My name is Addie.

My full first name is Addie. I love it, it was my mother's father's mother's name. Apparently, this has just been too much for some, throughout my life (I'm 25), to process. I have experienced endless incorrect spellings and pronounciations, believe it or not. And always, "What's that short for?" Is my name that "hard" or outlandish? I know it's not very common and was especially strange in 1988 when all my peers were being named Ashley and Britney, but it is a classic, traditional name from the 19th century. People used to give nicknames as full names more often, it's not that difficult. I would never change it, but it gets a little frustrating that so many seem to have trouble with a very simple, two-syllable name. I recently moved to New York City from New Mexico and it's been described as very "Western." I never thought of that. Also, the Namipedia here at BabyNameWizard boldly declares, "is not bestowed as full given name," or something to that affect. Hello!? HAHA. I'm also scared that it is becoming trendy, but maybe that is a narcissistic fear of everyone with an "uncommon" name. I've only ever personally known two other people with my name (both my age) and it is rarely heard in the media. I always kind of liked that, but as I start contemplating my own future children (I'm engaged), I'm tending to gravitate more towards historically common names. Has anyone else with a rather uncommon name experienced the same experiences or felt the same?


March 15, 2014 11:15 AM

It is old-fashioned and reads a bit Western, but I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to have people not accept that it's your full name!  I had a friend named Vicky -- just Vicky -- and she got SO tired of "No, it's not short for Victoria!"  

March 15, 2014 11:42 AM

I once had a student named Vicky, and he got tired explaining that it wasn't Victor.

By EVie
March 15, 2014 1:21 PM

I would respectfully disagree with you that Addie is a "classic, traditional name from the 19th century," though you're partially right in that it was used as a full given name in the 19th century. I would call it a traditional nickname for the classic name Adelaide, sometimes bestowed as a given name itself. Girls' nicknames ending in -ie were a huge fad in the late 19th century (a fad that your great-grandmother was part of), and especially names with a double letter before the -ie—if you have access to NameVoyager Expert, you can see the enormous bump on the right side of the graph made up of names like Annie, Carrie, Effie, Lottie, Bessie, Minnie, Fannie, Hattie, etc. We unfortunately don't have data from before 1880, so we can't see exactly when the fad first started. But I'm quite sure that it was a fad, and if you could go back farther to the beginning of the 19th century, you would see that these names were being used predominantly as nicknames for the full, traditional given names. In fact, Adelaide itself didn't become common in the English-speaking world until the mid-19th century, thanks to the German-born Queen Adelaide (wife of William IV).

I think you'll find that there are two schools of thought on nicknames-as-given-names, and people are pretty set in their opinions—there are the "name the kid what you want to call her" people, and the "put a formal name on the birth certificate to give the kid more options" people (which is the mindset that tends to predominate around here). In the northeast, the latter view also tends to predominate, which is why you're running into people who are confused that Addie isn't a nickname for something more formal. 

As to whether Addie is becoming trendy, well—yes. Again, if you look at the NameVoyager graph for names starting in Ad-, you'll see a U-shaped pattern-a broad bump centered around 1880, then a dramatic spike in the 2000s (with a slight swell around the 70s, made up of the Adrian/Adrienne variants). Addison and its variants are the biggest contributor, but Adeline, Adelaide, Ada and others are also part of the spike—and you can bet that a fair number of those little girls are going by Addie. This is probably another reason why so many people think your name should be short for something—I would bet that a lot of them know little Addies who are really Addisons or Adelines, and that's their only experience of the name.

You can see a similar phenomenon with the Mad- names and Maddie, except that a) the Mad- names were never as popular in the 19th century, and b) the Mad- names have been declining for a few years now, while the Ad- names have only recently taken a small dip. 

March 15, 2014 3:46 PM

Thanks for the input, EVie!

Point taken, but I guess my ultimate point is this: Whether "traditional" or not, my name as a given name and not just a nickname is backed up by historical usage, even if it has faded out in our day and age. In that way, it carries a legitimacy that isn't shared by a lot of popular, invented names today. It shouldn't be that hard for people to spell, pronounce and comprehend, especially in light of the "new" names that people are coming up with today. It's two syllables and pronounced just the way it looks. For these reasons and by my logic, a lot of social reception to my name has been frustrating. And people being weird about my name haven't just cropped up since I moved to New York. This has been a lifelong thing, even back in my "wild west" home state of New Mexico, where people are decidedly more live-and-let-live.


