Vintage Nicknames: Ready to wake after a long nap?

vintage nicknames

By Pamela Redmond Satran

Nickname-names still appear on birth certificates.  In the U.S., such names as Ellie, Abby, and Charlie for girls; Jake, Jack, and Johnny for boys all rank high.  In the U.K., nickname-names are even more fashionable, with Evie, Maisie, Millie, and Ellie in the Top 35 for girls, and Jack, Charlie, and Alfie in the boys’ Top 10.

But there are generations of nickname-names that have fallen off the Top 1000, yet sound cute and baby-ready today.  The list here is drawn from names that were on the Social Security roster on their own in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but fell off by the early 1970s (the date of their last listing follows the name) and haven’t yet reappeared.

Whether you choose to use Bea or Mamie, Clem or Zeb as full names or as diminutives for Beatrice or Marietta, Clement or Zebediah, any of these nickname-names would make charming choices.


Bea 1910

Bess 1927

Birdie 1948

Dot 1892

Edie 1965

Etta 1966

Goldie 1958

Kitty 1966

Letty 1932

Lottie 1959

Lulu 1939

Madge 1948

Mamie 1966

Minnie 1971

Nell 1956

Roxy 1891

Thea 1965

Tillie 1942


Abe 1961

Alfie 1968

Art 1967

Cal 1963

Cam 1896

Clem 1949

Flint 1960

Gabe 1905

Ike 1957

Kit 1958

Lem 1910

Lex 1956

Lou 1960

Moe 1916

Nat 1919

Ozzie 1903

Rock 1962

Sal 1967

Sid 1961

Sim 1911

Val 1969

Wally 1968

Walt 1962

Woody 1965

Zeb 1909

Zed 1894


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11 Responses to “Vintage Nicknames: Ready to wake after a long nap?”

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Millienow2011 Says:

April 15th, 2014 at 5:01 am

Suggestion: Hetty/Hettie 🙂

Ysee Says:

April 15th, 2014 at 6:49 am

Thea is one of my all-time favourite names. I would love to see it become more popular, along with similar names like Thora, Thera, Clea, Clio, and Cleo.

ash1114 Says:

April 15th, 2014 at 7:35 am

These names make me smile! 🙂
I’ve always love Lottie. I didn’t even realize it was a nn for Charlotte when I was little. Just Lottie was one of my favorites

Several of these are in my family tree (uncles, aunts & cousins) as great and great-great’s.














Some others on the branches are

Biddy, Bette, Carm, Dee, Doe, Flossie, Jul, Mick, Hen, Ree, Char, Flo, Unt, Pink, & Meg.

CsprsSassyHrly Says:

April 15th, 2014 at 8:02 am

I really like some of these names but there are very few I’d actually consider using without it being a part of a full name, like Nell, Alfie, Ike and Sid. Quite frankly, I adore Nell as a nickname for Penelope, Helena or Eleanor so I’d probably use it more for one of those names first, despite my liking of it as a name on its own. Alfie I would use only because I’m not really a fan of Alfred, but I do like Alfie. I can say the same about Sid; I like Sid but not Sidney, at least not for a boy. Ike, I think can stand on its own and I think it sounds good as a name.

Then there are only a couple of hours that I do like but ONLY as nicknames: Edie and Gabe. It might help that I love Edith (Thank you, Despicable Me for having the most adorable Edith I’ve ever seen!) and Gabriel.

I think I love Louis and Cameron too much to shorten those to nicknames Lou and Cam.

I like Millienow2011’s suggestion of Hetty/Hettie. Although, I personally wouldn’t use it as a nickname-name, I could see parents doing it. I do like it as a nickname for Harriet, though.

STLmama225 Says:

April 15th, 2014 at 8:39 am

So many darling options! I love nicknames but I do prefer children be given fuller formal names. I know a little Beatrice who goes exclusively by Bea, an Abraham who only goes by Abe, and my son Gabriel is mostly Gabe.

miloowen Says:

April 15th, 2014 at 9:16 am

CsprsSassyHrly if you love Alfie but don’t like Alfred, what about Alfric? Rarely used Anglo-Saxon name.

At fourteen my daughter was tired of being “Kate” and went by “Kitty” almost exclusively for ten years. Now she’s “Kate” again, lol.

I love some of these nicknames — Edie, Nell, and Millie for girls, Sim, Val, and Alfie for boys — but I have to say that I prefer the formal name as the official name. As with the case of my daughter, sometimes the nickname you give your child is one your child feels doesn’t fit them. If they have a formal name, there are a number of options to chose from. Giving them a nickname for a name limits their ability to define themselves. As parents, we should remember that the name we give our child is about the child, not us.

CandaceMarie321 Says:

April 15th, 2014 at 10:29 am

Our new baby’s nickname is here! He will be Kit–short for Christian instead of Christopher. We are expecting him in the next few weeks 🙂

I dislike most nicknames as given names, after all you are not just naming a baby you are also naming a child, an adolescent, and an adult. But I don’t see any problem with picking the nickname first and working backwards to a formal name. Just be sure that you love (or at least like) the formal name too, my 2-year-old was suppose to be JJ but it never stuck for some reason he is just Jensen (mn Joshua). My 8-year-old shed his nickname Teddy in Kindergarten in favor of his formal Theodore. Of my three oldest sons the only one who uses a nickname is the one we didn’t think there would be a nickname for! 6-year-old Kaelen goes by Kae.

ssterikoff Says:

April 15th, 2014 at 2:05 pm

My guilty pleasure, Flossie, is missing from the list. I guess it’s not time yet. I did have an Aunt Goldie, so I’m glad to see her name coming up.

starophie Says:

April 15th, 2014 at 2:18 pm

my mouth is watering over this list! i am of the camp that nicknames are important, but so are formal names – though to be honest, i am one who nicknames first and works backwards. i am called exclusively by my “nickname,” but about half of the other sophies i encounter are sophies as their given names! it makes me a little jealous, but i don’t think i’ll change my name legally. my father goes by his middle name (hates his first, arthur, which i adore), but also hasn’t changed it. his sister goes by “jules” instead of julie or julia, now, which the whole family finds ridiculous, but what can you do? anyway, i also wanted to comment that i am loving bess as a potential middle option – being jewish, we’re not meant to name children after living relatives, but bess and arthur are my two caveats since my father doesn’t go by arthur and bess is my mother’s maiden name. does anyone know of a full form of bess that isn’t elizabeth? elizabeth is actually my mother’s sister’s name – i know, i know, beth bess, but bess was not their birth name. it’s a crazy world!

Giinkies Says:

April 15th, 2014 at 3:47 pm

I plan on using Lulu as nickname. Idk what for as yet but I LOVE LOVE Lulu.

nieke Says:

April 22nd, 2014 at 3:57 am

Oh I just love all of these! Especially the boys list- Art, Cal, Kit, Sal and Sid are truly swoons worthy. I’d add Bram, Teddy, Rafe and Gene and happily use them as given names. Bea and Dot are favourites from the girls list, to which I’d also suggest Dolly, Jo and Allie.

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