From lovable names like sugar-buns, to bully names like shorty, there are many kinds of nicknames out there. Here, we’re talking about common nicknames that simplify proper names. Like Steph for Stephanie or Frank for Frankenstein (I mean Franklin, but Frankenstein could of went by Frank too). Basically, nicknames are used to take longer, proper names and make them sound casual and familiar.
Everyone knows someone who prefers their nickname over their formal name. Like that Mike guy in high school who would get angry if anyone called him Michael. Then there are people whose names depend on your relationship to them. For example, Katherine might introduce herself with her full name, but once you get close to her you get to call her Kathy, and if you become one of her BFF's, you get promoted to Kat.
Since longer names get shortened anyways, many parents are now choosing to let nicknames shine on their own. When my hubby and I found out we were having a boy, we went through hundreds of names and found that we always preferred the casual version of formal names. So when we made our list of potentials, we went straight for nicknames as our options (scroll down to #1 on this list for our final choice).
There are no rules when it comes to name choosing. If you prefer Drew over Andrew or Liv over Olivia, then that’s what you should scribble on your baby’s birth certificate. If short and sweet is your jam, here are 15 nicknames that make great first names.
Although the name Becca doesn't hold much meaning, Rebecca is a biblical name that signifies beauty. It goes way back in time, but it has maintained its popularity, ranking slightly under the 200 most popular names in the States. Rebecca currently has the hearts of Italians and ranks in 24th place in Italy. The longer version of Becca is beautiful and rooted with history, but sometimes old names could use some revamping.
If you are looking for a modern name for your baby girl, but you want to stay away from girl names that end in the letter 'a', Becky is also an adorable option.
Max is a bad ass name for a little boy. With one syllable, it's short, strong and very masculine. Besides being a cool name, the Latin meaning behind it literally means the greatest.
Max is often a nickname for Maximilian or Maxwell and no one can deny that the longer versions are also pretty awesome. On its own though, Max has always been a good option. It falls in 118th place in the US and 73rd place in Canada, making it a familiar name that isn't overused. On the other side, this name shines within the top 20 names in the Netherlands, Scotland, Germany, New Zealand and Australia.
Many celebs also love this great name. Christine Aguilera, Charlie Sheen and Cynthia Nixon have skipped out on the longer versions of this name and named their sons Max.
Every mom thinks their son is the greatest, making this special name the perfect fit for any baby boy.
The name Jules goes way back to the Middle Ages. It was originally a male name and in many European countries, it’s still a popular name given to boys. As a common nickname for Julie and Julia, it can easily work as a girl’s name too. The American TV personality and former fashion model, Jules Asner shines a feminine light on this name.
As the French version of Julius, the name Jules is adored in France and is currently ranked within the ten most popular boy names in the country. Belgium is another countries that hogs this name, but in North America, the name Jules has yet to spread. Personally, I’m on team girls name for Jules, but if you are looking for an original name that isn’t gender specific, Jules is a great option.
The meaning behind this name signifies youth. Boy or girl, the Jules behind this name will always be young at heart.
Ben is the simpler and more casual version of the more formal names, Benjamin and Benedict. I have to admit that I can’t hear the longer versions of Ben without thinking of Benjamin Button and eggs benedict, but movies and breakfast aside, Ben is a cool option.
Benjamin is a name that has recently gained enormous popularity. In 2015, it sat high up top within the 10 most popular name in the US and many more Ben babies will be crawling the streets in the years to come. In the same way that most Thomas’ go by Tom, most Benjamins (and Benedicts) prefer to be called by the shorter version of their name anyway.
If the name Ben puts you to sleep, you may also consider Benji or Benny as options, but Ben will often be a top contender for anyone looking for a simple, all-American name for their baby boy.
Jenna might just be the friendliest name out there. Okay, I’m biased because I once had a boss named Jenna who was super approachable, but it’s still a name that rings with kindness.
Jenna can be short for names like Jennifer, but it also a beautiful independent first name. In the late 80’s, the hit television show, Dallas helped popularize this name when the character, Jenna Wade hit the screens. Since then, this name isn’t sitting too high on any charts, but that isn’t a bad thing when uniqueness is wanted.
If Jenna doesn’t do it for you, Jessa is also a cool option, like one of the lead characters in HBO's Girls. Jenny is an edgier version that is also a great pick. In the end, if you want to differ from ever-popular names like Jennifer or Jessica, then Jenna, Jessa and Jenny are great choices for a little social butterfly.
At first glance, Jay reads as a boy’s name, but in our modern world, it also works perfectly for a girl with style. Just like the small, colorful and noisy species of Jay birds, this name is short and vibrant.
Jay is common nickname for names like Jason, Jayden and James. As a girl nickname, it can be the shortened version of unique names like Jayleen and Jayla.
Between the 50’s and 70’s, Jay was a common choice in the States, ranking within the top 100 baby names. Today, this simple, lively name falls low on the popularity charts in the North America, but it is more commonly chosen in Scotland and Ireland.
There is something sweet and fresh about names that end in “ay.” Just like Faye, Ray and May, Jay screams hip hip horary (sorry, I got a little carried away). Whether you like it for a boy or a girl, this jaybird name will never go out of style.
Unlike many of the unisex names on this list, Maggie is fit for a girly girl. It's a sweet, friendly and feminine and the perfect choice for a little princess.
Maggie can be a nickname for names like Margaret, but it also stands well on its own. The name was popularized in the 70’s when Rod Steward came out with his song, Maggie May. Today, the talented American actress, Maggie Gyllenhaal shines a spotlight on this lovely name, even though she recently found out that the name on her birth certificate is actually Margalit.
The meaning behind the name Maggie is pearl, adding to its charm. You might also want to know that Maggie falls in the top five most popular dog names in the US. If that turns you off, remember that some of the most common dog names make great people names and vice versa (like our much-loved Max).
