Editor’s note: This post was originally published on November 21, 2009. It was substantially revised and re-posted on June 2, 2014.
I’m a nickname fanatic, an advocate for putting a big mouthful of a formal name on my child’s birth certificate, then coming up with a reasonably related short form for everyday use. If I had a Sadie, she’d be Sarah. My Sosie would be Josephine or Sophia.
But that’s me. There are plenty of good reasons to skip the formal name and go right to the nickname, and plenty of parents who prefer it.
In fact, these sassy, retro throwback names seem to be a hot category for girl names at the moment.
- Sadie was among the fastest-rising girls’ names of 2013, leaping from #120 to #50.
- High profile birth announcements abound, including Christina Applegate’s Sadie, Tori Spelling’s Hattie, Jimmy Fallon’s Winnie, and now Drew Barrymore’s Frankie.
So for your consideration, I’ve pulled together a list of ends-in-ie-names just might stand on their own.
If Sadie and her sisters are your style, read on …
Sadie’s Sisters: Borrowed from the Boys
Billie – Billie Piper played one of Doctor Who’s companions, and Eric Dane and Rebecca Gayheart have a Billie Beatrice. She’s been out of the US Top 1000 since the 1990s, a decade or so after Michael Jackson scored a smash hit with “Billie Jean” and Billie Jean King was a #1 ranked women’s tennis player. Today, Willa and Willow are more fashionable, but Billie has a retro cool that makes her wearable – and rare.
Charlie – Remember those 1970s commercials for Charlie? “Kind of young, kind of now – Charlie! Kind of free, kind of wow – Charlie!” She could be short for Charlotte or even Caroline, but she also stands on her own. Rebecca Romijn and Jerry O’Connell have a daughter named Charlie Tamara Tulip. And while this one definitely leans boy, but is gaining quickly for girls, too.
Frankie – First Amanda Peet welcomed Frances, called Frankie, and now Drew Barrymore has put Frankie on the birth certificate for daughter #2. In Drew’s case, it is a nod to her mother-in-law’s maiden name, Franco. Odds are that lots of us have a Frank to honor – the name ranked in the US Top 100 from the nineteenth century into the 1980s, spending some of that time in the Top Ten. For girls, Frankie is completely unexpected, but definitely fits in with Sadie and company.
Freddie – I think Frederick and Frederica are underused classics, worthy of a comeback. And should that happen, can’t you see boys and girls alike answering to Freddie?
Georgie – I had the idea that Georgie Girl was a throwback flick, a black and white movie from the 1930s or 40s or so. Nope. Lynn Redgrave starred in Georgy Girl in 1966. Georgy’s full name was Georgina. 1966 may not be far enough in the past to qualify as vintage, but with the new prince in England, Georgie might be a great possibility for a girl, very much in the key of Sadie and Frankie.
Jamie – She fits with this group, style-wise, but circa 2014, Jamie is more of a mom name than a retro revival possibility. The young Jamies I know today are all boys. Then again, if you’re looking to honor a James with your daughter’s name, this remains a possibility, even if it forever makes me think of The Bionic Woman and Mad About You.
Johnnie – Musician Melissa Ethridge has a daughter named Johnnie Rose, named after her father, John. If John is fading for boys, could we honor some of our beloved fathers and grandfathers by calling our girls Johnnie?
Maxie – I might never have put Maxie on this list – it seems too ready-made for teasing. Except. Isn’t she kind of swingy and cool? Spunky and bold? And yet still less out there than Moxie? 311’s Nick Hexum has daughters named Echo Love and Maxine Vita, and, of course, Jessica Simpson used Maxwell for a girl, as did Lindsay Sloane – so maybe Maxie has a chance at a comeback.
