25 Gorgeous Nicknames That Make Perfect First Names

Naming a baby is a big responsibility and a lot of pressure for a parent. A name is the first defining characteristic of a child. Parents take a lot of time, and give a lot of energy, to ensuring they make a perfect choice.  After all, a child will carry their name with them forever.

Between searching the latest baby name trend for name ideas, to watching a favorite movie, book or television character, parents are finding all sorts of different inspirations when trying to find the perfect moniker for their baby.

Over the years, a trend that has become quite popular is giving a baby a name which was once considered a nickname. There's no rule about what a parent can or cannot name their baby. Meaning, if parents prefer the nickname compared to the full name, why not simply make that the baby name? In fact, some of today's most popular baby names actually started out as nicknames, but today are growing in popularity as proper given names.

Parents may even be surprised to hear that some of these popular and unique names once started out as nicknames for other popular names. Check out this list of 25 baby names that were once nicknames and let us know which ones you love!

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26 Bella


I'm not saying that the book Twilight, and the subsequent movies made based on the book series, had anything to do with the name Bella becoming so popular. But maybe it can take a little bit of credit! The name Bella was once known as the short form for the name Isabella, which was the full name of Bella Swan in those Twilight books. Since the popularity of the books and the movies, we've seen more and more parents opting for the more simple, yet equally beautiful, 'Bella' as a baby name choice.

The once nickname has become so popular that it now ranks #32 in popularity on Babycenter. com. The name, which has both French and Italian origins, means beautiful, and what parent wouldn't want to give their daughter a name that literally means that?

25 Jack

While you probably know a number of people who are named Jack, did you realize it started out as a nickname? In fact, it was once a nickname for the equally popular name of John. If you're wondering how John became Jack, Nameberry says that John became Johnkin, which became Jankin, then shortened to Jackin which eventually became Jack.

During the middle ages, the name became so popular that it became a name any man would be referred to, spawning the saying 'Jack of all trades.'

Jack has long been a favorite name for parents, topping the charts in the US and Europe. Val Kilmer, James Marsden, Chris Pratt and Meg Ryan have all chosen the classic name for their own sons. While it may have started as a nickname, there's no doubting that it's a popular name by itself.

24 Mia

While Mia is a commonly given name today, it was once used mostly as a nickname or 'pet name' for women who were named Maria, or some version of the name. It was also often used as a nickname for names like Emilia or Amalia. In fact, some of the famous Mia's you know, like Mia Farrow and, soccer star, Mia Hamm weren't actually named Mia. Farrow was named Maria, while Hamm was named Mariel.

Now, however, many parents are recognizing the beauty of the name by itself, which has contributed to Mia becoming increasingly popular on its own.

Celebrities such as Kate Winslet, Perez Hilton, Ian Ziering and Zara Tindall have all given their daughters the pretty name, while there are some who still prefer to use it only as a nickname.

23 Leo

Leo is a name that we're seeing more and more on popular baby name lists. Originally, the name was the shortened form of more lengthy names like Leon, Leopold, Leonard, and Leonardo. Now the short form itself is growing in popularity, and many parents are ditching the formal long name in favor of simply Leo.

Suprisingly, Leo was popular in the early 1900's as well, but then fell out of style for a while, with it's popularity no doubt triggered by actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

The name, which means lion, is growing in popularity not only in the US but internationally as well. It currently sits in on the top 25 across various European countries, including top 5 in both France and Finland.

For parents who feel that Leonardo or Leonard are simply too long or too formal of a name for their child, Leo is the perfect alternative. Leo is an adorable name for a young boy and a strong and solid name for a grown man, making it a perfect name choice.

22 Ella

The name Ella has a long history of being a beautiful name by itself, but it's also one of the most popular nicknames for girls and women around. It's been a common nickname for the names Eleanor and Elena, as well as any and all names that end in 'Ella' like Gabriella, and even Isabella.

Many parents opted to give their daughters a more 'formal' name like Isabella yet opt to call them Ella. Parents these days are now cutting out the middle man and simply naming their daughters Ella.

The name Ella has seen a steady increase in popularity since 2000, and many celebrities have opted to give the sweet moniker to their daughters. John Travolta, Mark Wahlberg, Warren Beatty, and Ben Stiller have all named their daughters Ella.

The name Ella currently sits at #14 on Babycenter's ranking of most popular baby girl names.

