19 Quaintly Gruff Nicknames for Boys

Sep 28th 2017

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


Read More: 29 Old-Fashioned Girls' Nicknames with Comeback Potential



September 28, 2017 12:32 PM

Severely disappointed to see no mention of Buzz!

September 28, 2017 1:12 PM

I'm hearing Ace as a dog name....which means it must be right around the corner for humans!

September 28, 2017 2:40 PM

I learned as a kid that Fitz- was a patronymic term for a bs**rd. (if you get my 'French'!) and while I love the zip of Fitz  I don't thik I'll ever be brave enough to use it. But I do like and would use Hal, Zed & Ned, Happily

September 28, 2017 3:00 PM

RosieMac, the "fitz implies illegitimacy" thing is a zombie myth that keeps popping up over the centuries, but it has never actually been true. 

September 28, 2017 3:35 PM

That "zombie myth" may have originated with Fitzroy which was given to illegitmate sons of kings. The legitimate sons were   styled Prince So-and-so.

By JayF
September 29, 2017 12:08 PM

I knew a boy named Jabe back in school. I always loved the sound of the name, maybe a shortened form of Jabez, though his name wasn't short for anything.

I think Jabe should be more popular. It has a great sound and sounds old and new all at once! I think it fits in with this list of Abe and Jeb...

September 30, 2017 5:11 PM

I know a little Ace, Megan! It's from his initials, but they've called him that his whole life, so partly the initials were chosen to get the nickname. 

October 3, 2017 4:55 PM

A thought for those considering "Ace" - this is a slang term for Asexual, the A in LGBTQIA. As one site for teens puts it:

Asexuality is a sexual orientation, like being straight or gay.  When someone is straight, they're interested in people of a different gender.  When someone is gay, they're into the same gender.  But when someone is asexual, or "ace" as it's called, they're not really into anyone in that way.  They simply don't experience sexual attraction.  Asexuality isn't something that needs to be "fixed" or "cured", it's just a part of who you are.

October 11, 2017 1:07 PM

I've known a couple of "Mo"s whose full name was Mohammed.