In the past generation, parents have seized control of baby names. Sure, they've always been in charge of the name on the birth certificate, but now they want more. They want to send their kids off into the world knowing that every teacher, every friend will call them by the exact names that the parents prefer.
It wasn't always this way. Once upon a time, friends and even strangers could casually call a boy named Daniel "Danny" and nobody would think a thing of it. Today, every young Daniel I know goes exclusively by his full name, by his parents' choice.
There's nothing wrong with steering your child away from a nickname you dislike. You chose a name with care and love, so it's natural to ask people to use that name. Yet there are virtues to the wide-open nickname approach, too.
Nicknaming lets kids adjust a name to fit different stages of their lives, or different social situations: Danny to Grandma, Danno to buddies, Daniel at a job interview. An openness to nicknames also puts control of the name in the hands of the person who bears it. That can help offset the fundamental dilemma of baby naming, that we're choosing a name for someone we've never met, not knowing what kind of person they'll grow up to be.
What if you want the gift of a name to be the gift of flexibility? Ironically, it's the most traditional baby names that offer the greatest options for creative personalization. Nicknames for English standards like Mary, Ann and Margaret proliferated back when those names accounted for half of all girls in a typical village. Longer classics like Alexander and Anastasia lend themselves to many options as well.
The names on this list may not seem like creative choices in themselves, but they'll give your children the flexibility to creatively name -- and rename -- themselves.
Names with lots of nickname options:
Alexandra: Alex, Allie, Andra, Lexi, Sandra, Sandy, Sasha, Shura, Xan, Xandra
Anastasia: Ana, Annie, Nastya, Stacy, Stasya, Tasia
Annabelle: Ann, Anna, Annie, Bella, Belle, Ella, Nan, Nell
Charlotte: Charlie, Carly, Lola, Lotta, Lottie, Tottie
Christina: Chris, Chrissy, Christa, Christie, Ina, Kika, Stina, Tina
Eleanor: Ella, Elle, Ellie, Nell, Nellie, Nora
Elizabeth: Bess, Bessie, Beth, Bethan, Betsy, Bette, Betty, Buffy, Eliza, Ella, Ellie, Elsa, Elsie, Libby, Liddy, Lili, Lisa, Lise, Lisette, Liz, Liza, Lizbeth, Lizzie
Evangeline: Angie, Eva, Evie, Gilly, Lina, Vangie
Genevieve: Evie, Gen/Jen, Genie, Genna, Genny, Ginette, Ginny, Viv, Vivi
Katherine: Kat, Kate, Kathy, Katy, Katya, Kay, Kit, Kitty
Margaret: Daisy, Greta, Gretchen, Madge, Maggie, Maisie, Mamie, Margie, May, Meg, Megan, Meta, Peg, Peggy
Mary: Mae, Mamie, May, Mimi, Mitzi, Molly, Polly
Natalia: Nat, Natasha, Talia, Tally, Tasha
Sarah: Sadie, Sal, Sally, Sarita
Susanna: Sookie, Sue, Sukey, Susa, Susie, Suze, Zanna, ZuZu
Veronica: Nikki, Rona, Ronnie, Vera
Wilhelmina: Billie, Mina, Minnie, Vilma, Willa, Willie, Willow, Wilma
Alexander: Al, Alex, Lex, Sander, Sandy, Sasha, Xander, Zander
Charles: Cal, Charlie, Chase, Chaz, Chick, Chip, Chuck
Christopher: Chip, Chris, Kip, Kit, Topher
Edward: Ed, Eddie, Ned, Ted, Teddy
Frederick: Fred, Freddy, Fritz, Rick, Ricky
Henry: Hal, Hank, Harry
Jonathan: Jon, Jonty, Jonny, Than
Lawrence: Larry, Laz, Lon, Loren, Lorne
Nicholas: Cole, Colin, Klaus, Nick, Nico, Nikos
Robert: Bob, Bobby, Dobbin, Hob, Rob, Robbie, Robin
Theodore: Ted, Teddy, Teo, Terry, Theo
William: Bill, Billy, Liam, Will, Wilkie, Willie, Wills, Wim
NEW YORK, Mar. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Can a name be sexy, friendly, smart, sophisticated or creative on its own, without a person attached? For the past five years, tens of thousands of BabyNameWizard.com visitors have rated the names in the "Namipedia" database on how smart, sexy, creative, sophisticated and friendly they sound. Today, parent company CafeMom announced the results.
