Counting down to the 2011 Name of the Year: Runner Up #1

Dec 9th 2011

A name can reflect a year in many ways, from politics, to commerce, to the arts, to the more familiar arena of pure name style. This year's first honoree -- the name most nominated by readers -- is a style phenomenon:


The name Pippa captured the year through the unlikely avenue of a maid of honor.

In April, RAF Lieutenant William Wales wed Catherine Middleton. Perhaps you heard? The royal wedding was viewed by millions around the globe. Wedding gown designers in particular watched raptly, poised to knock out quick replicas of Kate's sure-to-be-influential gown. Before their eyes, their work was doubled. The white, silken maid of honor dress worn by the bride's younger sister turned out to be the talk of the town, with replicas in high demand.

Similarly, that sister's name, Pippa (short for Philippa), sent out bigger style shock waves than Kate or Catherine. You'd be hard pressed to find an English speaker who wasn't already familiar with the name Kate. It's a core English classic, and in the U.K. it's ubiqutious among women Ms. Middleton's age. In the U.S. Kate surged in the mid-'80s and again in the mid-2000s. But Pippa? Pippa was pure freshness, especially outside of England.

An American girl was more likely to be named, say, Cherokee or Zykeria than Pippa or Philippa. Philippa was cherished by name enthusiasts for its pairing of dignified formal name and kicky nickname, but it was totally off the radar of the general American public. If you said your daughter's name was Pippa, you were more likely to hear "Oh, like Pippi Longstocking?" than "Oh, short for Philippa?"

Not anymore. Pippa Middleton has officially introduced the name to the world. (Or at least to its female inhabitants. It's worth noting the male voice or two in the nomination process that responded to the votes for Pippa with a resounding "huh?") This year, Pippa entered into the naming discussion of many parents who had barely heard of the name a year ago. Pippa also took steps toward emancipating itself from dignified Philippa and standing alone, in all its cuteness.

As cute as Pippa is, it's not overly cutesy -- even to cute-averse Americans. That makes it a perfect ambassador for British name style, a point of mutual understanding halfway between the British favorite Poppy and the American smash Piper. We Yanks may never go for Alfie, but Pippa is the kind of Brit-cute we can get on board with.



By dfulton (not verified)
December 9, 2011 2:33 PM

I've really liked the name Pippa (as well as the name Gemma) since I read the Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray. I think Pippa is a cute alternative to all the -lee, -ly, -lie, -leigh names we are seeing so often.

December 9, 2011 3:44 PM

Wow I'm dying to know what the NOTY is now that Pippa is out of the running. I don't think anything else got more votes so 2011 NOTY must have a really good argument behind it! can't wait to read about it, although I feel like there are going to be more runner ups before we find out the NOTY

I agree 100% with Laura's assessment of Pippa.

December 9, 2011 3:51 PM

Okay, guys. Dilemma. I recently hit on the idea of honoring a beloved relative (with the name Lola) by using Lola as a nickname. Genius, right? But what name gives you Lola as a nickname? I looked around and thought about it and decided that Lola works very well as a nickname for Eloise.

So I tell my husband my brilliant idea and he pulls 'the Face.'

Does anyone have any more name ideas that would get me a little Lola?

December 9, 2011 4:03 PM

Lola is the traditional nickname for Dolores.

By mk
December 9, 2011 4:12 PM

Lola is the nickname for Dolores.

If you don't like Dolores, maybe Penelope or Charlotte could work? Madonna's daughter Lourdes goes by Lola.

I know several little girls named Lola but it's their full name, not nickname.

By Chaires (not verified)
December 9, 2011 4:19 PM

There's a 10 year old girl in my neighborhood named Pippa. Poor girl. She's getting ready to experience a smaller version what I've been experiencing --as someone who was named Claire 25 years before it became the yuppie name of choice.

December 9, 2011 4:53 PM

MelissaK - I think any L name works with Lola, Lindsay Lohan goes by Lola, Lauren Bosworth goes by Lo, Madonna's daughter Lourdes goes by Lola - I think Lola is such a diminutive sounding name on it's own it works with just about any "L" name or any name that has the letter combo "lo" like Dolores (there is no "low" sound in the name but it still works!) - Also I think Lola is a lovely name by itself. but maybe a few alternative options: Melody/Elodie, Philomena, Gloria (I know a few Glorias who go by "Glo" as in Glow, so Lola is close), Flora, Louisa

I love mk's suggestion of Penelope!!!

I also really like Eloise maybe let Hubby sit with it for a little while and bring it back in a month or so to see if he has a different reaction - the more you hear something the more natural/comfortable it sounds

By DEH (not verified)
December 9, 2011 4:26 PM

While not a traditional name-->nickname, I could see Lorelai giving you Lola.

