INDIE by marksdk via Flickr

It’s a versatile nickname, likely to bring to mind a fictional daredevil archeologist.

Thanks to Carrie for suggesting her daughter Ingrid’s nickname. Our Baby Name of the Day is Indie.

Indie has never charted in the US Top 1000, but she’s out there. US Census records suggest a cluster of Indies arrived sometime around the year 1900.

It was a good era for ends-in-ie names:

  • Amongst the most popular names for girls were Annie, Bessie, Minnie, Elsie, Nellie, Mattie, Carrie, and Hattie, all ranked in the Top 50;
  • Between 51 and 100, we find Jessie, Willie, Mamie, Fannie, Jennie, Maggie, Susie, Sadie, Effie, Nettie, Lottie, and Sallie;
  • Just beyond the Top 100, there are choices that range from the familiar to the downright surprising, like Lizzie, Katie, Ollie, Rosie, Addie, Goldie, Essie, and Nannie.

But where did Indie come from?

As a girls’ name, the most logical explanation is that Indie is short for India, a name with a longer history of use than you might think. It’s said that British families with a connection to the colony first used the name in the nineteenth century. She appeared in the US Top 500 a few times in the late 1800s, then left rankings after 1911. Today, India has quite the stylish sound, and place names remain fashionable.

Indie could also relate to a few other names:

  • Indiana – Despite the -ana ending, intrepid explorer Henry Walton Jones makes this one slightly more masculine. Actors Casey Affleck and Summer Phoenix have a son named Indiana August;
  • Indigo – The colorful name could be worn by a boy or a girl, though like Indiana, it skews masculine;
  • There’s also Indio, a California place name used by Robert Downey, Jr., for his son.

Carrie’s idea of using Indie as a nickname for Ingrid is quite novel. Another possibility might be Indira. In either case, Indie puts a friendly, informal spin on an elegant appellation.

Canada’s YTV line-up features a show called How to Be Indie. The show’s Indie is an Indira, a first generation Indian-Canadian navigating junior high and the considerable cultural differences between her parents and her school friends. The third season is set to debut this summer.

But the instant association is, of course, independence. Specifically, Indie conjures up independent films, record labels and a host of alternative culture staples.

That makes the name appealing, but it also gives me pause. As a given name, Indie might feel like it crosses a boundary. Is naming your kid Indie kind of like naming him Cool?

As a short form, Indie feels just right – breezy and unexpected, but not insubstantial. It’s the kind of gender neutral option that works for boys and girls. Indie spices up the buttoned-down Ingrid or glamorous India, and is exactly in step with unexpected choices like Indiana or Indio.

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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What do you think?


  1. We’re naming our daughter Lucinda and planning on using the nickname Indie. Is that crazy?

    1. I’m the wrong person to ask – Clio’s full name is Claire Caroline Wren!

      Oh wait, no, that makes me the perfect person to ask, doesn’t it? So … I love the idea of Indie from Lucinda. If you can get to Cindy, you can get to Indie. It’s right there, even if it isn’t the norm.

      Having an unconventional nickname can cause some confusion. (Clio once attended a children’s program where registration forgot to tell the teacher about the Claire/Clio thing, and she spent half of her first day blissfully ignoring everyone as they wondered why Claire wouldn’t answer …) For me, I’ve loved the flexibility of having more than one name and I hope she’ll feel the same way. My husband and I would never have agreed on a short, unconventional name to put on her birth certificate, but we’ve been happy with our compromise.

      I suspect you’ll find the same thing – she can be Lucinda for all of those big, significant life events – or for when you need a few extra syllables to get her attention! But Indie is a cool, current short form that she can wear daily. Classic given names/unconventional short forms is probably one of my favorite compromises. Your Lucinda/Indie definitely fits!

  2. We’re going to try to use Indie as a nickname for our girl, called India. It just feels like a nice relaxed version to use until she’s a little more grown up!

  3. I’m a huge Indiana Jones fan, including the young Indiana Jones films, so Indy is an adorable nn for a boy and one of my guilty pleasures.

  4. I love Indie! I go between being brave enough to consider her as first, to coming over all conservative and thinking of her as a nickname for something else. I’ve never agreed on what, though. I kind of like Indra, since I heard it means possessing raindrops, but it’s never completely won me over.

  5. I love Indie as a nickname! It’s so perfect for Ingrid, how cute! I would love to use Indiana or Indigo for a boy, nn Indie, but I feel like they’re both a bit too feminine. And also not feminine enough for my tastes. I love them, though.

  6. Indy makes me think of race cars, but Indie strikes me as one of those nickname options that works equally well for boys as for girls. I wouldn’t ever recommend that a parent bestow it on their offspring as THE given name, but it’s a fun ends-in-ie nickname that doesn’t sound too cutesy.

  7. One of Piper Palin’s middle names is Indi. I think it’s supposed to be short for independence, a quality her parents wanted for her. I always thought it was unique and fitting on her, and to know some of the name’s history makes it all that more special.