Lily and Max Syndrome

While I was writing about Effie, a term “Lily and Max Syndrome” was born. I can’t leave you, my reader, hanging; I have a responsibility now. I must elaborate.

Very simply, Lily and Max Syndrome is one nickname with many long forms, making the call name more popular than what the Social Security stats suggest.

Ellie, as mentioned in the Spotlight on Effie, is a perfect example of Lily and Max Syndrome. While only five girls were named Ellie in 2010* (the most recent year data is available), Ellie happens to be a short form for several popular names.

*Correction: There is an error in this post. I say Ellie was given to 5 girls in 2010, when in reality, Ellie was given to 5 BOYS in 2010. Ellie was actually given to 2,886, and ranked at number 104 in 2010. Ellie is still a good example of a short for several popular names, with the high-ranking of Ellie compounding the name’s popularity.

Lily and Max Syndrome is the reverse of the Nickname Elite, which are names with many nickname options. Our standards are high. The criteria for being one of the Nickname Elite was at least four short forms, and the criteria for being diagnosed with Lily and Max Syndrome is at least four long forms.

Before we list them all, let’s make sure Lily and Max get their recognition.

Long Forms for the Queen and King:

Lily – Lillian, Lilliana, Lilith, Elizabeth, Elisabeth
Max – Maxwell, Maximillian, Maximus, Magnus

Names with Lily and Max Syndrome:

Addie – Addison, Adeline, Adelaide, Adel, Adelie
Alex – Alexander, Alexandra, Alexandria, Alexis
Angie – Angela, Angelina, Angelica, Angelique
Annie – Ann(e), Anna, Annabella, Annabelle, Analiese
Belle – Bella, Isabella, Isabelle, Isabel, Isobel, Annabella, Annabelle, Arabella
Clara – Claire, Clarice, Clarissa, Sinclair
Ellie – Ella, Elle, Ellen, Eleanor, Eliana
Emmy – Emily, Emma, Emmeline, Emelia
Evie – Eve, Evelyn, Genevieve, Geneva, Evanthe
Kate – Katherine, Katharine, Kathryn, Catherine, Catharine, Kathleen, Kaitlin, Caitlin, Katelyn, Katia, Katya
Leo – Leonardo, Leopold, Leon, Leonard
Maddie – Madison, Madeline, Madelyn, Magdalene, Magdalena, Magda
Millie* – Millicent, Mildred, Camille, Camilla, Amelia

* I almost put Millie on the “The Next Lily and Max” list below, because Millie is still not that common in the U.S. Millie is on this list mostly due to Amelia, but Camilla is trending upwards fast, with the Spanish variation, Camila in the top 100.

Names with a Mild Case:

These names didn’t quite meet the criteria, but since these short forms are now popular, maybe only two or three long forms is enough to over saturate the sound.

Jake – John, Jacob
Jack – John, Jackson, Jaxson
Josie – Josephine, Jocelyn, Jolene
Mia* – Amelia, Cosima
Sam – Samuel, Samantha
Will – William, Wilhelm, Willoughby

*Although Cosima is currently obscure, Mia is now in the top 10 and Amelia could be on its way, ranking in the top 50 and trending upwards.

The Next Lily and Max:

Be forewarned with the following names. While neither the short or long forms are that popular and a few are downright obscure, these names sound fashionable and could come down with a nasty (or mild) case of Lily and Max Syndrome.

Cece – Cecilia, Cecelia, Celia, Cecily
Effie* – Euphemia, Serafina, Josephine, Elizabeth, Fiona
Gigi – Georgia, Georgina, Georgette
Gus – Angus, Augustus, August, Augusto, Gustav
Juno – June, Juniper
Lulu – Louisa, Louise, Luella, Eloise
Rosie – Rose, Rosemary, Rosalind, Rosaline, Rosemund, Rosetta
Ted – Theodore, Edward, Thaddeus

*Although I find Effie as a short form for some of these a little contrived, I’ve heard most of these long forms for Effie suggested by other people. I thought of Serafina on my own. If Fiona is a formal version for Effie, Serafina seems quite possible.

Alright. What’s the takeaway? I hope I haven’t discouraged people from considering these names for future children. Perhaps the illness metaphor was a bit much. Several of these names have a certain charm and versatility is great. What I’m suggesting is that parents choose these names with eyes wide open, realizing the stats do not accurately gauge popularity in this situation.

Perhaps some parents will choose a more unusual long form, resulting in their child having a unique name with a nickname that fits in. That’s not a bad goal.

Readers: Do you have a candidate for Lily and Max Syndrome that was overlooked? Which of these names is your favorite?

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  1. FWIW, Mia is also a nickname for Maria.

  2. Sarah.Jane says:

    I was just talking to someone about this, without the clever name.
    A few I would add:
    Lucy: Lucille, Lucinda, Lucian, Lucia, Lucretia
    Ben: Benjamin, Bennett, Benson, Benedict, Benten

    I would add Maxwell and Maxim to your Max list.

  3. I have a “Lily and Max” name too! And you’re right – although I never went to school with another Anna (or worked with one), I went to school with lots of girls who had names LIKE Anna. Not that it was ever a problem.

  4. Ha! My son’s 7 months old and his name is Mark Alexander (his full first name – named after his grandfathers), but we call him MAX!

    My niece is just 3 months old and her name is Liliana, but we call her LILY!

    I guess we should have conferred with your website before choosing such obvious nicknames for our babies. Nonetheless, I think Max is perfect.

  5. Madelynn says:

    My daughters name is Joelle, and her nn’s are Joey, Jo, Jojo, Jelly, Joellie, Ellie-Redbelly (our surname is Redman), but not Ellie on its own. I really love the name Ella, but haven’t used it in my other children for the fact that’s its still too close to Joelle’s name 🙁
    Our son is Kyan, after my brother Ryan and sister Kacey, but I noticed there are lots of Kai’s popping up now. We never thought of that when we named him.
    Our other son is Jaiden, but because of its popularity we call him Jaid. I like that its kind of androgynous.
    Our youngest daughter is Cheyla, and her middle name is Mia. She gets Chey, (like the popular Shay), CheyChey, Cheylie-girl, Mia-Mia and most commonly Mim (from saying Mia-Mia too often and it rolling into Mim or Mimmi)
    My eldest son is Caleb but his nn has always been Cabe. It happened quite organically with my younger cousin baby talking to him when he was 4mths old… It just stuck.
    My husband is Brad and we’ve noticed in recent years that Brad names have been growing in popularity… Bradley, Bradden, Bradburn, Braddock..
    My name was supposed to be Jolynn but my Mum hated it as she is Josephine… So my Dad came back from the registry office with Madelynn. I NEVER expected it to get popular and now I get weirded out that there are so many little girls with MY name hahaha

  6. Madelynn says:

    Our short list for the next one is BOY Finn, Spencer, Hamish, Micah
    GIRL Anais, Ayschia, Kenadie, Piper, Zoe


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