Novel Nicknames: A Whole New Approach
Well, things have changed. Today’s baby namers are putting a tremendous amount of thought into nicknames. Not only are they more willing to put them on the birth certificate (Gracie, Gus), but they are placing almost as much importance on their babies’ everyday/pet names as on their birth certificate appellations, sometime picking the colloquial form first and then finding a formal name that’s fits it.
And in many cases, the connections between the two are way less direct than they used to be, sometimes just sharing a first initial, or playing with a middle or last syllable, such as using Lia for Cecilia or Amelia.
Our own nameberries are especially inventive when it comes to creative nicknaming. Here are some of the recent examples we’ve noticed:
Have you come up with any innovative nicknames for your favorite names?
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Other Carolyn Said
on April 26th, 2011 at 12:56 am
Mostly I’m a full-name sort of person, but I have to say if I had to have a nickname, I’d infinitely prefer Callie to Carrie. I do really love Effy (thanks to skins) and it’s one I couldn’t bear to put on a birth certificate, but I’ve heard it used as a short form of Josephine, Persephone, and Elisabeth (the last one on the TV show Skins), and it would probably also work for Seraphina.
I’d much rather see Nell or Nelly to the slightly trendier Elle or Ellie, and I’d consider using Nella as a short form of my name crush of the week (Fenella), though I think I slightly prefer Fen. I know many nameberries are too hip to be using the most popular name at the moment, Isabella, but my favourite nickname for that is definitely the almost unheard of Ibbie.
on April 26th, 2011 at 1:41 am
We picked both our kids names to have a nickname we like + other nickname possibilities in case they don’t like our choice. We both have short no-nickname names, and both always hated that (my DH got a nickname anyway, based on his initials and he always detested that).
on April 26th, 2011 at 2:05 am
I fully expected to see my daughter’s name on this list with the nickname we planned on using for her prior to her birth: Genevieve/Evie. At the beginning of my pregnancy, I tossed out the name Genevieve, and my husband loved it instantly (while pretty much loathing anything else I had suggested). It was he who said, “Evie could be her nickname,” and that sealed the deal. We have a friend named Evie, who was somewhat responsible for us recovering from a bad third date and moving on to a fourth one a couple of months later. It was such a weird coincidence that we both had met Evie in different states (my husband in NYC in 2001; me in 1996 in college in Massachusetts) and years apart from one another. Evie just seemed like the perfect nickname for our first baby…it honored our friend, and we thought it was unique and lovely.
Well, then I started to realize how popular Evie was becoming, especially in the U.K, and especially as a nickname for Evelyn. I was pretty bummed about it. I also tried calling my daughter Evie for a while (once she had finally arrived) and it just felt awkward. Eventually, I tried calling her Genny and that just seemed more right. Now, she’s 19 months old and she calls herself Genny. Easier for her to say, and easier for her toddler friends to call her by name, too. And Evie’s always an option she has if she decides to re-nickname herself later on!
I don’t know that I myself would go so far as to work backwards (pick the nickname and then find a formal name that fits it), but my husband might require it of me in the future. He was all gung ho about naming a boy Mack when I was pregnant, and I desperately tried to come up with suitable formal names that Mack could be a nickname for. He hated everything I suggested (Cormac, Malcolm…I even offered Cameron, which is a family name for me, and Mac is Cam spelled backwards….) Anyway, I’m sure it will be argued about as much if I am ever pregnant again. He also really liked Woody…huge eye roll from me!
I was surprised by some of the nns on this list, and thought the nns were quite clever. I especially love: Viola/Lola, Caroline/Callie, Jacob/Coby, and James/Jem. (So much Dickens! Jem and Pip and Nell!) For Josephine, I’ve also seen Posy, and I adore that. And for Penelope, I think I like Poppy just a little bit better. Oh my gosh, can you imagine? Siblings Josephine and Penelope, nicknamed Posy and Poppy?!
on April 26th, 2011 at 6:37 am
I love innovative nicknames, and in some cases, finding formal names for some of my crazier picks:
Clementine – Meno
Henrietta – Hero
Penelope – Lolo/ Nell/ Petal
Saskia – Tess
Madeleine – Lena
Eleanor – Eero
Scarlett – Lottie
Teresa – Teddie
As an aside, my sister Heather is mostly knwon as Hector, one of my proudest nickname achievements.
on April 26th, 2011 at 8:05 am
I have always loved the nickname Pippa, but wasn’t a fan of Phillipa. I searched high and low to come up with a more formal name that I loved (I want my future Baby Girl to have options) … & Penelope was it! It’s a little bit of a stretch, but I love the combo! <3
on April 26th, 2011 at 8:09 am
I know a Vio nn for Violet. She is 30!
