It is a frequent problem for parents trying to choose the right name for their child, do you like the nicknames that may go with your choice? It is easy to say you will never shorten the name but once your child gets to school, all bets are off. Their name will be reduced to odd little phrases by their friends and there will be nothing you can do about it.
So if you love a name but hate the shortened version, think long and hard about whether or not you want to risk hearing your little one go by the nickname.
On the flip side, if you are only ever going to use the nickname or shortened version, do you want to bother giving your child the full name? There is a school of thought that says "at least it gives your child options when they are older" or "If they want a grown-up name they will have the full one available" but that seems like a bit of a waste of time.
One of our children is called Gabriel, and he is often called Gabe but the two names are interchangeable in our house, and we like both. Meanwhile, our youngest daughter is called Evey and, after giving it careful consideration, we chose to make that the name on her birth certificate because we were not fans of Evylynn.
So here are some names that give you fantastic nickname options, some of which might be worth using as stand-alone names,
Anastasia is the Latinized version of the Greek name Αναστασιος (Anastasios) which means "resurrection." Pronounced u-nu-stu-SYEE-yə in Russian and a-nə-STAY-zhə in English, this beautiful name has long had regal associations. Most famously the name of one of the daughters of the Tsar of Russia, the mystery over whether Anastasia escaped the execution of the rest of her family has not been solved, over one hundred years after the event.
Anastasia has so many nicknames there is no danger of you not finding one that suits your little one. Ann, Ana, Anna, and Annie are the most obvious diminutives, but there are also Stacey, Stacee, Staci, Stacie, and Stacy, all of which are relatively commonly used in English speaking countries. The Greeks use Natasa, Tasia, and Tasoula, while the Russians use Asya, Nastasia, Nastasya, Nastya, and Stasya and many Eastern European countries use Nastja and Staša.
If you are looking for a name that is virtually unknown in the United States, you could do a lot worse than Ignatius. The name of several saints, this was a popular choice for Catholic boys in the late nineteenth century as one of those saints was the founder of the Catholic Jesuit order. From the Roman family name Egnatius which is of unknown meaning, the spelling was later altered to resemble Latin word ignis which means "fire."
Of those who have been bestowed the name Ignatius many choose to use their full name but others prefer the reason that this name made this list, the fabulous - the nicknames. Iggy, Nate or Natius -pronounced nay-shus, and in Spain, they often use Nacio or Nacho.
Ignatius is a big bold name and one that has definitely flown under the popularity radar, until now.
First of all, do not confuse Amelia with Emilia. It is not just a different spelling; these are two entirely different names with entirely different histories and roots. Amelia is a Latinized version of the old German name Amala, which in turn is the short version of all Germanic names beginning with “Amal” which means “work.”
Amelia is a brilliant alternative to Emilia though, as well as being a suitable replacement for Emily as both of these names have been very popular in recent years.
Diminutive forms include; Mils, Mill, Milly, Millie, Meli - pronounced MEAL-e, Mila, Am, and Amy. Some of these are fabulous standalone names and if you are considering Amelia as a full name but planning to use one of the shortened versions, consider dropping the entire Amelia altogether. If you like Milly or Mila - just name your kiddo that. They are short and sweet and won’t be the name of at least three other girls in your daughter's year at school.
Edward was a staple in the top ten boys names list in the US until the 1930’s, when it slowly began to slide in popularity and has never really returned to favor. What is often surprising is that Edward was also used, for a time, as a girl's name I would love to see this trend revived in the here and now.
Meaning "wealthy guard," from ead meaning "riches, wealth, fortune, prosperous" and weard meaning "guard, guardian, or protector,” Edward was the name of several Anglo Saxon kings and some English kings.
The most frequently used nicknames used to be Ed, Eddy or Eddie, and for a girl, Edie - pronounced EE-de. Ted and Teddy were also very popular but by far the best diminutive, in my opinion, is Ned.