"We all carry around our own images of names based on our own personal experience," said Laura Wattenberg, Co-Founder of BabyNameWizard.com. "Naming is dreaming. It's the part of preparing for parenthood where you're looking not just to six months in the future, but six years or 60 years in the future, and who you want your child to be."
With 1.5 million sets of ratings submitted, the results paint an unprecedented picture of the way we view names:
Romance languages, especially Italian and French, dominate the sexiest name lists. Additionally, more than half of the names on the sexy lists end in the classic gender markers -o and -a. Doubled letters also seem to add to a name's sexiness.
For the smartest boys' names, names like Atticus and Solomon are historically linked to wisdom and genius. Surnames like Preston and Truman project a gravitas that suggests intelligence.
Meanwhile, the smartest girls' names lack a strong pattern.
The friendliest name list is full of contemporary creations, including many nicknames. The average name on the list is just five letters and two syllables. The -y ending is the English fond diminutive, the way we indicate affection. That ending dominates the lists for both boys and girls.
Most Sophisticated Names
Every name on the ultra-sophisticated list was in its most formal form, while several nicknames, including America's #1 nickname Mike, were rated at the bottom. The names rated most sophisticated also tended to be long, averaging almost 8 letters, while the average American baby name is 6 letters long.
Most Creative Names
Music-inspired names make a strong showing in the most creative names. For boys' names that comes in the form of specific well-known music artists (Lennon, Hendrix and Arlo), while girls' names more abstractly convey a musical quality (Jazlyn and Calliope).
Methodology Notes: Ratings were submitted by tens of thousands of BabyNameWizard.com visitors over the course of five years, rating names they chose to visit on a scale of 1-100. Rankings are based on names rated by a minimum of 150 users. Alternate spellings may be dropped from lists to avoid repetition. Rare names (outside the current top 1,500 for boys and girls and no appearances in the top 500 in the past century) are excluded.
CafeMom is the leading digital media company for moms, dedicated to improving moms' lives by helping them make better decisions, form genuine connections, and take a deserved break. CafeMom's family of properties reaches more than 30MM UVs / month, and includes CafeMom.com, MamásLatinas.com, TheStir.com, and BabyNameWizard.com. CafeMom is the leader in developing custom programs for top brands, making it the premier strategic marketing partner to brands that want to win with moms. CafeMom lead investors are Highland Capital Partners and Draper Fisher Jurvetson. The company was founded byAndrew Shue and Michael Sanchez.
About BabyNameWizard.com and NameCandy.com
BabyNameWizard.com was founded in 2008 with the goal of creating the most robust, comprehensive and engaging tools and advice for baby name research anywhere. In 2009, TIME Magazine included BabyNameWizard.com on its list of "50 Best Websites," and in 2010, the National Library Association cited BabyNameWizard.com as one of the best free reference sources on the Web. The pair also created NameCandy.com, online home of the advice column "Ask the Name Lady," as well as daily news and gossip about names in popular culture.
Media Contact: Kristina Tipton, email@example.com
Newsflash: Old-fashioned names are getting an update! While we don't expect to say goodbye to Chloe and Noah anytime soon, we're looking to names that hit a peak in the 1920s and 30s instead of pioneer-era names for a little jazz appeal. These are baby names that were fashionable in the flamboyant times of the '20s as well as the hard times of the depression that followed.
A few names from this era in American history are already making major waves, including Annabelle, Calvin, Jack, Lila, and Vivian. They are ahead of the style curve, though some got a head start by never truly fading from use altogether.
That's why we've got our eyes on the names that are filled with potential and just starting to find fresh life. They are the next generation of old-fashioned names, loaded with unexpected charm. If you're looking for an up-and-coming vintage choice, look no further.
Arden: In the 30s, the name Arden was known and passed along to boys as an English surname that arose from several places in the UK. Today this name is rare, but when it's used we see it more often for girls, as it brings to mind not only cosmetics giant Elizabeth Arden, but the word "garden." Mary Arden was the name of Shakespeare's mother, and he set As You Like It in the Forest of Arden. There were 235 girls given this name in 2013, and 68 boys.