Sadie’s Sisters: Time-Tested Classics
Callie – If Kelly and Kaylee are independent given names for girls, why not Callie? She’s also a possible nickname for classics like Caroline, as well as the less-expected Calla, Calista or Calliope. There’s something casual about Callie, but not …
Carrie – When Stephen King’s bestselling horror novel was published in 1974, Carrie had been in the US Top 100 for nearly a decade. After the 1976 big screen adaptation, Carrie remained at her highest ranking ever – #28. Maybe that’s because of Little House on the Prairie, with baby sister Carrie, on television from 1974 through 1982. Years before Little House and King, Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie gave us a very different literary spin on the name. American Idol alum turned country hitmaker Carrie Underwood adds yet another dimension to this name.
Ellie – Remember Miss Ellie on Dallas? The Southfork matriarch was born Eleanor, but rarely answered to her full name. Of course, Ellie could be short for many a name, classic and unexpected, but today she’s just as likely to stand on her own. Ellie ranked #74 in 2013, her highest ranking ever.
Elsie – Slightly sassier than Ellie and occasionally considered bovine, Elsie is on the upswing in 2014. Reality starlet Lauren Conrad embraced this as a nickname through her initials – L.C. She ranked #365 in 2013.
Gracie – Grace is a virtuous classic, as elegant as Grace Kelly. Gracie has a little more cowgirl cool. A few years ago, she cracked the US Top 100, but know both the original and the nickname form are falling. But they remain classics, with two very different vibes.
Hallie – Surname Hailey – choose your spelling – has had a good run in recent years, and Hollywood’s Halle Berry gives us another option. But Hallie has that Sadie-style. Once upon a time, she was short for Harriet, but today she could stand on her own.
Janie – Literary Jane is a good girl. Janie is her mischievous cousin.
Maggie – Yes, many a Maggie was born Margaret. And there are lots of other formal names that can lead to Maggie. But Faith Hill and Tim McGraw stuck with just Maggie. So did Jon Stewart. Over 1,300 girls were named just Maggie in 2013 alone – this is definitely a name that stands on her own, just like other Margaret diminutives: Margot, Greta, and Gretchen.
Rosie – Have you read The Rosie Project? Or do you remember this song from Bye Bye Birdie? Rose is an enduring botanical classic, but Rosie is her sassier cousin.
Ruthie – Another from the Gracie-Rosie-Janie camp. You could put buttoned-down Ruth on her birth certificate. Ruthie is her cowgirl-boot wearing alter ego.
Sadie’s Sisters: Former Favorites
Bessie – If you’ve seen Cars, you might automatically put Ol’ in front of this name. While I can see Betsy making a comeback in 2014, I’m not sure if Bessie is quite ready for revival. Then again, Bess seems right at home with the stylish Tess.
Dovie – I would’ve dismissed this one, but I found her in the US Top 1000 a century or more back. No to Lovie – also a former Top 1000 pick, but one that’s too much for a first name today. But with her avian association, could Dovie work?
Florrie, Flossie – The Italian city of Florence has a long history as a given name, and she’s quite stylish in the UK. These throwback diminutives could fit right in with Sadie and company. Flossie was the nickname of one of the younger Bobbsey twins.
Hattie – You might put Harriet or Henrietta on the birth certificate, but millinery references aside, Hattie has some style. Tori Spelling surprised us all when she chose Hattie for her second daughter in 2011. The May 2010 documentary Babies included a little Hattie, growing up in San Francisco. Today she’s climbing the popularity charts quickly – from unranked in 2010 to #570 in 2013.
Lottie – Charlotte is in the US Top 100 and rising, but it seems as very few Charlottes are answering to this nickname – so far.
Maisie – Like Maggie, she could be a diminutive form of Margaret, via the Scottish Mairead. But if Daisy stands on her own, maybe Maisie does, too. I’m a big fan of the Maisie Dobbs series of mystery novels, set in twentieth century England between the wars.
Millie – Mildred might be too dowdy to ever make a comeback, but Millie is Thoroughly Modern. She’s also a spunky nickname for the super-sweet Millicent.
Minnie – Yes, there’s the mouse. But there’s also the actress – who was actually born Amelia Fiona Driver.
Nellie – Olsen, right? The Little House on the Prairie mean girl ruined this name for me, but I do adore Nell, and lots of longer names that are traditionally associated with the nickname. So let’s not rule Nellie out just yet.
