After all, Malcolm counts as a classic boy’s name. It boasts plenty of history.
Depending on your perspective, your first thought might be Scotland. Malcolm does, indeed, have a Scottish origin. It means “devotee of Saint Columba.” Columba is credited with bringing Christianity to Scotland. Among the many notables, four Scottish kings answered to the name.
Or maybe you’ll think Shakespeare, though that’s really Scotland redux, since Macbeth is loosely based on one of the royal Malcolms. (Though in the play, Malcolm is the son and Duncan the king.) That makes the name literary.
So, too, does The Autobiography of Malcolm X, required high school reading for many. Born Malcolm Little, and later known as el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz, the leader of the civil rights movement and Nation of Islam spokesman gives the name a place in more current history.
Of course, if you know your Hollywood blockbusters, Jeff Goldblum famously portrays mathematician and chaos theory expert Dr. Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park, and returns later in the series.
Journalist and best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell is another well-known figure.
Not only is it a classic choice, but nicknames for Malcolm abound! Let’s take a look at all of the options.
NICKNAMES for MALCOLM
The letters aren’t quite there, but the sound is.
This time, Cole flows logically from Malcolm – just as it does from the more traditional Nicholas and Nicolas. Of course, Cole is most often given as a stand-alone name today, but it could easily serve as a casual form of Malcolm.
The Late Latin Columba – meaning dove – became Colm in Irish. (Or Colum, Collum, Calum, or Callum.) Strictly speaking, Colm and Malcolm are cousins more than anything. But Colm looks like an obvious nickname choice.
With so many Scottish kings bearing the name, could this regal nickname work?
Probably one of the top go-tos. Mack and Macky/Mackie are mentioned often, too. In our age of Jack, Mac feels cool, a little bit retro, and approachable, too.
Soften the hard C, and Mace becomes a possibility.
The Malcolm nickname favored by Nathan Fillion’s antihero in Firefly and Serenity, Malcolm Reynolds. It’s as obvious as Ben from Benjamin or Dave from David. And yet, Mal is also negative. In French, mal means evil – think malevolent. It’s often a little softer in English, but malcontent and maladjusted aren’t great associations, either. Mal works, but it’s easy to imagine parents seeking out other nicknames for Malcolm.
The go-to in Scotland, and much of the world, along with Malcy/Malkie.
It’s a separate name, borrowed from a saint and familiar thanks to the pretty French port city of Saint-Malo, a popular tourist destination in Brittany. So Malo is both a full name on its own and a possible nickname for Malcolm.
There’s no connection between Malcolm and Max, and yet, it’s not the most unreasonable choice, either. The simple nickname Max works for at least a dozen longer forms, so maybe Max from Malcolm isn’t unreasonable?
Speaking of stretches, Pax is the Latin word for peace. Malcolm is a devotee of Saint Columba, whose name means “dove” in Latin – the symbol of peace. Malcolm called Pax is a leap, but it’s a fun, short nickname option if you’re really open to creative nicknames.
What are your favorite Malcolm nicknames?
First published on January 25, 2018, this post was substantially revised and re-published on July 26, 2023.