…But There Are Assumed vs. Optional Nicknames
A few years ago I remember an expectant mother lamenting that she loved the name Samuel, but hated Sam. She was pleading to the internet community, looking for validation.
“Can I name my son Samuel and avoid having him called Sam?”, she asked hopefully.
So many people were willing to tell her what she wanted to hear.
If you know me, you know I am not one to tell people what they want to hear.
I was the lone dissenting voice.
Something to remember when picking a name: When kids become older, the name becomes theirs not the parents.
The parents give the name, but the kid owns it.
Maybe this mom can successfully insist on Samuel for a few years, but once her son becomes older, if he decides he prefers to be called Sam, there’s little she can do.
Compounding this problem is that, for Samuel, Sam is the assumed nickname.
Names with assumed nicknames are like package deals. I would suggest to parents who don’t love the assumed nickname to avoid these names no matter how much they love them. (If the parents also happen to love the assumed nickname, that’s a different story.)
Few names are nickname-proof, but some names that have optional, and not assumed nicknames.
What does that mean?
Since the most recent Reader Q&A Video post was about an unwanted nickname, now seems like a good time to discuss assumed vs. optional nicknames.
Some names have assumed nicknames. This means that there is only one, possibly two nicknames that are widely used and are often assumed.
Then there are optional nicknames. Optional nicknames are ideal in my opinion. These names either are very unusual with one or two little-known nicknames or they have so many nicknames that most people won’t assume any of them.
The infamous Elizabeth is one of these names that has so many nicknames that no one should assume someone named Elizabeth goes by any of them.
But Elizabeth is an easy example.
An example of a name that is very unusual to the point where few people would know any nicknames is Bisma. (There were 6 Bisma’s born in the US in 2012.)
And of course there’s the name from the most recent Reader Q&A video, Philomena, another unusual name. The name is susceptible to being shortening due to its length, but there are a few options: Philly, Philo, Mena, Mina, Millie, and possibly others. Due to the unusualness of the name and the number of nicknames, none of them can be assumed.
Do you want other examples of names with optional nicknames?
Of course you do.
Here are some former UBN Spotlight Names that fit this category.
And if you are not familiar with Spotlight names the list may look a bit eclectic to you. That’s the idea. Some of these are part of a Spotlight Name series such as Great-grandparent Names and Unfairly Dated Names. (You can learn more about these series by visiting the UBN Spotlight Names page.)
(Each name links to the original post.)
|Name||Spotlight Name Series|
|Blythe||Name To Watch|
|Farrah||Failure to Launch|
|Hillary||Failure to Launch|
|Lara||Failure to Launch|
|Mack||Failure to Launch|
|Mindy||Failure to Launch|
|Wallis||Failure to Launch|
It’s worth repeating: I can’t claim these names are nickname proof. A nickname proof name is one without any nicknames.
But as UBN reader Elizabeth recently discovered, there is no such thing as a nickname proof names. There will always be people who insist on finding a nickname for everyone.
What I am saying is that these names don’t have assumed nicknames. While 90% of Michael’s are called “Mike,” the names on this list don’t have that fate, the fate of an assumed nickname.
Names with optional nicknames do have a downside: these names may be more susceptible to unwanted nicknames from friends and family.
But like I said to Elizabeth (who was disappointed that family members had shortened Philomena into “Philly”): you can’t control what other people call your child, but you can control what you call your child and you should keep calling your child whatever you like.
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