One of the most fun parts of being pregnant is beginning to think about names for your new baby — especially
traditional baby names with nicknames. You might overhear a mom call out to her son at the store and jot down his name for later, or you plan to honor a beloved family member or ancestor by using their name for your bundle of joy. And when you get to choose nicknames for old-fashioned baby names, then you’re really in the mix. You say it aloud with your last name just to see and run it past friends, or maybe you keep it a secret until the big day finally arrives.
No matter how you go about choosing a name for your baby, it’s important to think about all the nicknaming possibilities for your child. When I talked to my mom about naming my son, she shared that she sometimes wishes she’d chosen differently so my sister, Ashley, could use nicknames throughout her life to suit her at different ages. It’s part of why she chose Kathryn for me, so I could be Katie as a kid, Kathryn in a career, or Kate as an older woman.
For many parents, that ability for a name to transition through a lifetime is why they love old-fashioned baby names. Choosing a traditional name with a modern nickname means you can give your kiddo a classic foundation, but still use a trendy moniker you love.
1 Theodore / Theo
Theodore probably comes to mind pretty quickly when thinking about old-fashioned baby names with cool nicknames. Not only is Theo one option, and a trendy one at that, but the adorable Teddy will always be there as a backup if Theo doesn’t fit your little dude.
2 Theadora / Thea
And for little girls, you should definitely consider Theadora. Thea on its own is a Greek name meaning goddess, while Theadora means God’s gift. Thea is a beautiful nickname that’ll work for your daughter at any age, whether’s she’s running across a playground or running a company.
3 Oliver / Ollie
OK, picture a chubby baby boy with rosy cheeks, sitting up and playing with his favorite toy blocks. He’s precious. Perfect, even. Now, imagine saying, ‘Hey Ollie,’ and he looks at you with a big, gummy grin. Somehow he got even cuter, didn’t he? Naming your baby Oliver and calling him Ollie basically guarantees he will steal your heart, because nicknames just don’t get any more adorable than this one.
4 Ruth / Rue
Ruth is already a one-syllable name so you may not think it needs a nickname at all. But, if you’re using Ruth for family reasons and want something different to call your baby day-to-day, Rue is where it’s at. It first became popular thanks to the
The Hunger Games character by the same name, and is more popular than ever now thanks to Zendaya’s Rue in Euphoria. 5 Henrietta / Etta
Henrietta may not appeal to everyone, though for traditional name lovers, it’s a total gem. But the nickname Etta may just win over anyone who’s on the fence about it. It’s most notably associated with American musical legend Etta James (whose real first name is actually Jamesetta).
6 Archibald / Archie
The name Archie came rushing back into the limelight when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle named their son Archie in 2019. It’s a nickname for Archibald, which is a combination of German words meaning bold, brave, and genuine.
7 Albert / Albie
If you love the way Archie sounds but don’t want the royal associations, Albie might be the (nick)name for you. Short for Albert, Albie has the same English feel with most of the same letters in common, as well as the two-syllable cadence.
8 Beatrice / Bea
Beatrice (or the even older Beatrix) means “she who brings happiness,” which your baby girl is guaranteed to do the moment she’s born and every day afterward. Aside from its special definition, the nickname Bea is a pretty adorable reason to choose Beatrice for a name.
9 Eleanor / Ellie
Eleanor Roosevelt is probably the most famous woman by this name, and a wonderful namesake for a daughter who you want to stand up for others (Roosevelt is known today for her efforts toward creating equality for Black Americans). And the nickname Ellie? Well, it would suit any little girl who you think will be free-thinking and kind-hearted.
10 Oscar / Ozzie
Of course, classic rock fans will gravitate toward this option thanks to Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath. But Ozzie is a nickname usually associated with the name Oscar, which has been around since the 18th century and means spear of the gods. Which, come to think of it, is also pretty metal.
11 Camellia / Cammie
Camellias are flowering plants with bright pink blossoms, and a lesser used flower name if you’re into that sort of thing. Cammie is a spunky, shortened version for daily use. If Camellia doesn’t for it for you but Cammie does, consider the longer names Camilla, Camille, or Cameron.
12 Augustus / Gus
Augustus is definitely an old-fashioned name considering some of its most notable namesakes were ancient Roman rulers. Augustus also has some Western roots thanks to Robert Duvall’s character in
Lonesome Dove, and Gus follows that theme. While your Gus doesn’t have to be a cowpoke to sport the name, it sure will make him sound like a rough ‘n’ tumble (yet sweet) little fella. 13 Frances / Frankie
Think you’re going to have a little firecracker on your hands? Then naming her Frances and calling her Frankie feels oh-so-fitting. Frances is the feminine version of Francis, which means “free man,” and your little rebel deserves a nickname that sounds just as spunky and unique as she will be when she grows up.
14 Henry / Hank
Henry is a cute name. Hank is a cute name. Can you really go wrong here? How Hank became the nickname for Henry is a matter of old English and Dutch translations, but what matters today is that whichever of these names you decide to use with your baby on a daily basis will be the best.
15 Edith / Edie
The combo of Evelyn and Evie has gained popularity in recent years, and if you like it but already know an Evie or two, Edie might be the perfect solution. It’s similar in look and sound, but is derived from Edith, which is currently regaining popularity in London and Stockholm.
16 Louise / Lulu
Louise, Louisa, and even Eloise could all be shorted into the ultra girly nickname Lulu. Louise is the feminine version of Louis, which means “renowned warrior,” so while Lulu may not sound like the toughest girl on the playground, she may just surprise you.
17 Dorothy / Dottie
Yes, of course this one makes you think of
The Wizard of Oz, but the name Dorothy predates the movie quite a bit. It means “gift of God,” and can be shortened to Dottie or even Dot, depending on how many syllables sound best to you. 18 Harriet / Hattie
Harriet means home ruler, which honestly, most children are, especially in those first few years. Irony aside, Harriet is a beautiful vintage name with plenty of famous women (like Harriet Tubman and Harriet Beecher Stowe) giving it extra meaning. The nickname Hattie is a precious, modern twist on the full-length name.
19 Winifred / Winnie
Winifred is a Welsh name meaning peacemaking, and it has the feminine, sweet nickname Winnie for short. You could also use Freddie as a shortened version if Winifred appeals to you but Winnie doesn’t. If you happen to love Halloween, this name could be a fun tribute to spooky season and the Sanderson Sisters from
Hocus Pocus. 20 Horace / Ace
The name Horace based on the Latin word hora, meaning “time” or “season.” While it sounds old-fashioned, it kind of has a little something modern-day about it too, right? And by pulling out those last three letters, Ace, into a nickname, you’re going to have the coolest kiddo in the class.