Arlo: We love the perfect raindrop sound this boys' name creates, and it has a dapper feel to it after some fledging use in the first third of the 20th century. But today Arlo is poised to leap above its previous position from that era, and even though we wouldn't call this name popular, it's rising quickly. Folk singer Arlo Guthrie was born in the 40s, while celebrities including Johhny Knoxville, Toni Collette, and Natasha Kaplinsky chose this name for their children recently.
Corinne: This lovely French form of Corina was thrust into the spotlight with the popularity of singer-songwriter Bailey Rae. Despite her chart-topping songs, Corinne remains a unique choice after hitting a high point in the 30s. Corinne is the name of one of Jamie Foxx's daughters, born in 1995.
Eloise: It may have hit a high point in the '20s, but we predict this gorgeous, vintage French name can find new life today. Eloise's growing popularity signals that our fear of the "wheeze" sound is coming to an end; instead, it sounds exotic and dignified all at once. Helped in part by names like Ella and Lucy, the time is right for Eloise as a fresh choice that happens to work well in honor of a Louise. This name started to gain attention after the release of Love Happens, a movie starring Jennifer Aniston as Eloise. Eloise was chosen by Denise Richards for her daughter (in honor of her mother).
Geneva: Once a star in the 1920s, the name Geneva could definitely use a fresh look again today. It has a lot going for it: it's a place, in the form of an ultra-glamorous Swiss city, and it has the "eva" sound we've grown so fond of. On the downside, we're wary of names that feel like Jen spinoffs, but have no fear! Geneva is a cosmopolitan throwback name with a personality of its very own.
Harlan:This Old English surname got a boost with Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan (1833-1911), though parents weren't ready for his name until the 1930s. These days, Harlan is showing a teensy bit of life as it appeared in the top 1,000 again in 2013. It's got similarities to Harlow (favored for girls), and is worn by authors Coban and Ellison.
June: Flappers loved this name at a time when short and sweet nature-inspired choices were fashionable for girls. But the sassy image the moms of the '20s may have wanted this name to bear went by the wayside when they grew into the happy homemakers of the '50s, personified by TV mom June Cleaver. Today this name feels fresh and young again, like its meaning, which comes from the Roman goddess Juno.
Leon: Leon is showing signs of life once more after it hit a peak in the roaring '20s. Helped along by the hit rock band Kings of Leon as well as a protagonist in the Resident Evil video games, this name strikes us as surprising and bold, with antique sensibilities.
Marjorie: In the roaring '20s, Marjorie was stylish and fashionable. But it's been a long time since this name felt that way, which actually gives Marjorie a lot of potential among parents seeking something vintage and unique. For the nickname conscious, Marj/Marge is far from on-trend, but Jorie and Jo have plenty of appeal. Marjorie just appeared in the top 1,000 girls' names in 2013 after a long absence, making it impossible to tell if a trend is brewing.
Rosalie: This charming variation of Rose was last popular in the late '30s. We love it today for those wanting a longer take on Rose that feels fresh. A Twilight character helped this name considerably, but we like to think it would have been rediscovered regardless.
Royce: In the '30s, this boys' name was at a high point, fueled by the success of Rolls-Royce luxury cars. Today this surname-turned-given-name is a fitting choice to communicate an appreciation for the finer things in life, much more so than Reese or Jayce.
Truman: This stand-up name has an obvious meaning and a sturdy feel, helped by its presidential namesake Harry S. Truman. While he gave this name a temporary boost when he took office in 1945, the given name Truman was really doing its best in the decades before. Either way, it's been a struggle for Truman to break out of the 900s today, but it has a great sound, and could almost pass for a virtue name. Chosen by actor Tom Hanks, and TV host Alexis Stewart (daughter of Martha Stewart).
Willa: A feminine form of William that makes us think of the untamed prairie featured in My Antonia (and other novels by Cather), this name was actually at its most popular in the '30s. We love its sweet, simple sound and easy charm. Chosen by Keri Russell and Shane Deary for their daughter, born in 2012.