While long, stately names certainly carry a certain amount of clout, they’re also a lot to saddle a baby with. You’re probably not going to call an infant by a long-winded moniker like Alexander or Samantha anyway, and are most likely going opt for shorter variations like Alex and Sam. So why bother giving your baby a mouthful of a name that they’ll only ever see on diplomas and credit card statements?
Giving your little one a name that is traditionally considered to be a nickname might seem like a radical move, but the results will be totally worth it. Think of all the benefits. They’ll learn how to spell and write their name faster, and their name will always fit on the signature line of documents and forms. There’s also some compelling evidence showing that people who go by shorter names are more successful (think of Bill Clinton, who opted not to campaign under his full name, William). The baby nicknames on this list have longer forms, but we think you’ll love these short and sweet versions even better.
Beatrix and Beatrice (the English form of the name) each sound like they could be the name of a cheek-pinching great-grandmother. Even the fact that the name is borne by millennial Princess Beatrice isn’t enough to salvage this moniker from the dusty pages of yesteryear. The royal family is known for using old, traditional names, but most of the world doesn’t hinge on the old-fashioned traditions of the monarchy.
Outside of the royal family, the most famous person to use the name in recent memory is probably Bea Arthur (born Bernice Frankel). That’s right, even the woman who played Dorothy Zbornak on The Golden Girls — a show that was about an older generation of women — wouldn’t use the old-fashioned name Beatrice, opting for the much more modern sounding nickname of Bea. How can we argue with that logic? You could even go with the alternative spelling of Bee. The second half of the name also has adorable nickname-potential that could be used as first names: Trix and Trixie.
You may not be familiar with the name Isabella Khair Hadid, because the supermodel goes by the much shorter appellation of Bella Hadid. Actress Bella Thorne, born Annabella, also chose to be known professionally by her nickname. Even fictional characters have rejected their longer names to go by Bella — just take a look at Bella Swan, the central character of the vampire blockbuster franchise Twilight.
Sure, Annabella and Isabella are gorgeous names… but are they strictly necessary? Four syllables is a lot for a name, especially for such a little baby. Chances are, your little girl is going to end up going by Bella anyway, so why not cut to the chase? You’re getting a lovely name in Bella, one that is literally beautiful — the word “bella” means “beautiful” in Italian. Another possible abbreviation for names that end in “bella” is the equally pretty nickname Belle, which means “beautiful” in French.
Evie can be used as a nickname for a whole slew of longer names, including Evangeline, Evelyn, Evelina, and Eve. While we’ve got no hatred for those names, most of them (with the exception of Eve) are pretty long. Evie is a natural abbreviation of the lengthy monikers, and even makes an adorable nickname for the name Eve.
While Evie as a given name has gained a little traction in the United States in recent years, the rest of the English-speaking world has long been aware of its charm. It consistently ranks in the top 100 names for girls in England, Wales, Ireland, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, and Scotland.
If you’re fan of televised talent shows, the name might ring a bell. In 2017, talented singer Evie Clair made it to the finals of America’s Got Talent, giving a heart-wrenching performance on the show just days after her beloved father passed away from cancer. The name was also used (albeit with a slightly different spelling) in the graphic novel and film, V for Vendetta, for the character Evey.
Lina — and its spelling alternative, Lena — is an enchanting nickname for several longer names that end in “lena” and “lina.” Some of the traditional names Lina and Lena take their cue from include Helena, Carolina, Magdalena, and Catalina. Lina and Lena might be short, but both of these names pack quite a powerful punch. Both versions of the name are incredibly popular internationally. Lina is beloved throughout Europe, ranking in the top 100 names for girls in such diverse countries as Turkey, Norway, and France, just to name a few.
Lena is the more popular version of the moniker in the United States, and also has legions of fans throughout Europe. While we can’t say for sure if the name’s recent rise in popularity has anything to do with Lena Dunham, creator and star of the HBO series Girls, it’s a pretty safe bet that the star has helped to influence the name’s growth.
