Short and Sweet Baby Names: The Nameberry 9

This week, Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel ‘s picks of The Nameberry 9 newsiest options focuses on the trend for  short and sweet baby names.

Are miniature names growing on you?  There have been Nameberry posts and discussion threads, and a steady uptick in birth announcements for children with very short names.

They’re not my style, but the more I hear them, the more I find them pleasing. I know a toddler called Royce and another named Nell. Then there are famous kids with bite-sized names, or nicknames – like Nick Cannon and Mariah Carey’s twins, referred to as Roc and Roe. Reducing an elaborate appellation like Araminta to something spare – Min, maybe? – feels rather elegant.

Mini names have their advantages. It is easier to fit Mia in a tweet than Isabella. Which reminds me – Twitter was founded by four men – Jack, Noah, Evan, and Biz. Biz is short for Christopher.

Are bare minimum names the next big thing? Hard to say, but they did seem to dominate baby name news this week.

Fia – Fiery Fiammetta is a lovely Italian option. Short form Fia shares something with two Top Ten favorites – Sophia and Mia. Sebastiane noted that Fia is a hit in the Faroe Islands. The islands are located halfway between Scotland and Iceland, making their given names an intriguing mix of Gaelic and Norse influences.

Scout – From the North Atlantic to the American South, is Scout following Harper and Atticus as the next big name from To Kill a Mockingbird? A recent post at Swistle resulted in twins named August Everett – called Gus – and Genevieve Scarlett – called Scout. The parents thought up their daughter’s nickname first. Other families are going the Bruce WillisDemi Moore route and penning Scout on their daughters’ birth certificates, or at least Name Soiree spotted a girl named Scout Lake in Australia. And here’s one more – an article about a family from Milwaukee. They’re clearly ahead of the trend, as their Scout Elizabeth is eight.

Kai – While we’re talking about short names, Kai is one that has taken my neighborhood by storm. I’m not sure if the statistics bear this out – Kai had yet to crack the US Top 200 as of 2010 – but in the ‘burbs of Washington DC, Kai feels like the new Jacob.

Caine – My favorite Biblical boys’ name has long been Abel, and I couldn’t understand how anyone would consider using Cain. Or even Kane, though I concede he’s a completely separate name. Then I watched the viral video about the enterprising young Caine Monroy, of Caine’s Arcade fame, and I wonder if it is enough to completely revise my opinion. I suspect it is enough to give that slightly elaborate spelling a boost.

Arden – Thanks to British American for pointing to a family with six nicely-named girls: Ophelia Chantelle, Lavinia Celeste Bailey, Helena Christelle, Evangeline Claire, Cosette Marguarite Constance, and new baby Arden Credence. While Arden fits in with her sisters’ literary names, it does feel like there’s a more tailored trend at play.

Rock – Would you let your sister-in-law name your baby? What if she insisted the name came to her in a vivid dream? Train frontman Pat Monahan and wife Amber went that route, naming their son Rock Richard after Amber’s sis, Summer, insisted it was the right choice. The couple is also parents to a daughter – Autumn, plus Pat has two older kids, Patrick, Jr. and Emilia. Madonna has a Rocco – and Johnny Knoxville has a Rocko – but could just Rock catch on?

Dylan River – While we’re talking about musicians and the monikers they choose, did you notice country crooner Joe Nichols and his wife Heather named their daughter Dylan River? Yes, their daughter. Both names have a history of use for girls, but the double-gender-neutral caught me by surprise. On reflection, maybe it is more like Arden – proof that boys’ names are getting shorter, and girls’ names are going frills-free.

Io – NASA’s Cassini spacecraft is sending back impressive pictures, including some of Jupiter’s moon, Io. A nymph from Greek myth, Io has to be the ultimate miniature appellation – just two letters, but still two syllables. Nancy noted that it has been given to a handful of girls in recent years.

Tillman – At first glance, Tillman doesn’t seem like a short name. He’s two syllables, with plenty of letters. Like many an on-trend choice from recent decades, he’s a surname – inspired by former Arizona Cardinals linebacker Pat Tillman, who turned down a lucrative contract with the team to serve in the US Army Rangers. He died in service in Afghanistan. Today a series of charity events keep his name alive – and have inspired a boomlet in Arizona boys named Tillman. When shortened, Tillman becomes the intriguing Til – an update to Tim and Will, or a time name rich with meaning, a cousin to Ever?

Would you ever use a short name? How short could you go? If you wouldn’t put a mini name on your child’s birth certificate, could you embrace a very short nickname?

