Names So Nice You Say Them Twice

We credit Courtney Cox.  When she named her little girl Coco six years ago, she elevated that quirky Chanel nickname to a classic and made it appropriate for a modern child.

Certainly, there were notable double names before Coco Arquette, even before Chanel, from Zuzu of the petals in It’s A Wonderful Life to Mimi, heroine of the 19th century novel La Boheme.

But at no time have these names been more fashionable than they are today.  Whether given as full names or used as lighthearted nicknames for more serious appellations (my twin nieces Georgia and Louisa, for instance, call each other Gigi and Lulu), double names are worthy of consideration.

Among the possibilities:

Bebe or Bibi – Actress and dancer Bebe Neuwirth, who played Lilith on Cheers, is probably the best-known bearer of this name today, but there’s also author Bebe Moore Campbell, model Bebe Buell, and even (male) Nixon pal Bebe Rebozo.  In Neuwirth’s case, Bebe is a nickname for BeatriceBibi – born Berit – Andersson is a Swedish actress who starred in many Ingmar Bergman films.

Cece – Cece is suddenly a hot baby name thanks to Jim and Pam on The Office, whose fictional baby girl is named Cecelia and called Cece.  CeCe Winans, a gospel singer whose sister’s name is BeBe, is also named Cecilia.

Coco Little Coco Arquette was so named in honor of the first two letters in mom Courtney Cox’s first and last names.  Canadian supermodel Coco Rocha was born Mikhaila, and fashion great Coco Chanel, who was born Gabrielle, has said her nickname is a shortened version of coquette.  There was also Coco the Clown, though that image is thankfully fading.

Dede or Didi – One of the midcentury double-name favorites, Dede/Didi could be short for anything from Denise to Diane to any more exotic D-starting name.  Pioneering female film editor Dede Allen was named Dorothea and actress Didi Conn is Edith.  It’s not unknown as a male nickname, but we don’t recommend it.

Dodo – The Dodo Bird pretty much killed the viability of this one, though in the classic novel Middlemarch, by George Eliot, heroine Dorothea is called Dodo by her sister.

FifiFifi may be the quintessential French poodle name – either that or a can-can dancer – but it’s seeing new light as a nickname for such fashionable proper names as Sophia, Fiona, and Josephine.

Gaga – There’s only one Lady Gaga, though we’ve said that before about names we thought would never go beyond their one-person originator and then, lo and behold, scores of little Chers and Arlos and Elvi.  Gaga’s real name is Stefanie Joanne Angelina; the name Lady Gaga sprang from a typo of the Queen song Radio Gaga.

GigiGigi was made famous by French writer Colette’s 1944 novella and later the film starring Leslie Caron.  Another poodle favorite, Gigi can be short for any of the feminizations of George or such names as Geraldine or Regina.

Jojo – While commonly used for boys as well as girls, Jojo is a bit too jokey of a name for a parent to actually aspire to.  Rather, an ordinary Joe or Josie, Joel or Joanna may morph into a Jojo as a pet name.  JoJo the Dog Faced Boy was an infamous 19th century circus freak.

Kiki Kiki is used as a nickname in France and Spain and is also used on its own in Japan.  Favorite American Kikis include artist Kiki Smith and Kirsten – called Kiki by her friends – Dunst.  Kiki Carter and Kiki Dee are musicians, Kiki Cutter is a skier, and Kiki Magazine is aimed at young girls.

Koko – While Koko Taylor was a wonderful jazz singer, this spelling nudges the name into clown and animal territory.  Koko was a gorilla trained in sign language; there was also an early Japanese emperor named Koko.

Lala LaLa Land may be a nickname for Los Angeles, but Lala is also an increasingly common childhood nickname for such rising L names as Leila, Lola, Laura, Delilah, Allegra, and so on.

Leelee – Actress Leelee Sobieski, who has pretty much made this spelling her own, was originally named Liliane.

Lili – While Lili is pronounced just like Lily, the most popular name on this list at Number 18, the Lili spelling is not often used.  Lili was a 1953 film starring Leslie Caron, who seemed to have specialized in characters with these kind of names.

LuluLulu is undoubtedly one of the most stylish of the double-sound names, primarily because the double-L sound itself is stylish but also because it can be short for anything from Louise to Lucinda to Talullah.  The one-named Lulu (born Marie) is a Scottish singer best known for the hit “To Sir With Love” and Little Lulu was a comic strip character.

MimiMimi was heard throughout the last century as a nickname for the ubiquitous Mary as well as Margaret, Maria, Miriam, and other M names.    There are many famous Mimis, including the heroine of La Boheme and later, Rent, and Mariah Carey, for whom it is a nickname.