My Hermione is now almost exclusively nn Minnie. I love it!
I agree with a pp that Penelope nn Poppy is exquisite.
on April 26th, 2011 at 8:12 am
I love this list! And I like this idea, in general.
I’ve recently heard Henry, nn Huck, on a Babble blogger’s son. It was something I’d considered if our second had been a boy.
Lucy, I love the idea of Teresa, nn Teddie!
on April 26th, 2011 at 8:16 am
I have to correct my misspelling of Philippa! Oops! :-/
on April 26th, 2011 at 8:39 am
Penelope is cruising right for the top ten, isn’t it? Blast. I love that it has so many nicknames and a girl could reinvent herself silly. And yet, President/Doctor/Professor Penelope still works.
on April 26th, 2011 at 9:35 am
Love this post! Great ideas. I’m especially fond of Flicka for Felicity. I love the name but wasn’t a fan of Lissy as a NN. And Plum for Victoria is too adorable. Another idea: Lux for Louisa.
on April 26th, 2011 at 10:41 am
I love long formal names that lend themselves to multiple nicknames. My oldest has a name on the list with an expected nickname. My younger two have less intuitive nicknames. Genevieve goes by Neve (Nehv) or Nevie and Rosemarie goes my Romy.
on April 26th, 2011 at 10:42 am
How did you get Tess from Saskia? Just curious 🙂
on April 26th, 2011 at 11:28 am
I have been a sub for the 4th and 5th grade youth group at church. Coming in this late in the year I have been playing catchup on learning all the names. Last week a Mom came to get her son from the gym where they were all running around and being loud. I yelled out Andy, your Mom is here. She immediately attacked me – His name is ANDREW! We call him ANDREW! Not ANDY! At the time I apologised and she and Andrew left.
Driving home I thought, wait a minute. He told me his name was Andy and all the other kids call him Andy. He is 11 years old he ought to know what he wants to be called.
On Sunday I asked the leader for a list of the kids so I could have the names straight. There is a Matt and a Jake I know are Matthew and Jacob. She laughed and said don’t worry about it – that Mom is the only one with this issue and by the time he is in HS she will likely have to accept it.
So I love this post with people who accept the fact their children will have nicknames and not ones of their choosing. My son is named Julian and was nicknamed Jet on the soccer team at age 8. It has stuck for 2 years now. He gets called Julian when I want his attention, even his teachers call him Jet.
on April 26th, 2011 at 11:33 am
My brother and his fiance plan on using the n.n. Pearl for their future little girl named Margaret (Margaret means Pearl). Margaret is after her grandmother who passed away recently. Their surname is one syllable and starts with an M so Margaret M___ sounds very nice but n.n.’s like Maisie, Molly, May, Margo, rhyme a little too much. They both love Pearl, and while it’s one syllable, it still wounds nice with their surname. I thought it was pretty inventive 🙂
on April 26th, 2011 at 11:40 am
I say Saskia more like sess-kee-ah, ’tis my accent, I liked the idea of the nickname Sess, but my surname is aleady s heavy, thus I swapped the s for a t to get Tess, since when I slur my words slightly (One of my favourite methods for getting new nicknames, this is how sister Sophie became Soapy), Saskia sounds more like sess-thee-a, which means Tess makes sense for me, rather than, say, Ness or Bess.
on April 26th, 2011 at 11:53 am
Great post! I particularly love Jem, rather than Jim for James. It’s very spunky.
