Nickname-Proof Boys’ Names: Ace, Holden, and Ford

This week, Appellation Mountain’s Abby Sandel finds boys’ names that are anything but traditional, and wonders if nickname-free is the new priority when naming a son.

Flip through on an old high school yearbook, and you’ll probably find pictures of WilliamBillyJones and MaryMimiSmith.

For generations, there was the name your parents chose, and then there was the name you actually used.

Some names were outgrown, of course.  Others held on long after you’d expect them to fade.  My great-uncle Flash was once a high school track star, but even as a portly gentleman in his 60s, he still answered to his nickname.

Of course, Billy and Mimi and Flash grew up in an era when lots of kids shared the same names, sometimes in the same family.  Flash was really Anthony, as were a few of his cousins.  Mimi is one of three Marys on her yearbook page alone.

Along with more freedom to choose our children’s names comes more insistence that the wider world use the name, exactly as we intend.  We want our children’s name pronounced as we planned, spelled as we’ve chosen, and definitely not shortened without our blessing.

No wonder so many modern boys’ names feel nickname-proof.  It isn’t just that we’re introducing our sons as William instead of Will.  We’re choosing boys’ names that don’t leave any space for a short form.

The nine most newsworthy names this week are almost entirely nickname-free:

Ace – Rumor has it that Jessica Simpson is naming baby #2 Ace, a brother – or sister – for Maxwell Drew.  In the 70s, Ace was the stage name of Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley – born Paul.  Today, it is an up-and-coming, completely nickname-proof choice for a son.

Blaine – Did you hear about the Texas family who recently welcomed quadruplets?  Their four sons also happen to be two sets of identical twins.  The odds of such an event are one in 70 million.  The boys are Ace, Blaine, Cash, and Dylan – babies A, B, C, and D.  We’ve heard more than once case of parents naming their multiples in alphabetical order.  Big brother is Memphis – another modern, nickname-proof choice.

Rex Rayne – UK DJ and television host Fearne Cotton is a new mom.  Dad is Jesse Wood, son of Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Woods.  Jesse is already father to Arthur and Lola.  Once reserved for large dogs, the regal Rex is back as a great short name for a boy, an alternative to the wildly popular Max.

Ford – It isn’t just celebs or parents of multiples embracing short names for boys.  This one comes from a recent birth announcement round-up: Ford Taylor.  He’s preppy and presidential, but also an all-boy, muscle car pick.  Ever since Owen Wilson named his son Robert Ford, I’ve been waiting to hear more of this one.

Link – Video game staple The Legend of Zelda includes a hero named LinkPlenty of today’s parents probably played the game in one version or another.  Is it any wonder that Link surfaced in a recent birth announcement?  We could hear more of him, for another reason, which leads to the next name …

Lincoln – This presidential surname is already on the rise.  Nancy suggests that the successful historical drama could easily encourage more parents to use Lincoln.  Strictly speaking, he’s not nickname-free.  There’s Linc and maybe even Cole.  But with boys called Ethan and Logan and Aiden everywhere, it is easy to imagine Lincoln fitting right in.

FelixHugh Grant surprised us all when he welcomed daughter Tabitha.  Now Hugh and Tinglan Hong are new parents to baby boy FelixFelix has become a celeb favorite, and he’s on the rise in the US, too.  Is it time to declare him mainstream?

Holden – Backstreet Boy Howie Dorough has welcomed a second son, Holden John.  He and wife Leigh are also parents to James HokeHolden is a literary choice for a son, and also – once – again – nickname-free.

Sebastian Taylor – I was waiting for something pretty outlandish from Wiz Khalifa and Amber Rose.  Not so!  They went with modern staple Sebastian.  Like Oliver, Sebastian is a long name that can be shortened – but is almost always used in full.

Do you prefer nickname-free names?  Are you more likely to use a nickname-free name for a son or a daughter?  And do you think Lincoln is going to leap in the next year or so thanks to the movie?

