Nico, Nicholas, and Nicosia: Nick Names

by appellationmountain on May 3, 2013

Nick NamesNick remains a cool name, even though the classic Nicholas is fading.  It’s boosted by actors like Nicolas Cage and musicians like indie darling Nick Cave.  Nick Carraway is about to hit the big screen in the newest cinematic adaptation of The Great Gatsby.

Girls’ equivalents abound.  Nikki feels dated in 2013Nicole fits into a different category, not quite dated, but definitely more likely to be heard on a mother than a daughter.

And yet, Nick names are a rich category, which plenty of seldom-heard possibilities to consider.

If you’ve always loved Nicholas, or you’re longing to honor a Nick or a Nikki, there are plenty of fresh possibilities to consider.

Nick Names: The Enduring Classics

Nicholas - The given name of Santa Claus, and a former Top Ten name in the US.  He’s a classic by every measure.

Nicole - The French feminine form of the name was a favorite in the 1980s.  Today she’s squarely in mom name territory, but retains some of her French flair.

Nick Names: Modern Favorites

Nico – A gender neutral possibility that works as a short form, or stands on its own – for a son or a daughter.  The singer spells it Neko.

Nick Names: International Variants

Niccolo – An Italian form of name, a brother for Matteo and Marco.  He sounds fresh and current in 2013.

Nicola - Masculine in Italian, but feminine in plenty of other languages, Nicola feels fresh on a daughter today.  She’s spent relatively little time in the US Top 1000, and was given to just 30 girls in 2011.

Nikolai – A Slavic spin on Nick, worn by creative forces like composer Rimsy-Korsakov and writer Gogol.  Paris Hilton’s little sister Nicky is named Nicholai, but this one is still solidly masculine, even in the US.

Nikhil - It’s an intriguing spelling that looks related to Nicholas … but isn’t.  Nikhil is a separate name of Sanskrit origin, one that you might remember from 2003 bestseller The Namesake.

Nikita – Masculine in Russian, Nikita probably strikes most Americans as feminine thanks to 1990′s La Femme Nikita and a steady string of spin-offs.

Nick Names: Surname Forms

Nicholson - It’s still likely to shorten to Nick, but picks up a Hollywood vibe thanks to Jack.

Nixon - If Jaxon and Lincoln are huge, could Nixon catch on?  Yes, there’s still a whiff of Watergate-era scandal around the surname, but that’s likely to be distant history for a child born in 2013.

Nick Names: Rarities

Nicosia - It sounds a little bit like chicken fricassee – NIK eh SEE eh.  It’s the capital of Cyprus, but there’s also an Italian place by the name, complete with its own saint – Saint Felix of Nicosia.  While it is very rare as a given name, it is not unknown – and it certainly could be wearable, between that familiar first syllable and an -ia ending.

Nicanor - One of my favorites, an ancient name worn by several distinguished figures, and alive in the Spanish-speaking world today.  But my first Nicanor sighting comes from The Deer Hunter, featuring a very young Christopher Walken’s Oscar-winning turn as Nikonar.

Nicodemus – He’s a New Testament figure, a Greek victory of the people.  But I first heard it in Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.

Nicomedes – A mathematician, a saint, a Spartan commander, and a string of ancient rulers all answered to Nicomedes.  Today he’s nearly extinct, but could fit right in with Atticus.

Nica – A rarity for the girls.  If Nico is a possibility, why couldn’t Nica be a feminine short form for many a Nic- name?

Nick Names: Elaborations

Nicolette - The actress spells it Nicollette Sheridan, and you might hear Nicoletta in Italian.

Nicoline, Nicolina - Another possible elaboration, adding the familiar -ine or -ina.

Nick Names: Hold the Nick

Cole – Some of the most popular Nick- spin offs drop the Nick entirely.  Cole is a Top 100 staple for boys in recent years, one that brings to mind Old King and Nat King, and is sometimes linked to the surname.  But Nicholas leads just as logically to Cole as it does to Claus.

Colette – Another spin-off, this one a feminine possibility.

Colin – A medieval diminutive of Nicholas, Colin keeps company with names like Robin – once bestowed affectionately, but now seen as distinct names.

Nichelle – Mash-up Nicole and Michelle, toss in actress Nichelle Nichols of Star Trek fame, and you’ll have a short-lived modern invention that feels dated today.

Nick Names: Hide the Nick

Annika – Plenty of Ann- elaborations pick up a nick.  There’s also Anika, Anica, and Anneke, to name just a few.

