Sunday Summary 2.4.18Every week, I look at the search terms that bring visitors to the website. (If you follow me on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, I share them, too! I’m @appmtn.)

Here’s a question that comes up nearly every week – and baffles me pretty much every time.

Nicknames for Charlie

Wait, my brain screams – Charlie *is* a nickname. It doesn’t have to be, of course. In 2016, 1697 boys and 1751 girls were named just Charlie, compared to 7,050 boys named Charles and over 13,000 Charlottes.

So more kids are given a formal name – but not all; in fact, a sizeable group receive only the most common nickname.

But what’s the nickname for the nickname? Do choices like Chaz and Chuck still apply? One of my most popular posts of all-time is Ten Unexpected Nicknames for Charles. Some of these still apply, but shortening Charlie to Cal? That seems less intuitive.

Maybe that’s because I suspect most parents went with just-Charlie out of a desire to avoid nicknames in the first place. What can I say? Our children sometimes crave a little bit of flexibility. (One of my arguments for choosing a formal name is exactly that.)

Still, names evolve. It seems perfectly natural that girls are Sadie, not Sarah, and Molly, not Mary. In fact, people often react with some surprise to hear that, say, Maisie evolved as a short form of Margaret.

I’m always curious to hear how people think about nicknames and formal names – both the parents that choose them, and the people that grow up living with them.

So tell – what’s your take on nickname-only versus formal name, and how has your own experience informed your views?

Elsewhere online:

That’s all for this edition. As always, thank you for reading, and have a great week!

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.

You May Also Like:

What do you think?


  1. Loved your interview with Mrs Nipple. Our son’s name is Leif! And Rosemary is on our list for a girl in future.

  2. On initials that form names- One of our daughters goes by the name her initials spell! It was a way of compromising for my husband and I to get all the names in that we loved for her, and at the same time feel like we gave her a “more formal option” down the road. Its fun to get creative with name and nickname options. 🙂

  3. Oh, nickname vs. formal name. Personally, I prefer a short name that is formal without as obvious nickname. My name is Elizabeth but have gone by Liz most of the time. I’ve always found it troublesome deciding which name to use in formal or professional settings. Liz just doesn’t always seem appropriate, yet I rarely go by Elizabeth. I often find myself wondering “Do they want my legal name or the name I go by?” Maybe I think too much.
    This has impacted my choices when naming children. While we use a variety of nicknames at home, I prefer my children to have just “one” name for when they’re out in about.

  4. We will most likely call our first daughter Mae (which may or may not be viewed as a nn already). And while I am a serious nicknamer, my husband is not.

    He is not 100% on using Maisie as a nn for Mae, but I feel that is the most intuitive option. I also like Maya (prn. May-uh) and Emme/Emmy (after her initials: ME) or even just M (em)!