I love Pippa and Posy too.
on April 26th, 2011 at 12:11 pm
And don’t forget:
Frances, nn Francie or Frankie
Gwendolyn, nn Wendy
Theresa, nn Tess
Penelope, nn Nell/Nelly
I can also see Carys as a nn for Caroline (or even Carly or Caro).
on April 26th, 2011 at 1:26 pm
I am really not a nn person, I am a name them what you are going to call them girl… I do see the appeal of versatility though and on this list I do like Posy and Dolly.
on April 26th, 2011 at 2:09 pm
I like nicknames and I sometimes end up finding full names for nicknames I like.
My favorite unusual nicknames are,
Elizabeth – Liza, Izzy, Ibbie, Bithie
Isabella – Isa
Helena – Lenny
on April 26th, 2011 at 3:29 pm
re: Felicity, I really love the name but strongly dislike both Lissy and Flicka. Fliss is an option I think, but my favorite by far is Fizzy. It was suggested by someone else on Nameberry (can’t remember if it was just a suggestion or a real child). I just think it’s great!
on April 26th, 2011 at 3:52 pm
I know a:
Lucia -> Lux
Aurora -> Lola
Alexandra -> Zandra
Gabrielle -> Gabri
Giorgia -> Giody
Chiara -> Kikka
Savannah -> Savs
Theodore -> Teo
on April 26th, 2011 at 4:44 pm
If you’re basing this off NB discussions, you must have gotten Gwendolyn, called Dolly, from me! I’ll tell you the story, one day my mum and I were talking about “Gwen’s” name (a nn she never quite fancied) and suddenly she perked up and told me, “I’m going to call her Dolly! She’s going to be my baby doll!”
AND you might have gotten Bit for Tabitha from Lauren (Lemon) when we were dscussing NN’s for Tabitha Beatrix Ivy, the initials spelled Bit and that she is now! (in my mind)
P.S. I also LOVE Felicity, called Flick, and would use it for a character in a heartbeat. I am also considering Josephine, called Posy, for the Noel Stratfield character.
Another I love is Violet, called Io!
on April 26th, 2011 at 5:08 pm
I love the name Elodie, particularly because my favorite nickname is Lydie, and I don’t want to use Lydia. 🙂
on April 26th, 2011 at 6:33 pm
Flick for Felicity is absolutely marvelous! Posy for Josephine is also adorable, though I like Josie equally.
on April 26th, 2011 at 6:43 pm
I know a boy named Caesar Avery. His nn is Ray due to the R in his fn and the A and Y in his mn.At 1st I thought it was a bit of a stretch but he deff is a Ray and no ones ever had a problem with it 🙂
on April 26th, 2011 at 6:58 pm
Best friend has just had a baby girl Victoria, who is rocking the nickname Rory <3
on April 26th, 2011 at 7:13 pm
Just wanted to add that my oldest, Scarlett, goes by the nickname Carly. I’ve also seen (on NB) that someone planned to nn their Scarlett “Scout” — Cute! Everyone seems to love Carly as a nn and once they hear it and think about it, it makes sense. I also have a Penelope and I tried to think of cute, unique nn’s for her while I was pregnant too. When she was born though, she instantly became Penny. NN’s are tons of fun and I love all of these novel ones!
on April 26th, 2011 at 7:46 pm
I can never find nicknames for my own name; Grace (I HATE Gracie). So me and my friend were bouncing ideas around and she came up with Cece (GraCE). So now she calls me Cece, and I call her Bebe because her name is PhoeBE. I also thik thats really cute!
on April 26th, 2011 at 9:41 pm
Odelia and Cordelia-Delia
Katherine-Kit, Kitty (Love those!)
Wilhelmina-Mina, Mia, Ellie
Jason and Jackson-Jaz
on April 26th, 2011 at 11:51 pm
I mentioned possibly using Theodore nn Thor a few months ago. It’s my grandfather’s name btw. Every time I like a name it begins to catch on…ugh. We probably won’t go with it for that reason. Theodore is becoming a bit too popular for my personal taste these days.
on April 27th, 2011 at 12:30 am
I love the nn Minnie for both Minerva and Willhemina. I also like Frankie for Frances a lot. Thor for Thedore is fantastic and bumps Theodore up higher on my love list.
