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let’s discuss: nicknames…

Oh Joy

Oh Joy

I never really thought about names much until having kids and having the ability to choose someone's name that they'll use for the rest of their life. I was born: Nantaka Joy Deangdeelert…say that 10 times fast! My Thai name was very long and proved hard to say my entire childhood. I was that kid whose name was ALWAYS butchered on the first day of school every year. So, I ended up using my middle name because it was easier for people to say. In Thai culture, you are given a more traditional (and usually longer) first name, a shorter (easier to say) middle name that serves as your nickname, and then your last name is always super long. So culturally in my family, it was always expected that my middle name would be used more than middle names typically get used in American culture.

As we thought about naming both our kids, my husband and I both went into it knowing we wanted their first names to be easy to say and read because we both grew up with people having a hard time with our names. We gave both kids middle names with meaning to us but with no intention of their middle names being used on a regular basis. Our kids do have nicknames which are some derivation of their first names…Rubes for Ruby, Coconut for Coco, etc…pretty close to their real names but a playful spin as nicknames tend to be!

These days, with new babies born into a very modern day with all kinds of names being used, I find that names and nicknames run the gamut. I even see people naming a kid one name with the intention of calling them by a nickname right away that is not even close to their first name.

I also find that nicknames feel like they can only come from those who know you. Like, if someone tells me their name is "Christopher", I won't call him Chris unless he asks to be called by his nickname. Or when you know someone with a long name just goes by their first initial with their friends (like "Z" cause their name is super long), I feel like you need to know them before you get into the "circle of comfort" of nicknames.

What do you think? Do you have a nickname you go by pretty regularly? Who calls you by that name and who doesn't?

{Photos by Casey Brodley, dress is vintage from Grit, gold disco ball from Amazon.}

43 comments

  1. My name is Catherine, but my parents always called me Cathy. In school, my friends usually called me that too. By the time college rolled around, I went by “Cat” since that’s how people shortened my name. They kinda picked that one on their own! At work I go by Catherine, but it often gets shortened to Cat or Cath. Only 2 new people after high school called me Cathy- a college friend and my husband! Mostly because when he met me, he met my parents first and they called me Cathy. He doesn’t say my name unless he’s talking to other people. It’s weird when he calls me Cathy. He usually shouts “BABE!”. One time I asked why, and he said I never respond when he calls my name, but I always turn when he says that!

  2. My husband just calls me hun. It’s like I don’t have a name anymore. lol. My family including my mom have always called me Venu. I don’t know where it came from, but everyone has a nickname that ends in NU in my family. My cousin Melissa was Melu, etc. It’s weird I know!

  3. it’s hard with a one syllable name to have a nickname that is an iteration of my name. some use my initial, but my family actually calls me a longer iteration of my name instead of my name. like blair will be blairy or blairzy.
    b

  4. My name is Caitlyn and I go by Caitlyn. Some people call me Cait and it’s fine, I guess, but it’s not my preferred name. (I should say that everyone else in my family went by their middle name…just because they liked it better.)
    However, I named my daughter Elizabeth BECAUSE of the nickname possibilities. It’s a classic yet flexible name.

  5. Growing up, my siblings and cousins always went by nicknames which have been hard to lose as adults. My name (Arla) is always misunderstood (Carla? Marla? Aria?). So we gave our kids short names (Conrad and Ella) so they wouldn’t have nicknames!

  6. My daughter’s name is Evelyn. When we named her, we thought we would totally call her by the nickname Evie but Evelyn fits her so well. We do sometimes call her E but just occasionally. It will be interesting to see when she is older what she will prefer and also what her friends may call her???

  7. I’m an Elizabeth that goes by Beth. In fact, I cried in first grade when another Elizabeth wanted to go by Beth. A few years later she changed to Liz, & I was the only Beth again.
    My daughter, Parker, is two months old, so we haven’t given her a true nickname yet. I call her Sweet P… & my Little Bird (her middle name is Finch). I’m kind of excited to see what nicknames emerge as her personality develops more!

  8. Nicknames are just fun! And kind of a must, since I picked very “adult” names for my kids (because they’ll spend most of their lives as adults, so I didn’t want cute-sy, little kid names). My little guy goes by his first initial, and my daughter goes by a name that sounds unrelated to her first name but is actually the traditional nickname for her very French name.

  9. I’m a Christine and only 3 people in my life have called me Chris (my best friend, my cousin, and a guy friend named Chris). I love that it’s special to our relationships.

  10. My name is Elizabeth, but I go by Bess. It’s not the usual nickname for Elizabeth, but it is one that’s listed places as a nickname for it. My mom’s mother’s name is Elizabeth, and my dad’s mother’s name was Bess. So my parents used Elizabeth/Bess as a way to name me after both of them! When I started kindergarten, I wanted to go by Elizabeth, but by fifth grade, everyone called me Bess. Now it’s how I introduce myself (except at coffee shops and restaurants where I get things like Beth, Best, or even Bev).