21 Kit

Kit is another once famous nickname that is now becoming increasingly popular as a given name. The beauty of the name Kit is it works for both boys and girls. In its masculine form, Kit was used as a nickname for Christopher, while in its feminine form, it was most often used as a nickname for Katherine, Kathleen and sometimes even Margaret.

In fact, Kit Kittredge, one of the fictional characters in the American Girl book series was actually named Margaret Mildred Kittredge.

While the name Kit isn't as popular as other names that once started as nicknames, like Ella or Jack — a bonus for many parents, it has caught on. Jodie Foster and Matt Bomer have sons named Kit and it's long been a popular name in pop culture.

If you're looking for a cute and creative name with a bit of British influence, Kit may be a perfect choice.

20 Lily

Sometimes nicknames become more popular than the name it was derived from. Lily is definitely an example of that. The name Lily is another one of those names that you probably didn't realize first became popular as a nickname. A shortened form of the names Lilian, Liliana, and Lillith and even Elizabeth, the name is very popular now as a standalone.

Lily, named for the flower of the same name, means a symbol of purity in Christianity. And despite the growing popularity of the name, chosen amongst celebs like Johnny Depp, Kate Beckinsale and Chris O'Donnell, the longer forms of the name have also grown in popularity over the past few years.

No matter whether you choose it as a nickname or a given name, Lily is such a delicate and feminine choice that it's no surprise parents are loving it.

19 Drew


Drew has quickly become the favored choice of nickname for Andrew over the years, taking the place of the once commonly used 'Andy.' But not only is it a popular name choice for boys, but for girls as well. Joining the ranks of other unisex names, Drew has definitely become just as popular for girls over the last few years as it has been for boys.

Probably the most well known Drew, Drew Barrymore, was named after her paternal great-grandmother whose maiden name was Drew. Jessica Simpson also chose the name as her daughter, Maxwell's middle name.

While popular as a girl name, it isn't quite as popular as it is among boys. Drew Brees, Drew Carey, and Jessica Simpson's former brother-in-law, Drew Lachey, are some popular famous male Drews.

18 Becca


Becca is name that is quickly becoming popular as a full given name, despite it being originally a nickname. What was once simply just the short form of Rebecca, Becca has also replaced Becky as the most popular 'Rebecca' nickname.

Perhaps the rise in popularity of the name Becca can be attributed to characters like Anna Kendrick's Beca Mitchell (another spelling option,) in the Pitch Perfect trilogy of movies. Or perhaps people had simply grown tired of Becky as a shortened form of Rebecca, but Becca is becoming a name unto itself and people are loving it. People also love that it's a name that can be spelled a variety of ways, giving them the option of originality.

While Becca seems to be more popular in the popular culture at the moment than as an actual baby name, it is rising in popularity. While Rebecca is a lovely name, Becca is just as beautiful and is a modern take on a familiar name.

17 Chad

Chad is a name that actually became popular as a nickname for the name Charles and the much more formal Chadwick. As an alternative to Chuck, Chad became another option that has evolved over the years as it's own proper given name.

Chad has found its own place as a given name with numerous celebrities and professional sports players all sporting the moniker that was once a nickname.

Chad peaked in its level of popularity in the early 70's and isn't nearly as popular today as it once was. However, that is sometimes very appealing to parents looking for baby name choices.

Perhaps the reason for the decline in popularity is that the name seems to have a stigma of 'frat boy' or egotist attached to it, something no doubt encouraged by pop culture.

16 Eve

While the name Eve can be traced back to the Bible, it has typically been used as a nickname for longer versions of the name such as Evelyn and Genevieve. For some reason, many people seem to shy away from one syllable names for first names, instead choosing to use them as nicknames while giving their child the longer, more formal name as a given name.

That's been changing over the years, however, with names like Eve, Ava, Eva and Ann finding a new popularity amongst parents. The beauty of these names is in it's simplicity and femininity.

Eve has a Hebrew origin meaning life, and while it runs middle of the road for popularity, it's a gorgeous name for parents who are willing to buck trends and embrace the one-syllable name.

15 Dane

Dane is a given name that once became popular as a nickname for Daniel. It's considered the male form of the female name Dana. Dane may be a short name, but it definitely has an appeal as a strong name.

