35 Old-Fashioned Nicknames for Girls That Make Charming First Names

Genny Glassman | Mar 9, 2018 Pregnancy

little girl sitting outside among flowers
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Finding fresh ideas for baby names can be a challenge. Inspiration is everywhere, but it can be nearly impossible to find a name that's the perfect mix of charming and fresh, familiar but not too popular. It turns out the question isn't where one should one look for ideas but when. There is something to be said for sticking with a classic. There is a level of elegance and poise that comes with with taking a look toward the past. And looking to certain time periods can be a huge source of inspiration for the expectant parent -- adding a quirky, vintage charm to any baby name list. What's old is new again, right?

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According to naming expert Laura Wattenberg of BabyNameWizard.com, "the early 20th Century was a nickname extravaganza, especially for girls." And yesterday's nicknames are today's quirky-cute first names that belong on anybody's baby name list.

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"They've been gone long enough to feel fresh again," adds Wattenberg, which also means a child is bound to be the only one with that name at the playground. So take a stroll through history with these rare former nicknames that might be the perfect, charmingly fresh addition to a baby name list. The right name could just be one that takes a little digging, but there's no doubt it's worth it. Take a look!


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  • BIZZY

    1

    You'll never be too busy for this Bizzy bee. Bizzy, a pet name of Beatrice and Elizabeth, is both charmingly old-fashioned but not tied to any specific time period, which according to Wattenberg is the key. "To hit the bullseye, a nickname should be old-fashioned but not bound too tightly to a formal name that's still stuck in the past, like Gertie and Myrtle," she advises.

  • LIBBY

    2

    You probably first heard this name on the TV show Sabrina the Teenage Witch, but we promise Libby is more than a high school mean girl. In fact, Libby -- which is a pet name of Elizabeth -- is derived from the Hebrew elishiba, meaning "God is my Oath." And since 2007, Libby has been climbing the charts.

  • SUKEY

    3

    Sukey, pronounced "SOO-key," is a cute variation of Susanna and Susan. Both names originate from the Hebrew "Shoshanna," meaning a lily or rose. Laura Wattenberg says nicknames like Sukey have "a natural charm" and are "friendly and comfortable from the moment you hear them." Lovely!

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  • TESSIE

    4

    Hey little Tessie! This sweet name is derived from Theresa, meaning "to gather in," "to reap" in Greek. Tessie was a popular name in the early 20th century, peaking at 358 on the most popular baby names of the 1900s. Looks like it's time for a comeback!

  • BIRDIE

    5

    A charming throwback name that is perfect for your baby, Birdie reached peak popularity in the 1880s. You probably know Birdie as a sweet nickname for Beatrice, Elizabeth, Bridget, and Bertha. But the title has achieved first name status, thanks in part to one famous Birdie: Busy Philipps's daughter, Birdie Silverstein. Sprout your wings, little bird!

  • FLOSSIE

    6

    You probably have a great aunt named Flossy, but no worries: This name has 2017 written all over it. Flossie, from the name Florence (meaning "blooming"), was the 151st most popular name in the 1890s -- hence the strong association with being the name of our elder relatives. But we think it's got a certain "cool girl" charm that makes it truly timeless.

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  • TIBBY

    7

    "If you want [a name that's] friendly plus noticeable, nicknames of past generations are a perfect solution," says Laura Wattenberg. Which is why we think Tibby is a perfect choice for your soon-to-be newborn. Derived from Tabitha, meaning "gazelle" in Greek, Tibby is classic name with quirky flair.

  • GOLDIE

    8

    For your little golden girl! Goldie literally means gold and was traditionally used for babies born blond. Goldie peaked in popularity in the 1890s but it's never ever gone out of style, thanks in large part to the fabulous Goldie Hawn, who was born in 1945. 

  • DOVIE

    9

    The perfect name for your little dove. Dovie is often used as a nickname for the classic and more popular Deborah. It peaked in popularity in 1890, coming in at 288 on the most popular names list. But we think its modern, chic vibe makes it ripe for a comeback.

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  • POLLY

    10

    Who didn't love Polly Pocket growing up? Polly is actually a variant of Molly, meaning either "sea of sorrow" or "wished for child." It's definitely the latter, right? As far as popularity goes, Polly has risen to the top many times. The name peaked in the 1880s, 1930s, and the 1950s. Next up? 2017.

  • LETTY

    11

    Say hey, tiny Letty! A nickname for Letitia, Lettice, or Violetta, Letty is truly one of a kind. The name has never ranked among the most popular US baby names, though that's sure to change soon. Meaning "happiness" or "gladness" in Latin, Letty is sure to keep you smiling for years to come.

  • WINNIE

    12

    What a win! Winnie, short for Winifred, Winona, Edwina, Gwendolen, and Rowena (so many options!), has become a popular name in its own right, even reaching number 190 on the most popular baby names in the 1880s -- but that doesn't mean it's past its prime. Who can forget the beloved Winnie from The Wonder Years? And The Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon named his daughter Winnie in 2013.

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  • ESSIE

    13

    You might know this name from a famous nail polish company! Essie, which is short for Estelle, Estella, and Esther, is more than just the company that makes your favorite nail color, Tart Deco. It was also an incredibly popular name in the 1890s, peaking at 139. Sounds stylish!

  • BILLIE

    14

    Billie is a cute unisex name that we think works well for just about anyone. Meaning "resolute protector," Billie is actually short for William. It was also the 107th most popular girl's name in the 1930s. Famous Billies include singer Billie Holiday, tennis star Billie Jean King, and English actress Billie Piper. Kind of a sassy name, don't you think?

