Popular Nicknames Soften Unusual Names

July 6, 2020 Pamela Redmond

Popular nicknames like Ellie and Jack are often much more common than official name popularity lists indicate, since they’re given on their own and also used as short forms for a wide range of proper names that are themselves very popular, from Eleanor to Elizabeth to Gabrielle, from Jackson to John to Jonathan.

But what if you use a popular nickname for a much more unusual proper name? To some people, this may represent the worst of all worlds: Your child is known by a name shared with many others, while the “secret” proper name adds only confusion and no public distinction.

But there’s another way to look at it. You get to use an unusual proper name that you adore or that’s been passed down through your family or simply because you believe in unique names.

And then you soften whatever can be difficult about having uncommon names — no one knows how to spell or pronounce it, other kids think it’s weird while your kid feels out of step with her contemporaries — by calling your child by one of the top nicknames that’s much more easily accepted and liked.

Or maybe approach it from the other direction and use a popular nickname that you love or your partner loves or that’s a family name, but you want to make it stand out from the six other Wills in the family by pairing it with a distinctive long form.

Plus, this method gives your child a choice. He or she can use either name at any time for any purpose, for a few moments or forever.

Maybe best of all, you get two very different names in one.

Here, some popular nicknames along with uncommon girl names and uncommon boy names that make intriguing pairs.


AbbyAbilene, Arabella, Lullaby

AddieAdelia, Adelpha, Ariadne, Zenaida

AllieAlaska, Allegra, Rosalie

AndiAndromeda, Leandra

AnnieAnastasia, Anemone, Ianthe, Pandora

AvaLavender, Octavia

BeeBrighton, Deborah

BelleJezebel, Mabel, Mirabel

BettyBeatrice, Bernadette

BillieWilhelmina, Wilfreda

CallieCalliope, Callahan, Callista, Clarissa

CaseyAcacia, Cassiopeia

CassCascade, Cassia, Cassiane

CoryCorisande, Cordelia

EdieEden, Meredith

EllaAuriella, Consuela, Stellaluna

EllieEleri, Elspeth, Eulalie, Felicity

ElsieElsinore, Felicity

EmmyClementine, Emerald, Emmanuelle

EvieReverie, Yvaine

GiaGiovanna, Georgiana

HallieHalliday, Mahala

IzzyIsadora, Ismene

JennyEugenie, Genesis, Imogen, Iphigenia

JessJessamina, Jessamy

JosieJocasta, Joelle

JulieAnjuli, Jubilee, Jules

KateCadence, Kateri, Khadija

LenaSelena, Magdalena

LilyAmaryllis, Galilee

LolaEulalia, Olympia

MaddieAmadea, Madrigal

MaggieMagnolia, Marigold

Maisie Esme, Mazarine

MerryCameron, Emerson, Tamera

MiaEmiliana, Euphemia, Mirabel

MissyArmistice, Artemisia

MollyAmalia, Kamala, Romola

NellElowen, Endellion, Helena

NickiAnnika, Monica, Veronica

NinaAngelina, Clementina, Valentina

NoraEleonora, Honora

PoppyCalliope, Penelope

RomyAndromeda, Rosamund

RoryAurora, Lorelei, Mallory

RosieAmbrosia, Primrose

SadieMercedes, Sadira, Sarita, Seraphina

SamSamoa, Samara, Sesame

TessThessaly, Odessa

TheaTheodosia, Alethea, Timothea, Theophania

WinnieElowen, Winsome


AceAcacius, Horatio

AndyAndrocles, Leander, Lysander

ArtArtemas, Bartholomew, McArthur

BenBenen, Corbin, Reuben

BoBoaz, Bowen

CalCalder, Caliban, Calixto

CaseyCasimir, Cassius

CharlieCharleston, Charlton

CoryCorentin, Cormac, Scorpio

DaveDavenport, Davis

EddieEdison, Edmund

FordClifford, Stanford

FredWilfred, Federico

GusArgus, Fergus

JackJasper, Joachim

JoeJosias, Joaquin

LeoAchilleo, Galileo, Leonidas, Leopold, Napoleon,

LukeLucretius, Ludovic

MackMcCoy, Macon, Malachi

MaxMaddox, McCoy

NateIgnatius, Renato

NickDominick, Nicasio, Nicodemus

OllieApollo, Olek, Olimpio

RayDougray, Raphael, Thackeray

RobRobin, Robinson

SamSamson, Samwell

TeddyThaddeus, Theophilus

TobyOctober, Tobin

TomThompson, Tomek

TyMatthias,Tiberius, Titus

WillWilder, Willis, Willoughby

Thanks to the brilliant berries who contributed some of these ideas last year when we asked for your favorite unusual proper names with popular nicknames.

About the author

Pamela Redmond

Pamela Redmond is the cocreator and CEO of Nameberry. The coauthor of ten bestselling baby name books, Redmond is an internationally-recognized name expert, quoted and published widely in such media outlets as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Today Show,, CNN, and the BBC. Redmond is also a New York Times bestselling novelist whose books include Younger, the basis for the hit television show, and its new sequel, Older.

View all of Pamela Redmond's articles


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