  11. My husband is named after his father, so he has always gone by initials: HR. Now that we’re having a son, he wants to carry he name on so we will call our son Harry. Only his father actually went by the name Harold. So it will be funny to see how “Harry” takes being known as only a nickname. My brother was also named Spence McCormick. But we’ve called him “Mick” for forever. My mom thought Mick would be a cute kid nick name, but figured he’d go by Spence eventually. Turns out, he is just going to go by Mick. With future kiddos I definitely want to give them easy names. Mine is Sena, which is always misunderstood (Tina/Gina/Christina) and the spelling is way complicated for people (Seena/Sina/Cena/Cina). So easy to spell and pronounce names are high on my list of priorities. 🙂

  12. My name is Niccole, but growing up my family almost exclusively called me Kiki, and no one knows why. It would make sense if people called me Nicki, and if my sister who was 2 at the time couldn’t say that but could say Kiki.. but I was never a Nicki. ??‍♀️ So the origin remains a mystery. When I turned 10 or so, I declared to no longer be Kiki. I was Niccole. But once my sister had kids 6 years ago, I wanted to be Kiki again to them. So here we are, almost 15 years later, and Kiki is back, and I love it 🙂

  13. My name is Amanda, but most friends end up calling me Manda! In elementary school, one of my
    guy friends made fun of me and told me that I looked like a moose (little boys are mean!) We’re still good friends, and to this day a ton of my friends from high school refer to me as Moose. Now it’s not a nickname to make fun of me, really just a funny story that stuck. I find nick names super interesting too! Sometimes you just can’t predict what will come ?

  14. I love nicknames! I love how they’re different for each person that knows you. My name is Alyson so almost everyone calls me Aly, but growing up my dad called me Aly Pal my Favorite Gal. Definitely not shorter but a nickname none the less. My aunt shortened that to Al Pal and calls me that to this day (at 30). Only 3 other people in my life call me Al, it’s nothing that’s ever discussed it just works with who they are in relation to me.
    I always think of what nickname my child will have when I eventually have one…it has ruled out so many names on my list!!!

  15. My name is Melissa and my nickname is Lyssa (pronounced like Lie-sah)Not sure why my parents and siblings started calling me that. Majority of my family and friends call me Lyssa or Ly. I’m only called my first name at work and my in-laws and my husband. Whenever I tell people I’m often called Lyssa they are always pretty shocked hehe. Not sure why.

  16. My name is Ezgi, it is a turkish name. The meaning is melody. Because my name is short, I don’t need a nickname 🙂
    I am soo happy to discover your blog.

  17. I was a 3 lb, 6 oz baby who was handed the name Jennifer. I certainly overcame my low birth weight but now prefer Jen. My mom also has a string of nicknames for my brother and I, which are used exclusively by her. Mine include Feetie, Sweet Pea, Cindy (derived from Cinderella after a punshhment), and a few others that are too embarrassing to share. My brothers include things like Yo-Yo and Gaffer. They never caught on…

  18. I was named Dannyelle with the intention of being called Danny by my parents, but they never did. Instead at home I got Dell, which I never really liked. As a grown up my husband and close friends call me Dan. I hated that my name had a weird spelling growing up, but now I love it, even though I always have to spell it.

  19. Born Erin Zieske I have had a few not-so-great nicknames in my life. When I was small, an elder in the church thought it would fun to naickname me and my friend “Grubs” and “Maggot” (Meghan). He saw two little girls in their Sunday finest and was like, “YUP. LETS DO THIS!” Hahahaha– sigh… I was literally Grubs Zieske until I moved away.
    Then in college my initials caugh on. So, this the years where everyone called me “EZ”. Not… the best. I remember one particularly embarrassing moment when a friend’s dad could t remember my name in introductions and settled on calling this college girl in front of him “easy” to his adult friends.
    Now, at 36, I respond to all correspondence with “Erin Z” but have no nickname any longer. A pretty impressive feat since all my friends rock pretty impressive ones like Sarge, Gilby, Spaghet, The Weasle, Fruitcup and Beard. Ha!

  20. Being a Stephanie I have SO many nicknames! Very few people actually call me Steph outside of very close friends and family. Within my family I have 3 names depending who you talk to. My mom calls me Marshie (based on marshmallow which a neighbor said I looked like as a baby due to my pudginess and fair skin…ugh). My sisters call me Dessie(from my niece who was trying to say Stephy as a baby but couldn’t pronounce it), but my dad has always called me by my middle name. He very rarely calls me Steph/Stephanie unless we’re in public. This is my favorite because he and I are very close and I love that he’s the only one that calls me it.
    I love reading all the different nicknames people have and how they get them! Like my husband is a Ryan but his whole family calls him Chuck bc his older brother decided that should be his name instead. We now have a nephew named Charlie to carry on that family name…ha!

