Popular nicknames may be used on their own on the birth certificate or might be short forms for proper names ranging from the common to the unusual.
The nicknames here rank highly on both the US and the British lists of popular baby names. These top nicknames are friendly and likeable, but may be much more widely-used than you guess given that they're used as diminutives for such a broad range of names. Don't be surprised if your little Ellie or Jack is one of many on the playground!
Popular nicknames for girls range from sweet and feminine names like Evie, Millie, and Sadie to boyish nicknames Frankie, Charlie, and Sammi. Popular nicknames for boys include vintage revivals like Bobby, Gus, and Teddy, as well as modern choices like Bo, Ty, and Ace.
The upside of these popular nicknames is that they make any name friendlier and more accessible. So you can choose a name of a mythological hero or a great-great-uncle and make it friendly in the contemporary world through one of these top nicknames, organized here by their current popularity on Nameberry.
Origin:Irish, diminutive of Honora, or Greek
Description:Nora is a lovely, refined name that conjures up images of Belle Epoch ladies in fur-trimmed coats skating in Central Park. Long seen as a quintessentially Irish name, Nora is a quietly stylish favorite tiptoeing up the popularity ladder.
Origin:Diminutive of Theodore
Meaning:"gift of God"
Description:Many modern parents use Theo as the short form for Theodore rather than the dated Ted--including some celebs, such as Dallas Bryce Howard-- but others bypass the Grandpa name Theodore entirely and skip right to the hip nickname Theo. Short and ultra-chic, Theo's a cool, contemporary baby name choice.
Description:Thea is a diminutive of names ending in -thea, including Dorothea, Althea, and Anthea. It is also the Anglicized spelling of Theia, the Titan of sight, goddess of light, and mother of the moon. She was the consort of Hyperion, and mother of Helios, Selene, and Eos.
Origin:English from Latin
Description:Poppy, unlike most floral names which are sweet and feminine, has a lot of spunk. Long popular throughout the rest of the English-speaking world, Poppy is finally starting to rise toward the top in the US, where it entered the Top 1000 for the first time in 2016.
Description:Leo was derived from the Latin leo, meaning “lion.” Thirteen popes have carried the name, including St. Leo the Great. In Germanic languages, Leo has historically been used as a nickname for names including Leon and Leopold. In Latinate languages, Leonardo is considered a full form for Leo.
Origin:Diminutive of Sarah
Description:Sadie started as a nickname for Sarah, but their images couldn't be more disparate. Where Sarah is serious and sweet, Sadie is full of sass and fun.
Origin:Diminutive of Elizabeth via its Scottish variation, Elspeth
Meaning:"pledged to God"
Description:Elsie is a sweet vintage nickname-name turned modern star. After a 30-year hiatus, Elsie started climbing the US popularity list 20 years ago and is still headed for the top.
Meaning:"all, completely; fairy maiden"
Description:Ella has parallel derivations, first as the Norman variation of the Germanic Alia—itself a nickname for names containing the element ali. It’s also a Hebrew name, referring to a tree in the pistachio family or in modern Hebrew, "goddess." In English speaking countries and Scandinavia, Ella developed as a diminutive for names beginning with El-, such as Eleanor and Elizabeth.
Origin:Diminutive of Eve or Eva
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.
Origin:English, diminutive of John
Meaning:"God is gracious"
Description:Jack is a derivative of John that originated in medieval England. The name went from John to Johnkin to Jankin to Jackin to Jack. The name was so common in the Middle Ages that Jack became a generic term for a man.
Origin:Italian word name or Scandinavian short form of Maria
Meaning:"mine or bitter"
Description:Mia originated as a short form of Maria, which ultimately derived from the Hebrew name Miryam. In modern times, Mia has been used as a nickname for names including Amelia, Emilia, and Miriam. Mia is also an Italian and Spanish word meaning 'mine.'
Origin:Diminutive of Mary, Hebrew
Description:Molly is one of the original nickname names, ALWAYS ranking among the US Top 500 girl names since statistics began, in 1880. Molly peaked in 1991 only to rise just as high again in 2011, and though softening retains a good measure of popularity and charm.
Origin:English and German diminutive of Maximilian or Maxwell
Description:Max was derived from Maximilian, a Latin name that originated from the Roman family name Maximus. The character name Max in the children's classic Where the Wild Things Are had an impact on baby namers. Max is a widely used name internationally.
Origin:English, diminutive of Eleanor and Ellen
Meaning:"bright shining one"
Description:Ellie first took off in the UK—yes, in this nickname form—and this warm and friendly name has also taken off here. In 2011, Ellie entered the US Top 100 girl names for the first time and has remained near the top of the charts ever since.
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.
Origin:English, Scottish, Dutch, German, and Scandinavian, diminutive of various names ending in lena
Description:This pet form of Helena and other ena-ending names, long used as an independent name, is attracting notice again as an option both multicultural and simple. Lena was a Top 100 name from 1880 to 1920.
Meaning:"dweller at the meadow by the manor"
Description:Hallie -- it rhymes with alley and is not to be confused with Halle or Hailey or Holly -- is one of those comfy nicknamish names that are in favor in these complicated times.
Origin:Scottish or Irish
Description:In Ireland and Scotland, Mac and Mc mean "son of"; here, Mac is a generic fella, or a short form cooler than either Matt or Max. Mac can be a nickname of any longer Mac or Mc starting name such as McCoy or Macalister. If you want to make it feel more complete, you can always spell it Mack.
Origin:Diminutive of Raymond
Origin:English, diminutive of Ann
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.