While never hitting peak popularity like some other shortened nicknames, Dane has consistently been in the top 1000 baby names on BabyCenter over the last two decades. This is good news for parents who are looking for a classic name, but don't want their child in a classroom with four other kids who share the same name.

Dane is a great option for parents who love Daniel but want a more updated version for their child. It's also been commonly used as a middle name for many parents. The short, one syllable name tends to flow nicely with longer first or last names.

14 Mila

Mila is another name that many don't realize originated as a nickname. Actress Mila Kunis is probably the most well known Mila and one of the people who have brought the name to popularity, but her full name is Milena. Milena, Ludmila, and Camila are all names that have been shortened to Mila over the years.

While Mila is growing in popularity on baby name charts, currently sitting at #10 for most popular baby girl names, some still choose to use it as a nickname. Former First Daughter, Jenna Bush Hager, named her daughter Margaret Laura but calls her Mila instead.

The name, Slavic for "industrious" and "hardworking" and Russian for "dear one," is a sweet and simple name that's just a touch exotic, and perfect as a given name or a nickname.

13 Harry


Harry was once a name used only as a nickname for Henry, and once attributed to a different generation. However, both names are quickly growing in popularity over the last decade or so. It was also a nickname commonly used for those named Harold.

We can probably thank Prince Harry, Harry Potter and One Direction former frontman, Harry Styles, for the spike in little boys named Harry. Once a name that we associated with an older gentleman, the increase in younger and very famous men and fictional characters with the name have helped breathe new life in to Harry.

While it's still a much more popular name in Europe than it is in the US, it's quickly assumed a place as a given name itself instead of just a nickname.

12 Belle

What is a more perfect name for a girl than to simply call her 'beautiful'? Thanks to Disney's iconic Beauty, who goes by the name Belle, we're seeing the name once used only as a diminutive of names like Isabelle and Isabella stand on its own as a given name in its own right.

The name Belle, which means beautiful, is just as pretty as another similar nickname Bella, yet perhaps not as commonly used. While it's not a super popular name, many parents are leaning towards using it as a given name, as opposed to simply having it be a nickname for their daughter. It's the perfect alternative for a parent who loves the sound of Isabella or Bella but doesn't want their daughter sharing a name with 4 other kids in their class.

11  Ellie

Similar to Ella, Ellie is a name that was once used as just a nickname but has found its own popularity as a given name by itself. Ellie was once short for names like Eleanor or Ellen or literally any name that began with an 'El', but after becoming popular in movies like 'Up,' many parents found themselves drawn to the common nickname.

Ellie, which is of Greek origin and means, 'shining light', has seen its popularity rise over the last few years, thanks in part to singer Ellie Goulding and actress Ellie Kemper. It broke into the top 100 baby names in 2011 and has steadily been rising in popularity ever since.

Ellie is a sweet name that works as a given name or as a nickname but gives parents who are fans of 'El' names another name choice to choose from.

10 Betty

Thanks to The CW's Riverdale reboot, we're hearing a lot more of the name Betty on television these days. Of course, we had Betty Draper when Mad Men was still on the air, but that show was set in the past, during a time more people associated with the name Betty. Betty White is another prime example of the popularity of the name.

Once most commonly used as a nickname for Elizabeth, Betty is now making a name for itself, as a name all on its own. For parents who want something a little less formal than Elizabeth, Betty is the perfect option.

It's definitely a name that can fit in all generations while being unique enough now to ensure your daughter probably won't meet another Betty on her soccer team.

9 Cate

For a very long time, every woman named Catherine who spelled their name with a 'C' shortened their names to Kate with a 'K'. Even the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, is actually Catherine. Cate has long been a nickname for Catherine, but now spelling the name with a 'C' is becoming increasingly popular.

Actress Cate Blanchett can be credited with helping popularize the 'C' spelling of the popular name, as well as it being used more as a proper first name, as opposed to just simply a nickname.

The name means either 'pure' or 'blessed', and while popular now around the world, was originally popular in Christian countries as Catherine was the name of one of the first Christian saints.

Cate is lovely as a nickname or given name but the 'C' spelling adds a touch of originality to a classic name.

8 Jeremy


This is definitely one of those names that I was surprised to hear originated as a nickname, It's hard to believe that the popular name Jeremy actually began as a nickname to the more biblical name of Jeremiah. The name, which means 'Appointed By God', peaked in popularity in the 1970's and 1980's, but is still a popular classic choice today.