  21. Rebekah is my name. My family calls me Becky. I also get Beckster, Becknita, Reba…
    it is super funny to hear what people come up with.

  22. My daughters name is Emorie (EM-ORE-E) and when she was a baby I called her Ree Ree which has transformed now into Reese. I get funny looks and lots of questions from other school parents when call her that and she comes or answers me. But I think it’s a fun transformation. She has two beautiful names!

  23. My name is Cameron, most of my friends call me Cam. My mom has always used the nickname, “Roo”. She said I was so tiny when I was little so she called me Roo from Kanga and Roo off of Winne the Pooh.

  24. I love that it’s the 2nd part of your name vs. the usual nickname for Melissa would be Mel!
    It’s like Topher Grace who is “Christopher”
    Joy

  25. I love our OG long name! It’s lovely! My name kinda sucks for nicknames, I never had one that really stemmed from my name except of course “Lynds” which I hated for a while during my goth years, but am totally fine and happy with being called that now by family/friends … my sisters used to call me BUTCHAEA (pronounced Butch-A-ya) Which morphed in to Boosh. Interestingly enough I never got a complex from that, haha!! My oldest sister also used to call me Moy-buit (Moy Boy is little sister and buit is fart.) 😛
    Teddy’s full name is Theodore but he was Teddy from the moment he was plopped onto my chest after his birth I said “his name is Teddy!” I felt I ought to add Theodore as a full name for later … The full long name is kinda growing on me more lately too and it’s cute to call him that occasionally …
    PS I love how Coco is called Coconut!! Hehe.

  26. My name is Karen and I’m only ever called Karen. My husband is Ramon but he goes by Ray. I’ve asked him if it’s annoying to remember if you’re Ray or Ramon in places but he says it’s not a big deal. We named our first daughter Margaret, and she goes by Maggie (at home to us she’s Chez). I picked the name for our second daughter, Annette (at home she’s Pooks). I always loved that name, and also wanted a name that wouldn’t be shortened. Ray’s family tried calling her Annie the first few months (we even have a Christmas ornament from them with “Annie” engraved on it), but that didn’t last long (thank goodness!).

  27. My middle name is rarely used but the English version (Stella) is more popular than my first name.
    For my first name, my family and close friends sometimes call me Ira. I’ve used the nickname on most social media, as I try to give as little info about myself as possible. Another nickname they have for me is “mouse”, as I love those critters. My username everywhere is a reference to the latter, and now some internet friends call me “mouse” too.

  28. My name is Richelle, there is a family element as I was named for a lost uncle Richard. My family have always called me Cheli (shelly)… the funny thing with my nick name is that since it’s spelled only with letters in my actual name, no one ever pronounces it right the first time… and my given name tends to actually be easier 🙂

  29. My husband and I definitely wanted to give our kids “adult” names with easy nicknames. So Julianne is Julie or Jules and Wesley is Wes. We both go by our nicknames too, so it just made sense to us.

  30. My name is Lisa and my older brother’s name is Christopher. My mother refuses to shorten his name to “Chris”, although most friends call him that. However, she always shortens my short name to “Lis” (pronounced Lease), as if 4 letters are too hard to say!
    I grew up not being able to say “Christopher”, so I called him “Pissy”, a name that I have continued to use into adulthood.

  31. i also had my first name butchered at the start of each school year and still do 🙂 it was important for me to give my daughter an easier name but still stick to the tradition of having a Latvian first name.
    Bremze is mother’s Latvian maiden name and there is the occasional stumbling over it but i gave my daughter 2 fun middle names Bremze Bowie Fulham Hayward.. and she fits her names perfectly!

  32. I’m one of the million 80s babies named Jennifer. I grew up only wanting to be called Jen (not Jennifer and NEVER Jenny), so that’s what my family and friends called me until high school when my best friends started calling me Jenny just to mess with me, knowing I hated it. It stuck and by college I was even introducing myself as Jenny. So now my family calls me Jen, my friends and colleagues call me Jenny, and professionals (doctors, clients, etc.) call me Jennifer. I answer to them all!

  33. I don’t really have a nickname but whenever he does my friend just says ali abay (abi) it means brother in my language my sisters call me that you know as a sign of respect but maybe he likes it the way they call me that so he makes it sound funny :)_ I don’t know. Also this is different but maybe this name might be a nickname it’s in my language again it can be used for pets too I think maybe that would be better, and that is boncuk (pronounced bonjuk) yeah it means beads in Turkish.

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