Old School Nicknames

Vintage names have been cool for a while now, but old school nicknames are just starting to come into their own.

The Brits have led the way on the revival of the retro nickname, with their fashionable little Alfies and Evies, Freddys and Teddys — though Teddy just might be a girl.

Especially fresh on this side of the pond are the old school nicknames for boys: We’ve long loved Ned and Joe and Hank, but we are newly fond of such choices as Ray and Hal, Walt and Monty.

For girls, names that are just beginning to awake from a long slumber sound especially fetching: Dottie, Betty, Lou.

Using one of these new old nicknames for your child can be a way to give a fresh spin to a classic name, to distinguish a little girl from her namesake grandma, or to set your Henry apart from the five others on the block.

Here, a roundup of classic and vintage names and their old school nicknames.


Adelaide or AdelineAddie

Beatrice or BeatrixBea or Trixie


Dorothea or DorothyDory or Dottie


Eleanor or HelenNell

ElizabethBetty or Libby

Evelyn Evie

FlorenceFlo or Flory or Flossie



KatherineKay or Kitty

LouiseLulu or Lou

MargaretMaisie or Peggy

MaryMamie or May or Minnie

Mildred Millie

Sarah Sally

Theodora Teddy, Thea, or Dora


AlbertAl or Bert

AlfredAlfie or Freddy








JohnJack or Johnny








Wallace Wally



WoodrowWoody (but proceed with caution here)

Which are your favorites?

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27 Responses to “Old School Nicknames”

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augusta_lee Says:

November 8th, 2012 at 1:46 am

Kitty, Millie, and Hattie are adorable. And I love Wallace. It’s a stalwart top-5 pick for me. Handsome, historical, vintage and just a little nerdy — I don’t understand why Wallace doesn’t get more love! I’m not a fan of Wally, however.

I feel like Clifford should be on this list also. Cliff is a terribly dashing nn. I also prefer Franklin instead of Francis to get to Frank.

stripedsocks Says:

November 8th, 2012 at 2:04 am

I love Elizabeth NN Libby and both Kitty and Kay for Katherine.

No mention of Susannah, NN Susie or Suki?

Boys side, I love Hank. I really want to use Hank but am not allowed. Am a big fan of Johnny. But I’m a bigger fan of Archie than of Art… I’ve know Arthurs who go by Archie.

Poppy528 Says:

November 8th, 2012 at 2:12 am

I love these names! Faves being Bea, Millie, and Monty. I know women named Flossie and Nettie. Add Art and Effie to the list and you could just rename the post “Poppy’s Shortlist”

Poppy528 Says:

November 8th, 2012 at 2:13 am

Oops Art is there, I read too fast.

NoahsARK Says:

November 8th, 2012 at 4:30 am

I love this post! I am crushing on Olld School Nicknames big time at the moment. Favs from Girls’ list:
Bea, Lottie, Libby, Hattie, Kitty, Peggy (guilty pleasure for months now!), Minnie, Thea
Favs from Boys’list:
Bert (alsoshort for Hubert, NN Hugh can come from it too), Monty, Vince (Vinny) Walt, Bill.

For Evelyn, as well as Evie I feel that Lynn can feel fresh and cute as an Old School NN these days and distinguish her from the many Lily’s in her class.

littlemissmariss Says:

November 8th, 2012 at 8:18 am

I like quite a few!! Harriet nn “Hattie” is actually my all time favorite girls name!! Unfortunately, the SO doesn’t like it. I also like Adelaide / Adeline “Addie”, Charlotte “Lottie”, “Dottie”, Edith “Edie”, Eleanor “Nell”, Elizabeth “Betty, Libby”, Evelyn “Evie”, Katherine “Kay”, Louise “Lou, Lulu”, Margaret “Maisie”, Theodora “Teddy, Thea”; Alfred “Alfie, Freddy”, Henry “Hank”, Wallace “Wally”, and William “Bill”.

So, basically all of them 😉 For the most part my SO dislikes all of them, but Evie is my other all time favorite and he loves it. He agreed our firstborn girl could be Evie, at least 😉 He likes a few others as well, but its slim pickings for vintage names on our list.

Another name that could be on the list is Charles “Charlie, Chuck”! 🙂 I have Charles on my list, though when I told my dad he teased me everyone would call him Chuck… which isn’t the worst lol. Besides, he named my older brother with the middle name Charles, so he can’t find it that bad 😉

littleb Says:

November 8th, 2012 at 8:24 am

I have both a Bea and a Milly, although Bea is short for Brigid and Milly from Camilla. :). We have a few of these on our list for the next baby as well. I always wanted a little Lottie but too many Charlottes around here!!

pam Says:

November 8th, 2012 at 8:44 am

littleb, you raise a good point — while these nicknames are often short for the formal names we list, you can use them for a lot of other formal names. Love Bea for Brigid and Milly from Camilla — inspired.

