1. CrysDawn (pronounced Chris-Don) says

    My son’s name is Coriander Jay. I was going to call him C_Jay but he was a cori from day one decided to spell his name Cori as it was the first halve of his name but later found out Cori is the girl spelling for Cory my son has been aware of this since he was about 7 and he was given the option of choosing a different nickname or a different spelling of Cory but chose to keep Cori it is who he is period. He is 18 now has a build and stance that makes people afraid to cross him and a heart of a work of with a feel no pain show no mercy in battle attitude yet has a heart of gold and would help anyone in need especially woman and children. Surprisingly no one has ever really made a big deal of his “girly” name.

    My daughter is two years older than Cori she was adopted out do to circumstances shortly after her birth. I was going to name her Julianna but her father announced her name as Jessica while I was out of it from blood loss due to borderline hemoraging. So she was named Jessica Lynn I call her JessiLynn or Jesi for short never Jessica. Her adoptive parents renamed her Jasmine and dispite having no contact with me or her father until she was grown her friends at school call her Jessie to her parents frustration

    My real name is Crystal Dawn I hated it as being too norma. My parents not only did not like nicknames (except dad calling me butch sometimes because I was a tomboy), and most the extended family called me Crystal-Dawn like it was all one name and over my adult years I tried to take on nickname Crys (Chris) which caught on slightly but never spelled my way, I’m trying now CrysDawn (like kinda like Kristen its chris +Don) which isn’t catching on at all. dispute my dislike of my name every one agrees I’m either a crystal or cat to some.

    Its weird how names and nicknames come about and the effect of who we are effects the name.

  2. Kim Apathy Stewart says

    Oh, I’m way late to this party, but – my two took ownership of their names very early on. When she was 2 1/2, my oldest decided she was a mermaid, and of course her name was Ariel. For 2 1/2 years, she introduced herself that way. She learned to write Ariel long before her real name, Gwen. There are still kids from her preschool that call her Gwen-Ariel. I had to cut a deal with my youngest before I dropped her off at camp each day last summer – she was only allowed to pick one name. Mostly it was Robin, sometimes it was Batman, every now and again it was Princess Blossom Pepperdoodle von YumYum. Before we set up the rule, it was often all three in the same day. People used to look at her funny, because when you asked her 3yo self her name, she’d hesitate for a long time, trying to figure out which name to use. I’d let her pick, then say,”At home, we call her Julie.”
    Formally, they are Gwendolyn and Julia.

  3. Julie says

    I went to Kindergarten as Julie Anne, but came home Julie. I’m guessing that’s pretty

    Regarding the boy named Delaney: That’s my oldest niece’s name and when she was born our family heard a lot of “That’s a boy’s name!?!” It’s interesting how names “recognized” gender can change.

    My stepdaughter is Kat, sometimes Rina, but never Kate or Katie.

  4. Isadora Vega says

    This reminds me of me. Before I was born my parents went overboard buying tons of monogramed crap that said “Christy,” assuming that that was going to be what I wanted to be called. Never happened.

  5. Sharis says

    We specifically chose Alexander (well, it was also a family name) because it lent itself to so many nicknames. Our plan was to call him Alex (other family members had gone by Al or Alec, so it was close, but different). He’s a Xander. It was fairly obvious by about 6 months that this was no Alex, but a Xander. My dad continued to call him Alex, and that became a special name that his Papa calls him. Once he started school, everyone assumed he was Alex, but he chose to go by Alexander instead. Now at home and with family and close friends, he’s Xander; my dad still calls him Alex; most of his friends call him Alexander; but occasionally he goes by Al. At least he’s never gone by AJ (his initials that I didn’t even think of at the time–I did first and last initial and all three, but not first and middle).

    Our daughter is Evangeline for many of the same reasons. We love most of the nicknames, and it gives her options. We debated between Eva and Evie for her family nickname, and she’s definitely an Evie (long E at the beginning). But she has options of Eve, Eva, Lina, Lena, Ang, Angie, or even Vangie (we met one the other day). I personally think that’s part of the fun of the names–seeing what they end up choosing to go by.

    My husband is a James that goes by Gryphon (his parents and younger sister refuse to call him anything but James). I’m a Sharalyn who went by Shari most of my life, but once I added an alliterative last name by marriage, I started introducing myself by Sharalyn Sh——. That extra syllable with consonants helps break up the alliteration. So we can both tell at what point in our lives we met people depending on what they call us! 🙂

      • Catherine says

        How about Margaret? That’s gives the option of Maggie, Mags, Margie, Marg (eww but w/e), Daisy (since the French word for daisy is marguerite), Peggy, Gret/Greta, you could probably even stretch Molly into there! Nathaniel for a boy – Nate, Nat, Nathan, Neal.

  6. L. says

    I’m planning to name my baby Margaret, and people are already referring to her as Maggie! One reason I adore Margaret is because it has a ton of great nicknames, so I hope everyone doesn’t just permanently default to the most common one (which I do like, at least). My mom made the mistake of assuming she could name my brother Jeffrey and everyone would always call him that. She wasn’t counting on him self-identifying as (gasp!) Jeff. So I’ve come to peace with the formal name of Margaret, even knowing that battling the nn Maggie may be impossible, especially when she’s old enough to express her own preferences.