  • DILLIE

    15

    Truly a name for the cutest little girl in your life, Dillie is traditionally a nickname for Delilah, Cordelia, Dahlia, Daffodil, and Odelia. But it also makes a great name on its own. In Hebrew, the name Delilah means "delicate," which we think is pretty fitting for this short, spunky title.

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  • GEORGIE

    16

    Fans of the name Georgia will like this contemporary update to an American classic. Georgie, short for Georgia, Georgina, Georgiana, or Georgette, is the perfect name for a twee little one. Derived from the name George, meaning "earthworker" or "farmer," Georgie peaked in the 1880s at number 289 in popularity. But we think this cute unisex name is perfect for 2017.

  • MELLIE

    17

    Fans of the TV show Scandal are like to be familiar with this name! On the show, Mellie is short for Melody, but it also can be a variant of Millicent, Carmela, or Melanie. In the 1880s, Mellie reached number 429 on the most popular US baby names list, but it's making a comeback, thanks to its famous namesake. Go, Mellie, go!

  • HATTIE

    18

    Truly a great, quirky girl's name, Hattie, short for Harriet or Henrietta, is an awesome name meaning "homeruler." It ranked high in popularity, making it all the way to number 33 in the 1880s! There are many famous Hatties, including Gone With the Wind actress Hattie McDaniel, Hattie Caraway (the first woman elected to the senate), and Hattie McDermott, daughter of Tori Spelling.

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  • EFFIE

    19

    A great name for your little dream girl! Effie, short for Euphemia, was the name of one of the titular character in Dreamgirls and is a character in the popular Hunger Games series. It means "well-spoken," and in the 1880s, Effie was the 62nd most popular girls name. You know, a good name never goes out of style. 

  • TRIXIE

    20

    Watch out for this one! Trixie is a little trickster and is a nickname for Beatrix, Beatrice, and occasionally Patricia. Trixie, meaning "she who brings happiness," is a great name with vintage appeal.

  • LOTTIE

    21

    A name with a little British flare, Lotte is short for Charlotte. Lotte was extremely popular in the 1880s, peaking at number 80 on the most popular US baby names list. It's also made the cut for "Most Popular" lists in England and Wales, making it a crossover hit for precious girls all over the world.

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  • ETTY

    22

    Etty is usually a nickname for all those classic -etta names, like Henrietta, Loretta, Annette, and Marietta. As a first name, it's yet to make a splash. But the name has a cute gender-neutral vibe and old-timey charm that make it an attractive choice for modern parents.

  • TILLY

    23

    Although Tilly is a popular name in England and Wales, the name has never quite caught on here in the US. And why not? While it's usually a nickname for Matilda, Tilly has a sweet vintage vibe that makes it perfect for a quirky little girl.

  • SUDIE

    24

    Most parents probably recognize Sudie as a first name, but it was actually a popular choice for girls in the 19th century. Sudie is short for Susan, meaning "lily or rose."

  • VINNIE

    25

    Vinnie sounds like a nickname for the boys' name Vincent, but that's not the name's only origin. For girls, Vinnie is actually short for Lavinia or Vincenza, and occasionally even Lovina, Lavina, Davina. Although all of those sound like perfectly good choices, there's just something charming about Vinnie that makes it perfect for a little tomboy on the go.

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  • MILLIE

    26

    Millie, as in Millie Bobby Brown, is a cool vintage name that's actually making a comeback. The name is often used as a shorter form of Camille, but since the early 2000s it's ranked on the top 1,000 US baby names all by itself.

  • MINNIE

    27

    Minnie -- yes, like the famous mouse -- is actually a pet form of Miryam or Mary. Since the name has such a famous counterpart, it's been popular on and off since the early 1900s. However, it's falling off the top 1,000 US baby names in the 2000s. Looks like it's time for a comeback.

  • HETTIE

    28

    The name Hettie, short for Henrietta or Hester, is a unique name with a real vintage vibe. The name was popular in the 1800s but has since faded from use. Given the rising popularity of Hattie, though, it seems only natural that Hettie would come along for the ride.

  • NELLIE

    29

    Nellie is actually a pet form of Ellen or Eleanor, but it's a powerhouse name in its own right. The name means "bright" and has been used in some form by everyone from singer Nelly Furtado to American journalist Nellie Bly.

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  • WILLIE

    30

    Willie, short for Wilhelmina, was a popular girls' name until the 1950s, when it promptly dropped off the most popular US baby names. But the name has undeniable hipster flair and it seems ripe for a comeback.

  • ROXIE

    31

    Roxie, from the popular name Roxanne, has taken center stage, literally. Who doesn't know Roxie Hart from the musical Chicago? Surprisingly, the name has dropped in popularity in recent years but it's still perfect for a spunky little girl.

  • CLEMMIE

    32

    Clemmie, short for Clementine, is one of those classic names that sounds effortlessly cool. It means "gentle" and it's still considered rare in the US -- might be a good alternative to its much more popular long form.

  • GILLIE

    33

    Gillie is a unisex baby name with old-fashioned roots. It's a pet form of the name Gillian, meaning "youthful." It could be pronounced with a hard G or a soft one, depending on parents' preference.

  • ELSIE

    34

    Move over, Elsa; it's time for Elsie to have a chance to shine. The name Elsie is a common nickname for Elizabeth, and it's seen a little bump in popularity in recent years, likely due to Frozen's repopularization of Elsa and our collective love of vintage names.

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  • MAMMIE

    35

    Mammie sounds like a name only a grandmother might have, but that's part of its appeal. It hasn't been rediscovered yet, meaning a little one named Mammie could still be the only one in her class.

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