Try to think of a trendy boy's nickname. One that's fashionable as both as a nickname and given name, and zooming up the popularity charts.
Did you guess Hank?
Believe it or not, even in this age of smooth liquid and raindrop names, hearty old Hank is one of the hottest nicknames in America. It leads a pack of names that are bucking the anti-nickname trend with their aggressively old-fashioned appeal.
Throwback nicknames are rising for girls, too. The top female choices are "quirky-cute" favorites like Sadie and Millie, keepsakes from the days when formal name were routinely chopped down to cuddly size. (Sadie was originally a diminutive of Sarah; Millie of Mildred or Millicent.)
The throwback boys' nicknames, though, look a little different. With a few exceptions like like the unisex hit Charlie, today's boys' nicknames aren't diminutives. Their mood isn't quirky-cute so much as quaintly gruff. Take Gus, for instance. That charmingly blunt little name used to be mostly delegated to the phrase Grumpy Gus, but it just returned to the top-1,000 charts for the first time in decades
Some of the boys' nicknames aren't even short for given names at all. They're traditional "earned" nicknames, unrelated to what was written on a baby's birth certificate. Consider "Doc." Baseball pitcher Dwight Gooden became Doc from the nickname "Dr. K," referring to strikeouts. Old West legend Doc Holliday actually held a degree in dentistry. The given name Doc is still uncommon, but its use tripled last year.
Below are 19 more ideas for uncommon nicknames with an old-time no-frills charm, along with some notes on their traditional uses.
Image: Angie Sidles/Shutterstock
19 Old-Time No-Frills Nicknames
Buck: Term for a male deer, typically a childhood-acquired nickname for absolutely any given name
Jeb: Occasionally short for Jacob, but more often taken from initials like Jeb Bush, born John Ellis Bush
Ike: Short for Isaac, or occasionally for other first names or surnames starting with a long "I" sound, like Dwight David Eisenhower
Hal: Short form of Harry, which in turn can be a diminutive of Henry, Harold or Harrison
Moe: Used in the early 20th Century as a short form of many M names, especially Morris/Maurice and other names given as English stand-ins for Moses/Moshe
Abe: Short for Abraham
Jed: Originally short for Jedidiah, but more common as a standalone given name in the 20th Century (especially in Australia)
Fitz: Short for any first name or surname beginning with Fitz-, a Norman surname prefix meaning "son of"
Mitch: Short for Michael or Mitchell
Bud: Short form of Buddy, a once-common nickname unlinked to any given name; note that "buddy" is now a standard way that parents address young sons, apparently to avoid calling boys terms like "honey"
Cab: Short for any first name or surname starting in Cab-, as in bandleader Cabell "Cab" Calloway
Zed: The British term for the letter Z, often a standalone name but occasionally short for Zedekiah or any other Z name
Dutch: Originally a term for someone of German (deutsch) descent, then became a more generically used nickname
Walt: Short for Walter
Ned: Short for Edward, or occasionally Edmund
Tex: A nickname given to a man from Texas, or someone who seemed (or wanted to seem) like a cowboy; occasionally short for the given name Texas
Duke: Originally bestowed as a nickname based on a person's noble bearing, confidence, or mastery of a talent, and later in reference to earlier "Dukes"
Fritz: A German nickname for Friedrich/Frederick, also heard as a sobriquet for German troops during the First and Second World wars
Mose: Short for Moses, or occasionally other Mo- names like Montgomery
It’s tough these days to walk onto a playground and not hear “Liam,” “Owen,” or “Connor.” Today’s moms and dads have embraced the Celtic sound, and for good reason - these names balance a boyish vibe with friendliness and flair. However, finding an appealing name in this style that’s not taken by five other boys in his class - there’s the challenge!
Here are fifteen names that fit the bill - masculine and modern, these names all have an amicable feeling and Celtic background without being too popular. If you’re looking for a name outside the top 500 for your little one, this is the list for you.
Image: Thierry Maffeis/Shutterstock
Lorcan. With the fabulous meaning of “little fierce one,” Lorcan is a force to be reckoned with. It’s fairly popular in Ireland, being the name of several ancient Irish kings, but this handsome choice has yet to cross the pond. Might Lorcan soon join the ranks of modern favorites Landon and Logan?
Teague. Now that Teagan has been claimed by the girls, Teague feels like an ideal alternative for the boys. It comes from the name Tadhg, meaning “poet,” and would work well as an honorific for a writer. Teague also fits well with the modern trend towards surnames-as-first-names, if you’re a fan of the style.
Eamon. Pronounced “AY-mun,” this name might cause some confusion at first - but it has so many wonderful qualities that it’s more than worth it. It’s an Irish form of the name Edmund, with plenty of namesakes in history, politics, and entertainment. With a dapper tone and a friendly vibe, Eamon is an uncommon choice just ripe for the picking.
Angus. While the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand have embraced this vintage choice, the United States has yet to follow suit. In Celtic mythology, Angus was the god of love and youth - an inspiring backstory. The nickname Gus is darling, but longer form Angus feels rugged, adventurous, and retro to boot.
