Thirsty for some sweet nicknames

Hello lovelies :)

I am expecting my first child soon and I am soooo obssessed with finding the perfect name for him. It's a boy, and me and my hubbers are pretty sure he will be named Nelligan. I wanted to know if you had some nickname idea for that name? I have obviously thought of Nelly, but I am not a big fan :( Any other ideas? I'd like for it to have a logical link to Nelligan, but I'm open to something orginal,

Thank you so much :D 


PS: We are mostly settled on Nelligan, but if you think it's an AWFUL name please let me know and why,


March 8, 2017 7:32 PM

I'm curious about where Nelligan comes from.  Is it a family name?  It honestly does strike me as more feminine leaning, especially since the most obvious nicknames are traditionally feminine (Nell & Nellie).  However, if it's the name you love and/or it has significant meaning for you, I don't think this should stop you from using it.  

Other than Nell/Nellie, I don't know that there really are any intuitive nicknames for Nelligan.  Ligan?  I think I'd probably start thinking of inital nicknames, so something like Nelligan James would become N.J.  Another option would be to mashup first/middle or first/last and see if there is anything there you like.  For example, Nelligan Anderson could get you Nelson, or Nelligan O'Ryan could get you to something like Neo.

Finally, I would also suggest not looking so hard for an intuitive nickname.  Lots of kids go by their full names, so there is no reason why a nickname would have to be forced.  In this case, you'd just wait and see if an organic nickname not associated with his given name happens.  These nicknames are usually along the lines of Buddy, Champ, Scout, Tiger and so forth.

March 8, 2017 7:39 PM

Something to think about: Nelly has a number of associations that might be problematic. They range from nervous nelly to a term for an effete or gay male.

OTOH there are pop culture figures named Nelly, and occasionally people named Nelson are nicknamed Nelly.

If I were considering the nickname Nelly, I would check all the associations to see if there were any I couldn't accept. Personally I am opposed to the appropriation of surnames that do not appear on the child's family tree. If Nelligan is a family name, fine. If not, then it's something I wouldn't do on principle.

March 10, 2017 8:23 AM

Nelly has seen recent use as a given name, too!








Not huge numbers, but I think speaking to the fact that an effeminate man is no longer the first association for many people, and also that it's increasingly a non-issue.

I'd probably use Nel or Nels or Nello as a nickname for a Nelligan.

March 10, 2017 5:55 PM

My first association for Nelly is "it's getting hot in here..." which depending on where you stand might be worse than the gay allusion!

March 8, 2017 11:34 PM

Nelligan sounds like a chemical company and a water filtration company merged and didn't hire a professional to handle the details.

I'm reminded of hooligan and hellion and nalgene water bottles. I googled to make sure I spelled nalgene correctly and came back to see the tab title of "Thirsty for some..." which makes me hope my inspiration is not actually far off.

Some name alternatives you might like to keep your Nel inspiration:


March 9, 2017 9:01 AM

It sounds like a surname to me, and I would assume if I met someone with this name that it was a family honor name. I don't think it's so awful as the previous commenters at all! I think unique names that come from somewhere traditional are kind of cool, and I think he would probably enjoy having a unique name. If you feel too nervous to use it a as a first name though, you could always use something a little more traditional and put it in the middle name spot.

What about the nickname Gil? It is in the name, just backwards. 

By EVie
March 9, 2017 11:23 AM

I have to say, my first reaction to Nelligan is mild confusion--it's not a name I'm familiar with, and at first glance it looks like someone was trying to be creative with a spin on more familiar Irish names like Finnegan, Kerrigan, Corrigan, Gilligan, Brannigan, Madigan, Merrigan, etc. Looking it up, I see that it is a real surname, though seems to be French Canadian rather than Irish. (Karyn, does this sound at all familiar to you?)

That leaves me wondering whether you chose it because it has special meaning to you (a family surname? Or fondness for one of the French Canadian associations?) or because you wanted something that sounds kind of like Finnegan et al but more unusual. To be honest, the Nell- beginning doesn't really work for me as a masculine name--I have trouble getting away from the associations that Miriam mentioned above, and I really can't think of any nickname ideas that work. One strategy I usually like for coming up with nicknames other than the first syllable of the name is to drop middle consonants and come up with something combining the first and last consonants instead (e.g. Pippa for Philippa, Tess for Theresa), but with Nelligan that gives you N-g, a problematic set of sounds.

If Nelligan is really meaningful to you, I wouldn't steer you away from it, but if you just like the sound, I would probably keep looking for a bit and see if you can't find something you like as much that will be a bit easier to live with. Maybe start with the set of names that I mentioned above? There is also Cadogan, which is Welsh, not Irish, but has a similar feel. I actually really like the scan of the 3-syllable "gan" names in general, it's just the "Nell" syllable that's throwing me off.

March 9, 2017 7:01 PM

I've never heard the name before and it does not strike me at all as French Canadian! Where did you find that connection? (EDIT: Ah, from a Fancophone Quebec poet who had an Irish father. Pretty direct.) There is a strong link between Franco Quebecois and the Irish, since both populations were here and over the years there has been a lot of intermarrying/cohabitating. In the mid 1800s, during the potato famine, there were Irish orphans who were adopted by French Canadian families, some of whom were allowed to keep their names despite assimilating into Quebecois culture in all other ways, leading to later generations of French-speaking people with Irish surnames. But no, I've never heard the name Nelligan.

