Name Help: Should they name her Peggy?Name Help is a series at Appellation Mountain. Every week, one reader’s name questions will be discussed.

We’re relying on thoughtful comments from the community to help expectant parents narrow down their name decisions. Thank you in advance for sharing your insight!

Jessica writes:

My partner and I are expecting a daughter before the end of the year. Most likely this will be our only child.

We keep coming back to one name: Peggy.

It doesn’t have any meeting or significance, though my partner does have a great-grandmother named Margaret. That’s not why we like it, though. The name just makes us both smile.

Several people close to us have suggested naming our daughter Margaret and calling her Peggy, but we’re not interested in that. First of all, neither of us really knew Peggy was a nickname for Margaret until the name came up, so I feel like we’d be in for years of explaining that we call her Peggy, not Maggie or Meg. Second, we don’t really like the sound of Margaret.

We’re mostly wondering if Peggy is too old-lady of a name, but I guess we’re also wondering if Peggy is too cute to be a full name? (Can both things be true? They sound like opposites.)

Our daughter’s middle name will be my last name, which is like Matthew-with-an-S, and her last name will sound like Albert-with-an-H.

Please read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.

Abby replies:

Congratulations on your new daughter!

I’m laughing a little at the whole “why not name her Margaret” comment, because it sounds like the kind of well-meaning thing I might say.

While naming your daughter Margaret might give you options, it also potentially causes a hassle.

Because yes, Peggy isn’t intuitively derived from Margaret.

It goes a little like this: Margaret shortened to Meg, which became Peg, and then Peggy, courtesy of the same rhyming magic that transformed Robert to Bob and William to Bill.

People know … but you’re right. At the same time, they don’t know that Peggy comes from Margaret, and I agree – you’d probably find yourself explaining that she’s Peggy, not Maggie.

So we agree, you’re going to skip the formal name.

Now let’s talk about the whole too-cute old-lady name dilemma.

Because you’re right … it can’t be both. But somehow it is.

That’s because we use terms like “too cute” and “old lady” as pejoratives. They’re shorthand for “you shouldn’t use that name because it’s not a good name because I say so.”

If someone said that about Sadie or Hazel, you’d shrug and say, “But Sadie/Hazel ranks in the current US Top 100, so you’re wrong. It’s a completely reasonable name for a girl born now, and the numbers prove it.”

The trick is that Peggy is stuck in style limbo.

It ranked in the US Top 100 from 1927 through 1962 as an independent name. Layer in popularity of Margaret in same era, plus a healthy number of girls named Mary Margaret, and Peggy? There were plenty of Peggys in the US in the middle of the twentieth century.

The name’s image seems to be shifting. During the late 1980s and 90s, Married With Children’s Peg Bundy wasn’t much of a namesake, but three decades later, Mad Men’s fabulous Peggy Olson made many of us reconsider the name. (Though, yes, the latter is a Margaret.)


It’s impossible to know how many Margarets answer to Peggy.

But we do know that just 18 girls were named Peggy in 2021.

That’s a huge decrease from peak Peggy, circa 1958, when over 10,000 girls received the name.

And yet, Peggy has lots of advantages.


  • Everyone knows how to spell and pronounce Peggy. Is there a Peggie, Peggye, or Peggi out there who disagrees? Possibly. But this is one of those names with a strong, uncontested default spelling, and that’s an advantage.
  • It fits with Penelope and Piper. We love the pop of so many P names for our daughters. Paisley. Parker. Persephone. Poppy. Peggy fits right in. You just thought of it first.
  • We know it will age well, just like the other nickname names in this generation. The whole argument about Peggy being too cute? Sure, it’s a sweet name for a child, just like Millie and Birdie and Winnie. And just like those names, it will age – gracefully – across the years until it’s an old lady name once again. After all, it’s happened before.

Naming your daughter Peggy today seems just daring enough – a name that’s slightly ahead of the curve.

The one challenge, of course, is that she won’t really have a fallback name, since her middle is a surname. That’s completely fine. But if you’re hesitant, it’s always possible to add one more name. Peggy Charlotte LastName LastName. Peggy Genevieve LastName LastName. Peggy Rose LastName LastName. The options are many.