  7. Sarah A says

    This is such a lovely post, Abby! And it’s exactly what makes me hesitate about the name Magdalena. I love Magdalena and we would call her Lena, but what if she wanted to be Magda or Maggie? No thanks. I think your experience (although it’s a family name, so beside the point in your case) is a good example of the dangers in using a name if you really dislike a particular nickname for it.

    I think the issue can be alleviated a bit if the child is taught why a certain nickname is not okay. My brother is Mohammed and he was taught why Mo was an unacceptable nickname and to not let other kids call him Mo. Now that he’s an adult he’s internalized it and doesn’t let people call him Mo, even though it happens more often than you’d think. Perhaps your Aly will grow up and identify more with his Polish heritage and thus choose Aly or Aleksy for himself in claiming his identity.

    Another reason I’m glad I’ve always been just Sarah 🙂

  8. Alli says

    I’m Allison. I came home from kindergarden and wanted to be called Alli. Everyone calls me Alli except my mother. “Your name is Allison.” Only once I got married did I warm to the combination of my full first and last name. When picking names for my children now, I always keep that in mind. If we had had a girl, we really liked Carrington, but did not want a Carrie. So, that one was out.

  9. Danielle says

    I think the way nicknames evolve for an individual is so fascinating. I’m Danielle to my friends, but my family and extended relatives all call me Dani. I recall briefly trying to make Dani stick with my friends in middle school but it never caught on. Now, I like that just my family calls me by my nickname; it makes it seem more special. I would love to be an Elle, though. But now that I’m in my mid-20s I feel like it’s too late to try and make a new nickname stick.

  10. Sebastiane says

    I love both your childrens’ names. Alexander is such a strong classic! I do know plenty of men who by Aly, whether it is short for Alexander or Alistair, but ultimately, I guess children will chose their own nicknames. You may want to name your daughter Rebecca and call her Reba, but then your daughter decides one day “nah, I am Becky.” That is why I never really worry about nicknames, unless it has the potential of having a really horrid nickname. I usually find that it is the bearer who comes up with their own nicknames and not the parent.

  11. Charlotte Vera says

    Wonderful article, Abby! Your final comments are so apt.

    Roseanna’s still two and still Roseanna at home; I cringe as I wait for the [inevitable?] day when she becomes Rosie to most of the world. We’ll see. Right now she has difficulty saying her name, so when asked to introduce herself she’s “Zanna”. I usually only correct people if they check with me whether they heard correctly. She has had a couple of people call her Rosie (which I usually try to gently correct) and also Rosa or Rosebud (fine with me). I’ve even been asked if we would consider calling her Annie for short! I fully expect her to go through stages of nicknaming preferences and only hope that we’ve given her a name she feels she can work with no matter her age or style!

  12. Kayt says

    Yup, I’m a Katherine who goes by Kayt!

    Jamey started preschool in January, and he’s loving it so far. He’s not a big communicator, but he does self-indentify as Jamey, not James. No one in school has teased him or raised an eyebrow about it, as far as I know. The secretary at school keeps trying to call him Jimmy, which he shoots down just as fast as I do. “No! I Jamey!” It does my heart good.

    Oooh, and the class list! Lower middle class Denver suburb:

    Isaiah x2
    Morgen (b)
    Davin (b)
    Aubrey (g)

    The stars for kids who speak Spanish at home. I thought the mix was interesting. Katia’s mom has an Eastern European accent, but I’m not sure where they’re from.

  13. Zeffy says

    Thanks for sharing. I’ve always loved the name Alexander. I’m partial to the nn Xander, but Aly and Aleksy are so lovely. At least you still get to call him Aly at home 🙂 I’ve had plenty of experience with ever-changing nicknames. Since my name is quite unusual (or other people think it is), and many people struggle to pronounce it correctly, I’ve always accepted the nicknames. Zeffy came about after one of my professors, after nearly a year of teaching me, still hadn’t quite grasped my real name and decided to just call me the one name he could remember. It caught on and all my university friends started to use it. I didn’t really mind, mainly because he was a dear, because it was better than having him point at me, and because I’ve had weirder nns, such as Bluey when I was in primary school. My parents, on the other hand, always use my full name, as does my entire family. I have always introduced myself by my full name, but people like to change it. I’ve given up, lol.

  14. Kat says

    Love your blog! I adore Aleksy and Aly as a nickname. A small part of me hopes Alex will go back to Aly as it’s unique, especially for an Alexander. 😀
    I’ve had a long history with my name, especially in the nickname department. While I’m thrilled to not be a Katherine (never liked that name, just too frilly for my taste), Kathleen has given my father, brother, and friends an opportunity to experiment with nicknames. At first, I was Kathweenie, then that was shortened to Weenie, and occasionally my brother would call me KFC (a play on my initials) or just Kentucky Fried Kitty. I unwillingly remained Weenie for a long time until I went to a residential school for the deaf, which gave me the opportunity to start anew. Thus I became known as Kat. But friends would call me Kit Kat, Batty Kat, and of course, KFC. Now, I kind of like Weenie and wish I’d stuck to it. 🙂

  15. Katherine says

    I’m a Katherine, but I go mostly by Katie in real life. For a short time when I was six I insisted on Kathy (yuck). I prefer Katherine, but it’s so hard to switch back to the full version when everyone I know is so used to Katie. My Dad is the only one who calls me Kate, which I don’t particularly like.