Colman. Sources vary on Colman’s history - it’s either an Irish derivative of Columba, or an occupational surname variation. Either way, Colman fits in well with contemporary picks like Cole or Colin, but maintains its own refined air. In addition, Colman has a long history as both a royal name and a saint’s name, adding to its charm.
Murphy. Cute on a boy and confident on a man, Murphy has an unparalleled personality. It’s the most popular surname in Ireland, which could appeal to American parents honoring their ancestral roots. While the television show “Murphy Brown” focused on a female lead, Murphy is the kind of name that wears well on both boys and girls.
Lachlan. Originally a Scottish name for Norse invaders, Lachlan could work well for families with both Scandinavian and Celtic heritage. This dashing choice has been worn by athletes, politicians, and musicians, making it an attractive name for all types. It’s particularly popular in Australia, but currently only ranks at #700 on the US top 1000.
Finnian. With the rise of adorable Finn, many parents are on the lookout for a longer form that adds more substance to the stylish pick. Why not choose classic Finnian? It was worn by several Irish saints, and graced the Broadway stage in “Finian’s Rainbow.” Simple yet sweet, Finnian is a great mix of history and the here-and-now.
Conall. Strong and sophisticated, Conall is a great substitute for popular Connor with a more unusual vibe. The name adorns a hero in Irish legend, as well as both a king and a saint in the Middle Ages, making it an especially noble option. Conall comes from a name meaning “strong as a wolf” - a cool trait for a marvelous name.
Duncan. An historically royal Scottish name, debonair Duncan is also known for it’s literary prominence - it’s featured in all kinds of classic writing, from Shakespeare to Cooper to Irving. Kids will appreciate the connection to Thomas the Tank Engine, as well as A Series of Unfortunate Events. Despite its pop culture prestige, Duncan has always flown just under the radar in name trends, giving it a sense of timelessness.
Torin. From an Irish Gaelic word meaning “chief,” Torin is a more accessible alternative to Thor and a more unique alternative to Tristan. While it fits in with modern sounds, Torin has never ranked on the US top 1000, making it rather uncommon. If you’re looking for a name that’s both pleasant and powerful, Torin might be the choice for you.
Brogan. While this name sounds like a combination of Brody and Logan, Brogan is actually an old Irish surname with a jovial vibe. It’s been used for both boys and girls, but Brogan fits in better with names like Brandon and Brady. Saint Brogan was the nephew and scribe of Saint Patrick, adding another Irish connection.
Kiernan. A variation of Kieran, Kiernan is another Celtic surname with an historic background centuries old. Though the most notable namesake is actress Kiernan Brennan Shipka, the name works well for both genders. This lovely choice - meaning “little dark one” - has a kind and spirited personality.
Dermot. Dermot is a modern variation on the name of a warrior from Irish mythology, as well as the name of some early Celtic kings and saints. Modern actor Dermot Mulroney helped make it familiar in the US, but this gorgeous choice has yet to be popularized. Cheerful nickname Derry makes it a bit more friendly as well.
Thane. A title for certain noblemen in ancient Scotland, Thane is a suave option that’s similar to favorites Shane and Zane. It’s been recorded in the US as far back as 1916, but has never been used for more than 58 boys in any given year. An old-fashioned yet edgy choice, Thane is a memorable name with style.
The top of the new English baby name charts has a traditional look. It's stocked with regal classics like royal kids George and Charlotte, plus cuddly English favorites like Poppy and Archie.
If you want to see where name trends are headed, though, you have to look past the top-10 list. The fastest-rising names of the year in England and Wales point in directions both old and new. Check out the top risers and top new debuts of the year:
ENGLAND'S HOTTEST RISING NAMES OF 2016
Together, these name show off a combination of global and local style. Kylo, for instance, was also the fastest-rising boy's name in the United States courtesy of a Star Wars film. (It's also a great illustration of how modern celebrity names are about style, NOT homages. Read more about the Kylo phenomenon.) Adaline, similarly, was America's movie-inspired top riser of 2015.
But Jorgie? Reggie? Louie? Those nicknames are pure Brit-cute style. Even the girls' name Paisley, which was already a Western-styled U.S. hit (a la country singer Brad Paisley) follows the Poppy-like cute model. Other names that appeal to the same American parents as Paisley but lack that sweet style, like Raelynn and Hadley, remain unknown in England.
One more trend to watch is the rise of "high Scrabble value" letters in names like Ezra and Jaxon. Additional hot X & Z names include the word names Zion and Fox and the more traditional names Beatrix and Rex.
Looking at new names that didn't appear at all in last year's stats, the hottest are inspired by different corners of popular culture.
#1 Boys' Debut: Kion, the royal lion son in the Disney animated series The Lion Guard
#2 Boys' Debut: Jolan, a one-named singer who appeared on the singing competition The Voice UK
#1 Girls' Debut: Rey, the heroine of the film Star Wars: The Force Awakens
#2 Girls' Debut: Hollie-May, popular English model Hollie-May Saker
Once again, some of the names and cultural references will be familiar to audiences around the world, while some are uniquely home-grown. Hollie-May in particular is as English a name as you'll find today. The hyphenated style is much more popular there than in the rest of the English-speaking world, and NO name ending in May is hot in the United States.