Eleanor evolved from the Old French form of the Occitan name Aliénor. Among the name's earliest bearers was the influential Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine (12th century), who was the queen of Louis VII, the king of France, and later Henry II, the king of England. She was named Aenor after her mother and daughter Aenor became known as Eleanor to distinguish the two women from each other.
Nicknames include El or Elle, which are great if you are a fan of Stranger Things, Elana and Ellen. Other popular ones are Lenora and Lenore which seem a bit weird to me because if you named your daughter Elenore, Lenora is just as long so isn’t much of a nickname. All of the others work well, I, however, am particularly fond of, Len, Lenny, and Nora.
With roots that run deep in the Celtic culture, Angus is the English version of the Irish Celtic Oenghus and the Scottish Gaelic form Aonghas. In Irish myth, Aonghus was the god of youth and love, and Angus Og was a chieftain who used his magical powers to bring pleasure, happiness, and prosperity to mankind.
The meaning of the name is “one strength,” and the name has never been trendy in the United States. Dipping its toe in the far end of the top one thousand names at the end of the nineteenth century, Angus fell off the list entirely in 1949, never to appear again.
The reason this name deserves to make a comeback is not only the fact that it is the name on Angus Young, founder of AC/DC and all-around rock legend, but it has the super cute nickname, Gus.
Charlotte is one of those girls' names that was a classic but in a bit of a lull. Suddenly, a few years ago it began to make a bit of a comeback, and it probably has something to do with a new princess bearing the name.
Charlotte, the female form of Charles, is French and means “Free Man.” The name was first made famous by Queen Charlotte Sophia who was the wife of King George III. The pair ruled together in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and the Queen was particularly well loved by the people.
There are the obvious shortened versions for Charlotte, such as Charlie, Charly or Charli which are ok but somewhat run of the mill. I think the English nicknames of Lottie, Totti, and Totty are adorable, as are the Swedish Lotta and the ambiguously rooted Sharlene.
Ashley started out as an English surname that was given to those who lived in a clearing among ash trees. Derived from the Old English elements æsc (ash trees) and lēah (wood, clearing, meadow, enclosure) "dweller near the ash tree forest" became a first name in the late 16th century and was used predominantly for boys.
In England, it is still given more frequently to boys but in the United States, it has never been popular for boys. The States, however, embraced the use of Ashley and in the decade between the mid-1980’s and mid-1990’s Ashley dominated the girl's name charts.
Ashley works for either a boy or a girl and you can choose this name without knowing what the gender of your child will be. It has Lee, Leigh, Ash, and Ashie as nicknames and Ash especially has a robust and determined vibe to it that would be perfect for a boy or a girl.
Hovering just around the top 100 girls name in the 1880’s, Matilda steadily decreased in popularity until the 1950’s when it dropped out of the top 1000. There it remained until 2008 when Matilda was once again used often enough to crack the top 1000 but it is still unusual enough to make it very unlikely for you to bump into another Matilda at the park.
Evolved from the Germanic name Mahthildis meaning "strength in battle," from the elements maht "might, strength" and hild "battle, Matilda has some fantastic nicknames for your mighty little warrior.
Tilly, Tillie, Tildy, and Tills are all used, alongside Mattie, Milly, and Mills. Probably the most unusual diminutive form is Maud, which was popular in fifteenth-century England and eventually became used as a name in its own right.
Christopher is the English version of the European-wide name Christop which evolved from the Greek name Χριστόφορος (Christóforos). Meaning “Christ-bearer” Christopher was initially not a name but a word that was generally used for men who were considered pious Christians.
This may be from where the legend of St.Christopher comes. It is thought he was the same man as St. Menas and when Menas died, far away from his homeland nobody knew his name, so they used Christopher in recognition of his exceptional faith.
A perennial favorite across English speaking countries, Christopher has slipped slightly in popularity but perhaps this is because so many people were using the name. There was even a period where Christopher was used as a girl's name in the United States but this has become rare.
