29 Old-Fashioned Girls' Nicknames with Comeback Potential

Jul 20th 2017

The hottest nicknames of today sound like yesterday. Even as the familiar, everyday nicknames that parents grew up with disappear, a new set of quirky-cute throwbacks is rising. A newborn boy today is more likely to receive the given name Gus than Mike, Dave, or Tom. For girls, Sadie is more popular than Kate, Kim or Jessie…or, for that matter, Katherine, Kimberly or Jessica.

Looking for more new-old ideas? The options are surprisingly plentiful. The early 20th Century was a nickname extravaganza, especially for girls. The trick is that for every old-time name with the revival appeal of Sadie, there are a slew of less promising prospects like Fronie and Mossie.

To hit the bullseye a nickname should be old-fashioned, but not bound too tightly to a formal name that's still stuck in the past, like Gertie and Myrtie. It should be cute, but not quite as cute as Lolly or Pinkie. It can be boyish, but not so distinctly male as Louie and Eddie. It should be a little quirky and surprising, but not as surprising as Leafy and Mintie.

I've identified 29 likely prospects below. All remain uncommon today, with only Hattie and Millie ranking among the top 1,000 given names for American girls.

For parents who wish to use these names purely as nicknames, I've listed their traditional formal sources. You can choose from among them for a full throwback package, or pair the old-fashioned nickname with a more contemporary formal name. For instance, a young Winnie today may formally be Winter or Winslow rather than Winifred, and a young Effie is likely to be…well, just about anything rather than Euphemia.

Image: LindaYolanda/istock

(with their traditional formal sources)

Billie: Wilhelmina; also Belinda, Sybil

Birdie: Bertha, Bridget, Beatrice, Elizabeth

Bizzy: Elizabeth, Beatrice

Dillie: Delilah; also Cordelia, Dahlia, Daffodil, Bedelia, Odelia

Dovie: Dove, Deborah; often just an affectionate nickname not linked to the given name

Effie: Euphemia

Essie: Esther, Estelle, Estella

Etty: Henrietta, Loretta, Annette, Marietta

Flossie: Florence

Georgie: Georgia, Georgina, Georgiana, Georgette

Goldie: Golda; also often given in reference to blond hair

Hattie: Harriet; occasionally Henrietta

Hettie: Henrietta, Hester; occasionally Mehetabel

Letty: Letitia, Lettice, Violetta

Libby: Elizabeth; also Isabel, Olivia

Lottie: Charlotte; occasionally Lieselotte, Carlotta

Mellie: Millicent, Carmela, Melanie

Millie: Mildred, Millicent; occasionally Camilla, Camille, Emily

Minnie: Wilhelmina, Minerva; also Jessamine, Araminta, Arminda, Dominica

Nellie: Helen, Eleanor, Ellen

Polly: Mary; also Pauline, Paulina

Sudie: Susanna, Susan and related names

Sukey: Susanna, Susan and related names

Tessie: Theresa and related names

Tibby: Tabitha; occasionally Elizabeth

Tilly: Matilda; occasionally Ottilie, Clotilde

Trixie: Beatrix, Beatrice; occasionally Patricia

Vinnie: Lavinia, Vincenza; occasionally Lovina, Lavina, Davina

Winnie: Winifred; occasionally Winona, Edwina, Gwendolen, Rowena




July 21, 2017 2:08 AM

You are absolutely right the nickname tradition is slowly dying because most of the parents are keeping their children name short so that’s why there is no need to call them or give them a nickname. Anyway the list of nicknames are excellent and helpful.

July 21, 2017 8:57 AM

You forgot under Letty: Scarlett!

July 21, 2017 11:17 AM

@RosieMac, Scarlett/Letty would be a perfect pairing today! In the early 1900s when Letty was at its peak, though, it wouldn't have been likely. The name Scarlett was essentially unknown before Gone With the Wind.

July 22, 2017 7:05 PM

Mehetabel! Now that's a name we ought to revive.

July 24, 2017 2:51 PM

My Milly is short for Amelia--I know two other friend-of-friend Millies and one is an Amelia/Emilia and the other is a Camila. I know Amelia was a popular name a century ago but that Millie is a non-traditional nick name for it. Now Amelia is super popular and I feel like Amelia/Millie will be the new Amanda/Mandy.

August 17, 2017 2:43 AM

Some friends of mine had a baby girl about eight months ago and her name is Hattie.  Not Harriet or any other longer name, just Hattie.

August 19, 2017 10:14 AM

Just had a friend announce her baby name today---Birdie short for Bernadette!

October 11, 2017 1:12 PM

Ive had a long time favorite that no one seems to like but me, Hildegarde. Hilde for short. I cant explain why but i just love it.