You’ve got to love a gender neutral name, especially one that is as short and sassy as the nickname Kit. The moniker has traditionally been used as an abbreviation for such classics as Christopher and Katherine, but it also makes an exceptional name in its own right. This nickname has been around for centuries, so it’s about time that its popularity as a given name caught on. Sixteenth century poet and playwright Christopher Marlowe, whose work famously influenced William Shakespeare, often went by the name Kit.
In modern times, we’ve got Game of Thrones actor Kit Harington (aka Jon Snow). Harington was also given the name Christopher by his parents but, rather than using the lengthy moniker throughout his whole life, he opted to use the nickname of Kit as his professional name. While the name has most famously been used by men, don’t forget that this name works equally well for women!
Libby, Sabrina’s high school nemesis on Sabrina the Teenage Witch, wasn’t exactly the nicest girl on campus, but there are two things you’ve got to love about her: her hair, and her name. Fortunately, enough time has passed that your little girl probably won’t have any idea that she was named after one of the most notorious mean girls of the 90s, but will instead thank you that you named her Libby instead of Isabel or Elizabeth.
The original version of this nickname was Ibb, a diminutive of Isabel used in medieval times. From there, the name transformed into Libby, while Ibb more or less died out. The name has never been very popular as a given name in the U.S., falling out of the top 1000 names for baby girls in 2016, but it’s far more commonly used in the U.K. where it has been a fairly widespread name since the mid 90s.
Given the popularity of the game show Wheel of Fortune, which has been on TV for decades, it’s a little surprising that this next name isn’t more popular. Vanna White became the hostess of the show in 1982. She quickly became a cultural icon as she strode across the stage in gorgeous gowns to reveal whether or not the letters the contestants called out were, indeed, part of the puzzle they were trying to solve.
Vanna White soon became a household name. What many people don’t realize, though, is that while White’s birth name is Vanna, the name is more commonly used as a nickname rather than as a given name. Typically used as an abbreviation for the Italian name Giovanna, the nickname Vanna was popular in Renaissance Italy, although it is far less common today. While your own little Vanna may not be thrilled when people ask her if they can buy a vowel, this name is sweet enough that she’ll happily put up with the joke.
The nickname Nat might be more commonly associated with Nathaniel and Nathan, but it can also be used as a feminine nickname for names like Natalie and Natalia. Don’t be fooled by the fact that most of the famous people to go by this nickname have been men; this gender neutral name is more than ready to go mainstream for women, too. The name was particularly popular in the 20th century. Several prominent musicians went by Nat, including jazz musicians Nat Towles and Nat Adderley, and timeless crooner Nat King Cole, whose recording of The Christmas Song is basically the anthem of the entire Christmas season.
Another well-known Nat who you might remember from history class is Nat Turner, a slave and preacher who famously led a slave revolt in the 19th century and later became an icon of the civil rights movement. With so many people named Nat throughout history, your own little Nat will be in good company!
Some baby nicknames are just as beloved as the names they come from. Other baby nicknames are so much better than the original form of the name that they leave the original monikers in the dust. Millie, a nickname commonly given to baby girls named Mildred and Millicent, is one of those names. While these names both fell out of favor in the second half of the 20th century, Millie is holding strong and slowly creeping up the baby name charts.
It’s no coincidence that its growth in popularity is coinciding with the rise of actress Millie Bobby Brown’s career. The Stranger Things star has not just one, but two given names that are traditionally used as nicknames — evidence that the nickname trend is taking off, perhaps?
The name Millie is certain more popular across the pond (the young actress is, in fact, British). It’s in the top 100 baby names for girls in England, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland. It’s even made its mark as far away as New Zealand! Less common, but just as lovely, is the spelling alternative of Milly.
Joey may not have been the sharpest character on Friends, but he was definitely the sweetest — and isn’t that really what matters? The show may have first aired in the 1990s, but it is definitely still beloved today. Sure, you could name your baby Joseph, but why not cut out the middleman and put Joey on his birth certificate? Joey started seeing steady use as a given name in 1939, so while staunch traditionalists might insist that the proper form of the name is Joseph, history is on its side.
