I love a good nickname. I believe I’m partial to them because of my own name, Abigale, but I go by Abi. My husband Greg (Gregory) goes by a nickname, too, and I think that’s why we wanted
baby names with the most unique nicknames for our own children. It certainly had a little bit to do with why we named our son Jackson, but he goes by Jack. But apparently, as my mom has informed me, Jack is not so unique of a name anymore as all of her co-workers’ grandkids' names are Jack. However, if you’re also hoping for a short but sweet name for your kiddo, luckily you have tons of options — and they may actually be unique.
A name with a unique nickname can definitely come in handy, whether your kid is like me and decides to go by their full name when they “grow up and go to middle school,” and also for you as a parent. Nothing gets your kid’s attention quite like using their full name instead of their nickname. I knew I was in deep you-know-what when my mom or dad would yell, “Abigale!” instead of Abi.
Ever wonder where the term “nickname” came from? The website Today I Found Out explains that a form of
the term “nickname” has actually been around since the early 14th century: “ eliterally meaning ‘an additional name.’” ke name,
is an even older word,” the site says, which dates back to about 1200 and means “to increase” or “to lengthen.” (Hence the meaning of “eke out,” or “make just enough.”) Over the centuries, “‘an ekename’ became ‘a nekename’ and ultimately, today, ‘a nickname.’” Eke
Check out the following ekenames (er, nicknames) for your little one.
1 Matilda (Tilly, Maddie)
How cool would it be to name your kid after the best book and movie of all time? Not only is Matilda an adorable name on its own, but Tilly is definitely unique and Maddie is just too darn cute.
Matilda comes from the Germanic name Mahthildis, which means “
strength in battle,” according to Behind the Name. 2 Phoebe (Bea)
While Phoebe is unique on its own, who doesn’t love the name Bea? Plus, Bea Arthur was one of the best actress/comediennes ever (in my not so humble opinion), and everyone should want to pay homage to that. She’d be (
Bea) proud. Plus, Phoebe means bright and pure, and of course your baby will be just that. 3 Victoria (Tori, Vicky)
Victoria is such a classic, pretty name, and Vicky and Tori just sound really hip and cool. Your kid may not be the next Spice Girl, but at least her name and nicknames will make her fabulous for sure. Victoria is also the
feminine form of the name Victorius and was “born by a 4th century saint and martyr from North Africa,” according to Behind the Name. That sounds pretty baller, right? 4 Margaret (Maggie, Greta, May, Molly)
Margaret is a classic, and Behind the Name noted that it
means “pearl” and is derived from the Latin Margarita. For nicknames, Greta is a pretty unique name you never hear anymore, and Maggie is such a cute name for a little girl, even for when she’s older. Maggie Smith approves, clearly. 5 Alexander (Xander, Alex, Al)
Even if you weren’t a fan of the series
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Xander is a really cool nickname for Alexander. It sounds like he would play in a rock band while simultaneously slaying bad guys, right? Alexander means “defending men,” too. How fitting for a bad guy slayer superhero. 6 Theodore (Theo, Teddy)
Teddy is just the sweetest name for a little boy. And the two guys named Theo that I knew in middle school were just the coolest of the cool. I love it when classic names like Theodore can have really hip nicknames. Plus,
Theodore means “gift from God,” and that’s pretty special. 7 Amelia/Amelie (Amy, Mia, Milly, Mimi)
Amelia or Amelie are really unique and creative names on their own, but you definitely can’t go wrong with nicknames like Mia, Milly, Mimi, or even classic Amy. Amelia “became popular in England after the German House of Hanover came to the British throne in the 18th century —
it was borne by daughters of George II and George III,” per Behind the Name. Pretty regal, eh? 8 Rosemary (Rosie, Rose)
“Rose, like the lines of seats in a theater,” as Rose Nylund from
The Golden Girls would explain her name. Or, you know, like the flower. Rosemary is a very traditional and quite beautiful name, but Rose and Rosie are timeless classics, too. So you can’t really go wrong with this choice.
Behind the Name suggested that
Rosemary is either a combination of Rose and Mary, or it is “given in reference to the herb, which gets its name from Latin ros marinus meaning ‘dew of the sea.’ It came into use as a given name in the 19th century.” 9 Josephine (Josie, Jo)
I love, love, love this name. My husband’s grandma’s name is Josephine, and we were going to name our kid that if we had a daughter. It totally would’ve worked out, too, because Jo March is my favorite literary character of all time. We were hoping she’d go by Jo, or Josie Faye (with Faye being my grandmother’s name).