As for the whole nicknames-as-given-names school of thought issue, I can see both sides. But again, that fact itself is probably borne of my own experience with people's reception and reaction to my name. I like the idea of giving my child the option of formality through the birth certiciate name, it is more traditional and I like that. But I also see nothing necessarily wrong with nicknames as given names, obviously. If I were to choose one for my own child, though, I would have to absolutely love it and it would have to mean something for me. Choosing a lifetime of informality for your child is really quite a big deal and carries a lot of social implication in itself. I would consider myself a traditional person. That said, my name has not brought me down, but everyone is different.

By EVie
March 15, 2014 5:16 PM

Yeah, I don't know why you would be having so much trouble with spelling and pronunciation of Addie, and I agree that, even though I tend to prefer more formal names on the birth certificate, I'd take a classic nickname any day over an Addasynne or what have you. 

I have a name with ambiguous vowels that a lot of people have trouble with, and it's something I've just learned to live with. In my case, though, I understand why some people get it wrong—there are other legitimate pronunciations in different languages, and they just guessed the wrong one. My original surname was also very rare, but was extremely easy and intuitive to pronounce. People still got it wrong, I think mainly due to reading too fast and confusing it with a similar-sounding and more common name. 

March 15, 2014 6:42 PM

It's just tough when you don't have a name like Judy Smith. I can relate. I can relate on the surname thing. My surname is extremely uncommon and the name I will take with marriage is, too. But honestly, I wouldn't change anything. While always having to clarify both of my names to (some) people has been annoying, I like my name. I like that it has a history and is a family name. I honestly never gave it much thought as a child, but when you grow up and start thinking about the world your own children will live in, it's different. Looking at all the more creative and non-tradtional names in the Top 1000 today just makes me wonder what kids today have to deal with. I wonder whether some might prefer to be a John or Michael rather than just another Aidan, which can be spelled a million different ways, each variation more ridiculous than the last. All because *their parents* want them to stand out and be "special." When I see names like Andrew and Catherine on kids today, it's like a breath of fresh air. And when I was a kid, maybe it would have been nice to have a "regular" name, Just some musings. Of course, "regular" and "weird" are different for a lot of people.

March 15, 2014 10:28 PM

Well, I personally know a couple Addies, a couple Addys, and an Addi, so the spelling issue maybe partially related to that.

March 16, 2014 1:12 PM

My name is very uncommon and have had to spell/pronounce it for nearly everyone my entire life. It doesn't make any sense to me because it's a simple, one syllable name and does not have a strange spelling. I don't mind it though. I really like my name and like that it is so uncommon. I even enjoyed some of the variations people would come up with to pronounce it. I thought of it like a piece of art in the way that art is not just what the artist intended but also what the viewer perceives it to be. They would pronounce it in ways that reflected their impression of my personality. Some people told me they liked it better with an -ie sound at the end, others with an -a sound and still others managed to make it a two syllable name without adding any letters. Some couldn't embrace it at all and asked if they could call me by my middle name. Many times, people would hear one another pronounce it differently and have little arguments about how to say it. Looking at me to solve the argument, I would say, "All of those are right."

A variant of my name has become very trendy in the last decade. Most people with this name are around the age of 4. I did not appreciate this. As you mentioned, many people with uncommon names have that fear. It is my name, my identity. Hmph! Narcissistic? Yes! I tried to embrace it, thinking that at least people would be able to spell it now. Sadly, I still have to spell it everywhere I go. What's up with that? :/

Aside from that, it has occurred to me that even people with common names have to spell their names. Many common names have several traditional spellings and these days parents are going spell crazy to the point where you can't tell if some names are language variants or "creative" spellings. I don't like this spelling trend because there are so many great, unique names that are never used. If you really want a unique name, select one. Changing i to y or c to k does not make a name unique. Caleb or Kaleb, Melissa or Milyssa, they are the same, common name.

I don't have anything against using a nn as a given name but if it were my child, I would choose a very unique name and use a nn as an option. I'm not into traditional names but if I were, I would use a long form and then give a nn.