A new favorite nn I’ve found is Zoe or Zooey for Zora.
on April 27th, 2011 at 12:31 am
I also forgot I once had a friend named Christine who’s nick was X. Like Xmas/Xtine. I always thought that was kinda cool being a Christina myself.
on April 27th, 2011 at 2:24 pm
I have a friend with a little Fia (she had no idea Sofia was so popular!)
I’ve considered Polly for Pauline (a family name).
And I really like boyish nicknames for girlie names.
on April 27th, 2011 at 7:19 pm
I was thrilled that when I got to college, friends called me Nico instead of Nicky as a nickname for Nicole. I tried Cole, but it never stuck.
on April 27th, 2011 at 11:52 pm
Tina: I have a friend named Christina from grad school who somehow got christened Xtina by our classmates. It fit her exuberant, eccentric personality quite well. I’d forgotten about that until you mentioned your friend Christine!
Weekend Post: Full Names for Indie « Mer de Noms Said
on April 30th, 2011 at 3:43 pm
[…] recent nameberry post reminded me that, whilst I can figure out which full name I love enough for nickname Teddie, the […]
WEEKLY ROUNDUP May 1st | FOR REAL BABY NAMES Said
on May 1st, 2011 at 1:30 pm
[…] I love Sadie as a nickname for Sheridan. Much better than Sherry. Did you see nameberry’s post on unexpected nicknames? They had a lot of great […]
on May 1st, 2011 at 10:04 pm
My little sister Imogen goes by the nickname Imoo, which I think is cuter than Immy. Some other unusual nicknames I know kids/ people with are:
Nicholas- Nickel (so cute!)
on May 1st, 2011 at 10:08 pm
Ooh, and I forgot my favourite!
on May 3rd, 2011 at 1:44 pm
My sister’s name is Grace, and we always call her Gracer. When she was 7 or so she stuck an eraser in her ear and had to go to the hospital to get it taken out; she was Gracer the Eraser for awhile, and the R lingers to this day =D
Some names I have been trying to think up nn’s for:
Absalom: Abbot, Abner, Salem, Sammy
Jezebel: Jessa, Belle or Bella, Zizi, Zaboo
Rosalie: Rosie, Sally, Lili (Leelee), Sadie
on May 3rd, 2011 at 1:46 pm
@Sophia, Checker is adorable!!
on May 4th, 2011 at 6:35 pm
Victoria- Instead of Vicky… Ria!
Boston Girl Said
on May 6th, 2011 at 9:43 pm
For Victoria, I’d first heard of Vicky (which I didn’t like), then Tori, which I thought was cuter. I took it a step farther and named a couple of minor story characters Toria. I think it’s a really great NN for Victoria but still very rare, and I have no idea why.
Most modern nicknames leave me cold. I’d rather call Juliette “Julie” instead of “Lettie”, for example. I never really cared a whole lot for the old-fashioned names from 80 or 90 years ago that have suddenly become all the rage. They never cease, and never *will* cease, to make me think of old ladies knitting afghans in front of TV at the nursing home, or old men swapping stories of their glory days, bouncing young grandchildren on their knees. Sorry, that’s just my perception! 🙂
on May 13th, 2011 at 11:36 pm
I like Henrietta or Harriet nn Riett. I know most of you probably despise the name Gertrude, but Rue and True are such cute nns!
Josephine nn Effie Fee Posy
Theresa nn Reese
Theodore nn Thor
*just apologising in advance here*
Beatrix nn Bixie– too close to b!#%*y. I like Beah better.
Felicity nn Flick(a)– I really don’t like it. “Flick” is a WORD, and not a particularly nice one. Flissy or Lissy would be much better.
Frances nn Fancy– pretty snooty. Can you really imagine calling your kid FANCY? Essie or Effie would be better.
Tabitha nn Bit– again, random words are not necessarily good names. I think Tabby is the only way to go, but you could do Abby if you really wanted to.
Victoria nn Plum– too far-fetched. I don’t have any problem with Plum itself, though. I think Victoria is nicest with no nicknames, but there are quite a few that are better than Plum: Vica, Toria, Tory, Ria, Tia, Via, et cetera.