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28 Responses to “Short and Sweet Baby Names: The Nameberry 9”

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atlaskatarzyna Says:

April 23rd, 2012 at 1:31 am

Io is a cute nickname for Viola or Violet 🙂

dillonsfan01 Says:

April 23rd, 2012 at 3:46 am

We are using Dean for our son for sure! We have also considered Belle for a daughter as well. Kate and Jack are on our list too. As are Jane, Jude, Joel, and Blake for MNs. We also have lots of short 2 syllable names on our list as well like Clara, Norah, Stella, Lila, Vera, Adele, Brady, Roman, Leo, Isaac, Gavin, Luca, and Simon that I still consider short and sweet.

Sarah.Jane Says:

April 23rd, 2012 at 7:40 am

I know a little Miriam who goes by Mim. I think it is so sweet!
I would never use a short name on the birth certificate, but I would use a shortened name as am every day nickname.

nyxtynut Says:

April 23rd, 2012 at 8:03 am

I named my little girl Maia. I’ve always loved the name Maya/Maia but it was hard to grasp naming my daughter a name that couldn’t be shortened down; my family loves nicknames. So my inital choice was Veronica (nn was going to be Vera). But everytime I looked at my list and saw Maia, I just had a feeling that was her name. And she’s a perfect Maia!

lindseylikes Says:

April 23rd, 2012 at 8:29 am

I know a 9-year-old Io in NYC…dad’s an astrophysicist and mom’s a Greek professor so it’s kind of the perfect name for them.

pam Says:

April 23rd, 2012 at 8:34 am

I know that short names like Ben, Tom, Sim are very on trend in both France and The Netherlands. Can any Euro-berries illuminate the reasons behind that trend for us?

yellow Says:

April 23rd, 2012 at 11:17 am

No no no — don’t help wonderful Io take off!!

t1992 Says:

April 23rd, 2012 at 11:19 am

My name is Tai. Just Tai, not short for anything. It’s definitely faster to write, but nicknames are usually quite a bit longer!

laurbails Says:

April 23rd, 2012 at 12:00 pm

In England (or Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, etc), Fia sort of sounds a little too much like “fear”. Gonna go with unusable on that one.

TaylorBlueSkye Says:

April 23rd, 2012 at 12:29 pm

German Berry here, especially short boy names are quite popular here.
Some names from the Top 25 of 2011:
Girls: Mia, Lea, Lina, Lena, Lara, Nele, Maja, Leni, Pia
Boys: Ben, Leon, Finn, Luis, Paul, Luca, Noah, Tim, Max, Jan, Tom

The reason? I don’t really know. They might have a fresh, modern, spunky, cheeky feeling with them.

To me short names have an uncomplicated, sometimes fresh sound. They are oftentimes easy to spell, you can’t really mess that up.

I think in Germany the trend goes back to easy names, not too out there, not too foreign.

jpruitt76 Says:

April 23rd, 2012 at 1:23 pm

I know a sibset of two adorable girls named Scout (age 6) and Wren (age 4). So cute!

My personal short/sweet names are: Mae, Maeve, Shea/Shae, June, Brynn, Faye, Blair, Nell AND boys = Burke, Vaughn, Quinn and Gus

crescentmoon Says:

April 23rd, 2012 at 1:51 pm

As a Mia, I think my parents missed out on an opportunity beause my last name is only four letters long! It would have been a good chance to bestow a long moniker and not have it be too much. Oh, well. My name fits me and it has always fit on name badges!

linzybindi Says:

April 23rd, 2012 at 2:44 pm

I love Fia was a nickname for Sofia. At my daycare there is a girl named Sofia and a lot of the kids that are 1 and 2 call her Fia on their own. Just a natural sounding nickname to them. Very cute!

Arden is another one I love. I really like this for a girl…it also makes me think of the beautiful Eve Arden!

Hannah-Banana Says:

April 23rd, 2012 at 4:05 pm

My Step-Cousin’s is 19 and his name is Joshua, but he’s gone by Rock since he was born when his dad said he was ‘solid as a rock’. So that’s what they called him. He gets really mad if you even try to call him Josh or Joshua.

miloowen Says:

April 23rd, 2012 at 6:21 pm

I think Scout just screams literary pretentiousness, which is how I classed the Willis kids anyway. The whole point of the book is that Scout grew into Jean Louise.

I do love Kai, though, the name of one of my (many) Norwegian cousins and also from The Snow Queen. It’s Welsh too, Cei/Kay from the Arthurian legends.

I never knew anyone naming their child Kai until I moved South and there are quite a few here.

I also like Leith and Leif, Bernd and Brook, Gwyn and Guy for names that are short but attention-getting.

GigiGibbons Says:

April 23rd, 2012 at 6:55 pm

I’m not normally a fan of nicknames so I love short names and names that don’t have obvious nicknames.

Abby Says:

April 23rd, 2012 at 8:02 pm

@Sarah Jane – Oh, I love Mim!

@atlaskatarzyna – Io for Viola is great.

@jpruitt76 – Scout and Wren together are perfection.