NaviZ Says:

November 8th, 2012 at 10:33 am

We have a Kitty (Catherine) & and Art (Arthur) in our family. Also love Harriet/Hattie. So sweet 🙂

NameNerdia Says:

November 8th, 2012 at 12:35 pm

I’m a Sara nicknamed Sally! Despite the fact that I’ve met A TON of people who are unaware that Sally is a classic nickname for Sara/h, as an 80s baby it has definitely helped me stand out from the pack. I always recommend the name for parents looking for that elusive “familiar yet uncommon” combination. Two thumbs up for Sally!

MrsOD Says:

November 8th, 2012 at 12:46 pm

One that’s not on here but I love is Lettie. In my meanderings I found a great-great-great grandma Violetta who went by Lettie. Goes along the lines of Hattie- love it.

margrocks Says:

November 8th, 2012 at 1:01 pm

don’t forget Gil, for Gilbert! i wish i liked Gilbert better b/c i love Gil. i’d feel weird just naming my future son Gil.

Flossie is growing on me, and Betty is my grandma, so i like that one.

ejs82 Says:

November 8th, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Is Mad Men affecting naming styles yet? Sally, Peggy, and Betty have all made this list. Great names, although I prefer Betsy over Betty.

sarahbearx Says:

November 8th, 2012 at 3:01 pm

I would never call a child any of these. These nick names are just as old and dated as the names. I cringe evey time I hear a child born these days with these names? Do you want your child to be picked on for having a grandma/grandpa name? Do you want your child to hate you? Do you want your child to grow up and change their name?

Taz Says:

November 8th, 2012 at 5:28 pm

I think Flo could use a precede with caution as well! I love this kind of name- Sally, Nancy, Betty- and Betsy, Bess, Bessie, Biddie & Busy! Kitty, Kit, Adelaide could be Della as well. I think the whole Josie, Elsie, Ellie boom will usher in a lot of these sweet vintage nn names. I think Etta will be big & Hattie which I am less into, but I think it could be the new Maddie.

augusta_lee Says:

November 8th, 2012 at 6:35 pm

sarahbearx : Once upon a time, Jason and Jennifer were unheard-of and totally wacky. Ten years ago Ava and Olivia were hopelessly dated. Clearly you’re new here. I’d suggest doing some research before you foaming at the mouth.

heybreezy Says:

November 8th, 2012 at 7:56 pm

My 14 month old niece is named ‘Thea’, for our great-grandmother, who was Dorothea (went by Toby!)

I love Charles with Charlie and Chase as nicknames.

susan.n Says:

November 8th, 2012 at 7:56 pm

I love so many of these! Personally, I will use Charlotte with the nickname Lottie.
I also love Addie, Evie,Hattie, Lulu,Lou, and Millie.

ebenezer.scrouge Says:

November 8th, 2012 at 9:06 pm

I love Millie for Amelia or Emily and Lulu for Eloise. The others I find really dated personally

LexieM Says:

November 8th, 2012 at 9:30 pm

I knew most of these -> the float around the message boards a lot. It’s nice to have a consolidated list though. Thanks.
I particularly love Hattie!

ejs82 Says:

November 9th, 2012 at 11:57 am

Yes, Sarahbear, I want my children to be picked on and hate me. How did you know? If something isn’t your style, that’s cool, but lighten up a little! You’re unintentionally insulting a lot of people with your post.

BerryBry Says:

November 10th, 2012 at 3:32 am

Love Mamie, Maisie and Peggie. Would rather Nellie to Nell. Also know a Chessie (Franchesca) and though it may not be old school it’s cute!

BerryBry Says:

November 10th, 2012 at 3:35 am

heybreezy, how did Dorothea become Toby? Also LOVE Thea!

BerryBry Says:

November 10th, 2012 at 3:36 am

Help!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How does Margaret become Peggy!!!!!!!!!! Shouldn’t it be Penelope to Peggy!

mea Says:

December 17th, 2012 at 4:54 pm

I have a Frances – we all call her Frankie for her nn.

ScarlettsMom Says:

January 20th, 2013 at 10:33 am

@BerryBry – Margaret has many nicknames. A hundred years ago there wasn’t as much name diversity. There were many people sharing the same first name, so nicknames became very inventive as a way to distinguish people. Margaret can become Meg, then if you change Meg to Peg, that leads to Peggy. It isn’t obvious as first glance but it makes sense once you find out the history behind it.

8 Points to Remember When Naming Your Characters | RUMMAGE WRITER Says:

April 30th, 2013 at 5:13 pm

[…] And remember that a nickname can have nothing to do with the actual name itself (e.g. Slim or […]

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