Danica – She’s a Slavic name meaning morning star, boosted by race car driver Danica Patrick.  In most Slavic languages, this isn’t a nickname name at all.  The c would make a ts sound – dah NEETah.  But in American English, she’s a nick option.

Dominic – He’s a handsome Italian possibility, just a little bit different from many popular names.  Feminine form Domenica or Dominica is a possibility, too, but she’s exceedingly rare.

Jenica – Part-Jennifer, part-Erica, this modern invention picks up her nic almost accidentally.

Monica – A classic saint’s name and a Top 100 choice in the US from the 1960s into the 1990s.  Between old sitcoms and presidential scandals, she feels a tiny bit dated today – but give her another decade, and she’ll reclaim her classic status.

Veronica – Another name with deep roots, whispered down the alley from Berenice - and much more alluring than Bernice, I think.

What’s your favorite Nick name?  Would you consider any of these?  Do you think Nicholas will fall out of the US Top 100?

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

EK May 5, 2013 at 11:57 PM

What about Yannick and Annick, common among French speakers?
I’ve always loved the name Yannick and I’ve heard it used for both males/females.

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appellationmountain May 7, 2013 at 5:36 AM

Good suggestions – they definitely belong on this list!

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Katybug May 5, 2013 at 9:01 AM

Also, add Dominique to this list, both for boys and girls, depending on where you’re from.

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appellationmountain May 5, 2013 at 9:04 PM

A great addition – thank you!

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Katybug May 5, 2013 at 9:00 AM

My BIL is named Nicolin, which my MIL said was listed in a baby name book as the form of Nicholas that leads to Colin. When he and his wife (whose first name is a smoosh of her parents’ names and starts with M) were expecting, I suggested Monica as a girl’s name to continue the smoosh tradition, but they declined. That was the beginning and end of my unsolicited baby name advice career :)

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Julie May 4, 2013 at 1:47 PM

While Nicholson Baker isn’t one of my favorite authors, his first name is an interesting way to get to Nick.

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Allure May 4, 2013 at 12:23 PM

Also even in America, Nicola/Nikola are more common on boys.

Nicola: 30 girls, 27 boys
Nikola: 9 girls, 94 boys

This clearly tips the scale in favor of boys.

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Allure May 4, 2013 at 12:20 PM

Nicola is masculine in PLENTY of languages, I’d say she’s female in just a few to be honest.

And I think Nick isnt anywhere near “cool” these days.

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appellationmountain May 5, 2013 at 9:06 PM

But the Nicks are, aren’t they? I think of Nick Hornby and Nicolas Cage and Nick Cave …

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Havoye May 3, 2013 at 11:47 AM

I prefer Nico to Nick as a nickname, but prefer Nick to Nikki, so
Nico > Nick > Nikki

I’ll add Annick to the Annika-style nick names; there are also elaborations of Annick such as Dianick and Mariannick. I’ve also heard the name Nicolasa but don’t know much about its origins.

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appellationmountain May 5, 2013 at 9:06 PM

Nicolasa is fascinating …

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Nicole May 3, 2013 at 11:26 AM

Nicole is a mighty fine name ;). Being a Nicole born in 1984 I went through school as Nicole A. and didn’t like it that much. So it has affected my naming style dramatically. I do however love the sound of my name, and never liked to be called anything but Nicole.. I had a few friends try and use Nikki, but it never stuck. That being said, I actually love Nico, Nicolette and Colette. I would more likely use them as middle names rather than first as it creates massive confusion.. I have also forbidden us from having a Richard IV(my husband is Richard III), so it would be hypocritical to name a kid after me but not after my husband. With that being said Nico is still one of my favorite boy names. I feel like it would be creepy to have Nicole and Nico… like Norma and Norman Bates, would he be doomed to be a Psycho killer?

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Hettie May 3, 2013 at 10:50 AM

This is one of those on my “Will probably never use, but always appreciate” list. Patrick is on that list to. I really love plain old Nicholas, but my experience with Nicks in general has been positive. It strikes me as a really friendly name.

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Lyndsay May 3, 2013 at 10:34 AM

Nick was my great-grandmother’s maiden name, and it’s my uncle’s middle. It’s always been on my list as a middle. I think it makes a really nice first, too. I think Nicholas is really handsome. My husband would never go for it though, way too “normal”. I really wish there was a girls’ variation I liked though because I’ve always loved Nixie, but I don’t feel like it’s enough for the birth certificate.

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