December 9, 2011 5:28 PM

I went to high school with a Pippa way back in the 80s, so it doesn't seem like a fresh name to me. But Pippa Middleton definitely freshened up the image for me as the Pippa I knew was, um, not at all like Ms. Middleton.

By Beth the original (not verified)
December 9, 2011 11:40 PM

I knew a Pippi in the 70s, and everyone called her Pee-pee. You've come a long way, baby!

Cannot WAIT to see what #1 is!

December 10, 2011 12:51 AM

Laura-Beautiful summation of what Pippa means to many (myself included).

MelissaM-My first thought was just plain Louisa. Your husband may be turned off by the El-part being so common a beginner of names of late. Or he may not like the associations Eloise has (British feeling, cartoon/book character). Have you asked him for an alternative or reasoning? Kelly Ripa has a daughter Lola I believe.
Other thoughts:
Jolie; Soleil; Nicole (they all obviously have the long O sound and could be nn Jojo; Leelee; Nicki or Coco)
Loren/Lorena (or alt sp)
I like the Lorelai idea also.

By joye (not verified)
December 10, 2011 2:26 AM

My daughter is named Philippa, nn Pippa or Pip.

The number of people in real life who connect it to Miss Middleton, at least out loud, is nearly nil. I think I've gotten one "like Pippa Middleton?" comment. In contrast, I've gotten dozens of "Pippa? What is that from?" questions and "I've never heard that name before" comments.

She wasn't named after Miss Middleton and we nearly gave the name up when it seemed like the name was going to be so popular (the royal wedding happened just before she was born, but the name had been on our list for months and months). I'm glad we didn't give it up.

If anyone else does have a Pip, I recommend the Karma Wilson "Little Pip" series. It's soooo cute, I can't wait until my own Little Pip is old enough to understand it.

And I've been comforting myself with Philippa Gregory, Philippa of Lancaster, and all the other Philippas out there who have more to recommend them than a cute butt and a famous sister...

By Essy01 nli (not verified)
December 10, 2011 10:31 AM

Since joye brought up Pip I thought I'd ask something I've been thinking about for a while. While Pippa is the nickname for Philippa the feminine form of Phillip, Pip is the nickename for the original Philip (from my understanding and Great Expectations) are there any other feminine versions of male names that tack on a feminine sound at the end of the male diminuitive form to get the feminine nn?

I just love the fact that to get the female version of Philip you add -pa and it works exactly the same for the nickname you just add -pa to Pip... It's a strange symmetry that I really like

By Amy3
December 10, 2011 10:43 AM

Can't wait to see what NOTY is now that Pippa has garnered a runner-up spot!

December 10, 2011 11:26 AM

Essy01-Is that how Stephanie/Stephania came to be? I know you mean nn's but Steve/Stevie can sometimes be Stephan/Stefan and therefore lead to Stephanie right? The only other male/female names with an -a ending I can think of would be Eric/Erica; Wilhelm/Wilhelmina; Victor/Victoria but I understand what you meant--Eric is not really a nn, Willie/Willa (maybe?), Vic/Vicca (probably not).

By Guest2 (not verified)
December 10, 2011 4:14 PM

I've seen or heard of Lola serving as a nickname for a wide variety of naming styles: Lauren, Laura, Eleanor, Louisa, Charlotte, Loretta, Lorelei, Olette, Alexa, and Viola.

By glorp (not verified)
December 11, 2011 1:28 AM

Essy, I think Henrietta/Harriet/Henry/Harry might be another example. According to Wikipedia, "A short version of [Henrietta] is Harriet, which was considered the "spoken form" of Henrietta, much as Harry was considered the "spoken form" of Henry in medieval England." Does anyone know for sure if Harriet was derived from Harry, as a nickname for Henrietta?

December 11, 2011 6:59 PM

Got dh to talk names with me for a little bit. Couldn't believe it! Ursula is still our fave. Others that came up and that he still liked fine were: Magdalene, Claudia, and Sylvia. I still prefer Sylvie to Sylvia, though. Do you think we could use Sylvie and Ursula together? Maybe Sylvie Camille and Ursula Sabine? It was interesting, because he also brought up Astrid. He shut it down before we got to boy names.

By Fas (not verified)
December 11, 2011 7:08 PM


December 11, 2011 9:26 PM

Aw PennyX, yay for dh! I like all your choices.
Ursula Sabine + Sylvia Camille (I prefer Sylvia to match with the ending of Ursula)
Ursula Sabine + Magdalene Camille
Ursula Camille + Claudia Sabine
Ursula Sabine + Astrid Magdalene (this may be too matchy-you might want to use Camille for a mn)

By lynn341 (not verified)
December 11, 2011 10:29 PM

I have to share - just read that a family in Pennsylvania named their new baby "Xyvyn Xanyl-Xarryn." Yes, that's XXX Burnside. Siblings are Dreysen, Karvyr, and Alyrya.
So while I can't say it wins for name of the year, if there were a weirdest name of the year we'd have a winner.