From Alexandra to Alexia to Alexander, Alex is a common nickname that is as unisex as it gets. On its own, it’s simple and to-the-point and sounds familiar in every language.
Names that start with Alex are popular around the world, but as an independent name, it is the second most popular name found in the Catalonia region of Spain. It also sits within the top 100 in England, Scotland, Ireland and Portugal. In North America, the longer versions of this name take the lead, but as more people are choosing simpler options, the independent Alex has a lot of potential to make its way to the top of more lists.
If you like this name, but want to give it a unique spin, add an “i” at the end of it to create the beautiful sounding Alexi. Or, take Alexi, drop the ‘A” and you get the coolest girls name, Lexi.
Ally is a common nickname for many longer names like Allison, Alice and Alexandra. On its own, it’s short, sweet and easy to pronounce in any language. Although Ally is commonly used for a girl, it can also be a baby boy’s name.
This name holds many different origins, but in Celtic nations it signifies harmony and noble. With a meaning filled with prestige, this unisex name is gaining popularity around the world. In the US, Ally sits in a respectful 311 place on the popularity charts, making it the perfect balance between a familiar name and unique name. If Ally doesn’t do it for you, you may also consider the more popular name, Ellie which sits higher up in the 43rd spot and signifies bright shining one (adorable).
You may want to swap the “y” for an “ie” and go for Allie, but regardless of its spelling, this friendly name will never go out of style.
People named Richard often go by Ricky or Dick as common nicknames. In a battle of the nicknames, I’m sure Ricky would take the win. While Richard sounds very Richie Rich, Ricky is the down-to-earth version with a friendlier vibe.
Ricky is an adorable name that can be used for both sexes. Even though Ricky is a boys name in most countries, it still works as a unique name for a baby girl. These days, there are no rules and less girly names like Ricky work brilliantly for the next generation of badass girls.
As a first name, Ricky doesn’t sit high on any popularity charts, but after leaving Ricky Martin days behind, it’s time to shine a new light on this cool name. I know that if there wasn’t already a Ricky in my family, I would have jumped on this name as a top contender when choosing my son’s name.
Liz is usually the short form of the classic, Elizabeth. Fit for a Queen, Elizabeth is a name rich in history which falls in 13th place in the US and sits within the top 50 names in Canada, England and New Zealand. Although Elizabeth seems to always stay popular, Liz offers a fresh, modern change.
When it comes to straight up Liz, the Dutch are the ones who appreciate it most. Every year, Liz climbs higher up the popularity charts in The Netherlands and in 2016, it ranked 34th most popular name in the country. As more and more parents continue to chop up popular names, I wouldn’t be surprised if more countries start to shine light on the modern version of this classic name.
If you want to change up Elizabeth, but Liz is too simple for you, you can meet the names in the middle and consider the beautiful name, Eliza.
Ty is a common nickname for longer names beginning with "Ty" such as Tyler, Tyson and Tyrone. As a name on its own, it’s fresh, down-to-earth and beyond simple.
With only two letters, there’s no messing around with a name like Ty. It’s the perfect fit for an active little boy who can sign his name with style.
In the 50’s, Ty started to be known as an independent name and reached its peak in popularity between 2003 and 2005 when it sat within the top 200 names in the States. Although never becoming mega popular, you can’t go wrong with this low-key name. The famous Wayne Gretzky, known for his hockey career was on board when he introduced his son, Ty Gretzky to the world.
Although this name will make any baseball fans think of Ty Cobb, my mind goes straight to Television host, Ty Pennington (the Trading Spaces version of him please).
Although commonly short for the classic Kimberly, Kim is also an independent name that many parents gravitate towards. Although generally considered a girl’s name, Kim could also be a unique boy’s name. In fact, Kimberly was originally a male’s name that goes back to the mid-20th century. Over time, it made a switch to the girls club.
The American meaning behind the name Kim is noble or brave and it is said that this name promotes a lifetime of generosity and an inner desire to help others. Unfortunately, these days the major Kim reference belongs to reality television personality Kim Kardashian, which can either help or hurt its cause. Regardless on where you stand on the Kardashian crew though, Kim is a name that any girl can make her own.
Fun fact –about twenty percent of Koreans have Kim as their last name. For the rest of the world though, it makes a great first name.
Jack screams boy name. It’s to-the-point like John, but filled with cool vibes. Although it can be a nickname for Jackson, it goes way back to the Middle Ages as an independent name, when it was also used as a slang word for “man.”
From Jack and Jill, to Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack is name that can be found in many children’s stories, which gives it a sense of innocent. It also makes a respectable name for a man of any age though.
If you want to stay away from overly popular names, you may want to cross Jack off your list. Jack is actually the most popular name in Ireland and Scotland and ranked in top five in many other countries. In Canada it sits in 17th place and in the US, it is the 38th most popular name in the country. If you love it though, go for it regardless of what else is out there.
If you've been dying to find out what I named my son, here you have it. I fell in love with the name Sam because it's the epitome of short and sweet. Also, I love what the letter S looks like in cursive.
Sam is a name that works equally well for a boy or a girl. It is often a nickname for Samuel or Samantha, but it's cool enough to stand alone.
As a boy’s name, Sam was recently found within the 50 most popular names in Belgium, Ireland and the Netherlands. In North America, the longer versions of this name still takes the win, but the shortened version is slowly climbing up the latter.
Choosing a name that will stay with your child for their entire life is no easy task, but the best tip is to choose a name that speaks to you. If that name happens to be a common nickname, then let it shine on its own.
Sources: Nameberry.com, Babble.com, Behindthename.com, Babycenter.ca, Todaysparent.com, Sheknows.com, Ancestry.com