Nick 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 2013. Nicole 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
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
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 NEETS ah. 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?