Imported Nicknames Put a Fresh Face on Familiar Boys' Names

Jun 28th 2018


Almost every adult Timothy goes by Tim. That name is a core member of the "All-American nice guy nicknames," the everyday name set that was the bedrock of 20th-century guy style. For 21st-century babies, though, those familiar nicknames are endangered species. You may meet a Michael, but not a Mike; a Jonathan, but not a Jon. That doesn't mean, though, that nicknames have to disappear altogether. Picture a Timothy called Timo (TEE-moh) instead. Doesn't it take years off the name's age?

Timo is an imported nickname, a relative of Timothy used in German, Dutch, Finnish and Estonian. In English it's simple and fresh, with a playful energy reminiscent of rising names like Milo and Theo. As a nickname, it might help people see Timothy through new eyes.

We've identified 16 European nicknames that could put a fresh spin on some of the most familiar American boys' names. A few, like Pier for Peter, are translations of the full formal name in their native lands, but all can serve as nicknames in English. If you love the style of a familiar classic boys' name on a birth certificate, or want to honor a beloved relative with an extra-common name, these imports could open up your options. 

FULL NAME NICKNAME PRONUNCIATION USAGE
Alexander     Lex LEHKS

Dutch

 

Anthony Tonio/Toño TOH-nyoh

Italian/Spanish

 

Benjamin Benas BEH-nas

Lithuanian

 

Charles Carlo CAHR-loh

Italian

 

Christopher     Risto REES-toh

Finnish, Estonian, Macedonian

 

Jonathan Jonty JAHN-tee

British, South African

 

Joseph Zepp ZEHP

Maltese

 

Lawrence Renzo REHN-tsoh

Italian

 

Louis Lucho LOO-choh

Spanish

 

Matthew Mats MAHTS

Swedish, Norwegian

 

Michael Mikko MEE-koh

Finnish

 

Nicholas Niko/Nico NEE-koh

German, Finnish, Croation/Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch

 

Peter Pier PEER

Dutch

 

Terrence Tel TEHL

British

 

Timothy Timo TEE-moh

German, Dutch, Finnish, Estonian

 

William Wim VIM, WIM

Dutch, German

 

 

Comments

1
June 28, 2018 11:44 AM

It's still highly unlikely that I would use a classic name like these, but the nickname alternatives certainly freshen a lot of them up. 

Timo is also used in French as a nickname for Timothée.

Who has been around here long enough to remember EO and her son Benjamin who was nicknamed Banks?

2
June 28, 2018 12:36 PM

I remember Eo! She spelled her name similarly to yours. She was always great at coming up with clever nicknames.

3
June 28, 2018 12:45 PM

I had forgotten about Banks!

 

4
July 4, 2018 5:08 PM

I have a 23 year old nephew named Timothy who has always gone by "Timo". His dad (my brother) is also named Timothy, so they chose the nickname Timo to avoid confusion. And yes, my brother spent a couple of years in Finland, which is where he got the idea to use that nickname! 

I like a lot of these nickname ideas. Great post!