MiuMiu — This brand name is also the nickname of designer Miuccia Prada.

NanaNana is the name of a Manga series in which the two main characters are both named NanaNana is also the name of an Emile Zola novel.

Pippi – While Pippi technically has that extra P in the middle, we’re going to count it as a double-sound name in honor of Pippi Longstocking.

ViviVivi was revivified as a main character name in the hit novel Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya (there it is again) Sisterhood, but it really became a star with first Rosie O’Donnell and then Brad and Angelina named their daughters Vivienne, nickname Vivi.

YoYo — Unless you’re a world-class musician, not in consideration.

ZsaZsaZsaZsa Gabor, who was born Sari, made her double-sound name the height of exotic Glamour.  While there have been other ZsaZsas – President Kennedy had a pet rabbit with the name – Gabor still pretty much owns it.

ZuzuZuzu, the endearing little girl who notes that an angel got his wings at the end of the classic film It’s A Wonderful Life, is so memorable there’s even a Zuzu Society.  Short for Susan or Suzanne, the name, while adorable, has not caught on in real life, though actress Tania Peterson recently named her daughter Zuzu.

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32 Responses to “Names So Nice You Say Them Twice”

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Abby Says:

May 24th, 2011 at 5:59 am

Oh, I love so many of these – Coco, Lulu, and Gigi have all been on our list, as nicknames for longer names. But I honestly never realized the common thread!

BasicSand Says:

May 24th, 2011 at 6:40 am

Although I don’t watch it, isn’t one of the Real Housewives on Bravo named Nene? I think she’s part of the Atlanta cast though I don’t know if it’s a full or nickname, nor do I know her last name. She was most recently on Donald Trump’s reality show.

sarahinjune Says:

May 24th, 2011 at 7:52 am

Lili is such a beautiful film. For a long time after watching it I was convinced that it was the best name in the world for a girl. I just feel conflicted because it’s been so important to me to give my sons uncommon names (I hated being one of several in every room) with deep personal meaning to me, I’d feel like I was cheating my daughter if I picked a name almost as common now as my own name was when I was born.

Sophie Says:

May 24th, 2011 at 8:29 am

I know a Gina whose nickname is Gigi, and also I know a boy named Yoyo, short for Yonedav. My name is Sophie (I’m a teem berry!) and My cousin used to call me Fifi when her couldn’t pronounce Sophie.

Sophie Says:

May 24th, 2011 at 8:30 am

*teen berry 🙂

Roseate Says:

May 24th, 2011 at 8:45 am

My cousin’s daughter’s name is Grace, but they call her Gigi. I literally could not love it more. <3

Lola Says:

May 24th, 2011 at 9:50 am

As the mother of a Josephine who rotates between Josie/Posie & Fifi for nicknames, I love these repeating sounds, after all, I love my Lola! 😀

If we ever have another girl (or three), We’ve got on the list:
Cece – for the lovely Cecily
Mimi – for beautiful Jemima
Zuzu (or Zha-Zha) for Susanna or his favorite: Zuleika.
and, last but not least:
Poppy or Polly (which should both be on this list too!) for Penelope or Pomeline!

I love doubled sounds in nicknames but think I couldn’t take them seriously as full names. Coco? Gaga? They don’t sound like well- functioning adults to me! 😀

Alessia Says:

May 24th, 2011 at 10:06 am

There’s also a teenage actress named KeKe Palmer, pronounced like KiKi.

phoebesmom Says:

May 24th, 2011 at 10:12 am

These are adorable, but of course a lot of these are being co-opted as hip grandma names. Some grandmas we know…
MiMi
GiGi (these top two seem to be the most common names for both grandmas in my area)

Nana
Coco
YaYa

auntie_a Says:

May 24th, 2011 at 11:10 am

Gigi & Zuzu are probably my favorites on this list!
I also like Leelee, I know a girl about 8 yrs. old called Leelee…used as a nn for Aalisa.
My younger brother gets Jojo alot….which works out great since our niece can’t say J0nathan yet. I have the nn Nana now, since that’s how my niece says my name, Ann@.

Sarah A Says:

May 24th, 2011 at 11:20 am

Kiki is also a nickname for the Greek name Vassiliki. I went to school with a Greek girl who went by Kiki – now she’s grown up and prefers the full Vassiliki. I know of at least one other Vassiliki/Kiki.

I also know of a Dede who is from I *think* Nigeria, and Dede is her full name.