@Miloowen – Leif is my new name for half of my set of future b/g twins – Leif and Thora. I don’t know if that’s what we’d actually use, but I love the idea. And nice point about growing into Jean Louise.

KourtneyQ Says:

April 23rd, 2012 at 9:13 pm

I usually like a longer name like Michael instead of using just Mike, but some names can stand on their own I think. Some I like are:
Cy or Ty, Thad, Sam
Jed, Gus, Leo, Jake
Andy, Case, Jax
Girls: Liv, Kit, Millie
Emmy, Abby, Kate, Libby
Kinsey, Kenzie, Maggie

LivyToo Says:

April 23rd, 2012 at 11:00 pm

I named my cat Io and I actually feel a bit possessive of it haha. I found the name reading a book about mythology and I jumped on it.

CanaLyn Says:

April 24th, 2012 at 8:03 am

I am currently in love with Cy! I’m kind of a classicist when it comes to what I’d like to name my own future children, but my stories always get the names I love at the moment, and I’m obsessed with Silas, but Si doesn’t look as pretty as Cy, so – being that sort of writer, if not that sort of namer necessarily, I chose to use a weird Cylas and make him go by Cy. 🙂

ferntailwp Says:

April 24th, 2012 at 1:33 pm

The only short names I’ve fallen in love with are Jude and Eli- but Eli is short for filly (for me) Eliza. I’m not really a short name person, but I don’t dislike them. Just nms. I do like Scout out of these quite a bit though, but I have a soft spot for literary names.

GrecianErn Says:

April 24th, 2012 at 10:25 pm

I have a short name without a nickname, Erin, and I always wanted a nickname. We named our son with the full intention of going by the nickname “West.” And you could always tell the people who didn’t really know him – they called him West. But he was never a West. The minute he was born, he was Weston, in the whole form. It fits him.

Michell Says:

April 25th, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Io is wonderful, it could stand on it’s own or be a nn for Ioanna (Greek for Joanna, pronounced EE-oo-anna). Love the names, Thad, Thal, and Tillman. A very close friend gave their son the mn Tillman (after Patrick Tillman), and I only get to hear it when her little guy is in trouble, but I think it’s a wonderful name!

lindsW Says:

April 25th, 2012 at 3:51 pm

Really? No mention of Rock Hudson?

XChrisssiX Says:

April 26th, 2012 at 5:18 am

I have a 3yr old son Lex and an 18month old son Ace and we have are expecting our 3rd son in August and we have short listed the following names as we like to keep it short and cool like his brothers….


KAM Says:

July 13th, 2012 at 11:06 pm

Personally, I prefer longer names with short nn. An exception that I love is Jack. I know a little Scout. I still don’t know what to think about it.

Miladyrigel Says:

June 4th, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Hey I named my cat Io too! She is a beautiful gray striped tabby. I wanted a celestial name and found Io and it was perfect. She’ll be five years this year!

Indiana_Jo Says:

June 10th, 2016 at 12:41 am

I’m a little late to the party, but still…

My parents chose me a nickname name, among other naming crimes. The story goes that my father wanted Sam, but not Samantha, as he didn’t want a Samantha, he wanted SAM. Mum tried to convince him that everyone would call Samantha Sam anyway, but just Sam is a boy’s name so when Dad didn’t budge, Mum vetoed. About a week later, one suggested Joanne, and the other one sarcastically replied that I’d only be called Jo anyway, so why bother putting Joanne on the birth certificate? The other one failed to call the bluff, and for lack of anything better, I’m stuck with Jo.

And it is an absolute pain! “Adults” still ask me if I’m sure it’s not short for something at the ripe old age of 26. I’ve had officials refuse to process paperwork as I clearly don’t know my own name. I got stuck in LA airport for about an hour, as apparently the computer freaked out over the two-lettered first name and they had to find someone to fix it. I’ve been told multiple times how unprofessional it is to use a nickname in the workplace and on resumes and applications, and my name rarely comes pre-printed on anything. I’ve played multiple sports where my inability to differentiate “No”, “Go” and “Jo” underwater/over music has led to painful incidents, and as a child never had a school yard nickname. Except that it’s apparently very common as a nickname; with my common surname, I am always one of many in loyalty reward systems and when googled.

Honestly, I’ve never felt that my name suits me; it failed me during my princess stage, my I’m-a-teenager-and-I’m-so-grown-up stage, my uni life and now as a professional. I’ve never had room to grow into it or alter it to make it fit. I actually hate it, and if not for the fall out from my parents would change it in a heart beat (ironically neither of them use it either; I’m still primarily Possum). I avoid using it as much as possible, and it sounds strange whenever I’m addressed by it.

Some of these names sound great. But really, really think about the future PERSON that you are trying to name, and how that adorable name will stand up long term. It makes me happy to hear that people are using longer names to get to their child’s nickname. 🙂

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