The Definitive Guide to the Best Nicknames

Definitive Guide to the Best Nicknames

My wonderful mother-in-law, Julia Blair, gave extravagant nicknames to her children. Ben’s is: Benjerbomboom. His siblings (or maybe it was the neighborhood kids) gave him another one: Ben-Benji-Bare-Bottom-Burp-Baby-Blair. All of his siblings have terrific nicknames. A sampling: Jenettikins, Blopsy, Caroliney-Deeny-Diny, Margretchie, and Deedle-Doos. (Just by reading those names aloud, you can probably guess that my mother-in-law was a wonderful singer. And you’d be right.)

My name is Gabrielle but I grew up with the nickname Gabby. Since I talk a lot, it’s always been a good fit. (Hah!)

We were telling our kids about their aunts’ and uncles’ nicknames, and realized that at our house, we’ve hardly used nicknames at all. Ralph is occasionally Ralphie. Maude is once-in-awhile Mimi. Olive is Olive. Oscar is Oscar (with an experimental Osc here and there). Betty is always Betty. And Flora June is Flora when speaking French, and June when speaking English. I love the idea of nicknames and was kind of surprised to realize we didn’t commonly use them.

Also, nicknames and alternate names always make me think of Dostoevsky. I swear, he uses like 10 different names for each character he introduces.

What are your thoughts on nicknames? Do you have one? Do your kids? Do you know anyone that was given a nickname as an adult and it stuck?

P.S. — The names that got away.

216 thoughts on “The Definitive Guide to the Best Nicknames”

  1. Conor is CBiscuit and Conor the Bomber
    Devan is Devan the Destroyer (more when he was little) and Devi more now.
    We had nicknames growing up that stuck too. This was a fun story.

  2. Before I hear from my siblings that I really am losing it, I need to let you know that
    I do remember that my brother, David’s nick-name was “Guss.” It was the
    shortened form of “Guzmo Gusstineo, Hub Grub, Chicken noodle Soup the 24th.”
    Wonder if anyone still calls him “Guss!”

    Also, the Russian language (If I remember right!)
    has marvelous endings for names that express logical terms of endearment. This is wonderful of course, but maybe lacks some of the creativity we have access to in Good Ole English!

  3. My name is Crystal Dawn. Growing up my aunts called me Crystal Donkey (Dawn-key). Then my younger cousins couldn’t pronounce Crystal and started calling me Kiki, which stuck for a long time (some family members still call me that). In college, I got the unfortunate nickname, Monkey, which my college friends still call me.

    My kids are Anna-Banana and Chase-bo-base/Chasilberryfin/Chasey.

    I use to hate my nicknames but now I grow nostalgic anytime someone calls me by one of my nicknames.

  4. My in-laws are serious nicknamers. Everyone in their family has about 10 nicknames, some of which seem to have very little to do with their given name. My husband, for example, was called Pete throughout his childhood (his name is not, nor has it ever been, Peter, Pete, or anything even starting with a P). Viola is called Dolly, Lydia is Lee, Byron is Bunny, etc. Many are called nicknames of their middle name (i.e. Michael Benjamin is called Benji). It took me forever when we were first dating to keep it all straight.

    My family is almost the polar opposite! Those with nicknames were given them as given names (i.e. Jerry instead of Gerald). My sister and I were occasionally called pet names by our parents but we didn’t have any long-standing nicknames that became part of our identities. I find that I am not much of a nicknamer either. I chose my kids’ names because I liked them, not because I wanted them to be called something different!

  5. Our family was never big into nicknames, but I remember in highschool there were several people I only knew by their nicknames. One kid was Tuna, and I never did know what his real name was. A really good friend was Fuzz, so it always took my friends and me a while to realize who someone was talking about if they ever used his real name.

  6. Oh my….. nickname. From day one, my Dad called me “Pookie”. Some people in my hometown to this day (and I am 51) do not know my “real” name. Even had it on my cheerleader uniform. When I went off to college… thought it would be gone. My two roomies were from my hometown so it stayed. To this day……. many still call me “Pookie”. Except my hubby – he met “Sandra” in college and has always called me by that name.

