Let’s face it: nicknames are often better than proper names. Ellie is better than Eleanor, and Frankie is better than Franklyn. A lot of parents feel the need to give their child a “formal” name or family name that they never intend on actually using. Why so much fuss? You are the parent and you get to do whatever you want! If you know that you want to call your little one by what’s traditionally been a nickname or a derivative of a longer name, just give the fun name instead. This is even truer if you’d prefer others to call your child by the name as well. Do you want her teacher calling her Elizabeth or do you prefer them to use the same name that’s used at home, Lizzy? These are some questions you will need to ask yourself, but chances are you already know the answer. If you want to skip the formalities and get right to the point, consider giving your child the informal version of a name as a proper name. We’ve compiled a lits to of our favorite nicknames that would make excellent first names for boys and girls.
Please do not associate the name Ace with Ace Ventura, thank you. Ace is an excellent name for a little boy and we’d venture to suggest it would work for a girl as well. Ace is often a shortened form of the names Horatio or Acacius. We think Ace sounds better than both of those names! Ace means “unity” and is often a label given to experts in their fields.
If Bartholomew, Artemas, Arthur, and McArthur are too much, you can always name your child Art. Art is such an excellent name because it has a great ring to it and it is the word for how we humans express ourselves: “art.” The name Art is a popular given name in Celtic and means “bear” or “champion.”
Belle is the French word for beautiful and it is indeed an attractive name. Belle has traditionally been used as a nickname for girls named Mirabel, Jezebel, and Mabel. For fans of Disney, Belle is the name of the protagonist in Beauty and the Beast and before that, it was popularized by the French fairytale La Belle et la Bete.
If Beaufort, Beauregard, Bonita or Bonnie are too long and complicated for your tastes, give your child the name Bo instead. Aside from being common nicknames for all of those long ones, Bo is actually a pretty common given name in Sweden. In Swedish and Danish, Bo comes from Old Norse and means “to live.” It’s a very fun and lively name.
For girls, Charlotte is often a chore to say and spell. For boys, Charles sounds a bit aged. A nice compromise is the name Charlie, and it works great as a gender-neutral baby name that’s perfect for both boys and girls. In Medieval France, Charles became a popular name because Charlemagne (Charles the Great) was too much. Charlie means “free person” and giving to your baby would certainly feel liberating.
20. Cory and Corey
Cory is such a sweet name for a girl and for boys, you can always opt for the spelling: Corey. If Cora, Cordelia, Cormac, Courtney or Cornelius are too buttoned-up for you, go with the name Cory. The name is popular in English speaking countries and comes from Gaelic. When taken from the Gaelic word “coire,” it means “cauldron” or “a hollow.”
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: 30 Rock ‘N’ Roll-Inspired Baby Names for Your Future Superstar
Davenport, David, and Davis might have more syllables than you like and we get that! Dave is most commonly a shortened form of David, but the name Dave has become a popular name in its own right over the last century. Dave comes from Hebrew and means “beloved.” Bonus points for naming your child Davy a la Davy Crockett.
We absolutely adore the name Edie for a girl. It’s often used as a shortened form of Edith or Meredith, but Edie just sounds much cuter. Edith means “rich in war” which might not be the most appealing name meaning we’ve come across. The name is comprised of two Old English words “ead” which means “blessed” and “gth” which means “battle.” By naming your girl, Edie, you’re giving her the better part of the name and she’ll simply be “blessed.”
Not too far apart from Edie, Elsie is another great nickname that would make a handsome proper name. Elsie is often short for Eloise or Felicity. The given name Elsie is a popular Scottish name that means “God is bountiful.” 16-year-old actor Elsie Fisher who recently starred in the film, Eight Grade is a famous example of a person who reps this name well.
Sorry to give you so many names that start with “E” but there are so many excellent ones! We even skipped Emmy! Evie is yet another girl’s name that’s beautiful. It’s often used as a nickname for Evangelina, Yvonne, Evelyn, and Eve. Evie comes from the same root as the name Eve and in Hebrew, it means “life.”
Clifford and Stanford both sound like names fit for an oil tycoon from the early 1900s. While the name Ford might make you think of the Ford Motor Company, you don’t have to be a mechanic to appreciate the strength this name connotes. The name Ford is of English origin and means “dweller at the ford.”
