- Dell, Addie
Amalia, Tamara, Margaret- Marley

Bobcat108 Says:

April 20th, 2016 at 11:55 am

cyoung325 had some great suggestions: Arabella nn Ari (& any of the Ari-names would work w/that…Ariana, Ariel, etc.); Penelope nn Nell; Catherine nn Cat. jo1654’s suggestion of Katherine nn Kit is one that I have a bias toward as my daughter is Kiersten nn Kit (she’s not so little now…going off to college this fall!).

I love Juliet, but would use Jules as a nn.

Instead of Alexandra, what about Alexandria/Alexandrea nn Dria/Drea? Or Alexandrina nn Rina? Xandra would work as a nn for any of the Alexandra-related names.

Cecelia nn Celie? Clarissa nn Clary?

I second Kashed22’s Theodora & add Theodosia as a possibility, nn either Teddie or Theo.

If your SO loves Quinn, would Aquinnah work?

The nns Remi & Romy are great for any of the Rose-combinations.

Lauren/Laurel w/a nn Wren is adorable.

Good luck! 🙂

hlparker Says:

April 20th, 2016 at 11:56 am

Francine Ila nn Frankie
Winifred Ila nn Win or Fred/Freddie
Colette Ila nn Cole
Maxine Ila nn Max
Delphine Ile nn Del or Della

Of the Name Safe suggestions I LOVE Georgette Ila nn Georgie and Juliette Ila nn Jet.

LoveBugsMama Says:

April 20th, 2016 at 12:03 pm

I love girly names with boyish nicknames! Abby suggested some great ones, my favorites being the George-names and Juliet “Jet”. I also like her suggestion of Margaret but I’ll suggest the nickname “Martie”. I had a Margaret that went by Martie in daycare and it fit her spunky little personality so well.

I love pp’s suggestions of:
Frances/Francesca/Francine- Frankie
Theodora-Teddy
Ophelia but I’d suggest the nn-Fee

My suggestions:
Fiona-Finn
Eleanor- Len, Leni, Elle
Augusta-Gus, Aggie
Nicolina/Nicolette/Nicola/Nicole- Cole
Davina-Davey
Maxine-Max

LoveBugsMama Says:

April 20th, 2016 at 12:04 pm

Oh! There’s an Alexandrina that goes to our church preschool and she’s called Xan. So fun!

peach Says:

April 20th, 2016 at 12:30 pm

This is an interesting name issue. Here is my attempt to create some less common name pairs for you….

Augustina — Augie
Olympia — Oly, Pia
Jacinta – Jacy, Jackie, Jazz
Astrid — Trey, Astra
Beatrix — Bex
Judith — Jude
Isabeau — Beau
Coralie — Lina
Sylvie — Sy
Theodora — Tia
Valentina — Valy
Eliza — Zizi
Eugenia — Genie, Gigi
Priscillla — Rilla
Seraphina — Pippa
Ramona — Romy
Tatiana — Taya
Eulalia — Lulu, Lia
Gemma — Gem
Callipe — Cali, Cricket
Cecilia — Cecil, Lia
Sabrina – Bree
Marigold — Goldie, Golda
Leonie — Leo

More ideas that might be a middle ground:
Willa
Linnea
Augusta
Darcy
Juniper — June
Bronwen
Aubrey
Laurel
Bryony

Anything appeal?

LoveBeingAMom Says:

April 20th, 2016 at 1:07 pm

My very first thought was Lavinia. Boyish nickname option would be Vinny. But as she grows, if she wants something more feminine, she can pick: Livie, Liv or Livia.

languageisbeauty Says:

April 20th, 2016 at 1:49 pm

Love nn Jo for Josephine — super spunky!

