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Vintage Nicknames for Girls

Vintage Nicknames for Girls
Vintage nicknames for girls feel new again. Many modern parents are choosing to forgo traditional full forms and put an old-fashioned nickname on the birth certificate instead. Elsie, Winnie, and Millie outrank their more formal counterparts, Elsa, Winifred, and Mildred.

Along with Elsie and Millie, other vintage nicknames for girls in the US Top 1000 include Maisie, Nellie, Josie, Emmy, Belle, Evie, Hattie, and Rosie. You may not have heard of vintage nicknames such as Floy, Ibby, Sudie, and Winnet, which are all but forgotten, though could stand to be revived.

These vintage nicknames for girls might be worth a fresh look. Check our larger Nicknames for Girls list for more choices. And if it's adorable you're after, check out this list of cute baby names, which includes lots of nickname-names. For a complete guide to nickname options, read our Ultimate Guide to Nicknames.

Vintage Nicknames for Girls

MaeHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Mary or Margaret
  • Meaning:

    "bitter or pearl"
  • Description:

    Mae is derived from May, the month name that was chosen for its connection to Maia, the Roman goddess of growth and motherhood. Mae can be used as a nickname for the names Mary and Margaret — actress Mae West was born Mary. Alternate spellings include May, Mei, and Maye. The May spelling makes it more of a month name, while Mae makes it an antique nickname name. Both can stand on their own, as seen by Hilary Duff's choice of Mae as her daughter's first name.

MaisieHeart

  • Origin:

    Scottish diminutive of Margaret or Mary
  • Meaning:

    "pearl or bitter"
  • Description:

    Maisie, a hundred-year-old favorite, is in perfect tune with today, rising in tandem with cousin Daisy. Spelled Maisy, it's a popular children's book series.

ElsieHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Elizabeth via its Scottish variation, Elspeth
  • Meaning:

    "pledged to God"
  • Description:

    Not so long ago, Elsie might have been on a list of Names Least Likely to Succeed—but look at her now! She is currently ranked very highly in the U.K., and in the US, she's widely used as well, having returned to the popular names list in 2005 after a thirty-year hiatus. Elsie is now one of the fastest-rising girl names starting with E.

EllieHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of Eleanor and Ellen
  • Meaning:

    "bright shining one"
  • Description:

    Ellie derived as a nickname for names beginning with El-, such as Eleanor, Ellen, and Elizabeth. It is increasingly being used as a standalone name, particularly in the UK. Ellie is the standard spelling, but Elly and Elli are occasionally seen as variations.

MillieHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Mildred or Millicent
  • Meaning:

    "gentle strength; strong in work"
  • Description:

    Millie is back. It's a Top 100 name throughout much of the English-speaking world, though not yet in the US. Millicent would be an appealing long form, but many people are using Millie all by its cute self -- so many, in fact, that it returned to the Top 500 in 2015 for the first time since World War 2 and continues to climb.

EvieHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Eve or Eva
  • Meaning:

    "life"
  • Description:

    Evie was derived from Eve, which in turn comes from Chawwah, a Hebrew name related to the concept of life. Evie can be used as a nickname for any name that starts with Ev-, including Eva, Evelyn, and Evangeline, but also for names such as Genevieve and Maeve. Evie is typically pronounced with a long E sound, but a short E is also valid.

WinnieHeart

  • Origin:

    English diminutive of Winifred
  • Meaning:

    "holy peacemaking, gentle friend"
  • Description:

    This pet form of such names as Winifred and Edwina and Gwendolyn has loads of vintage charm, a la Millie and Maisie, with a decidedly winning vibe. And it just got celebrity cred as the baby daughter of Jimmy Fallon.

LottieHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of Charlotte
  • Meaning:

    "free man"
  • Description:

    Lottie is a nostalgic great-grandma name that conjures up lockets and lace, and -- like Nellie, Josie, Hattie, Tillie, and Milly -- has considerable vintage charm. A Top 100 name at the end of the nineteenth century, Lottie fell off the popularity list around 1960, but well might climb back on most likely as a diminutive for the currently popular Charlotte. It's already an amazing Number 85 in England and Wales.

MollyHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Mary, Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "bitter"
  • Description:

    Molly originated as a diminutive of Mary, spawning from medieval variations Malle and Molle. Molly has been used as a stand-alone pet form of Mary since the Middle Ages, and has been consistently popular as an independent name in the U.S. over the past several decades.

AnnieHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of Ann
  • Meaning:

    "grace"
  • Description:

    Annie is one of the most open and optimistic, the-sun'll-come-out-tomorrow type of name, having been celebrated over the years in song (Annie Laurie), comic strip (Little Orphan Annie), folklore (Annie Oakley, born Phoebe), and film (Annie Hall). It strikes a nice old-fashioned-but-jaunty chord that still has appeal, but we do suggest that you consider putting a more formal version on her birth certificate.

BelleHeart

  • Origin:

    Short form of Isabelle or French
  • Meaning:

    "beautiful"
  • Description:

    Belle has nothing but positive associations, from "belle of the ball" to "Southern belle" to the heroine of Disney's Beauty and the Beast. As if this weren't enough good things, Belle is also one of the most familiar and usable names that mean beautiful. Though it has been overshadowed by the Twilight-influenced Bella and longer forms like Isabella and Annabella, Belle has its own Southern charm and would make a pretty choice as a first or middle name.

HattieHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of Harriet
  • Meaning:

    "estate ruler"
  • Description:

    In the USA, Hattie is one of those nicknames that is now more popular than its parent name, Harriet. In England, however, Harriet is still by far more popular than Hattie, while in Australia, Harriet is highly popular while no data exists on Hattie. In the US, we’d like to see Harriet get more usage but we’re happy to see Hattie again.

NellHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of Helen, Eleanor, et al
  • Meaning:

    "bright, shining one"
  • Description:

    Nell, once a nickname for Helen, Ellen, or Eleanor, is a sweet old-fashioned charmer that is fashionably used today in its own right. While Nell is perfectly in tune with contemporary vintage name style, it hasn't taken off the way some of its sisters have and so maintains an air of distinction. Use Nell or Nellie as a short for any name from Eleanor to Penelope or just name her Nell.

EdieHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of Edith
  • Meaning:

    "prosperous in war"
  • Description:

    Edie is part of the Evie-Ellie et al family of cute and friendly short forms that sometimes stand on its own. Briefly popular in the 1960's, it could well be due for rediscovery.

CocoHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish and French pet name
  • Description:

    Coco came to prominence as the nickname of the legendary French designer Chanel (born Gabrielle) and has lately become a starbaby favorite, initially chosen by Courteney Cox for her daughter Coco Riley in 2004. At first it was the kind of name that the press loves to ridicule, but we predict Coco's heading for more broad acceptance and even popularity.

EffieHeart

  • Origin:

    English diminutive of Euphemia, Greek
  • Meaning:

    "pleasant speech"
  • Description:

    Effie is the old-fashioned short form for Euphemia. It shares a vintage charm with Hattie and Letty although is much rarer than either. Effie is a character in The Hunger Games and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

PippaHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of Philippa
  • Meaning:

    "lover of horses"
  • Description:

    Pippa, a peppy condensation of Philippa that turns it from serious to sprightly, has come into the public eye in a big way via the former Kate Middleton's sister. Heard far more in the UK (where it's currently just outside the Top 100) than the US, Pippa has been used on its own since the nineteenth century, popularized by Robert Browning's dramatic poem, Pippa Passes. A recent book and film was titled The Private Lives of Pippa Lee.

RosieHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "rose"
  • Description:

    Rosy-cheeked and cheery, Rosie (also spelled Rosy) has been standing on her own for many decades, back to the days of 1943 musical Sweet Rosie O'Grady. She's one of the perky nickname-names that are filling the popularity lists of other English-speaking countries. In the US, she came back to the Top 1000 in 2013, after a 30 year hiatus.

DeliaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "born on the island of Delos"
  • Description:

    Delia is a somewhat neglected seductive southern charmer that stands on its own but also might be short for Adelia or Cordelia.

BeaHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Beatrice
  • Meaning:

    "she who brings happiness"
  • Description:

    Bea is a former old lady name that's cute again as a short form -- and is now beginning to stand on its own. Bee is a variation that, like Bea, can work as a diminutive for any name that starts with the letter B, or in the middle. Bea actually stood alone on the popularity lists for four years at the beginning of the twentieth century--and it could happen again.

BettyHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Elizabeth
  • Meaning:

    "pledged to God"
  • Description:

    Combine the popularity of Betty White and Mad Men's glamorous Betty Draper Francis, with the residual sweetness of Ugly Betty's Betty Suarez, and the result is an impending return of the name. It's got presidential cred via Betty Ford and feminist history through Betty Friedan.

MinnieHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Minerva
  • Meaning:

    "of the mind, intellect"
  • Description:

    Minnie was wildly popular at the turn of the last century—it was the fifth or sixth most popular name throughout the 1880s—but is completely obscure today. Blame Mickey's girlfriend. Regardless, it's possible that the up and coming trend toward old-fashioned nickname-names—think Maisie, Mamie, Millie—may give Minnie (all on its own, not as a short form of anything) a new moment in the sun. Minnie Driver (born Amelia) has given it some modern celeb cred.

JosieHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of Josephine, feminine of Joseph
  • Meaning:

    "Jehovah increases"
  • Description:

    Josie is jaunty and friendly: among the most winning of all nickname names. She's been on the social security list since records began being kept.

TessHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of Theresa
  • Meaning:

    "to harvest"
  • Description:

    With its solid Thomas Hardy background, Tess has a lot more substance, strength, and style than most single-syllable names, with an efficient yet relaxed image.

SallyHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Sarah
  • Meaning:

    "princess"
  • Description:

    Sally is a cheerful, fresh-faced girl-next-door name that was originally a nickname for Sarah, but has long been used independently. Sally was popular in the eighteenth century and then again from the 1920s to the 1960s--it was just outside the Top 50 around 1940. Though it hasn't been heard as a baby name for decades, we can see Sally bouncing back, especially after her exposure as young Ms. Draper on Mad Men--the Nameberries rank it at Number 621, and it's a Top 100 name in Sweden.

PollyHeart

  • Origin:

    English variation of Molly
  • Description:

    An alternative to the no-longer-fresh Molly, the initial 'P' gives Polly a peppier sound, combining the cozy virtues of an old-timey name with the bounce of a barmaid.

NellieHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Helen, Eleanor, et al
  • Description:

    This ready-for-revival nickname name recalls the old Gay Nineties and bicycles-built-for-two era. In the US, Nellie is one of the most popular unique girl names, lying just beneath the Top 1000. About five times as many baby girls are named Nellie in the US today as shorter form Nell.

DottieHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of Dorothy
  • Meaning:

    "gift of God"
  • Description:

    Dottie and Dot are old Dorothy nicknames that some cutting-edge Brits are bringing back to fashion. It's been half a century since Dottie ranked on its own in this country, one of those nickname names that flourished in the 1890's.

RoxyHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Roxanne, Persian
  • Meaning:

    "dawn"
  • Description:

    Roxy, also spelled Roxie, is one of those high-stepping showgal names with plenty of moxie, among the many sassy nickname names on the U.K. popularity list--currently Number 398.

LouHeart

  • Origin:

    Short form of Louise
  • Meaning:

    "renowned warrior"
  • Description:

    Lou is usually a short form of Louise, Louisa, or Lucy in English-speaking countries, when Lou is used for girls at all. But in France and Germany, it's a fashionable choice all on its own, sure to gain even more widespread style credibility since Heidi Klum and Seal chose it for their daughter.

EmmyHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Emily and Emma
  • Meaning:

    "work; universal"
  • Description:

    Long a nickname for all the Em-names, as well as an annual award, Emmy is now being given on its own, as are soundalikes Emme and Emmi. Might be too identified with the TV awards--though that doesn't seem to have hurt Oscar or Tony. We think Emmy is a little too cutesey, and is probably best kept as a nickname for something that ages a little better.

TillieHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of Matilda
  • Meaning:

    "battle mighty"
  • Description:

    A surprise recent hit revival with cutting-edge British, Tribeca and Malibu parents; Tillie, also spelled Tilly, is cute, frilly, and sassy all at once. Tilly is currently Number 90 on the England-Wales popularity list, joining such other Top 100 nickname names as Milly, Maisie, Kitty and Lottie. Tillie along with these other short forms transform proper names rooted in other cultures into true English names for girls.

DollyHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of Dorothy
  • Meaning:

    "gift of God"
  • Description:

    Hello, Dolly! Okay, we couldn't resist, but be warned: Most people who meet your little Dolly won't be able to either. This nickname-name, rarely heard since whatever decade Dolly Parton was born, is singing a fashionable note again along with sisters Dottie and Dixie; it was chosen for one of their twin girls by Rebecca Romijn and Jerry O'Connell.

LulaHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of any Lu name
  • Description:

    Lula is one of the livelier nickname-names with the fashionable double-L sound: It joins Lulu, Lila, Lily, and Lou among the trendiest names today. Lula might be short for Talula and sisters or for Lucy or Louise, or may stand on its own two adorable feet. Lula was actually a Top 50 name in the late 1880's and continued in the Top 100 for a couple of decades more.

LettieHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of Letitia, Latin
  • Meaning:

    "joy, gladness"
  • Description:

    Lettie, also spelled Letty, is a nickname name not heard in over a century, giving it the patina of a treasured antique. Lettie's style currency is rising with the trend for old-fashioned, down-to-earth nicknames. Lettie is right in step with Lottie, Hettie, Hattie, Josie, and Maisie.

CassieHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Cassandra
  • Meaning:

    "prophetess"
  • Description:

    Though not much in use, still retains a cozy Little House on the Prairie-type pioneer feel.

BetsyHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Elizabeth
  • Meaning:

    "pledged to God"
  • Description:

    This Elizabeth nickname has a decidedly retro feel--think Betsy Ross and the Betsy Wetsy doll-- once seen as a perkier, younger-sounding alternative to Betty. But with Betty on the brink of a comeback, pigtailed Betsy could return as well.

JessieHeart

  • Origin:

    Anglicized form of Teasagh or diminutive of Jessica
  • Meaning:

    "wealthy"
  • Description:

    Jessie has never been used as much as Jennie/Jenny, partly because it's a boys’ name as well (spelled Jesse), but it does have a friendly and unpretentious pioneer feel. In Scotland, it's found as an Anglicized form of Teasagh, itself a form of Jean, and is used as a full name. And in the rest of the world, Jessie may be short for Jessica or used on its own.

AddieHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Adelaide or Adeline
  • Description:

    Old-fashioned nickname with sweet turn-of-the-last-century charm that's become a favorite among the popular girl names starting with A of today. In fact, with all spellings of Adeline/Adalynn taken together firmly in the Top 10, and Adelaide and Addison also high in the charts, Addie is one of the most frequently-heard short forms around. But no matter how popular (or pandemic) it gets, Addie is undeniably one of the cutest names for baby girls. Little girls might like the fact that it's the name, though spelled Addy, of an American Girl series doll.

TansyHeart

  • Origin:

    Flower name, from Greek
  • Meaning:

    "immortality"
  • Description:

    Tansy is a flower name rarer than Rose, livelier than Lily and a lot less teasable than Pansy.

PeggyHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Margaret, Greek
  • Meaning:

    "pearl"
  • Description:

    Just when we had written off Peggy as the eternal perky, pug-nosed prom-queen she projected from the 1920s into the fifties, along came Mad Men, with intriguing mid-century characters with names like Joan and Betty--and Peggy, causing a bit of a re-think. MM's proto-feminist Peggy Olson was followed by Amy Adams's strong Oscar-nominated Peggy Dodd character in The Master.

NevaHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish
  • Meaning:

    "white snow"
  • Description:

    Has a pure, clean aura, but is also evocative.

NettieHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of names ending in -ette or -etta, or variation of Neta, Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "plant"
  • Description:

    You may never have known a Nettie personally, but there well might be one hidden in your family history, considering that she was a Top 100 name until 1901 and stayed on the Social Security list until 1962.

MeliaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek mythology name, also diminutive of Amelia
  • Meaning:

    "work"
  • Description:

    This is a rich, melodic shortening of the popular girls' name Amelia that can stand on its own. There are several figures in Greek myth named Melia, most notably a daughter of Oceanus. The Meliae are nymphs associated with trees.

TrudyHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "spear of strength"
  • Description:

    Innocent, sincere, and bright-eyed, and as outdated as its mother name, Gertrude.

MitziHeart

  • Origin:

    German, diminutive of Maria
  • Meaning:

    "bitter"
  • Description:

    Mitzi is a spunky German nickname name that might appeal to parents drawn to the genre of lively vintage chorus girl names that proliferated in 1930's musicals. Lively entertainer Mitzi Gaynor--who was originally named Francesca Marlene de Czani von Gerber--made the name notable in mid-century America.

KittyHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of Katherine
  • Meaning:

    "pure"
  • Description:

    This endearing nickname name is one Katherine pet form that predates all the Kathys and Katies, having been fairly common in the eighteenth century. With the current mini-craze for animal-related names, Kitty is sounding cute and cuddly again—she's already jumped back onto the U.K. list, at number 199.

ZuzuHeart

  • Origin:

    Czech diminutive of Susan
  • Meaning:

    "lily"
  • Description:

    Zuzu is heard every Christmas as the name of Jimmy Stewart's little girl in "It's a Wonderful Life." Hard to think of a nickname name with more sizzle.

    "Top Chef" 's Tania Peterson named her daughter Zuzu Audrey.

TildaHeart

  • Origin:

    Estonian, diminutive of Matilda
  • Description:

    Actress Tilda Swinton injected this dated nickname name with some modern charm.

MamieHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Mary or Margaret
  • Description:

    Mamie is back. Having finally shorn her Mamie Eisenhower bangs, this insouciant and adorable nickname name is perfect if you want a zestier way to honor a beloved aunt Mary. Meryl Streep's actress daughter, properly named Mary Willa, is called Mamie Gummer. You might think of Mamie as a sister of the stylish Maisie.
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