If you don’t want your son sounding like an ancient Roman with names Augustus or Agustine, consider Gus. Gus is also short for the French name Gustave and it’s just as popular there as it is in the States. Gus originally was a Latin name that means “majestic.” Olympic ski pro Gus Kenworthy is names Augustus but prefers to go by the much more chill name, Gus.
Elizabeth, Isaac, Isabella, and Isreal are all names that are commonly shortened to Izzy. Izzy is such a playful and sweet name for a child and we think it fits best for girls (but prove us wrong!). The name is a completely American invention and because so many names are shortened to it, there’s no clear universal meaning.
Short for Jessica or Jesse, the name Jess has come to mean “rich” after the daughter of Shylock in William Shakespeare’s play The Merchant of Venice. Jess is the name for one cool baby! We think it fits for both boys and girls and would make an excellent unisex name.
Juliette, Julie, Julian, and Julius all benefit from getting the nickname Jules. While we are particularly fond of naming girls Jules, French author Jules Verne who wrote Journey to the Center of the Earth is a famous example of a man who had the name. Jules is the French form of Julius and means “downy-bearded” or “youthful.”
Leonard, Leonardo, Napoleon, and Leopold are often shortened to Leo. Unless you’re planning on naming your child Napoleon (why would you do that to him?), Leo is the superior name. Famously, Russian writer Leo Tolstoy whose real name was Lev Nikolayevich went by Leo. The name Leo means Lion and it has belonged to many saints and popes.
While Lilliana or Lilith are perfectly good names, Lily is a much sweeter choice. The name, of course, comes from the lily flower and symbolizes “rebirth” or “passion.” Actor Lily James who played Cinderella in Disney’s live-action remake of the film has the name.
Maddox, McCoy, and Maximillian are great and all, but how good is the standalone Max? It’s time to take it to the Max! Max comes from the Latin name Maximillian which was originally a family name, Maximus. The name means “greatest” and we’re not going to argue with that.
While names like Elenor, Eleanora, and Honora are lovely names, you could do better by simply choosing Nora as a name for your daughter. The name Nora actually comes from the Anglo-Normans and means “honor” or “light.” There are quite a few well-known Noras like writer and filmmaker, Nora Ephron and comedian Nora Dunn.
While we love the names Olive, Oliver, Olivia, Olivier, and Apollo, the nickname Ollie would be an exceptionally fun name for a child. As a given name, Ollie is fairly popular in Germany and there it means “elf army.” You’re welcome! For parents who enjoy skateboarding, an “ollie” is a popular trick.
Poppy is a Latin name that means “red flower” and as you might expect is also the name of a red flower, the poppy. Calliope and Penelope are a bit of a mouthful and the shortened form, Poppy is much nicer and a very attractive name for a girl.
Musician Ray Charles and actor Ray Liotta are two famous Rays. While it works well as a nickname for the names Thackery, Raymond, Reynard, and Murray, the name Ray holds up on its own. The name means “wise protector” and it would be a very fine name for your little one.
Sadie is a common nickname for Sarah, Mercedes, Sadira, Sarita, and Seraphina. However, Sadie makes an excellent given name for a girl. The name is Hebrew and means “princess.” Comedian and actor Adam Sandler gave his daughter the name in 2006.
Girls with the names Theodora, Athena, and Mathea are often nicknamed Thea. In Greek mythology, Thea was the goddess of light, mother of the sun, moon, and dawn. The name means “goddess.” Thea von Harbou was a famed German screenwriter who wrote the classic film Metropolis. Thea is not just a great name, it’s a unique one as well. You will probably be the only parent with a kid named Thea in school.
The name Toby has a somewhat complicated etymology. Toby is from Middle English and it was a vernacular form of the Greek name Tobias. But, the Greeks weren’t the first to use the name. They took the name from the Hebrew, “Toviah,” which means “Good is Yahweh” or “God is good.” As mentioned, Toby is short for Tobias but also for October and Tobin. Country musician Toby Keith famously has the name.
Naming a kid is a fun exercise that allows you to be creative and find a name that will be all his or her own. By looking to shortened forms of “proper names” you will discover that the possibilities are endless. Don’t limit yourself to traditional names, loosen up and have fun with it! These 25 baby names might have started as nicknames but now they’ve taken on their own meaning.