    My brother Stephen went by Stevie about half the time until there was a Stephanie in his 3rd grade class who also went by Stevie and he insisted we should never call him that anymore. He’s been just Stephen since. I don’t think anyone’s ever called him Steve.

    The evolution of nicknames is very interesting, I’m loving to read the stories in the other comments.

    • Diana says

      My cousin-in-law is a Katherine who introduced herself to me as Kat (she was a teenager then) when we first met 11 years ago. She is an artist and signs all her work Kat. Her siblings call her Kat. her mother, however, calls her Kathy and corrects anyone who says “Kat” in her presence.

      • Elea says

        When my uncle was a teenager many of his friends used to call at the house and as “Is Chris in?” His mother would promptly tell them that there was no Chris in the house. Only if she was feeling generous would she add that there was, in fact, a “Christopher” currently in.

  16. Fran says

    Great story Abby, really made me smile. My Lenora, who’s been Lena basically since she came home from the hospital decided a couple of weeks ago that she’s now Nora! Which is pretty but takes away the family element behind her name.
    On the other hand her older sister Genevieve has dozens of nicknames and answers to basically anything-much like me and my sister at her age.
    Now with a Neve and a Nora, a Toby and a Tilly, it does make me wonder that if we do decide on another whether we need to make sure it’s an ‘O’ to go with Ollie!

  17. British American says

    Lovely article.

    Our Rose was never Rosie at home, but once she started Kindergarten, friends and teachers started calling her Rosie. I asked her if she likes that and she said yes. Her Dad has told her that he will not call her Rosie and she hasn’t asked to be called that at home.

    We took Henry to preschool open houses last week. One of the teachers asked if he would be Hank. We laughed and said no. We’ve teased him before that we’ll call him Hank and he said he didn’t like it. I told him that Harry is also a nickname for Henry and he likes that better. Though he pronounces it “Hairy” rather than the British-sounding Harry that I was going for. So we’re all sticking with Henry for now. He loves it when he hears another boy at the library being called Henry.

    We didn’t intend on calling George “Georgie” but when Rose was off school for the summer she started calling him Georgie. When she went back to school in the fall, I found myself picking up where she’d left off and calling him Georgie myself. That’s one that I’d rather didn’t make it onto his school list, but maybe he’ll like it.

    Rose has a class mate called Katherine. I don’t know the spelling. But she’s known as “Kit Kat” to her friends. I just asked Rose what the teachers call her. She wasn’t sure but thinks “Kat” and then asked “Why are you talking about her?!” Ooops.

  18. Sally says

    Fantastic post. It sounds like your Aly/Alex is rolling with the punches very well. And that male Delaney is going to be in for a shock at some point – you just KNOW he’s going to hear “But that’s a girl’s name!” himself one day. It’s funny: I’ve known an Elizabeth S., an Elizabeth C., and an Elizabeth P., none of which was EVER shortened. On the other hand, I’ve been friends with three Katies, a Katy, a Kitty, a Cathy, a Kat, and a Kate, who very rarely – if ever – went by their full names.

  19. rockingfetal says

    Thanks for sharing!
    I struggle with this a bit. There are many nicknames I like for full names that aren’t considered intuitive today, and if the nickname is really what you are after, it can cause some second guessing. Sometimes I think I should just go with Maude or Nell so I don’t end up with a Mattie or Ellie.

  20. Christina Fonseca says

    Thank you for sharing that. It certainly is interesting how nicknames evolve over a lifetime – and in Aly’s case in just a few short years.

    • Sarah A says

      We’re not in Britain, but that’s what I’m counting on and why Alisdair nn Ali is high up on our list! My Arabic speaking family can call him Ali 😉

  21. Elea says

    I have much the same thing in that when I first meet people, many automatically shorten Eleanor to Ellie. It used to feel strange and not quite belonging to me, as I have always been El or Ella, but now it doesn’t bother me one jot. I have so many names that people call me by. My sister, fr example, calls me Nen, which is probably my favourite.

    I think that’s what I love about nicknames — that you can be different things, or names, to different people.

    • Diana says

      The automatic shortening of Eleanor to Ellie drives me NUTS. For a name that’s so exquisite, and with so many gorgeous nicknames, why they always assume that 1) you want a nickname, and 2) you want THAT one…. it’s like “Liz” for Elizabeth.

      • Elea says

        Lauren, that’s so funny because Nen came about from a little boy who couldn’t pronounce Eleanor and instead said Nenenah.
        Your comment has made the nickname doubly appropriate as my middle name is Lauren!

  22. Catherine says

    I was secretly hoping that my Stephanie would be a Stevie for short but no such luck as yet. She’s been Anie (when she was first learning to talk – she had trouble with the Steph bit), Stephanie, and currently Steph.

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