Sallie – She’s often spelled Sally, but the -ie ending has just as much history. With Kieran Shipka wearing this one so well on Mad Men, does she have any hope of a comeback? There’s also Cars’ Sally Carrera for an animated association.
Susie – Also spelled Suzy and lots of other ways, this spelling seems like the most retro of the bunch.
Tessie – I almost left her off this list. But what if you’re a huge Boston Red Sox fan? The Dropkick Murphys “Tessie” is the latest version of a 1902 song, long associated with the baseball team.
Tillie – Matilda is ever so fashion forward. Short form Tilda brings to mind the actress. Then there’s Tillie – perhaps a bit too cute, but possibly wearable on her own.
Trudie – It’s hard to imagine naming a daughter Gertrude. But Trudie seems like a logical sister for Sadie – spunky, retro and not too flimsy to stand on her own.
Sadie’s Sisters: Rarities
Arlie – Arline started out as a well-born child kidnapped by gypsies in a nineteenth century opera, but today she’s the outdated Arlene. Arlie might be a short form, or she may related to a surname. Either way, she sounds fresher than the -een ending original.
Birdie – Lady Bird was worn in the White House. Actress Busy Phillips bestowed this avian appellation on her daughter. While there are more subtle ways to evoke the finely feathered, Birdie isn’t quite unthinkable. Actress Busy Phillips used the name for a daughter in 2008.
Dessie – In Ireland, Dessie is a nickname for Desmond – and thus, exclusively masculine. In the US, it sounds more like a – very wearable – riff on Bessie.
Dixie – Too Southern, maybe? She fits with this list of cutesy names for girls, but that ‘x’ in the middle reminds of me of recent favorite Lexi.
Dulcie – She’s sweet – literally, from the Latin dulcis. Longer form Dulcinea conjures up the Judybats, Toad the Wet Sprocket and Don Quixote – though the literary Dulcinea was actually named Aldonza. There’s also Dulcibella, an elaboration popular in the nineteenth century.
Effie – The Hunger Games raised the profile of this name, traditionally short for Euphemia. If Effie Trinket were a heroine, chances are that her name would be receiving more positive attention. But since Effie only leads our girl Katniss into the arena, we’ve seen only the smallest of upticks in her use.
Erie – Eir was a Norse goddess; Éiru, a Celtic one – she lent her name to Ireland. Eiry is a Welsh girl’s name, and related names abound, all meaning snow. Erie may be linked to any or none of the above, and could rhyme with fairy, or have a totally other pronunciation.
Frannie – Have you seen the cartoon Franny’s Feet? The shoemaker’s granddaughter puts on others’ footwear and goes off on adventures, walking miles in others’ shoes. If Frankie feels too bold, Frannie is an equally vintage option.
Hettie – Another possibility for Henrietta, as well as Hester or Hestia.
Icie – A name that once charted in the US Top 1000, a century or so ago. Perfect for our Frozen era?
Lettie – Formal name options include the salad-esque Lettice, or the lacy Letitia. If Victorian valentine isn’t your style, Lettie might appeal.
Lindie – Lucky Lindy was aviator Charles Lindbergh’s nickname. The Lindy Hop was a swing-era dance craze named in his honor. Linda is a Baby Boomer – as are elaborations like Melinda and Belinda. But today, Lindie might work as a nickname for hippie chic tree name Linden, the elegant Rosalind – or on her own.
Mamie – Associated with classics like Mary and Margaret, as well as former First Lady Mamie Eisenhower – and yes, it was her birth name. I think Mimi feels slightly more wearable in 2014, but if Maisie works, why not Mamie?
Zadie – If Sadie stands along, why not her zippy cousin? The z-to-s switch has worked out just fine for novelist Zadie Smith.
Zelie – There have definitely been women named Zelie, but her exact origins are unclear, though some link her to the French Zéline and she brings to mind the Yiddish Zelig.
Would you consider a short, ends-in-ie name for a daughter? And if so, would you put it on her birth certificate or opt for a more formal version? Which are your favorites? Are there others that should be on this list?