By Penny in Australia (not verified)
December 11, 2011 11:21 PM

thought Pippa would be NOTY for sure!

off topic fun - did Avas cause the US housing bubble? Statistics can prove anything! :)

December 12, 2011 8:53 AM

That's a funny thing Penny in Australia. Thanks for sharing :)

By annonymous (not verified)
December 12, 2011 10:23 AM

I've always liked the name Viola (a family name) with the nickname Lola... I could never get my husband on board, though. I love the name Lola! Good luck!

December 12, 2011 10:42 AM

Viola nn Lola is a great idea! I hadn't thought of that one.

December 12, 2011 12:19 PM

I love all of these suggestions for names that could have Lola as a nickname! Because of (or maybe in spite of) the book Lolita, I've always loved Lola/Lolita but hated that it was derived from Dolores, which means "pain" in Spanish and other Romance languages. I love the Spanish tradition of nicknaming (Dolores --> Lola, Ignacio --> Nacho, Francisco --> Pancho, etc.) as well as adding -ito/-ita for a diminuitive, and it's nice to see that this can be applied to a whole wealth of other names!

December 12, 2011 5:58 PM

zoerhenne & glorp - thanks for the thoughts! I think Harriet works similarly. and Wilhelm/Whilhemina & Victor/Victoria would work really well if the masculine versions better nicknames... like if in some universe Vor was a nn for Victor, then Voria could be the feminine version in the same ways as Pippa is to Pip. It seems Philip/Philippa nn Pip/Pippa is a pretty unique situation mostly I suppose because it's not all that common a practice to just tack on a suffix to a masculine name to make it feminine, generally there is more of a corruption (I don't mean corruption in a negative way) like Christopher and Christine or Michael and Michelle... and then there also has to be a great nickname to go with the masculine name in order to get an equally great feminine nickname.

Thought of one other, Albert/Alberta nn Alb/Alba - but those nn are not in nearly a common/known usage as Pip/Pippa. I have an Uncle Alb but I've never met a woman named Alberta let alone one with the nn Alba. Interesting - well thanks again for indulging my name fascination!


I love the idea of Viola with nn Lola! Other names that end in -ola that could maybe work Nicola, Leola and Romola (I pronounce this like Rom-uh-lah but could be pronounced Rom-mol-lah or Ro-mo-la) - another reason I like Viola is that it has three syllables since Lola is two it's fitting to me that the original name is longer.

By wordygirl (not verified)
December 12, 2011 5:22 PM

How about Laura? (We pronounce it more like "Lora" rather than "Lara" or "Lahra". I think it's a quick trip from Laura to Lola, and yet Laura has a more formal sound while Lola sounds like an affectionate nickname.

December 12, 2011 10:08 PM

This comment probably would have been better said in the previous post about the politicians but-Does anyone else see Newt Gingrich's name and think it reads as Gingrinch? I've seen it so much in the news today and every time I think of the Grinch. I guess I've been watching too many Christmas cartoons.

By breyerchic04 (not verified)
December 14, 2011 2:20 AM

I've been a fan of Pippa since Pippa Mann made a splash in the racing world, she's British and was also born in 83.

By Allison Margaret (not verified)
December 15, 2011 1:37 AM

Essy01's comment about Albert/Alberta reminds me of Robert/Roberta - I've very occasionally come accross men and women nicknamed Bert and Berta from those, and that follows the pattern (albeit not as interestingly as Pip and Pippa).

What about Thomas/Thomasina to Tam/Tamsin? Except for the -a at the end of Thomasina, it fits the pattern. They're interesting nicknames.

By azLaura (not verified)
December 15, 2011 7:45 AM

I'm a Laura who was nicknamed Lola by a young neice who couldn't pronounce her Rs yet. It has become a family name I rather enjoy. My husband Larry became La-lee from the same child. I will caution that the name "Lola" as also the title of a 80s song by The Kinks, so she may hear that from time to time.

November 23, 2013 5:50 AM

Middleton's age. In the U.S. Kate surged in the mid-'80s and again in the mid-2000s. But Pippa? Pippa was pure freshness, especially outside of England.

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Wow I'm dying to know what the NOTY is now that Pippa is out of the running. I don't think anything else got more votes so 2011 NOTY must have a really good argument behind it! can't wait to read about it, although I feel like there are going to be more runner ups before we find out the NOTY jasa tempat membuat website sekolah

I agree 100% with Laura's assessment of Pippa.

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