Gigi as a “poodle favorite” is spot-on; my family grew up with poodles named Gigi and Bitsy 🙂

Whitney Gigandet Says:

May 24th, 2011 at 11:53 am

My hubby has always loved the thought of having a Gianna Gigandet, nickname Gigi for the first two letters in her first and last name.

LJandRL Says:

May 24th, 2011 at 2:34 pm

BeBe Winans is actually a man! It’s short for Benjamin 🙂

Lisa Says:

May 24th, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Love these, & considered several of them for our daughter (Louisa-Lulu, Colette-Coco, Mirabel-Mimi, & settled on Genevieve-Gigi/Vivi sometimes). Gigi works foir us because our kids’ great grandpa is called GG (for Great Grandpa, and Jiji is also a Japanese nickname for grandpa). To me they make nice affectionate nicknames for a small-child that are easy to fade/trade when they get a little older or start school.

Elisabeth@YCCII Says:

May 24th, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Love this post! We have a BeBe and there are others here I would use. My other favorite is Zuzu. Incidentally, our dog Isis also fits the mold.

ycw Says:

May 24th, 2011 at 4:36 pm

Mimi makes me think of the overweight, over-painted character from Drew Carey’s show.

Nana Visitor played Major Kira Nerys on Star Trek: DS9.

My niece was called Lala for a while before she could pronounce her name, Arielle.

Jenny Says:

May 24th, 2011 at 8:05 pm

My goddaughter nicknamed her baby cousin ‘Yaya’ after she found the full ‘Alexandria’ too hard to pronounce. We all found it adorable.

Amber Says:

May 24th, 2011 at 10:26 pm

Love this entry, but must say I`m a big Winans fan… Bebe is a guy & short for Benjamin & I`m fairly sure Cece Winans is short for Priscilla. NOT 100% sure but if I recall that`s it. Thanks for great reading!

linzybindi Says:

May 26th, 2011 at 5:23 pm

I know a few people nicknamed with these…

Dede – Darien (girl)

Nana – Adrianna

Keke – Kelsey

Jojo – Joseph

Sunday Summary: 5/29/11 | Appellation Mountain Says:

May 29th, 2011 at 8:04 am

[…] you see this list at Nameberry of double names?  I’ve long loved Coco, Gigi, Mimi, and Lulu – and never noticed that […]

Kayt Says:

May 29th, 2011 at 9:42 am

My sister Amelia was called Mimi for a lot of her childhood because of my inability to say her name properly. She’s in her twenties now, and mostly goes my Meem.

reve Says:

June 24th, 2011 at 12:45 pm

pippi means penis in a language… also dede means grandfather.. nene means grand grand grand mother..

Fetching Names: Getting to Lulu | Appellation Mountain Says:

December 15th, 2011 at 8:27 am

[…] we turn our attention to another of the names so nice you say them twice: […]

StellaMaris Says:

December 16th, 2011 at 12:11 am

I know a Juliette who goes by Juju, and a Louis called Loulou (Lulu in French).
By the way, never heard of a French Kiki – ever. However, Lili is definitely the French version of Lily, except that it’s not a flower name, just one of the few authentic pretty, elegant and sweet ancient girls names, with Lou and Thaïs.

plainname Says:

December 29th, 2011 at 5:17 am

Definitely not my style:/

Poppy528 Says:

July 9th, 2012 at 12:15 am

Zeezee? Short for Suzanna or too ZZ Top? I call my little sis Rere (Serena). My cat is Momo.

ebenezer.scrouge Says:

July 14th, 2012 at 12:06 am

I call my dog Brandy Bebe my other dog Gemma Gigi and by cat Tommy Toto just for fun

Renatta Says:

August 24th, 2012 at 11:38 pm

Lalla Ward: British actress, author. Ward’s stage name, “Lalla”, comes from her attempts as a toddler to pronounce her own name, Sarah.

MaewynMannix Says:

May 28th, 2013 at 7:17 pm

*gag noises*

raevynstar Says:

October 20th, 2013 at 8:13 am

How about Zizi?

charmingwitch Says:

November 30th, 2013 at 12:34 pm

Lala was my nickname as a child because my brother couldn’t say Angela right :). CiCi I usually hear as a nickname for Sierra.

Taylor Swift-Inspired Baby Names – Baby Name Blog – Nameberry Says:

May 24th, 2015 at 10:50 pm

[…] 1958 musical Gigi, it’s a pet name for Gilberte. Gigi is rarely bestowed independently, but with nickname-names like Coco and Lulu so stylish, it’s possible we’ll hear more girls named just Gigi. Cynthia Rowley has a daughter […]

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