Nelligan also reminded me of Madigan and Corrigan/Kerrigan, both of which are used more for girls, so it read more feminine to me, too. I didn't think of Finnegan or Brannigan, which both feel more masculine, though they don't do enough to change the feeling of the name for me.

(Edit 2: I think that now that I'm aware of the name, I'm going to start seeing it all around. Apparently there's a hotel and multiple schools named after him. The schools aren't in my area, but I've passed by the hotel now and then.)

By EVie
March 10, 2017 12:11 PM

That explains it! It definitely sounds more Irish than French to me, so I was a little thrown off when I googled it and found the poet and the hotel.

By mk
March 9, 2017 3:17 PM

I'd go with Nell or Nels if you wanted something intuitive. I had a classmate once who went by Nell as a nickname (based off of his surname). So it doesn't strike me as all that unusual, since there is a clear connection. But that's just my experience. Nels is also a good option that I think works. Or like others said, you can use something unrelated.

Or what about Neil?

March 9, 2017 6:57 PM

Ell, Elly (female, but still cute), Ellan, Gan, Ellig, Elligy

And for a laugh, Nelli-guns.

March 9, 2017 9:41 PM

My father was called Elly by his family of origin as a nickname for Eliyahu (Elijah).  His civil name was Edward, and he was called Ed/Eddie by colleagues and acquaintances and a nickname derived from our surname by my mother.

March 9, 2017 11:15 PM

I know a toddler named Ely. Mother is Israeli, father is Canadian, sister is N0a, brother is Le0. It works for them.

March 10, 2017 7:14 PM

Very interesting. Elly for a boy is kind of growing on me......

March 9, 2017 8:42 PM

Plenty of men go by Mel, so why not Nel? It seems the most simplistic option.

The only other nicknames I can think of are Neen, Nelg, Nellan, Liggy, Ganny, Lig, Gan, Nan, Nen, Neg, Neel, and Negan (beware of this one though... walking dead fans will understand why!)

March 9, 2017 8:50 PM

My uncle Nelson is often called Nel. Never thought twice about it.

March 9, 2017 10:35 PM

Both Niel and Nels are traditionally male names  (Nels Olesen was the long-suffering husband of Harriet and father of Nellie in Little House on the Prairie). I think Logan would also be fairly intuitive. Angel is a near-anagram, and seems usable to me thanks to Joss Whedon.

If the spelling is significant to you (it's a family name or the where you honeymooned, for example) then ignore this, but if it's primarily the sound you like you could spell it Nelegan (also an Irish surname, I believe) to make the feminine Nell(ie) a little less obvious. (It also looks less like hooligan to me with that spelling, and almost contains the word elegant.)

March 10, 2017 8:16 AM

I think Nelligan is absolutely fine as a name.

As a member of the LGBT community, I can say that "nelly" is no longer a term in use even *within* the community, so I feel that I wouldn't be overly concerned about the existence of the slang term for effeminate men. I think it's very equivalent to "molly", a synonym which ALSO is a hit name-wise right now. It's a thing to be aware of, YES, and it might make me look somewhere other than exclusively using "Nelly" or "Nellie" as a name...and on the off chance that an older person mentions it I would have a response prepared (something along the lines of you being proud of letting your son be himself no matter how he chooses to interpret what it means to be a man or where on the gender identity spectrum he should fall). But, it would not stop me from using a name I loved, especially if there were other options, as in the case where someone is actually being named Nelligan and thus has different nickname options in addition to Nellie/Nelly.

I think with any rare name you'll find that it's not to everyone's taste. That's sort of what it means when a name is rare - you'll find some people have voted with their feet that they do not like the name, in addition to many people who were not even aware the name existed. 

I am assuming you have a family or personal meaning reason for the choice, and in that context, I think it's a super choice. It fits in nicely with Corrigan and Finnegan and Maddigan and Kerrigan. I wouldn't be able to guess the gender of a Nelligan definitively, and might guess female if I had to pick, but that isn't a problem. Two of my sons have names that are very commonly mistaken to be female (similarities to the more well-known Jolene and Winifred) and it in no way bothers anybody - we just use the right pronoun and carry on undaunted. (Being mistaken for female should not be seen as a personal affront, because what on earth does that tell boys about the value of being female?)

March 10, 2017 8:20 AM

Oh, and to answer your question, I recently met a little Nello (I'm only guessing at the spelling) and that might be a fun nickname choice, since -o is both a stylish ending and a sensible diminutive ending. I was really charmed to encounter the name (which was new to me) and in no way did I have any internal dialogue about how Nel- beginnings were feminine or how it was a weird choice, just itching to look up the name when I got home. I think I would have felt comparably about meeting a little Nelligan. If it makes me think of anything in word association it's the biology model organism, C. elegans, but I can guarantee that nematodes will be no one's thought but my own. 

I think Nel is the most obvious nickname, though, and I find emminently usable in spite of it being more often a feminine nickname. But Nels or Nello are also fun twists.

By EVie
March 10, 2017 12:27 PM

I really like the idea of Nello--that o signals pretty clearly that the name is masculine (despite o not being a masculine ending in all languages--Greek and Japanese come to mind. But in the U.S. at least, we tend to look more toward the Romance languages for gender cues). I also like how dropping the second L from Nell --> Nel makes it seem much more masculine. I'm starting to warm up to it now!