Inevitability of nicknames?

How inevitable are nicknames? I know that nicknaming isn’t as common as it was years ago, but is it still pretty automatic for longer names that lend easily to nicknames? Are you seeing longer names being routinely used in full?

Alexander (Alex)
Benjamin (Ben)
Nicholas (Nick)
Samuel (Sam)
Edward (Ed/Eddie)
Jonathan (Jon/Johnny)
Sebastian (Seb)
Theodore (Theo/Teddy)
Oliver (Ollie)
Andrew (Andy)

Elizabeth (Liz, etc.)
Katherine (Kate, Katy)
Alexandra (Alex, Lexi)
Samantha (Sam)
Eleanor (Ellie)

Do you think names like this would always be automatically nicknamed? Or have we entered an era where using the full name would be respected? (Of course, that’s not asking whether the kid himself would choose the nickname, but rather what the world would do). Or does using the name in full really just work for longer names that are more unusual and don’t have such expected and well-used nicknames?

Edited to Add this Follow-Up Question:

If nicknames are pretty hard to avoid for certain names (ie, Alexander, Benjamin, Catherine), how challenging would it realistically be to use a more unexpected nickname?

On Nameberry, we love to suggest off-the-beaten-path nicknames, but in the real world, how often are they regularly followed?

Examples such as:
Sasha or Sandy for Alexander
Wren for Catherine
Bash for Sebastian
Cole for Nicholas
Nell for Eleanor

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As someone who works at a preschool/daycare, I think nickname-less names are going to make a comeback. I know an 3velynn who doesn’t have a nickname (she could go by [name_f]Evie[/name_f], but she doesn’t), I know an Ab!gail who doesn’t go by [name_u]Abby[/name_u], and I know an 0livia who doesn’t have one, but another one who goes by [name_f]Livy[/name_f], a Ch@rlotte with no nn, 0liver with no nn, and M!chael with no nn. Lots of other kids have nicknames, but I believe names without nicknames will be more popular and more respected in the near future


I struggle with this because there are so many names I love in full but don’t like the nicknames (or don’t like them with my surname).

However, and this is possibly an unpopular opinion, I do think most names will be nicknamed at some point - even unusual ones - by someone in your child’s life unless they’re short enough not to generally be given one eg. [name_f]Amy[/name_f], [name_m]Hugo[/name_m]. I also feel most kids would prefer to have a nickname option for a longer name, or at least they will want it at some point in their lives.

It’s natural for people to gravitate towards a short, affectionate name for their friends and loved ones and in some ways I think enforcing a long name in full with no nickname could give a slight impression of standoffish-ness?

Also, not all nicknames are a short form of the actual name - you might be [name_f]Elizabeth[/name_f] but get called Stripes or something because of an in-joke that sticks. So that’s hard to predict or prevent.

Tl;dr I can completely see the appeal of long names in full but I think it’s unlikely to be something parents can easily control!


I feel like most of this will be used to quickly call someone’s name.

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One thing I’ve learned is that some people are just nicknamers and will shorten (or lengthen) a name into one. If they meet a [name_m]Thomas[/name_m], he will be a [name_m]Tom[/name_m]. If they meet me, I will be called [name_f]Gracie[/name_f] at least once. So, I think with some people, it is inevitable.

However, that’s definitely not a universal thing - having worked with kids, I’ve met plenty with the names above who haven’t used nicknames and no one’s automatically given them to them.

Still, I do think an [name_m]Alexander[/name_m] will get [name_u]Alex[/name_u] at least once - same with [name_u]Benjamin[/name_u] and [name_m]Ben[/name_m]. Some, however, feel less likely these days - [name_u]Edward[/name_u] nn [name_u]Eddie[/name_u] for example feels a bit dated, [name_f]Katherine[/name_f] nn [name_f]Kate[/name_f] isn’t quite so intuitive etc.

From a personal perspective, I would only really use a nickname for someone who introduced themselves by one (or, if they were a close friend, and then I’d ask first)


I’ve never met an [name_m]Alexander[/name_m] or [name_f]Alexandra[/name_f] who actually uses their full name in daily life. It’s always [name_u]Alex[/name_u] or some other short form. So I think for those two particular names, the nicknames are hard to avoid.

To me the others on your list are more of a mixed bag. I think if you introduce yourself as [name_f]Eleanor[/name_f], [name_m]Oliver[/name_m] or [name_m]Jonathan[/name_m] then that’s what (most) people will call you. E.g. I know a [name_m]Richard[/name_m] who goes by [name_u]Ricky[/name_u], but at the same time I know another [name_m]Richard[/name_m] who is simply [name_m]Richard[/name_m], no nickname. Ultimately it comes down to personal preference. (Bear in mind though that I’m talking about adults in the workplace, rather than small kids who might actually have difficulty pronouncing longer names.)

[name_f]My[/name_f] name technically has a nickname but it’s not commonly used as such (think [name_f]Sally[/name_f] for [name_f]Sarah[/name_f], or [name_f]Tina[/name_f] for Christina) and I’ve never been called it. If somebody tried, I would probably give them a look because that’s not my name and never has been.

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You can’t stop a nn in my opinion. There will be someone who will call your child by a nn, whether it’s based on an inside joke or just because. I knew someone named [name_f]Anna[/name_f] who didn’t have a nn, but I always called her [name_u]An[/name_u], purely because it came natural to me.

