The Long and (mostly) Short of Baby Names
By Abby Sandel
Looking at this week’s baby names in the news, you might think that parents are all about short names. We’ve heard high profile birth announcements for Edie and Della, Iyla and Poppy – no formal names required.
But it’s not that simple. Sure, Ava and Mia are in the current girls’ US Top 10. But so are Olivia and Isabella. Cheerful nickname Liam is the Number 2 name for boys, but classic William isn’t far behind.
For nearly every short name that’s trending upwards, there’s a longer possibility that’s also on the rise.
Let’s take a look at the short baby names in the news, and the longer forms that are also attracting attention.
Edie – Keira Knightley finally revealed her daughter’s name! She and James Righton welcomed daughter Edie back in May. Edie is another nickname-name in the key of Hattie and Sadie. But parents have also embraced plenty of formal names for Edie, including Edith, the name Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton gave to their daughter in March.
Frankie – Frankie is the spunky name Drew Barrymore and Will Koppelman gave to their second daughter in 2014. But it’s gentle Frances that’s rising fast, reaching Number 602 last year. Drew’s business partner, Nancy Juvonen, and husband Jimmy Fallon went with the formal Frances for their daughter born the same year. And, of course, the even longer Francesca is the most popular form of them all.
Poppy – Laura Bush Hager’s second daughter (shown) has a creative family name, just like big sister Mila. Flower names like Poppy, Lily, and Rose don’t require longer versions. But I’ve seen Poppy listed as a possible nickname for Penelope and even Philippa. Of course, the most famous Phillipa has a different double-p nickname: Pippa, as in Middleton.
Lou – Supermodel and Project Runway host Heidi Klum named her youngest Lou Sulola in 2009. Now the longer forms of Lou– are making a comeback. Louisa recently re-entered the US Top 1000 after more than four decades’ absence. And the middle name Jenna and Henry Hager chose for their daughter? Louise, yet another family name.
Elle – Another short name that’s caught on in recent years is Elle – just Elle. Newscaster Andrea Canning gave the name to her fifth daughter in May. But longer El– names are plentiful, including classic Elizabeth and Eleanor, tailored Ellison, and Alyssa Milano’s elaborate Elizabella.
Della – Elle might be cool, but it’s Ella that’s hot. Stella and Bella are nearly as popular, and now Billy Joel and wife Alexis are the parents of Della. Della last ranked in the US Top 1000 back in 1977 – the same year Billy released The Stranger, his breakthrough album. Della stands on her own, but could also be short for Delilah, Delaney, or maybe the Shakespearean Cordelia.
Iyla – Actress Ashley Scott of UNReal must be a fan of short names. Her firstborn is Ada. Now she and husband Steve Hart have welcomed daughter Iyla. (With the quirky middle name Vue – say it fast.) It’s yet another promising I name for girls. Some other great I names include the more elaborate Isolde, Isabeau, and Isadora.
Cy – Long and short names aren’t just for girls! Zoe Saldana welcomed twins Bowie and Cy – just Cy – in late 2014. Longer names with the Cy– sound include Cyrus, chosen by Claire Danes and Hugh Dancy, and Silas, the name Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake gave to their recent arrival.
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on August 16th, 2015 at 10:58 pm
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on August 16th, 2015 at 11:34 pm
I would give my daughter a full, long name with many short possibilities in it.
Like Virginia (Ginger, Ginnie), Catherine (Kitty), Elizabeth, (Bess, Bessie), Morwenna (Mora, Wenna, Wendy), Theodosia (Dosia, Thea) and what I did choose for our unborn daughter: Cordelia. Had she gotten to be born, I would have called her Delia and Coral for short.
As far as Cordelia No Nicknames, parents cannot control that, no matter how much they would like to. Soon your child won’t be a little kid anymore and even if you have banned any nicknames earlier, no teen or adult is going to ask mom’s permission for his buddy to call him Gizmo or Rudy or his wife to call him Mauricio or Freddie.
I do feel differently about male names though. I choose Owen for our unborn son and I also like other short names like Keir, Elm, and Dane. Some of my choices are longer, but I don’t feel the need for the name to be very long. I’m not sure why.
on August 17th, 2015 at 7:15 am
That’s funny… I came up with the combo Ayla View when I was ten. Pronounced the same, just different spelling. I guess soeone was bounc to use it though.
on August 17th, 2015 at 9:18 am
I honestly like both short and long names! My favorite name is Eliza, which is *technically* a nickname name, and I also like classic nickname names like Tess and Clara and Kit. I’ve recently been drawn to short and zippy Thea. But, I’ve also got the uber long Marietta on my list, too.