James nn Jem– pretty girly. When I hear Jem I think jewelry. Jamie is better.
Phillip nn Philo Flynn– Philo, when said out loud, is exactly the same as the thin dough they use in baklava. There isn’t an n in Phillip, so Flynn seems akward. Even thougt they have many similar sounds, they only have one letter in common. No decent nns except Phill.
Richard nn Hardy– I don’t think is going to make sense to anybody. Chad is pretty good.
on May 25th, 2011 at 5:22 pm
I know someone named Francesca who goes by Checka. Fits her perfectly!
I was reminded when I read someone’s post of the nickname Checker.
on June 4th, 2011 at 4:23 pm
I love nicknames!
I’m Catherine that goes by Cat,
daughter Charlotte is Charlie,
And soon to be son Artham will be Arlo.
I chose Arlo first, then hunted out a nice Indian name for his formal fn.
However, it confuses the heck out of my mom who likes the more traditional nn.
Ie. Jack for John, or even Art for Artham.
on June 15th, 2011 at 1:28 am
I’m an Elizabeth. Dubbed Elle. (Pronounced “L”) 😀
I love Cara for Caroline (One of my favorites!)
on July 21st, 2011 at 3:22 pm
I love Flicka for Felicity, Posy for Josephine (although I prefer Josie), Pippa for Penelope, Lola for Viola and Jem for James (although I prefer that for Jeremy and prefer Jamie for James).
I adore Gwendolen/Gwendolyn nn Wendy! That one’s not here, but I do love it.
Katie Ann Said
on July 30th, 2011 at 1:49 am
My mom is Frances nn Francie. She’s always hated her name
Interesting nn’s I’ve heard:
Sofia nn Fifi
Isabella nn Betsy
Catarina nn Cat
Samantha nn Andy
Katie nn Tia
Rose nn Salmon (roe)
Katie Ann Said
on July 30th, 2011 at 4:15 pm
Just met a Madylann (Madelyn) nn Dylann!!!!!
on August 9th, 2011 at 3:06 am
Some of these nn’s are darling.
Names and nn’s I love:
Scarlett – Cara & Lettie
Francesca – Rainy,Chess & Frankie
Wendolyn – Wyn & Donnie
Im Loving Jetta (Clifford) for Juiletta, but am not loving the notion of naming a child that because of Romeo and Juliet. so I am looking for another name that Jetta could be a nn for. maybe Jorja or Georgette?
on August 21st, 2011 at 7:26 pm
Gwendolyn: Lyn or Lynn or Wendy instead of Gwen
Scarlett: Carla, Letta, or Scout instead of Scar
Eleanor: Lea or Elea or Ana instead of Ellie
Cassandra: Andrea or Sandy instead of Sandra and Cassie
Veronica: Vera or Nic instead of Ronnie
Alexandria: Ria or Andi or Allie instead of Alex and Andrea
Gabriella: Gabri or Rie instad of Gabbi and Bree
Delilah: Del or Lily instead of Lila
on October 7th, 2011 at 12:54 am
I’m so late to the game here, but I thought I’d chime in:
First off, @spotlightstarlit – thanks for recognizing me for Tabitha “Bit.” But, I think I actually got it from a NB mommy who has a Tabitha, called Bit! Too cute, right? Tibby is fun, too…
So, from my own name (Lauren), I think Lo is cool, but why not use Ren or Wren? Nobody calls me these, but I still think they’re nice. I’m called Birdie, Lou, and Lulu by family and Rino ([REE-no], not rhino!) by close friends.
I was trying to “modernize” Ignatius, which is think is darn cool, by giving him the nickname Nate. Or Nat, which I love for Nathaniel as well.
Then there was Magpie for Margo, even better if she’s Margo Penelope or something, right? I do that a lot – find nicknames that somehow combine the first and middle names, like Jelly for June Lavender.
I love simple nicknames that aren’t too common, like Meg for Margaret (instead of Maggie), Topher for Christopher (instead of Chris), Pip for Philip (instead of Phil), and Jules for Juliet (instead of Julie). I also think Kit (Katherine) and Liv (Olive, Oliva, Olivia) and Romy (Rosemary, Ramona) are some of the greatest girl nicknames ever!