  7. Mine is also a difficult name for a nickname only shortend to Grani or Granit (German for Granite! ??), my youngest brother Philip was caled Pippa, my husband Stephan was shortend to Steffi (actually the shortend form of Stefanie – see Steffi Graf) . But I love giving Nicknames to my kids. Conrads is Küg (short for Kügelchen -tiny ball -due to my huge bump whilst pregnant) but also Con, Concon, Conradinus etc. Lynn is Bimmi, or Bimchen stemming from “Bim”, coined by a neighbours daughter, who couldn’t pronounce Lynn, or Toni from her secoond name Antonia…

  8. Both my husband and I just give out nicknames like crazy, I don’t know why we do, it just happens. Samuel became Sammy, then just Sam, then Sambo, then Bones from his dad, and Bowdie from me…and now little brother calls him Woah Woah (bro bro). Hadley became Haddy, then Haddy Bean, then Beanie, or Haddy Sue, which was shortened to just Sue, then Susie…
    Miles became Milo, then Mo, then Moby or Moses, and he calls himself Mo Mo.
    Maybe we’re a little nickname crazy. But I do think it’s interesting to see how those things evolve over time.

  9. My GuyFriend calls me Ruckus (and Rucks) because I tend to be a little, uh, loud. I accidentally slam doors, drop things, trip, etc. far too often. It started soon after we started dating and I wasn’t flattered by it, but two years later I find it endearing.

    He calls my daughter Drama. She’s 14 yo, that pretty much explains the reasoning there. ;)

  10. Some of my own nicknames include: Jennamanoo, Nettie Betty, JJ, Jean, or Jeanette la baguette de la boulangerie (this is one my roomie gave me because I’m a Francophile!).

  11. My mom used to call me Tigger because I bounced around everywhere. My girls are Claire/Claire-Bear, Rachel/Rachey/Rachey Pachey/Pachey, and Zoe/ZoZo/ZoZoBean/ZoBanks/Z-Meister. She definitely has the most. :)

  12. But of course! I think it would be weird to NOT have nicknames!

    I was Buggy as a child. My husband was Sparky. Sparky and Buggy married and had Zoe (Zozo, Zo, Zoo-eee, Zo-bird, ZZ, Z, ZZ Top, Zoes Toes, and many many more, probably the most fun name ever) and Charlie (Chars, Charchie, Cha Cha, Chaz, Chuckie, C-Man, Charlie Brown, Little C-Buddy)

  13. My children pretty much have no reason to know their real names. My daughter, Amelia (4), answers to all of the following: Mim, Mimmy, Midge, Midgie, Smidge, Smadge, Snug, Snuggy, Snuglette, Amy, Amy-Grace, Milly, Mizzy, Misery, Snoodle, Snoodlebug, and Baby (though she’s rebelling against that one these days, while I’m trying to keep it in rotation ala Dirty Dancing). I’m sure there are more. My son, August (16m), will already answer to: Gus, Gussy, Goose, Goo-goo, Deuce, Deucey, Doodle, Doodlebug, Doodlebear, Dew, Dewey, Bug, Buggy, Buggaboo, Buggadoo, Buggy-doodle, Guss-a-lump, Fuss-a-lump, Fuss-a-Gus, and Diapers.

      1. Thanks! My family thinks I’m crazy, especially since I made a pretty big stink about them NOT calling my daughter “Mia”. I just don’t like it. But they’re all like “and yet you call her Mizzy…???”

  14. My dad’s side of the family is Italian, so there were a whole lot of nicknames in their family. As a result, my dad’s given us a fair amount of nicknames–mine at home is Belle. And technically, my name is Anne, but I think of myself much more as Annie.
    Outside of home, I don’t tend to make up a lot of nicknames. I think it’s something you really can’t force; it’s got to happen naturally.

  15. I call my youngest Gigi. It’s short for “Grumpy Greta.” She has a more sensitive, tender and grumpy personality. I needed to laugh about it, so I called 4pm onwards “Gigi hour.” And the nickname “Gigi” is sticking, for now. She’s only one a half after all.

  16. I think nickname either naturally occur or they don’t. my dad called most of us by the same nick name and it wasn’t til I was a teen that I realized he was calling my younger sibs the same name. that I vowed I would never do!
    but that being said our first daughter is Grace and will often go by Gracie or babe, otherwise not much happening there. where as our second daughter is Ella – Ella Bella, Girl Ella (gorilla), Ella font , my husband has loved playing with her name. our third is a Ruby and aside from Ruby two shoes, and Rub a dub girl and maybe Rubs, I am not sure any of those will stick forever. now our fourth, due in December, will be a fourth generation John – and he will forever be known as Jack, because you can only handle so many John’s in one family and five is more than we really need to keep track of! will be fun to see if anything develops from there. fun food for thought!