That being said, I definitely do think it is possible for someone called [name_f]Elizabeth[/name_f] to not have a nn, because I can’t think of a common natural/intuitive nn

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I think it depends. [name_m]Alexander[/name_m] may not become [name_u]Alex[/name_u] as their sole name, but they will probably be called [name_u]Alex[/name_u] by some people. [name_f]My[/name_f] name is [name_f]Emily[/name_f] and I think of myself as [name_f]Emily[/name_f], introduce myself as [name_f]Emily[/name_f], most people call me [name_f]Emily[/name_f]. Random people will call me [name_f]Em[/name_f]. [name_f]My[/name_f] doctor calls me [name_f]Em[/name_f] even though I’ve always called myself [name_f]Emily[/name_f] to her. Some people are just nicknamey type people. People I’m close to like my SO and my sister call me [name_f]Em[/name_f] probably about 15-25% of the time but call me [name_f]Emily[/name_f] most of the time. So it’s a nickname that’s used but isn’t the name I go by all the time. I think that is nearly inevitable. But a nickname that’s used out of endearment is different from a nickname that’s used all the time, so it depends if you’re completely against their name ever being shortened, or if you just don’t want [name_m]Alexander[/name_m] to become known as only [name_u]Alex[/name_u].


I think any of them are totally avoidable. I know a [name_f]Katherine[/name_f] who is just [name_f]Katherine[/name_f], an [name_m]Alexander[/name_m] who is just an [name_m]Alexander[/name_m], [name_m]Sebastian[/name_m], [name_u]Edward[/name_u], and [name_m]Johnathan[/name_m]. And plenty more! I know a Sarah-Claire who doesn’t have a nickname (aside from Sadie-Claritin, which is a longer and weirder story—but a nickname she got only from people very close to her, not one she goes by). She is firmly both names in full. Nicknames aren’t necessarily inevitable!

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Yes x100. So well said!


[name_u]Will[/name_u] some people always shorten names - probably yes.

But I have seen that if children ask to be called by their full name, people tend to listen. I’ve taught a [name_f]Catherine[/name_f], a [name_u]William[/name_u], a [name_u]Florence[/name_u], an [name_m]Alistair[/name_m] etc. all with no nickname. But what I’ve noticed is it’s whether the child wants the nickname. I’ve given nicknames and gone by middle names when asked by children, even if parents have then come to me and asked me not to. The children have the autonomy over their name.

Frustrating for me because I like a lot of longer names without the nicknames!


All the Elizabeths I know go by [name_f]Beth[/name_f]. Might just be my friendship group though!


I think unless they introduced themselves with a nickname, a person with a long name would likely go by their full name most of the time. I know five Elizabeths who don’t go by a nickname ever.

That said, I think almost any name will get nicknamed sometimes, not to the point where that’s like their ‘real’ name but just when someone is comforting or cheering for them, or trying to get their attention quickly, etc., and the full name will be used the rest of the time.

In my experience the names that get nicknames are the ones where you can shorten them to just the first syllable and just chop off the rest, so names like [name_u]Ashley[/name_u] (Ash) or [name_u]Sydney[/name_u] (Syd) would get nicknames, where [name_u]Morgan[/name_u], [name_f]Elizabeth[/name_f], or [name_f]Jane[/name_f] wouldn’t.


I think it’s easier to keep the full name of your child but by the time they’re an adult most longer names have been shortened to a nickname. [name_f]Every[/name_f] [name_f]Alexandra[/name_f], [name_f]Patricia[/name_f], [name_m]Samuel[/name_m], etc., goes by [name_u]Alex[/name_u], [name_u]Pat[/name_u], [name_u]Sam[/name_u]. It may be a regional/country thing but I wouldn’t choose a long name that is easily shortened if I didn’t care for the nickname.

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This is what I was wondering - if using the full name would generally be respected or if some names are just too tempting to nickname. I love that full names are coming back in. The longer names are so fun!

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I agree that a complete ban on a nickname is impossible (and probably undesirable, honestly, since most of the times it’s meant to be endearing or at least just convenient). I also agree that constantly enforcing the full name would be a bit standoffish. I was thinking more of whether the long name could reliably by the go-to name, and the nicknames just more affectionate and fun.

But in the end, you’re right that it’ll quickly be out of the parent’s control, and that the kids themselves may simply prefer a nickname. I suppose that’s the beauty of growing into a name :slight_smile:


Never met someone who uses full name:

At least one person I know has used the full name, at least most of the time:

Know several who use the full name:

This is my long way of saying that I think it depends on the name! There are a few names, like those in the first group here, that just seem inevitable.


Such a good point that some people are just nicknamers and will nickname no matter what! Variation and color is what makes the world go round.

That’s what I was wondering - if someone is introduced as a full name, will people generally respect that or will more people shorten (if the nickname is natural and intuitve). I’m always surprised how many people try to just call me [name_u]Carol[/name_u] when I introduce myself as CarolAnn and go by that name exclusively.


Such a good example!

You hit on exactly what I was wondering - would an [name_m]Alexander[/name_m] become known only as [name_u]Alex[/name_u] or could an [name_m]Alexander[/name_m] generally go by [name_m]Alexander[/name_m] in full (assuming that’s what he wanted)? We’re not big nicknamers, but we definitely use nicknames as forms of endearment and fun, so not opposed to them at all.

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I think it depends on the names! I know so many people named Katherine/Catherine/Katheryn, and pretty much everyone will call them [name_f]Katie[/name_f] or [name_f]Kate[/name_f] even if they introduce themselves as their full names. Not just their friends, but teachers, parents, etc, call them Katie/Kate exclusively. Same with Alexander/Alex and Benjamin/Ben. with a name like that I feel like it’s pretty unavoidable (maybe also because [name_f]Kate[/name_f], [name_u]Alex[/name_u], and [name_m]Ben[/name_m] are used regularly as full names here?) For context, I’m a teen in the US.

But I also know plenty of people who have easily nicknamable names, who get called by their full names.

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