The hottest nicknames of today sound like yesterday. Even as the familiar, everyday nicknames that parents grew up with disappear, a new set of quirky-cute throwbacks is rising. A newborn boy today is more likely to receive the given name Gus than Mike, Dave, or Tom. For girls, Sadie is more popular than Kate, Kim or Jessie…or, for that matter, Katherine, Kimberly or Jessica.
Looking for more new-old ideas? The options are surprisingly plentiful. The early 20th Century was a nickname extravaganza, especially for girls. The trick is that for every old-time name with the revival appeal of Sadie, there are a slew of less promising prospects like Fronie and Mossie.
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 Myrtie. It should be cute, but not quite as cute as Lolly or Pinkie. It can be boyish, but not so distinctly male as Louie and Eddie. It should be a little quirky and surprising, but not as surprising as Leafy and Mintie.
I've identified 29 likely prospects below. All remain uncommon today, with only Hattie and Millie ranking among the top 1,000 given names for American girls.
For parents who wish to use these names purely as nicknames, I've listed their traditional formal sources. You can choose from among them for a full throwback package, or pair the old-fashioned nickname with a more contemporary formal name. For instance, a young Winnie today may formally be Winter or Winslow rather than Winifred, and a young Effie is likely to be…well, just about anything rather than Euphemia.