  17. My brother had a girlfriend named Jessica, but no one knew her as that. Everyone called her Jecca. When she was born, her brother pronounced Jessica as Jecca, and it stuck.

  18. My name is Jennifer. I always introduce myself as Jennifer, not Jen or Jenny. My mother always insisted that we not shorten our names (she named us Jennifer, Melissa, Catherine, Patrick, and Daniel, some of the most shorten-able names out there but we mostly all go by our full names). But my nicknames have included Shmogen, Jiffer, Fers, Jinx, Jennyferry, Juju, Jude, Number One, Jodom, and a few people call me Jen. I know exactly who gave me each one. I am NEVER Jenny, except my baby brother called me that for a little while (and my old boss randomly called me Jenny from the block).

  19. My daughter was very small when she was born and I said something about her being a pipsqueak when she was only three days old. It stuck and we began calling her Pippy, Pip, Pippa, etc. She’s now eight years old and goes by her given name at school and church, but in our home she’s mostly Pip. And she’s still pretty small.

  20. I was nicknamed “Pumpkin Eater” by my parents when I was small for reasons that I’m not exactly sure of. So to keep it a little shorter I was always “P.E.” to them. It was funny when my husband first came to dinner and my mom called “P.E.” to help her in the kitchen. He was very confused when I got up to help!

    I’ve always wanted to give my children longer names so they can have nicknames and still have a “professional” name in a business setting. I think nicknames are very personal and something only your closest friends and family should call you. It makes it special that way. :)

  21. My brother Jonathan couldn’t say my brother Andrew’s name when he was a toddler, and so called him Ange-oo. Which eventually morphed into Angie, or Ange. But that is strictly a family nickname. He goes by Andy usually, which is funny because my mom was really opposed to the name because she didn’t like the nickname Andy. But apparently it was my Dad’s “turn” to name the baby (Andrew is #5 of 7). And my brother Philip is called Uncle Philly-dill by all of his nieces and nephews.
    My daughter Eleanor is usually called Ellie, but my favorite nickname for her is Ellie-Ellie-Jelly-Belly, which sometimes is just Jelly Bean. And our youngest Clara is frequently called Clara-bear, though Ellie usually just calls her “My Baby.”

  22. My daughter Ramona answers RJ, RamJam, Momo, Mo, Mona, Monie, and Peanut. I was mortified when she started calling herself Momo because her 2 year old voice and way of speaking made her sound like a cavewoman. MOMO HUNGRY!

  23. There was this large italian family when I was in high school, the Sparacinos. And I’ll never forget that every single one has a nickname that meant something special. We memorized the order like a nursery rhyme and I still remember it to this day!

    Angie, Razzy, Seppie, Petey, Reesie, Lombardi, Lacey, Mamie, Ashby, and Spud!

    I always remembered having such fond memories of that family. There were so unique. :0)

  24. Cute topic!

    A LOT of nicknames in my life!

    For some reason my Dad has always called me “Squeak” – I’m 30 now and he still calls me that, and sometimes “Squeak-a-rooni”. I love it :)

    Most common nickname is Sal (which most people call me), I get Aunty Sal from nieces & nephews, and friends from highschool call me Sal, Salvatore, Salvacore, Salamander, Sally Jessy Raphael. I have one friend in particular and we call each other “Bunchie” or “Bunch” or “Bunches” (which originally came from honeybunch and stuck!).

    My husband Matt & I call eachother “Bunny” or “Buns”, and so some people in his family call us this too :) (Sally Bunny or Matty Bunny)

    My husband’s grandmother calls me “Sally Dear” :)

    ….and finally, most of my husband’s immediate family (who are all hilarious!) call me “Sarri Wirri-am-su-dess” which is how you pronounce my maiden name (Sally Williams) in Japanese!! My husband’s sister, brother, and Dad pretty much only call me this :)

  25. One other thing – until I was about 12, I actually thought my great-grandmother’s name was Sylvia, because everyone in the family called her “Silv” – but I was shocked to learn her name was actually Rita, and people started calling her Silv when she got lovely silver hair at a pretty young age. Funny!

  26. We’ve got Tom-a-lom-a-ding-dong who is also known as TomTom dot com (he loves computers) or Hanse (as in, short for Handsome). We also have Sarah Bear, aka Sunshine Girl or Punk (as in, short for Punkin Pie). And my husband and I call each other Bean. My family all had long, singsongy nicknames when I was growing up — I loved it!