Turns out, there’s
no actual “meaning” for the name Josephine, but it is English, German, and Dutch, according to Behind the Name. 10 Augustus (Gus, Angus)
Can we have a moment of silence for Augustus (Gus) Waters from
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green? Saddest novel ever. But the nickname Gus is so cute, I think you have to overlook any sad memories associated with the name. It’s also a pretty strong name — Augustus means great or “venerable.” 11 Ashton (Ash, Asher)
Ash and Asher are very popular names right now, and Ashton is always a good choice. The name somehow seems modern while simultaneously classic. And perhaps your son will be as cute as Ashton Kutcher when he grows up? Hopefully without the punking people part.
Behind the Name noted that Ashton comes from a surname “which was originally derived from a place name which meant ‘
ash tree town’ in Old English.” 12 Callum (Cal)
Hopefully enough time has passed since
Titanic premiered that we forget how much of a jerk face Cal was in the movie. Not all Cals are jerks, though. Take Cal Ripken for example. And Callum is apparently a very trendy name right now, so there you have it. Behind the Name noted Callum is Scottish, and is Colin or Coleman in English. 13 Dashiell (Dash)
Dashiell is a cool name on its own, but Dash is even cooler. Maybe he'll be star of the track team or football team? Or even a kid super hero? It will be a fitting nickname for when he’s a toddler and you can’t keep up with him, I’m sure.
Dashiell is categorized as a “rare” name on Behind the Name, and apparently there’s an American author named Dashiell Hammet. His name “is an Anglicized form of his mother’s surname, De Chiel, which is unknown of meaning.” 14 Maxwell (Max)
Maxwell is one of the classiest guy names ever. Will he live in a mansion with three kids, a butler, and a nanny named Fran from Flushing, Queens one day? I don’t know, but Max is an adorable nickname. Maxwell comes from a “Scottish surname meaning ‘
Mack’s stream,’” according to Behind the Name. Hey, Mack is a cute nickname, too. 15 Ezekiel (Zeke)
This biblical name turns effortlessly cool when it’s shortened to Zeke.
Ezekiel means “God strengthens,” and that’s a pretty good place to start if you like biblical references. I remember my best friend in first grade being obsessed with a boy in our class named Zeke, and she loved him all the way through elementary school because he was such a character. Maybe your Zeke will be a character, too. 16 Catherine (Cat, Kitty)
Cat just makes you sound like you’re cool, doesn’t it? I can’t help but think of the character Kat in the movie
10 Things I Hate About You. My aunt’s name is also Katherine, and she goes by Kitty, which I’ve always just super adored. Catherine/Katherine is Latin and means “pure, clear,” and it comes from “the Greek ‘Aikaterina,’” according to SheKnows. 17 Adelaide (Addie, Addy)
Adelaide on its own is a super unique, fun, and beautiful name, but the nicknames are super cute, too. I’ve known quite a few Addies in my lifetime and they’ve all been confident, creative, compassionate, and generally happy and bubbly people. Coincidence? Perhaps. But it’s still a great name.
Adelaide does mean “noble-natured” after all. 18 Antoinette (Toni, Ann, Annie, Netta) Antoinette means “beyond praise or highly praiseworthy,” which we all feel our children are for sure. Plus it’s just a beautiful name that rolls off the tongue — and the nicknames are super cute. I mean, come on, Netta? Toni? Adorable and most definitely unique for a girl’s name in my opinion. 19 Alistair (Al, Ali)
Alistair means “defending men,” and doesn’t it just sound like a regal and confident name anyway? The nicknames are super cute, like Al, which just sounds like he’d be everyone’s best friend and would have a belly laugh that boomed. If you’re a fan of Aladdin, Ali could be an homage to “Prince Ali,” I suppose.
20 Arthur (Art, Arte, Artie)
Arthur means “noble and courageous,” so I suppose it makes sense since the famous one in all the books is King Arthur. The nicknames Art, Arte, and Artie just makes him sound effortlessly cool and like he’d be into really good music and have good hair. Obviously “important” qualities you want for your child.