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

Genny Glassman | Jun 3, 2020 Pregnancy
45 Old-Fashioned Nicknames for Girls That Make Charming First Names
Image: twenty20.com/@christyhermogenes

baby yawning

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!

  • BETSY 


    The name Elizabeth has multiple great nickname options, including Liz, Beth, Betty, and Lizzie. But one option that used to be much more popular is Betsy. This name, which seems to have peaked in popularity in the early 1900s is due for a comeback! 

  • LOLO 


    Lolo is just a name that sparks joy! This name, which is a variation of Lola and a nickname for Charlotte or Delores, is bubbly and fun. The best known Lolo is probably US Olympic sprinter and bobsledder Lolo Jones. 

  • FEE 


    Three letter names can be a nice counterbalance for a long or hyphenated last name and Fee is one that is seriously underused. Fee, which has Scottish origins, is short for Fiona or Phoebe and means "light" or "fair." 

  • COCO


    So chic! The French names Chloe, Charlotte, and Colette are all gorgeous options, but so is their vintage nickname option of Coco! Coco Chanel is the most recognizable use of this name, but it is a great option for a bubbly future fashionista. 



    The name Peggie, short (somehow) for the name Margaret, is having a comeback, especially for fans of the musical Hamilton. This Greek name, which means "Pearl" was some fun retro vibes and can even have its own nickname in "Peg."

  • KITTY 


    Here's a name that is the cat's meow! Kitty, which has been used as a nickname for names like Katherine and Karen, has a great old-school energy but is still modern and playful! Parents drawn to this name might also want to consider the name Cat. 

  • TANSY 


    Parents needing a name for a blooming baby girl might want to consider Tansy! This English name, which means "tenacious" or "immortality" was popular around the same time as the slightly more common choice of Pansy. 

  • OUISA 


    This is the name for parents who love vowels! Ouisa (oh-ee-sa) is nickname for Louisa and has a super strong meaning: "renowned warrior." This name is an unusual choice but has a sweet sound that pairs well with a last name that starts with a consonant. 

  • ZUZU 


    There is just something about names that start with a Z or that have a Z in them that always seems so effortlessly cool. It can't get much cooler than Zuzu, which used to be a popular nickname for the more traditional choice of Susan. We love how boho it sounds.

  • CARO 


    Hello dear one! Caro, which enjoyed popularity as a nickname for the classic name Caroline back in the 1880s, actually means "dear" in Italian. This is a great choice for parents looking for a name that is short and strong. 


    Little girl in a flower crown

    It is never 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.


    girl sitting in a field of flowers

    Elizabeth is an all-time classic in the girl name department. But that is what makes Libby -- which is a pet name of Elizabeth -- so fresh! This name is derived from the Hebrew elishiba, meaning "God is my Oath." And since 2007, Libby has been climbing the charts.


    baby girl

    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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    baby playing with blocks

    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!


    baby girl crawling
    Maria Evseyeva/Shutterstock

    A charming throwback name that is perfect for a modern baby, Birdie reached peak popularity in the 1880s. Birdie is knownas 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 those wings, little bird!


    baby girl
    Tymonko Galyna/Shutterstock

    Some folks may think of this name as the ultimate old lady name, but no worries: This name has 2020 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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    little girl

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


    baby lying in the grass

    Such a charming choice! 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. 


    baby girl

    The perfect name for a 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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    baby crawling

    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? 2020.


    baby looking at flowers

    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 parents smiling for years to come.


    baby girl

    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 No. 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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    baby girl

    Some parents 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 everyone's favorite nail color, Ballet Slippers. It was also an incredibly popular name in the 1890s, peaking at 139. Sounds stylish!



    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 singer Billie Eilish.


    Little girl and her dog

    Truly a name for the cutest little pickle! 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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    Little girl

    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 "earth worker" or "farmer," Georgie peaked in the 1880s at No. 289 in popularity. But we think this cute unisex name is perfect for 2020 and beyond.


    Little girl in glasses

    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!


    Litte Girl
    Tetiana Iatsenko/Shutterstock

    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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    baby girl

    A great name for a 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. A good name never goes out of style. 


    little girl

    Watch out for this one as Trixie is a name with sass to spare! 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. 


    Little girl
    Maria Evseyeva/Shutterstock

    A name with a little British flair, 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

    smiling little girl playing outside

    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.


    smiling little girl sitting on a couch

    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,