I also like energetic, perky nicknames, like Zippy for Zara, Happy for Hazel, Cleo for Clementine, Coco for Cordelia, Sunny for Susannah, and Lady for Adelaide.
Finally, I love some vintage nicknames with style, like Lissy for Alice, Bea for Beatrix, Celie for Cecelia, Gwen for Gwendolen, Nell for Helena, Ibby for Isabel and Elizabeth, Lil for Lilias, Rhetta for Margaretta, Polly for Opal, Rosy for Rosanna, and Vivi for Vivien.
on January 6th, 2012 at 9:10 pm
Jem for James is so wonderful! James was the very first name I remember obsessing over. After so many years of loving it, it’s gotten a bit old. But Jem is SO great!
on January 10th, 2012 at 2:29 am
I’ve known a Philip nn Pip
a Francesca nn Cheski
a Victoria nn Tiggy
a Mary-Anne nn Annie
an Olivia nn Ibby
a Lauren nn Ren
a Leanne nn Stitch
a Leanne nn Ruby
a Tiffany nn Effy
a Danielle nn Roo
a Hollie nn Lollie
an Alice nn Alec
and an Ariana nn Leelee.
on January 16th, 2012 at 6:45 pm
I feel like most of these nicknames are a stretch. Nicknames have also been a stretch in history, such as Peggy for Margaret, which I think were/are ridiculous.
In my opinion, nicknames should come naturally, which is why most nicknames are a close variation of the first/last part of a name or an affectionate name that has nothing to do with the child’s name, such as Birdy.
Hannah francesca Said
on October 7th, 2012 at 5:19 am
My name is Hannah (mn Francesca) but I get called Frankie which I actually prefer.
I know a:
Charlie — lee
Mathew — hew
Benedict — beanie
Theodore — teddy
Jameson — sonny
Heinrich — Heinz, Ricky
Johann — yo-yo
Charlotte – lottie, Charlie
Thomas — Thor
Nathaniel — Nate, Nathan
Watson — wyatt, sonnie
Perseus — Zeus, saurus
Henry — Harry, Hal
Hamlet — hammy, Ham,
Monica — carrie
on October 9th, 2012 at 3:35 pm
I picked out our son’s name because I wanted to call him WEST. We named him Weston. And never once has he been a “West.” It never fit him.
Poppy – Penelope
Lainey – Madelaine
Libby – Elizabeth
Birdie – Wren
Liam – William
Baz – Sebastian
I heard Liam on a 5 month little boy and fell in love. He and his identical twin are William (Liam) and Henry. (They tried ‘Hank’ in Henry and it didn’t work.)
on October 17th, 2012 at 1:56 pm
We have a Dorothy, who is very commonly known by her nn Dolly, as well as her full name. It was my husband that called her Dolly when she was about two days old, and I love it – Dottie had never quite sat with me. We also still call her Cub, which was her fetal nn – in many ways, I still wish we’d used it as a middle name.
I love the name Genevieve, but am not so fussed on the nn of Gen or Genny. So I thought of maybe having Gigi as a nickname (which I would LOVE!) but husband didn’t like. Now we’re thinking of Viva as a nn, as it’s technically the last sound of the name. And great meaning too – it’s the strongest contender for baby2.
I also love Mimi for Marianne.
I knew a Philip that was a Pippy, and later Pip. And I know an Ophelia that’s a Phe (Fee).
Finally, my own name (Victoria) was abbreviated to Vicky years ago, but I do find it a little dull; inexplicably, my parents called me Victoria but don’t like the nn Vicky! It’s too late to change how I’m know (I’m 30) but I couldn’t possibly be a Tori (political connotations) – I would chose to be a Vita.
And I love Mirabelle – I thought it would be very sweet to have a little girl who was also a type of plum – that’s the nn I would have used as well. Unfortunately, our surname ends with Bell…
on October 14th, 2013 at 2:21 pm
i’d love if people would call me Milly or even Lily instead of Em (short for Emily) but it doesn’t really seem likely despite the fact that everyone knows i hate being called em and emi.
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