  27. Ah, I can’t imagine no nicknames. It’s not too late. I can just imagine your family planning some cheery event to gather around the table and discuss this. So cute.

    My sisters and I apparently are nickname people. Everywhere we go we get nicknames. In my family we have nicknames that have evolved from nicknames. One of my sister’s best nicknames happened because our mom made a typo of my sister’s original nickname on her “About Me” poster in grade school.

    My blog name is from a nickname. Every time I play sports with a bunch of guys, wherever it is, they start calling me Special K and it sticks. Now that I have my own little clan, I think we each have at least 5-10 nicknames. My current favorite for The Bug (her blog nickname) is ScribbleScrabble – a hilarious word she made up when she saw Elmo scribbling on a DVD.

  28. My parents gave my 2 sisters and I names that couldn’t be shortened but they would add on terms of endearment to our names. For example, I was Ginny-boo, Ginny-honey. My sisters were the same with their names- April and Emily.
    My daughter Amelia goes by goose (my husband called her that because she always was smiling and laughing-as in silly goose). When he brother came along he called her Mimi. Sometimes she gets Amelia-Bedelia (one of my favorites. When she was a baby she was babygirl.
    My son’s name is Roxton. He gets called Roxstar, knucklehead. When he was a baby I called him Stinkerdoodle.

  29. How fun! I was Priss when I was little and then when I was in my late teens, my baby bro was a toddler and he could only manage to call me ‘We’ and that is the one that stuck. My family calls me that and the neices call me ‘Aunt We’. (Also, In high school, I called my friend Steven ‘Stu’ and it caught on. Everyone still calls him that.) When we were in the process of adopting our daughter her name was Luna, which we liked. Unfortunately, the nicknames are all unattractive – Luna-tick, Luna-Tuna, and Luna-Balloona. So we went with Lucy, instead. And we call her Goose or Lulu.

  30. I also love the idea of nicknames! I wish I had one, but there isn’t much to do with the first name Esther. We call our son Jacob “Jake-the-Snake.” Our soon to be born daughter has a name that has no nicknames. We’ll see what we come up with. I tried to call my husband Pip (his name is Philip) but it never stuck.

  31. Fun question! Our daughter actually got her name from her nickname. During the long two years of the adoption process, my mother-in-law started calling her “lilypad” and the Lily part stuck when we finally got to bring her home!

    We still call our 13-year-old son “Mouse” from Mem Fox’s “Time for Bed” (“It’s time for bed, little mouse, little mouse”), Lexie is “Lou Bird,” and I call Will “Willoughby” because of Jane Austen.

  32. Oh how I love nicknames! They seem so endearing and loving to me. I chose my girls names with the intention of also using a nickname. Hadley is Haddie or Haddie-Boom-Ba-Laddy. Mallory is Mally or Moo-Moo-Licious. Audrey is Ree Ree. Brinkley is Baby Bea or Brinky-Dink.
    Get this….my mother-in-law is legally Linda. For some reason her family started calling her Nicki. Now she goes by that!

  33. We specifically gave our boys names that could not be nick-named. So Hugo and Malcolm are referred to by their full names. Occasionally, we will call Malcolm “Mac” or “Mac Attack”. Having grown up with a super popular name myself (Jennifer), that could be nicknamed all kinds of ways, I was adamant that our kids names would be just that.

  34. I gave my older daughter nicknames that were longer than her given name of Evan. I call her: Ev, Evie, Evelyn, and EvaLinda
    I called both kids Gooby as infants. It was short for ‘good baby’
    So the 2 nd daughter is called Gooby girl, goobs, gooberini, goob-it, Gooby doobie do. Her name is Jillian, she goes by Jill. I also call her Gigi, jilly, jilly-Ana.
    My husband hates most of those names, he sticks with Ev and Gigi

  35. I agree with those who say nicknames = endearments. It’s a language all its own within the family, a kind of intimacy. As one commenter wrote: we have “created a kind of club with our own special nicknames.” If the names spill out into public life, that merely extends the love.

    PS: I’ve learned to make sure “legal names” appear on important documents so I’m not creating chaos at some future date.

  36. I’ve been calling my younger brother “Boy” for seventeen years. Before that I called him “FouFou,” I haven’t used his actual name regularly since I was thirteen and he was nine. Only enough I don’t have nick names for my other siblings. My kids though, they all have multiple nick names.

