Three Eras of Nicknames

I’ve noticed that in my life (58 years and counting), there have been three separate nickname eras.

When I was growing up the in the 60’s and 70’s, virtually every peer I knew had a full first name and most had a nickname they went by almost exclusively. [name_m]Jimmy[/name_m], [name_f]Debbie[/name_f], [name_f]Missy[/name_f], [name_f]Suzy[/name_f]. I knew one family who went by [name_u]Marty[/name_u], [name_f]Ginnie[/name_f], [name_u]Danny[/name_u], [name_u]Angie[/name_u], and [name_m]Timmy[/name_m].

Then somewhere in my mid years of teaching, virtually every student I knew had a full name and only went by it.

Then sometime in the more recent past a new trend emerged: children being given a nickname for a full name.

Am I missing recent eras/trends? Any historical background of interest on nicknames or nickname names?

I can’t say I’m pleased with any of the trends. They all seem unnecessarily rigid.

I think [name_m]Jimmy[/name_m] is darling for a little boy but can’t imagine a grown [name_m]Jimmy[/name_m] (unless it were by his choice).

I’d hate my [name_u]James[/name_u] to think he had to be called only that, never [name_u]Jamie[/name_u] or [name_u]Jem[/name_u], etc.

And I think it kind of mean to name someone [name_m]Jimmy[/name_m] as a full name unless the parent psychically knew he would embrace it which of course how could they?

I guess my way is longer names with myriad nickname options and hope for the best. :slight_smile:



I’m also of the mindset that having a longer name with the option of a nickname is generally better than having a nickname name, but I do like many short names with few options for nicknaming too.

I know a couple adult [name_m]Johnny[/name_m]’s, for instance, but both have the legal name [name_m]John[/name_m]. I think they both appreciate having that option for settings where they want to feel more formal.

There are relatively few “nickname” names I’m personally a fan of ([name_f]Evie[/name_f], [name_f]Alyx[/name_f], [name_f]Molly[/name_f], [name_f]Tess[/name_f], and [name_f]Gwen[/name_f] are all examples) but that’s just a personal taste thing.

Yes, like I love [name_f]Vera[/name_f] which is pretty nicknameless and I love [name_f]Polly[/name_f] and can see it as a standalone though I’d more likely do [name_f]Maryellen[/name_f] and personally nn her [name_f]Polly[/name_f]. [name_f]Tess[/name_f], I would use alone too. Amazing that certain names like [name_f]Tess[/name_f] or [name_f]Ada[/name_f] seem stronger than many long names (like [name_f]Elizabella[/name_f]).

There is historical precedence for nicknames as full names (for much of the 19th and early 20th century, at least), but I generally like names that don’t feel like nicknames as full names, either with or without nicknames.