Btw. Jenna Bush Hager, I applaud your naming for its sweetly classic but fun style. And the fact that you find a clever way to pay tribute to your loved ones. Margaret Laura “Mila” and Poppy Louise are so lovely. (And Keira Knightley chose Edie? Nice!)
on August 17th, 2015 at 2:56 pm
I love long and short names. I’m personally giving my daughters long names with lots of potential nicknames. My first name, Anna, always had so little nickname potential that I felt I missed out on having much say in what people called me. At least my daughters won’t have that issue! DH likes the long names by themselves and gets annoyed when I suggest nicknames, so we’ll have to wait and see what the girls want to be called when they’re older.
on August 17th, 2015 at 3:24 pm
LOVE Edie…. but not Edith. When my hubby and I were bouncing around the idea of naming a future daughter Nadia Eden, I was giving some serious thought to bestowing a nn of Edie on said child. (Cyril nn Cy was also one of the first names we discussed for a future son…)
My 2nd cousin is having a boy in a month. I just heard that she is naming him Kayden Kai – don’t know where her inspiration lies with that one!
And lastly, I must admit, Iyla Vue is pretty clever…. but it’s almost too clever!
on August 17th, 2015 at 3:25 pm
I personally love both long and short names!
I love long names but usually with nickname possibilities (over 2 syllables), like Seraphina (can’t find a nickname for this one), Luella nn Ellie/Lulu, Analeigh nn Ana, Lillian nn Lily, Genevieve nn Gigi, Emmeline nn Emmy, Aurora nn Rory, Emerald nn Emmy, Beatrice/Beatrix nn Bee, Clementine, Katherine nn Kitty/Kit, Catherine nn Cat, Cordelia nn Cora, Leonora/Lenore/Lenora/Leona/Leonie nn Leo, Lucienne nn Lucy, Lavender, Lilliana nn Lily, Marigold nn Marie/Goldie, Mirabelle nn Mira/Belle, Annabelle nn Annie/Belle, Penelope nn Poppy, Delilah, Adelaide nn Addie/Lady, Ophelia nn Elphie, Peridot nn Perrie, Magnolia nn Maggie, Persephone, Primrose nn Prim, Rosalie nn Rose/Rosie, Romilly nn Romy, Sienna, Savannah, Tallulah nn Tilly, Vienna, Amelia nn Millie, Olivia nn Liv/Livy, Wisteria ,Marjorie, Sophia nn Sophie, Eloise nn Ellie, Elodie nn Ellie, Marina, and Madeline nn Maddie.
But then again, I also love short and sweet names (2 syllables or less, or short in letters), along with short word names, like Luna, Stella, Ruby, Scarlett, Lola, Lana, Layla, Cleo, Lux, Lilac, Lake, Lyric, Margot, Noel, Poppy, Pearl, Maisie, May/Mae, Millie, Opal, Plum, Rory, Violet, Shea, Thea, Willow, Sylvie, Snow, Tulip, Tilly, Wren, Winter, Zadie, Alice, Lily, Aria, Ava, Belle, Blaire, Cora, Coral, Bloom, Calla, Dove, Clover, Doe, Fawn, Ella, Elle, Daisy, Echo, Elsie, Elsa, Esme, Ever, Faye, Grace/Gracie, Rose/Rosie, Ivy, Indie, Fleur, Fern, Juno, Lila, Lilou, Lulu, Lynx, Noor, Nova, Poet, Piper, Posy, Petal, Quinn, Sable, Story, Sasha, Tansy, Twila, Sky, and Rain.
I used all girl names because for boys I tend to like two syllable names like Jasper, Leo, and August, and no nicknames for them other than Finley/Finlay nn Finn or Hawthorne nn Hawk. But I guess it just depends on the name for me!
on August 17th, 2015 at 11:27 pm
I much prefer using a long formal name on the birth certificate & nicknames for everyday usage. There are a few names that I like that don’t have nns, but they don’t fall into the Poppy-esque type of name…examples of names w/o nns that I like are Willow & Bryony (although I suppose Bree would be a nn for that, but I don’t care for it).
on August 18th, 2015 at 3:27 am
I’m definitely a long name, short nickname kind of person. Some of my favourites are…
on August 19th, 2015 at 6:23 am
I’m definitely a long full name kind of person, at least on the birth certificate! If I like a nickname, then I have to like the full name version too. For example, I love the nn Ginny but I hate Virginia/Ginevra! Practically all the names on my lists are longer names with nn potential, with the exception of a few like Paul or Ruth.
On the other hand, my partner hates that I have to go for a full name if its actually the nn that I like. He thinks we should use a name we like regardless of whether its a nickname name or not! That’s a discussion waiting to happen!
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