But that’s only if you are so inclined.

Because I think Peggy is a great name for your daughter.

Readers, over to you – what have I missed? Would you name a daughter Peggy?

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. I love the suggestion Pearl nn Peggy made by a reader below. I think it’s a perfect solution – a fallback name that means the same as Margaret and therefore as Peggy.
    You could also use Perla if you think Pearl is too one-syllable a choice.

  2. My grandma was Peggy. She did reflect annoyance over the years that some people would assume it was short for Margaret and lengthen it. She hated Peg as a nickname.

    Don’t ask me why (maybe a crazy thinking moment) but Winnipeg popped into me mind as a possible long name, Winnie, Peggy, Win. I’ve never been there but it sounds way more fresh than Margaret to me if you do want a longer option.

    Another longer name thought… Allegra has many of the sounds you like. Peggy isn’t a leap too far as her ‘go to’ name but opens up Ally, Legi. If you went with the idea of a second non surname in the middle you could have Allegra Ruby nn Peggy Rue…. In love with that! Actually if you used a second P name Peggy would make even more sense Allegra Pearl…Peggy

    I also really love the idea of non surname middle name with Peggy to give options. Single syllable gives her the option to hyphenate… Peggy Ann, Peggy Rose etc or even something frilly and feminine with a single syllable option. Peggy Annabelle Peggy Ann or Peggy Belle (yeah I just tried to think of something really long and frilly).

    My grandma was never called piggy. But I can see the possibility if she was a plumper girl at school. So worth considering.

    Good luck, please let us know what you decide!

  3. For what it’s worth, I know from experience that it’s possible to use a child’s nn so exclusively that his friends don’t believe him when he tells them his actual given names. My son goes by his nickname, we put “goes by …” on forms/school registration, and everyone but the Dr’s office uses it. His actual name is a family name that my husband desperately wanted to use but I wasn’t so keen on, so the nn was the compromise.
    I love the name Peggy since my late aunt used that exclusively, though she too was a Margaret. My only concern would be if your daughter doesn’t like it -or goes through a phase of not feeling like a Peggy. If she had a longer name like Margaret, or Peggy + middle name, she has options of other nicknames to use. I mention this because I went by a nickname in university but then decided that wasn’t me, and had people call me by my full name thereafter.
    Whatever you decide, I’m sure your friends and family will come to love the name because it will = your daughter.

  4. My mom is a Margaret called Peggy and only Peggy all her life. Her Irish American grandmother suggested it because she thought it sounded Irish. Pegeen, little Peggy, is is also used. My cousin is Margaret called Maggie. My grandmother was Margaret called Marna when she was a child. It’s one of those names that has a lot of variants. I’ve also known a Marguerite called Peggy and quite a few women named Peggy who are just Peggy. As far as I know, it’s not a problem for any of them. Most are professionals.

  5. I say go for it! Peggy is adorable and Peg is spunky if she wants a different option as she grows up. I have a soft spot for Pegeen so if you do feel a longer name is needed then that’s a great possibility, but I absolutely think Peggy can stand on its own.

  6. I think Peggy is ahead of the curve. If they really want a longer name, what about Pegeen? Pronounced as it’s spelled An Irish diminutive for Margaret, as is Peggy, of course. I first heard the name in the 1950s comedy “Auntie Mame.” As a side note, when I was a kid I thought it was hilarious to call my mom’s friend Peggy, “Piggy.”

  7. My first thought was that Peggy was a bit risky, mainly for the lack of “fallback” nicknames (other than Peg or perhaps Pegs). I love the name Margaret, as well, and I think it makes a great formal name for Peggy.

    However, it’s clear that you and your partner love Peggy for its own charms. I think you’ve warmed me up to it!

    It reminds me of the song “Peggy-O” (also known traditionally as “The Bonnie Lass o’Fyvie”). It’s an old Scottish ballad that regained popularity via the American folk movement. The National recorded a particularly beautiful rendition of it a few years back.

    I do think it’s worth considering nickname options, whether through a second middle name or through initials (for example, Peggy Jean > PJ; Peggy Tallulah > PT or Peggy-Lu). But you should definitely follow your hearts and do Peggy as the first name!