The Problem with having a Nickname for a Name

Lyrics of That's Not My Name by the Ting Tings, from

Let’s take a pause from looking specifically at names to a few short stories from my life about the issue of using nicknames as formal names.

Technically speaking I don’t bear a nickname formally, since names such as Lucinda evolved from Lucy/Lucia, not the other way around. But I now battle the dilemna that I love Lucretia and even Lucian as names, but using them would seem rather self-serving, especially now I’ve switched to Lou. Another thing to consider is that I had a French exchange called Estelle, who was almost exclusively called Tellou. That therefore scratches Estelle off the name list, since Tellou would now be the only nickname I feel a connection to.

But less of me, my friend Ellie feels exactly the same. She is just Ellie, and wants to be Eleanor, or Helena. Or even a future daughter, but again, naming her child after herself just doesn’t have the appeal.

And then we have 2o-something Cal. His son Michael just turned 5, and all his schoolfriends now call him Cal. Whilst Big Cal finds it all rather hilarious, his wife in none too pleased, since it was his only contribution to the name discussion which is why she went with Michael, at the time thinking Mikey would make for a great nickname.

And therein lies a fundamental flaw in nicknames, they’re all rather fluid, except for those who bear them formally. And of course, nowadays people are getting a tad more creative with them.

Again, drawing from my own life, a girl 3 doors down is named Amy, Samantha at No.2 is also called Amy, as is No.13’s sprog Pamela. Nowadays, Amy at No.5  has renamed herself Five because it just made her life simpler. Ironically, her parents called her Amy because they agreed before marriage to only use three-letter names to ensure simplicity with their long surname.

Back in the day, that situation may never have come up, because Samantha would’ve been Sammy, and Pamela would’ve been Pam. And poor ol’ Amy may still like her name.

The question very much boils down to: How much do you really hate it’s long form? Katherine may seem uptight to you, but if little Katy feels overwhelmed by Katy May;Katy Bay;Katy Day and even Katy Fay. She then has the option to switch to something like Kitty, and her individuality is reinstated.

Currently in England&Wales, 19% of the Top 100 males names, and 18% of the Top 100 female names are nicknames that have been used in the formal spot. 4 of the Top 10 male names are nicknames. And the way things are looking, those percentages are on the increase. So there may be more occurences of the stories mentioned above.

Categories: Uncategorized | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “The Problem with having a Nickname for a Name

  1. It seems like you run into nickname problems whether you have a nicknamey name or a long form of the name.

    Some parents deliberately pick short names that can’t be turned into nicknames, like Jack or Mia. Phew, no silly nicknames, they think!

    But then people turn them into a long name, like Jack-in-the-Box or Mamma Mia (later to be shortened back to Boxy and Mamm …)

    My parents didn’t think Anna could be turned into anything except Annie – but at school I was Goanna, and then that morphed into Go-Go.


  2. Pingback: Calamity Cal Pt.I « Mer de Noms

  3. Pingback: 10 Alternatives to Jack « Mer de Noms

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