Can I Avoid Nicknames?

Filed under: Baby Names

I am due in December, and my husband and I like the name William. The problem is our last name, which ends in "ll" as well, rules out the nickname Will. We do not like any of the other popular nicknames for William. How reasonable is it to expect that little William will be called by his full name instead of having family and friends shortening it into a nickname that is either a tongue twister or a name we don't care for?

- No Will, No Way

If you aim for the full William, you won't be alone. More and more families are turning toward the formal today, filling playgrounds with the likes of James-not-Jim and Daniel-not-Dan. The standard nicknames just sound too ordinary for today's parents. After all, it was "every Tom, Dick and Harry" who stood for the everyman, not "every Thomas, Richard and Henry."

But as many Name Lady readers have told me, nicknames have a life of their own. Parental control only goes so far.

The biggest risk factor is length. The longer the name, the more tenacious nicknames are -- especially for boys. Cross the three-syllable boy barrier and shortening is hard to avoid. That's tough news for the mom of a Maximilian or Tobias, but bodes well for your William.

The second source of risk can be hard to imagine from the prenatal present. It's your son himself and his future buddies. At some point between the start of third grade and the senior year sports banquet, a marauding horde of boys is likely to transform your elegant William into a Will (or Billy, or Rocketman).

So, if your surname is truly abominable with Will (Will Call?) and you can't accept the slightest risk of it, William is not for you. Otherwise, make your peace with the possibility of future nicknames and go ahead and choose your favorite name. William is a classic, you and your husband both like it, and you, at least, will always be able to call your son by it.

How do you deal with nicknames? Share your experiences here. And if you have your own question to Ask the Name Lady, drop her a line!

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.