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31 Responses to “Nickname-Proof Boys’ Names: Ace, Holden, and Ford”

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sweetpeacelove Says:

February 24th, 2013 at 10:04 pm

I read that Wiz Khalifa and Amber Rose nicknamed Sebastian “The Bash.”

Dantea Says:

February 24th, 2013 at 10:21 pm

Blaine, Link, Felix, Lincoln, and Sebastian all have nickname. Blaine could have Lane or Bane, Link could be Lee, Felix could be Flix or (since I’ve seen it on a few girls) Fee, Lincoln could be Link or Cole or maybe Lon, Sebastian has Seb, Bastian, Bast, Ian, Tian etc.

Aside from that, I like Felix and Sebastian a lot and like Link as a middle.

Natural Says:

February 24th, 2013 at 11:48 pm

Holden, could possibly have the nickname Denny.

ThadsMom Says:

February 25th, 2013 at 12:14 am

My nephew’s name, Lincoln, was specifically chosen because his parents liked all the nicknames that could be drawn out of it. He could go by Linc, LC (with his middle) and often does now when he’s still little, go by Linky. Similarly we only picked Thaddeus because we also loved Thad. I think more than picking names that are nickname proof, you want to consider the nicknames that might grow out of it. Even if I liked William, I would never risk Will or Bill developing on the playground.

Arlina Says:

February 25th, 2013 at 12:35 am

I dont think ANY name is nickname proof – they are just a part of life!

TheNameFreak Says:

February 25th, 2013 at 12:37 am

my husband didn’t want to pick names with nicknames, so our kids are Rachel and Simon. technically, Simon could be called Si, but he’s not. the only name he is called besides Simon is “Bud” and that’s just my pet name for him. 🙂

iwillpraise Says:

February 25th, 2013 at 1:02 am

There are certain boys names I am drawn to (Patrick, Nicholas, Samuel etc.) with just no way around those unwanted nicknames the child would most certainly pick up. My husband, growing up in a world of “Mikes”, now prefers to be known by his full name. Of course, this causes me to have a new perspective and consideration. And as one who has a hard time with change as it is, as a mother, I know I would have enough difficulties realizing my son was 20, let alone getting used to him being known by his more mature or adult name! I envision him never being able to shake a childish nn (which for a boy is detrimental), so why not choose something with a nn fitting all areas of life? Baby, infant, child, teen, young adult to old man… Gabriel Patrick is our first pick. In fact, Gabe is one if the few boy nn’s my husb and I can really embrace wholeheartedly – Gabriel itself being a nod to my husband (the other archangel), at the same time, getting the Patrick without a first name “Pat” gender confusion. Runner up has to be Tobiah (aka Toby) Nicholas. Same deal: love the nn, not a big jump to use the full name, plus an added benefit to keep the classic in the middle, with no chance of being called Nick or Nicky. And even if my child likes their mn so much they’d like to be identified as such, I have no problem with that either. My job is just to give a great palette for them to play with :). Girls are an entirely different ball game. I grew up a Kimmie and will grow old a Kimmie because that’s just who I am! I do like the added advantage of using my full name at times, but as I always say,”I’m so much more than a Kim”. I think nn’s are almost necessity for girls; but my SIL would disagree. She named my nieces with two syllable names so they wouldn’t be given nn’s. To each their own! Again, my job is to provide a lovely palette for them to create an identy from with or without nicknames

iwillpraise Says:

February 25th, 2013 at 1:11 am

P.S. Before I met my husband, I would have totally gone with 1.) Corbin, 2.) Oliver or 3.) Sebastian… I’ve come to realize that they just aren’t “us” names unfortunately. It’s just sent me on an unexpected journey to find the perfect possibilities…. Thank goodness for Nameberry!

maddiejadore Says:

February 25th, 2013 at 1:22 am

No!!!! Not Felix! I hate to see it getting more popularrrrr! Shucks!

ninkynonk Says:

February 25th, 2013 at 6:17 am

That’s the first time I’ve heard what Hugh Grant called his son!