Not surprisingly, Jeremiah is seeing a bit of a resurgence in popularity amongst parents currently, especially those who choose to opt for a more religious name. Coincidentally even though Jeremy began as a nickname itself, it also has a popular nickname attributed to it. Jem is often used as a short form of Jeremy. The nickname has it's own nickname!

Jeremy Irons, Jeremy Renner, and Jeremy Piven are all examples of famous Jeremy.

7 Josie

baby girl cute headband

Josie is such a sweet and endearing name, it's hard to believe that it originated as a nickname. Short for Josephine, Josie was popularized as a girl's name with the introduction of Josie and the Pussycats. Now that the hit show 'Riverdale' is on television and gaining in popularity, Josie is once again becoming a mainstream name.

Josie has also been known as a gender-neutral name as well. Glee actress Naya Rivera named her son Josey, and Clint Eastwood famously played the fictional character Josey Wales. It seems the one differentiation between the male and female versio is simply the spelling.

The name is Hebrew and means 'God will give.' Currently, Josie comes in at #179 on Babycenter's name list, coming in just ahead of its long form of Josephine.

6 Lena


While the name Lena is now somewhat common as a first name, it was once simply a nickname given to women and girls named Magdalena, Helena, and Yelena. Lena is a Greek name meaning light and is now more commonly used than the names it was derived from. In its Italian form it's spelled Lina.

Some of pop culture's most famous Lena's include Lena Dunham, Lena Headey, and Lena Horne. Lena isn't super popular in the US, ranking in the mid 300's for popularity, but that's also what makes it appealing. It's classically beautiful and short, yet not as common as an Ella or Ava. For parents who want to give their child a unique, yet not too hard to spell or pronounce name, Lena is a perfect option.

5 Maddie

At this point, if you have kids, your child probably goes to school with, or attends some kind of extracurricular activity, with at least 4 different Maddies. Short for Madeleine and Madison, the name Maddie, or sometimes Mady, has really become popular over the last decade or so.

Although most parents are still opting to use Maddie as a nickname instead of a given name, we have seen many people opt to name their child Maddie. Britney Spears' younger sister, Jamie Lynn Spears, named her daughter Maddie Bryann.

While it's becoming increasingly popular as a given name, some may say it's too popular as a nickname. While Maddie only ranks in the 500's in terms of popularity, Madison has been in the top 25, reaching as high as #2 over the last 2 decades.

4 Polly

This may sound strange, but Polly was once a nickname for Mary! Back in the 11th and 12th centuries, people would replace the letter 'r' in certain names for other letters, according to Buzzfeed. In this case, the 'r' in Mary was replaced by two 'l's' and Mary became Molly. Eventually, Molly turned in to Polly. Sometimes naming conventions can be super confusing, but also super interesting!

Polly is really a pet name for Molly, which was a nickname for Mary. Nowadays, people are choosing to use Polly as a given name thanks to its originality and sweet sound. While the name has never really made a breakthrough in those popularity rankings, it's a totally cute option for those who want a new twist on a name like Molly.

3 Abby

Abby is almost like another Maddy, isn't she? The name Abigail has ranked near the top of baby name charts for years, and now it seems that the most common short form — Abby — is gaining in popularity as well.

Abby has seen many different spelling variations as a stand-alone name, ranging from Abby, Abbi, and Abi for those that really want to confuse the teachers! Abigail means 'The Father's Joy' in Hebrew, and there's no doubt that any Abby would bring joy to her family.

Many parents are opting for the shorter and sweeter version of Abby instead of the longer and more formal sounding Abigail, although both are beautiful names. It seems that many parents are leaning against giving their child a name they know they'll simply shorten, and opting to give them that shortened name instead.

2 Maggie

Maggie is simply a sweet name, often associated with Southern Belles or British charmers, and with good reason. The name is the most common nickname for those named Margaret. These days, many parents are opting to use Maggie as a given name for those who don't want the formality or 'old school-ness' that comes with Margaret.

Of Greek origin and meaning 'child of light,' Maggie is proving to be quite popular on its own, ranking in the top 200 most popular baby names.

Maggie isn't just becoming more popular for parents but is also quite a popular name for television and movie characters.  While many are embracing the 'Maggie' trend, some parents still use it only as a nickname, opting to give their daughter a more formal first name.


Source: Babycenter, Behind the NameNameberry, Buzzfeed

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