The name has also been used as a feminine name. In the late 1960s, it even seemed like it might one day surpass the male version of the name. Joey Lauren Adams, perhaps best known for her role in Big Daddy opposite Adam Sandler, was born at the height of the name’s popularity for girls. While it is still used as a nickname for girls with names like Josephine and Johanna, this gender neutral name is still more popular as a given name with boys — but don’t let that stop you from using this adorable name for your little princess!
Charlie is another example of a once-masculine nickname taking on a life of its own. Originally a nickname for the name Charles, Charlie is also used for girls with names like Charlotte and Charlene. These days, the moniker is a popular name in its own right, although whether it’s considered masculine or feminine seems to vary from country to country.
In the United States, France, and the Netherlands, the name is unisex, but slightly more popular for girls than it is for boys. In New Zealand, the name is also unisex, but it’s more commonly used for boys. In Australia, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Sweden, Scotland, England, and Wales, the name doesn’t even rank for girls, and is primarily associated with boys.
A spelling variation of the name, Charley, is primarily a name for girls in the U.S., and is not commonly used in the rest of the world. Whether you’re using this name for a boy or a girl, your little one is in good company. Famous Charlies include beloved Peanuts character Charlie Brown, and silent film icon Charlie Chaplin.
The 2017 smash hit Coco brought this beautiful name into the 21st century. A favorite with audiences and critics alike, this name should see a massive rise in the next few years — or there is no justice in the world. The name has traditionally been used as a nickname for girls with names starting with “co,” such as Collette, Cora, and Corinne. One of the most famous people named Coco, however, was actually named Gabrielle. In the 20th century, Coco Chanel took her now-iconic name from the name of a song that she performed as a cabaret singer in the years before her fashion design career took off.
Today, the name is still synonymous with the timeless elegance Chanel created with her designs. This luxurious moniker may only be considered a nickname, but you can’t deny that the sophistication that accompanies it makes Coco worthy of being a given name in its own right.
The name Mel has swept across Hollywood with a vengeance. There’s filmmaker Mel Brooks, who brought us the comedy classic The Producers. There’s also actor and director Mel Ferrer, who was once married to the legendary actress Audrey Hepburn. Then, of course, we have Mel Gibson, whose many talents include acting, directing, and producing.
With so many famous men named Mel, it would be easy to assume that this name is used exclusively for baby boys, but the nickname is actually gender neutral. While it’s definitely more popular for boys, there are plenty of feminine names that lend themselves well to the nickname, including Melanie, Melissa, and Melinda. In spite of its mega-popularity in the film industry, the name has never really quite caught on as a given name, which is a shame given its incredible versatility. Who knows, maybe your own little Mel will be a blockbuster sensation in a few years!
While the name Jules is primarily used as a nickname in the United States, in other countries it is far more popular as a first name. Over here, we usually think of the name as a diminutive for names like Julia and Julian, but in France and Belgium, Jules is one of the most popular names for baby boys. One of the most notable bearers of the name is 19th century author Jules Verne, a French writer whose science fiction tales are still popular today. Some of his most popular works include the novels Around the World in Eighty Days and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.
It might be popular as a masculine name in French-speaking countries, but in the U.S., the name is a gender neutral one. If you like the name but aren’t too fond of the spelling, you could also consider the variation Jools, which has a distinct spelling but is pronounced exactly the same.
Eli is one of those incredibly versatile names that can be used as a nickname for plenty of monikers. Among these names are classics like Elijah, Elias, and Elliot. While it’s commonly used as a nickname, Eli is probably even more popular as a given name. It’s trending all over the world, and is in the top 100 names for baby boys in not only the U.S., but also Australia, Canada, England, Wales, and New Zealand.
Eli is primarily used as a name for boys, but in Slovenia it is also a beloved name for baby girls. The name, which means “ascension” in Hebrew, dates back centuries, and can be found in the Old Testament. With such a long and powerful legacy, it’s no wonder that this name is so well known all over the world! If you’re looking for a less commonly used version of the name, check out the spelling alternative of Ely.
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