Clark Kent baby names: nickname as alter ego
"Meet my son, Thornton." It doesn't get more buttoned-down that that, does it? Thornton is old school, a dense WASPy surname linked with 19th-century-born writers Thornton Wilder and Thornton Burgess. Packing five heavy consonant sounds, Thornton doesn't sound particularly contemporary, let alone exciting.
But what about Thorn? There's a modern name with an edge, a soap opera favorite ready to scale cliffs or plot ruthless revenge.
With most names, a nickname just softens the full name or helps it loosen up and have fun. With a name like Thornton, it does more. It gives you two complete and distinct identities, like Clark Kent and Superman. The mild mannered shell peels back to reveal a dashing alter ego.
Not every name with a super-charged nickname can fit the bill. You can't get the same effect by, say, extending Thorn into Thornsyn or using it as a nickname for Thatcher. The long version (typically a surname) has to be traditional and familiar in its own right, and the nickname has to emerge from it with an ease approaching inevitability. And just as in the world of superheros, male examples dominate.
Here's my starter list of Clark Kent names. Can you think of more?