Tabitha was on our list, but we had three boys – I would have been VERY annoyed about that if we were expecting a girl.

We call our 8 year old Felix, Flix most of the time, so yes, it definitely can be shortened.

HerMajesty Says:

February 25th, 2013 at 7:42 am

I really like Link and Sebastian, but don’t count on nickname proof names, expirence has shown it dosn’t always work. I had three boys in our class with the name Jacob, so we had a Jake, Ham, and Bubba. We had the same problem with Samanthas so thus was created Sam, Sammie, and SamSam. Even single named people had nn, its what kids do, no name is nickname proof for five year olds. An Amber became Muffin and a Carley Carls. At one point we had a Ben who we gave the unfourtunate nn of Chubs and we had a Claire called Fats.

LilySong Says:

February 25th, 2013 at 7:45 am

My grandmother named my Dad Paul precisely so that no one would give him a nickname. So, when he got to college, he went by a nickname formed from his mn! It didn’t stick though. He reverted back to Paul when he graduated 🙂

emilycecelia Says:

February 25th, 2013 at 8:09 am

I have a 9 month old Rex, my daughter Olive and I are always calling him “Rexy”. It drives my husband crazy because he was originally drawn to the name because he thought it was nickname proof!

maggiefromcanada Says:

February 25th, 2013 at 8:46 am

I’m of the opinion that nothing is really nickname proof, especially with boys. My brother is named Neil, which has no natural nicknames. He has gotten Neily, Neilson, Nini, Neil-dog, not to mention nicknames related to our surnames. Some of these were from family, some from friends. He has a friend named Brett, whom their buddies sometimes call Bort. Once your kids are pre-teens and above, you really can’t control what their friends call them!

Abby Says:

February 25th, 2013 at 9:36 am

Nicely said, maggiefromcanada! And yes, it is always worth remembering that nickname-proof only goes so far …

LadyCap Says:

February 25th, 2013 at 10:29 am

While there is no nick-name proof name, I draw the distinction between thing your close friends and family call you and what you might ask a teacher to call you in college, for example. While my mother nickname proofed all of us (I’m Kelli), we have always had things we call each other (Kel, Kel-bel, etc.), but not anything that I’d request someone to call me in a school or work environment. Most of the names in this post do fit into this way of looking at things. Certainly I can see a Sebastian or a Lincoln asking to be called something shorter, though, I wouldn’t be inclined to shorten their names automatically, the way I would with a Michael or a Caitlyn.

LexieM Says:

February 25th, 2013 at 10:40 am

Alright since Felix is becoming more popular can we just put the rumor out there that it’s too popular for anyone to use? The new Jennifer if you will? Would that make a difference? (It’s been a favorite since I was about 9).

tarynkay Says:

February 25th, 2013 at 11:46 am

I like the idea of giving nickname able names b.c it gives children a chance to somewhat rename themselves, if they so choose. For the same reason, I like giving a usable first and middle name (so nothing like Micheal Boo-Bear, for example.) That said, there are no nickname proof names. I do think that you have to accept that people may nickname your child, and/or that your child may nickname himself. But it does seem prudent to consider the really obvious nicknames. For example, I know a woman who named her daughter Margaret, but hates all Margaret nicknames. People are constantly trying to call her baby girl Maggie or something and this woman gets so upset and is always saying, “no nicknames! Her name is Margaret!” It just seems exhausting,


February 25th, 2013 at 12:27 pm

Holden is not nickname proof – daycare shortened it to “Holdie”.