While some nicknames for Christopher are standard, such as Chris and Chip, there are some less obvious diminutives that are more modern sounding such as Christos, Kit, Kris, Topher, and Kester.
I, personally, am a big fan of the name Edith, and not only because it was the name of my Grandmother. Edith has that trendy old lady thing going on while still holding a certain dignity.
Edith is derived from the Old English name Eadgyð, made up of the elements ead "wealth, fortune" and gyð "war" and means “prosperous in war.”
As well as having this proper, sturdy, meaning Edith has two great English nicknames - Edie, pronounced EE-DEE and Eddie, pronounced ED-ee. The first being perfect for a cutie and the second being made for a tomboy.The Danish use the diminutive Ditte is so lovely for both a child and an adult, it almost makes me want to change my name.
Famous Ediths include Edith Wharton, Pulitzer prize winner who wrote “The Age Of Innocence,” and Edith Piaf, the legendary French singer.
According to the Greek legend, the first person to be named Alexander was Paris, who was given the nickname Alexander by the shepherds whose flocks he defended against robbers. This was, of course, long before he ran off with Helen, the queen of Sparta, thus causing the outbreak of the Trojan war.
A Greek compound name composed of the elements alexein (to defend, to help) and andros (man) Alexander means “defender or helper of mankind” and is pronounced in a variety of ways; a-lig-ZAN-dər in English, a-le-KSAN-du in German, and ah-lək-SAHN-dər in Dutch.
Alexander has so many nicknames, there is barely enough room to list them here, but the ones we found are; Al, Allie, Alex, Alec, Andra, Anders, Alexa, Alexi, Lex, Lexi Sandra, Sasha, Xan, Xander, Xandra, Zan, Zander, Zandra. The nickname Sasha is derived from the eastern and southern European spelling variation, Aleksander or Aleksandra.
The patron saint of nurses, St. Agatha was a beautiful and wealthy woman from a noble family in Sicily. A low ranking Roman official, Quintianus took a liking to her and asked Agatha to marry him. The young woman turned him down because, she said, she had devoted herself to Christ. This was a time when the Christian faith was still illegal in the Roman Empire, so in an attempt to change her mind, Quintianus tried to make the fifteen-year-old work in a brothel, and when that didn’t work, he threw her in prison and tortured her. One of the tortures she underwent was having her breasts removed with pincers, something which has caused her to be taken up as the patron saint of breast cancer suffers.
Although Agatha, meaning Good, has not achieved the resurgence that other traditional names have in recent times, it made the list because of the shortened version, Aggie, which is adorable.
Many sites will tell you that Gabriel means "God is my strength," but technically it is slightly more complicated than that. It is from the Hebrew name גַבְרִיאֵל (Gavri'el) meaning "God is my strong man," derived from גֶּבֶר (gever) "strong man, hero" and אֶל ('El) "God." There is no modern equivalent word but the closest would be “I am a good man, of moral strength, because of my God.”
Gabriel is pivotal in the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian faiths. This angel is sent to interpret the visions of the prophet Daniel and announces the births of John to Zechariah and Jesus to Mary. According to Islamic tradition, Gabriel was the angel who dictated the Qur'an to Muhammad.
The nickname Gabe is another one of those kind solid nicknames which is timeless.
A favorite girls name before the 1950’s, the name Evelyn started life as an English surname which had evolved from the name Aveline. The meaning is unclear. If you try to follow the progress from early Germanic roots, the twists and turns take it everywhere across the cultural and language landscapes.
What we do know is that it initially jumped from surname to first name in the seventeenth century, when it was used as a boy's name and it only became common for girls much later. Evelyn reached its peak of popularity in the United States in 1915 when it made it to number ten in the most popular girl's name list. After this time it slowly became less well loved, until in the early 1960’s it appeared to drop off the radar entirely. Then, in the early 2000’s Evelyn once again picked up the pace and now it is once more in the top ten most popular girls' names.