Araminta — Minnie
Ariadne — Addie
Cassandra or Cassidy — Cass
Eugenie or Imogen — Gene
Evangeline — Evan
Henrietta — Henry
Jacqueline — Jack, Jackie
Jasmine — Jazz, Jazzy
Matilda — Tilly, Tilda
Meredith — Mere
Miranda — Randy
Ophelia — Phil, Philly
Penelope — Pippa

languageisbeauty Says:

April 20th, 2016 at 1:52 pm

Oh also Betta or Bets as a nickname for Henrietta, or the traditional Elizabeth nn Birdie

violetwhim Says:

April 20th, 2016 at 2:06 pm

Florence could be Ren! I love this list because that is precisely my girl naming style: long feminine names that have snappy boyish nicknames. My favorite at the moment is Lavinia nn Vinnie.

catcher5 Says:

April 20th, 2016 at 2:33 pm

My favorite NS suggestions were Juliet nn Jet, and Margaret nn Rhett! *love*

I have two daughters, and I think both fall under this category feminine name with a more tom-boyish nickname.
Adelia, nn Del
Ruby, nn Rue

Sweetchariot Says:

April 20th, 2016 at 7:57 pm

Has no one suggested Clem as a nn for Clementine yet? I think that is tomboy-adorable!

AnnaKatharina Says:

April 21st, 2016 at 5:18 am

I love Clementine, nn Emmy, Juliet, nn Jette and Florence, nn Flora or Ren

Eleanor/Eleanora, nn Ellie, Nora, Nelly, Rory, Lola
Olivia/Livia/Liviana, nn Liv
Eloise, nn Lou, Lola
Amalia/Amelia, nn Mila, Mali, Molly
Jemina/Jessamine/Jasmine, nn Jem
Felicia, nn Liz

CrystalTips Says:

April 21st, 2016 at 7:34 am

I love Clem / Clemmy for Clementine like the previous poster says – or what about Maxima, nickname Max! I know a boy Jules, but that would work perfectly for a little Juliet…

JuliaKateElizabeth Says:

April 21st, 2016 at 12:02 pm

Lorelei, nn Rory
Ophelia, nn Effie
🙂

Tipper12 Says:

April 21st, 2016 at 6:18 pm

As some previous posters have suggested, I LOVE Clementine “Clem” and I would suggest Daveny “Davie”. Daveny isn’t on Nameberry, but if I’m not mistaken it was used in The Notebook for a granddaughter of the couple. Florence Ila “Lola” is wonderful, especially because the askers had given up on Lola because it clashed with Ila. This way, it doesn’t matter! 😀

BKB Says:

April 22nd, 2016 at 10:36 pm

What about the nickname Lou? The long form could be Louisa/Louise, or any of the Lucy long forms, such as Lucille, Lucia, Lucienne, Lucinda. It could also be short for something a little less familiar, like Lucretia or Ludovica . . .

neverland_01 Says:

April 23rd, 2016 at 5:31 am

Florence Ila nn Flo
Josephine Ila nn Jo
Louise Ila nn Lola
Margaret Ila nn Rhett

And why not Charlotte Ila nn Charlie ?

BCox13 Says:

April 23rd, 2016 at 9:03 am

I came to make suggestions but so many of y’all are already on it!

Wren/Ren or Rory for Florence. I think those are the best!!!

I LOVE Clementine, but it’s so distinct and Cleo (which I also love) is distinct but too unrelated. If I ever use Clementine the nickname I’ll go for is Minnie, which was my great-grandmother’s name.

actingfun Says:

April 25th, 2016 at 7:46 pm

Olivia (Ollie)
Coraline (Corey)
Camille, Camilla (Cam)
Maureen (Mo)
Alisha (Ash)
Jacqueline (Jace, Jack)
Francesca (Frankie, Frances, Fran)
Leona (Leo)
Ottoline (Otto)
Theodosia, Theodora (Theo)
Kaia (Kai)

I hope this helps! I tried to find a bunch that were unusual.

oliviamcdonald Says:

April 26th, 2016 at 6:49 am

Persephone nn Percy

Abby Sandel Says:

April 26th, 2016 at 9:34 am

LOVE!

fiergemom Says:

July 5th, 2016 at 11:14 pm

I teased my Uncle Lawrence (nn Lance) that i would name my daughter Florence after him. 😉

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