Pam Says:

February 25th, 2013 at 12:39 pm

EMNHJTN — oh noooooooo! But you’re right, if you’re determined enough, any name can become a nickname.

katybug Says:

February 25th, 2013 at 1:43 pm

Nickname-proof is probably impossible, but these do strike me as nickname-resistant. I grew up with a Lincoln whom everyone called Link, so it’s funny to see these two on the list!

katybug Says:

February 25th, 2013 at 1:44 pm

And I’m waiting to see if my son Conrad’s day care providers shorten it to Connie. So far, so good. Everyone likes emphasizing the “rad” part of his name 🙂

GrecianErn Says:

February 25th, 2013 at 3:22 pm

I hated not having a nick name as a child. My sister Shannon was Shanny or Red (for her hair) and my brother Nathan’s friends have always called him Nate.

I didn’t get a nickname until college, and then it was to match my sorority sister. Her name is Marinee, and got shortened to Mern. And I was instantly nicknamed Ern. It’s stuck for that group of people for almost 15 yrs. I had one friend say my name like “Eh-win” Like Danny DeVito’s mom yelled “Owen” in the movie Throw Momma from the Train.

My favorite boys name is Sebastian. and I really like the nn Bash. We joke that my son and his little daycare buddies are the Bash Brothers… it works for me. 🙂

Abby Says:

February 25th, 2013 at 3:33 pm

@GrecianErn – I know how you feel! If I’d only been named Elizabeth, it is possible my life-long obsession with names might have never happened. I didn’t have a nickname either, and it made me GREEN with envy to meet girls with lots of options.

calliewalker718 Says:

February 25th, 2013 at 4:43 pm

Blaine for me is a character from Glee.

Rex is well a name I see popping up in the NFL sometimes. Unfortunately, your son may get the nickname “Sexy Rexy” said by someone in their teens/adulthood.

A highschool classmate of mine named her son Ace.

R_J Says:

February 25th, 2013 at 6:04 pm

I guess the best you can hope for is “nickname resistant” if you don’t want it shortened. 🙂

I knew an Abe (just Abe, not Abraham) who sometimes got “Abey.” You just can’t avoid it. Although I guess I would consider that a pet name and not a nickname.

tori101 Says:

February 26th, 2013 at 6:33 am

Names aren’t nickname proof. I mean people have nicknames that don’t have anything to do with their actual names. For instance my friend Katie a relatively nickname free name is referred to as Flo or Unicorn! I think if you make a concious decision to not have your name shortened then your unlikely to get a nickname otherwise you will end up with one.

Carpenchantress Says:

February 26th, 2013 at 11:01 pm

The Anthony in this article might not have been “Tony”, but he ended up as “Flash”. Kids can and do get nicknames that have nothing to do with their actual names.

As for Holden, I know someone with a son of that name and he is called “Holdie”. Felix could also turn into “Lex” or Seabastian into just “Bastian”.

I personally don’t have a nickname that I consistently go by. Its just a personal preference, I like my name and there’s never been a reason to shorten it, although there are some derivations of my name that I permit certain people to address me by. For instance, I let me nieces call me a rather silly version of my name because my name has a consonant that tends to be difficult for young children to pronounce correctly.

Im-Megan Says:

February 27th, 2013 at 12:53 am

I grew up with a Sebastian. He was always called “Batch”. It seemed like a cool name to a 10 year old. Ha! Also my sons name is Orson. Give that one a NN. You could go with “Son” but I call all three of my boys that. My mom tried calling him “Orsey” once but I nipped that in the bud. We call him Gus if we call him anything other than his name. My second son wanted to name him after the mouse off Cinderela when I was pregnant.

beccaloo Says:

February 27th, 2013 at 8:45 pm

I have loved the name Holden for awhile, and also thought of using Denny as a nn.

pheebly Says:

March 5th, 2013 at 10:59 pm

My mom TRIED to nickname proof us. She didn’t do too badly. I’m Phoebe. (No obvious nicknames though people tried – Fifi, Bee, Pheebs, etc) My brother is Cullen. He’s always been called that except for now that my son calls him Uncle Cully. My sister though, is Caitlin. How OBVIOUS is that nickname? Haha!

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