Shortened versions include; Lynn, Eva - pronounced either EE-vah or EV-ah, Eve, Evie, Evey, and Ava.
Not the most attractive of names, Archibald is derived from the Germanic elements ercan "genuine" and bald "bold." During the medieval period in Europe, this meaning was meant to signify the strength and solidity of one’s Christian faith, and by naming your son Archibald you were demonstrating what a good Christian you were. The name was later changed, using the Greek prefix “Archos” (αρχος) meaning “master” at the beginning instead of ercan and the name as it is spelled now means “brave, bold or genuine.”
The reason why this slightly clunky name has made it to the list is the adorable Archie. Although Arch, Archy, Bald, and Baldy are all sweet alternatives, Archie has exploded in popularity across Europe at the same time the name has fallen off of the radar entirely in the United States.
Also spelled Isobel, especially in England, Isabelle is actually a medieval version of Elizabeth that evolved in the South of France and was popular in Spain, Portugal, France, Germany, and England. The name means “My God Is An Oath.”
There is an entire range of oh so lovely nicknames for Isabelle, so many in fact it is hard to know where to start. You have your I versions, including Is, Issy, Izzy, Isa, Ibby, and Iso, then you have your E nicknames; Elle, El, Ella, Ellie. If none of those ideas float your boat, how about Belle, Bell, Bellie, Belly, or Bella? We haven’t even started on the S’s yet - how about Sabelle or Sabella?
All of these variations will be useful because, considering how incredibly popular this name has become, you will need a unique(ish) shortened form to distinguish your Isabelle from all of the others.
Nathanael comes from the Hebrew name נְתַנְאֵל (Netan'el) meaning "God has given" and is related to the slightly shorter form Nathan which comes from the Hebrew name נָתָן (Natan) meaning "he gave." There are several spellings such as Nataniel or Natanaele depending on where in the world you are but Nathanael is the most common.
This name made the list because of the diminutive, Nate, which is one of those short, snappy names that are suitable for a baby boy or an older man. Nate will work throughout a lifetime and is simple to spell and difficult to make a mess of with pronunciation. Not even on the favorite name list until the 1950’s Nathanael has hovered around the 500 mark since then, making it an uncommon name which is not so out there it is weird.
Other nicknames for Nathanael are Nat, Natty, and Neal.
Rebecca or Rebekah is a Hebrew name (רִבְקָה Rivkah), given, in the Bible and the Torah, to the wife of Isaac, mother of and the mother of Esau and Jacob. There is much debate over the exact meaning of the name because the root-verb רבק (rbq) from which the name evolved, meaning to tie fast, isn't used in the Bible.
Some claim the name means “servant of God” others say it is “join, tie, or snare” and the theory that it means “rope with a noose” has also been floated. Research has shown it is “join, tie, or snare” but not just in the literal way. The name is said to have a deeper meaning that individuals are placed together by something higher or smarter than they and are, therefore “joined.”
The nicknames Becky and Becca work well for littles, keeping the option of the more formal Rebecca if they want to sound more “grown-up” at a later time. Or, of course, you could use Reba.
It seems strange to be listing a name that I do not actually like here, but there is a method to my madness. Although I always associate Abraham with doddery old men, I am enamored with the shortened version, Abe. How could you not love that?
Abram and Abraham are sometimes mistakenly considered to be the same name but that is incorrect. In Genesis 17:5 God says “No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.” Abram means “high father” in Hebrew, but by adding “hamon,” which means “multitude,” God was giving Abraham the name “high father of a multitude of nations.”
The Dutch use the nickname Bram and in Hebrew, it is often shortened to Avi - reflective of the spelling Avraham.
Sources: huffingtonpost.ca, abarim-publications.com, behindthename.com, nameberry.com, babynamewizard.com, theartofnaming.com