Time for baby naming advice: nicknames versus formal names.
And … drumroll please! This isn’t just a post, it’s also the launch of a video series called Abby Answers: Your Most Pressing Baby Naming Dilemmas, Resolved.
I’ll address the questions that come up again and again and again about choosing the name you love for your child.
Today we’re talking about one that vexes so many parents: Does Jake/Millie/Lucy/Nate/Gia need a formal name?
Feelings run high on this topic. Some parents won’t use a name like Lucy because it sounds like a diminutive. (Even though it’s not!) Others far prefer to write their child’s everyday use name on everything, so he’s Theo, not Theodore.
Me? I’m a nicknamer. But that doesn’t mean you have to be, too.
Baby Naming Advice: Nicknames versus Formal Names
I’ve argued the question both ways:
- In Defense of Jake and Kate: Nine Reasons to Skip the Formal Name
- In Defense of Nicknames: Ten Reasons to Embrace Nickname-Rich Names
Watch the video here:
Baby Naming Advice: Nicknames on the Rise
I mentioned in the video that plenty of nickname-names are more popular than their formal names.
Looking at the current girls’ Top 100 list:
- Lily outpaces Lillian, as well as lots of other Lil- names. (Real name fanatics will also know that Lily’s history is complex. It probably started out as a nickname for Elizabeth.)
- Nora started out as a diminutive of Eleanor and similar choices, and it’s a few spots ahead of Eleanor today.
- Ellie comes behind Eleanor, but way ahead of lots of other Ellie names.
- Alexa ranks solidly ahead of Alexandra and company.
- Sadie and Sarah were used in almost identical numbers in 2016.
- Bella lags behind Isabella, but well ahead of Arabella.
As for the boys’ Top 100:
- Jace comes in ahead of Jason by a few hundred births.
- Leo counts as a complete given name, but it can be short for longer names.
- Jack lags behind the classic John – at least in the US – but is wildly popular on its own, too.
At first glance, it appears that nickname names are replacing formal names for girls at a faster pace than boys, but I’m not sure that’s the case. Just beyond the Top 100, names like Max, Kai, Jude, Finn, Beau, and Jax straddle the formal name-nickname line. Mini names are big for boys and girls alike, and some – like Eli and Ian – might be short for something longer, even though they’re complete names on their own.
Names evolve. As the linguist John McWhorter says, “Language is a parade …” What feels like a formal name today might be perceived differently in another generation, and that’s true for nicknames, too.
As in all things naming, it’s always best to use the name you love. Even if that’s a name that others may occasionally perceive as a nickname.
Baby Naming Advice: Nicknames … what’s your take?
Where do you fall on the debate: do you prefer formal names? Or would you rather put the name you intend to use on your child’s birth certificate?