Let’s talk unexpected nicknames for Alexander.

The name Alexander is a classic, used from the ancient world of millennia past to the playgrounds of today.

It comes from the Greek Alexandros, meaning defender of men. It’s one of those baby boy names with timeless appeal and a strong, unambigous meaning that suggests courage.

Famous people range from ancient ruler Alexander the Great to founding father Alexander Hamilton and inventor Alexander Graham Bell.

Most Alexanders seem to answer to Alex. So do plenty of Alexandras.

But let’s say you’re an Alexander after something a little less expected. Or maybe you’re planning to name your son Alexander, but he’s going to be a junior or even a third, and another Alex just won’t work. It could be both – maybe you love the name Alexander, but you’re not content to use the default nickname.

Like any classic, there are options galore. One of these might the perfect nickname for your Alexander – or maybe for your Alexandra, too!


A modern mini name with swagger and charm, Ace almost comes straight from Alexander, thanks to the S sound in the middle. But it’s something of a stretch. It tends to appear on lists of Alexander nicknames becuase it’s traditional in Macedonia … but it’s not clear that Ace is pronounced like the English word. Aca and Aco are also nicknames in Macedonian and Serbian, and they’re all two-syllable pronunciations. Still, it’s not impossible to imagine an Alexander choosing to answer to Ace.


Al instantly transforms Alexander from a grand and ancient name to a friendly guy-next-door pick. It’s short for all sorts of names, including Albert, Alfred – as in Alfred Delvecchio, owner of Al’s Place on iconic sitcom Happy Days – and Alfredo, the given name of Al Pacino. In our age of Jack and Hank, why not Al?


The difference between Alex and Alec is subtle. And it might be an invitation to correcting everyone forever. “No, not Alex. Alec, with a c. Like Alec Baldwin. A-L-E-C …” But if you can overlook the occasional hassle, Alec has a cool, unexpected vibe. It’s slightly Scottish, and far more rare than the ends-in-x version of the name.


Worth noting: in several languages, Alexander is Aleksander or Aleksandr. They tend to shorten to Aleks, but Alek could make sense, too.


While there’s no official data on the most popular nicknames, there’s no question that most Alexanders become Alex – at least among English speakers in North America. Alex is also popular as an independent given name, and has recently ranked in the Top 100 of Belgium, Sweden, and a half a dozen other countries.

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Strictly speaking, these don’t count as nicknames for Alexander. Alexei is the Russian form of Alexis, a name with similar roots, but very much a separate name. And yet, it’s so easy to get to Alexei – or Alexi, or maybe Alexy? – from Alexander. It’s also spelled with a k – Aleksey or Aleksi – when transcribed from other languages, in countries from Bulgaria to Finland.


In Scotland, variations of Alexander like Alasdair, Alastair, and Alistair are traditional. This means Alex isn’t a go-to nickname. Instead, they tend to use the nickname Ally or Aly. Cute nicknames, like Benji for Benjamin or Ollie for Oliver, have plenty of appeal, so why not Ally for Alexander?

Names like the Spanish Alejandro and Finnish Aleksanteri can also shorten to Ale. It’s pronounced more like al-eh, but it’s a similar idea.


Andy, of course, is short for Andrew. Possibly Anderson. Except the letters and sounds are right there, too, for Alexander. Plus, Andrew and Alexander are cousins, both owing part of their name to theGreek aner – man. Andros is a minor figure in Greek myth, a grandson of the god Apollo.


Dex brings to mind Dexter, which could be a murderous television character, an animated boy genius, or Cary Grant’s handsome character in The Philadelphia Story, C.K. Dexter Haven. Grant is paired with Katharine Hepburn in the romantic comedy, and she calls him Dex. It’s enough to make you want to use the nickname, if you weren’t already sold by the on-trend sound. But the letters are all there to make Dex short for Alexander, too.


It works for Lex Luthor, right? Okay, so maybe the Man of Steel’s arch-nemesis isn’t obvious inspiration for a child’s name, but there are reasons to think that Lex would wear well. We’re big on ends in x names for boys right now, and Lex fits with those bold boys’ names we love, like Ace and Jett.


Some Slavic languages, including Polish, swap the A for an O and shorten Aleksander to Olek. Olek, in turn, becomes Oluś, pronounced something like oh-LOOSH. Czech and Slovak have the similar Aleš, again with a -sh ending sound.


Sasha sounds like a girls’ name in American English, but it’s a traditional Russian diminutive for – you guessed it! – Alexander. Some high profile parents have embraced Sasha as a boys’ name. In 2007, Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts welcomed Alexander Pete, called Sasha. Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky named one of their twin sons Sasha in 2014. (His brother is Tristan.) Singer Shakira and her footballer husband, Gerard Piqué, are the parents of sons Milan and Sasha. It’s also spelled Sacha, especially as a nickname for the French Alexandre, and Sasho is several languages, too. In Germany and the Netherlands, the spelling Sascha is also used.


These follow logically from the Italian Alessandro. Or maybe even the Slavic Aleksander. But they’re heard across Europe; Sander is recorded in medieval Denmark, Sweden, and Norway and is the root of the surname Sanderson. In the English-speaking world, Sander and company make for a unique nickname choice, but a very wearable category.


The sound is right there – Alex ZAN der. And so Xan is as logical a nickname for Alexander as Liz from Elizabeth. And yet, Xans seem to be rarer than rare. The Wonder Twins – 1970s-era additions to DC Comics Super Friends – were Jayna and Zan. The extended British royal family includes teenaged Xan Windsor, Lord Culloden, currently 33rd in line to the throne, and son of Alexander Windsor, Earl of Ulster.


Americans and most English speakers tend to nickname by keeping the first syllable – William becomes Will, Robert becomes Rob. But those names could easily become Liam or Bert, too, and so it is with Alexander. Drop the first three letters, and there’s a whole other name waiting. In the late 1990s, it was boosted by Joss Whedon’s likable character on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, whose full name was Alexander Harris. Xander and Zander are now bestowed as independent given names, too.


Zane is a surname of uncertain derivation. It could be related to Zahn (teeth in German) or perhaps a form of John. (Xan, too, is sometimes considered yet another form of the evergreen John.) It became popular thanks to bestselling author Zane Grey, known for his fictional accounts of the Wild West – he was not born Alexander. He started out as Pearl Zane Grey. (Yup, Pearl!) But the sound isn’t a big stretch from Alexander. Singer Zayn Malik points to yet another origin for the name – it means beauty in Arabic.

Are these the best nicknames for Alexander? What would you add?

First published on February 5, 2016, this post was substantially revised and re-published on April 21, 2020 and again on April 10, 2024.

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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