  37. I’ve been called, Pamie, Pam-a-lam-a-ding-dong, Spam.

    My kids-
    Greta: G-girl, G-love, Gretie, Gretie-spaghetti
    Elsa: Elle and E
    Stuart: Stuey, Stu, Studabaker, Kicker (when he was in my tummy).

    Fun to read so many nicknames!

  38. How funny that you mentioned “GABBY” because when I tell people about your blog I have a habit of saying, “you know, Gabby S******, it’s her blog” (Awesome isn’t it). My mom hated nick-names. I guess she was really worried that we would not be known for who we are. What ever! Love mom & yet the nick names are still around. We have Rach, Nella, Sambodia, Verney wormy, Treese, La la, Eenie tiny & Nate. But do NOT ever call my oldest bro. Chuck or he might just kick-your-butt! Funny since he is the one who made up some of the other nick-names…Hmm. Ha ha. Isn’t family just grand.

  39. I was Pookaloo or Pipparinapicccolo. My son Cameron is Cama-Rama-door-slammer. Nicknames are so special and can connect you to the best times in your life, to people who care and love you regardless.

  40. I love this post. No one knows my sons nickname except him and my husband. I guess because it makes no sense and it just popped in my head one day while I was feeding him. His name is Noah and his nickname is “Nova Scotia” :). I dont know why but it sounds a lot like Noah so he responds to both.

    On a side note I would really like to visit Nova Scotia, now that I can geographically place it on a map.

    My other name is “susana-banana”. Thanks to my sister whom had a hard time pronouncing my name. To this day some 25 years later “banana” is still used and I still respond :).

  41. My daughter’s name is Michal, and her nickname is Doodles. I started calling her Sweetly-Doo when she was a baby, and my husband shortened it to Doodles. I didn’t really like it at first, but now I do, and it’s what we call her a lot of the time. She went through a stage where she didn’t like it, and we tried really hard not to call her that, but then one day she said she didn’t mind it anymore and so we still use it. She’s 3 (almost 4), so we’ll see how long she lets us call her that. :) My husband also calls her Munchkin which I think is cute.

    My mom’s nickname as a kid was Toadie, because one day when my grandfather came home from work she was playing in one of the kitchen cupboards with only her (bare) bum sticking out and he said “I think we have a little toadie in the house”. I think it is the cutest story/nickname.

    I actually know quite a few people who have been given nicknames as adults that stuck. One that comes to mind is a friend from college who my husband nicknamed Cupcake because one spring break, his girlfriend (also a friend of ours), kept smelling cupcakes, and then saying how much she missed her boyfriend, and my husband said maybe she was smelling cupcakes because she missed her Cupcake. Funny how these things happen isn’t it?

  42. I love nicknames! I never really had one (other than Kel… boring!) so it’s something I always think about when I hear a new name I like for a someday child. I can say that my dog has about 100 nicknames though, guess my future kids are doomed! ;)

  43. I love nicknames! Mine is “Schnuppstern” from Sternschnuppe which means shooting star in english. My son is “Mucki” (the u spoken like in doodle) – no translation, because it’s not really a word – and my daughters are “Die Prinzessin” und “Frau Klitzeklein” in german. Would be translated “the princess” and something like “Miss Itsy-Bitsy”.

  44. Since childhood my dad calls me Doré (french for golden) as a french co-worker of him exclaimed when he saw me the first time “Ah – tu as une fille dorée!” (You have a golden daughter).
    My two boys – now 3 and 5 – have nick-named ME: they call me “Mimi”

  45. My friend in college was pulled up on stage for an orientation concert comedy. The guy leading it jokingly called him Squirrel and said, “Ok well this is your new nick name. Everyone call this guy Squirrel.” Well it stuck and fortunately he liked it. It’s now six years later and his wife still uses the nick name!

  46. My friends sometimes call me by my initials – KP. When I was a teen, one of the people I babysat for sent me a note and misspelled my name: KINREN. It’s been an inside joke with my brother ever since. He stills calls Kinren from time to time.

  47. We love nicknames in our family. I am Boo, Bootie or B. My son is Sammyboy, Sammylamby, Bubs, sweet boy or dudeski. My poor hubby doesn’t have one, I call him love.

  48. I love this post! So interesting that your generation is the reverse. We’re the same but a mirror of your story. My parents were very proud that they carefully chose names for both myself and my siblings that would be nickname free, short names. Like June + Maud — 4 letter names and none of us ever, ever had nicknames. I always liked this idea but with our three children, we did the opposite: all have long names with definitely nicknames – nicknames that sometimes almost replace their given name. Nice post!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top