Popular Nicknames Soften Unusual Names
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.
POPULAR NICKNAMES FOR GIRLS
POPULAR NICKNAMES FOR BOYS
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.
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on August 20th, 2018 at 12:07 am
I also like Ava for Avalon and Thea for Thessaly.
on August 20th, 2018 at 6:53 am
I like the creativity of some of these nns. As for the concept altogether, I’m a bit iffy. I really don’t mind them being used occasionally, and I like there being a more ‘normal’ alternative if the name is too unusual for the child. But I think it’d be a big shame to hide a gorgeous, unusual, memorable name behind a nn that many would assume is for a more popular full name. I just imagine everyone assuming Izzy is an Isabella, when in fact she’s an Isadora, and the name never actually gets used. The only time it comes up is on a name site when someone excitedly posts that “the Izzy I’ve known for 5 years is actually called Isadora!”. The unusual full name ends up with the status of a middle that no one is privy to. It’s probably not a big deal, but as a namenerd it makes me a little sad.
on August 20th, 2018 at 7:34 am
I know an Isadora who has always gone by the nickname “Sadie.” Even her nickname was uncommon in 1979, when she was born, but anyway, I really like the full name and the nickname! Sadie is one of those popular names that I can’t help but love anyway.
on August 20th, 2018 at 8:27 am
I’d like to add Aberdeen to the Abby list 🙂
on August 20th, 2018 at 9:42 am
I use ‘Annie’ for those who find my name (Agnetha) difficult to pronounce.
on August 20th, 2018 at 4:03 pm
I can see how, as Myosotis said, some people might feel this is “hiding” the unusual name. But I think that really depends on how the nickname is used.
My name is Aurora, and my family calls me Rory, as do friends of the family, my parents’ coworkers, etc. But to the rest of the world, I’m Aurora. I thought about going by Rory as a child, when I hated my name, but then I grew into it and Aurora seems to suit me just fine. At the same time, I like having Rory has an option, for example, at restaurants and cafes that ask for your name (like Starbucks), because they ALWAYS make me repeat and spell out Aurora, only for it to end up as Arora/Arorua/Aurara/Aura anyway. Rory isn’t quite common enough to completely fix it, but at least it seems to be easier for people to spell. And I’ve always liked the idea that, if I’d been a huge tomboy who hated having a really feminine name, I had a name like Rory to fall back on.
Besides all that, I know SO many people who have a permanent nickname, where calling by their full name just seems strange and unnatural, and most of them have common names like Elizabeth and Christopher (in fact, now that I think about it, I know a ton of people who go by Liz/Libby/Beth and Chris, and not a single one who goes by those full names). Of the few people I know who have unusual names and always go by a nickname, every one is either because the name doesn’t suit them or because they feel it’s too much hassle to deal with. Most of the people I know with uncommon names are more like me, have no nickname at all, or use the two names interchangeably. I think people with unusual names naturally either come to embrace it or reject it, and will decide for themselves how to use any nicknames based on that.
on August 20th, 2018 at 11:55 pm
I love this list! There are so many great names that people are apprehensive about just because they feel hard to wear on a baby/small child. Figuring out a sweet and familiar nickname can really provide the best of both worlds!
My son’s name is Archimedes his nickname is Archie. My partner and I use both, and most of our family calls him by his nickname for now.
Others we’ve thought up for possible use in the future:
Ptolemy- Tully, Tommy
Endymion- Eddie, Ender, Indie
Cornelia- Cora, Nell
Isadora- Izzie (was so happy to see Izzy on this list!)
Galatea- Gale, Tea/Teah
Persephone- Percy, Penny, Effie
on August 21st, 2018 at 6:21 pm
@brittanyanitarose Awesome list.
@alleigh76 Very insightful. Thank you!
on August 21st, 2018 at 8:55 pm
I love unique names with common nicknames. I have an incredibly unusual name with a common internationally recognized middle. When I lived in Peru I discovered my first name was a slang word for a stupid person and i had to rely on my middle. I love having a unique name, but sometimes it is great to have a just in case name.
As a child at summer camps I went by my middle because introducing and spelling my first was annoying.
As I have aged I have learned to love my first. I am the only person with my name in the world.
These are some names and nicknames I have thought of over the years.
on August 22nd, 2018 at 9:12 am
We have a Rosamund we call Rosie and a Josephine we call Effie. So one common nickname for an uncommon name and one uncommon nickname for a (relatively) common name 😉
on July 7th, 2020 at 4:05 pm
This is actually the compromise me and my husband made. I’m a huge fan of longer unique names as first names but it was important for my husband to honor his late mother Mary. Though Mary is too common and a bit to bland on its own for my taste. And I wanted our daughter to have her own name and identity too. So we went with marilise nn mary. My in laws primarily call her mary and my family uses marilise. We call her by both, but it really helps young children and older people who struggle with trying to remember and pronounce the longer name to be able to use Mary instead. And sometimes when introducing her to friendly people in passing its easier to just introduce her as Mary than try to get them to hear Marilise correctly in a crowd. I figure when she’s old enough to have a preference she can decide if she prefers one name over the other. And she has the option between something familiar and something that stands out.
on July 8th, 2020 at 12:08 am
Love to see October nn Toby! That’s been on my list for years <3 I also like Mairead nn May. I also like the reverse, using unique nicknames for more traditional names.
Pamela Redmond Said
on July 9th, 2020 at 11:59 am
@angelicaecb That’s a great solution. I actually thought you were going to say you had named the baby Mary and called her May or Maisie or something, but I love how you handled it and it sounds like it gives everyone lots of options.
@Scater I love October nn Toby! But I agree, I also love using unique nicknames for more traditional names. I’m sure we’ve done that blog too — I just have to find it!
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