The 30 Most Flexible Baby Names
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