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Can be an Anglicised form of the Irish name Ailbhe, a unisex name which is also Anglicised to Alva and Elva. In Ireland particularly, Alby seems to have been used for girls quite frequently. In Australia, Alby is almost always understood as a short form of Albert, and is accepted as a boy’s name: it seems to be more familiar in Australia than in other English-speaking countries. A famous namesake is Albert “Alby” Lowerson, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery during the Battle of Mont St. Quentin on the Western Front during the First World War. Adventure travel film-maker Alby Mangels, who made documentaries in the 1970s and ’80s, is originally from the Netherlands and his birth name is Albertus. Alby was fairly common as both a full name and a nickname in the late 19th century, and is currently having a revival, being around the 200s. It can also be spelled Albie, and this spelling is around the 500s.
Pet form of Bob, which is short for Robert; it can also be used as a short form of Roberta, although far more common as a male name. Bobby has been used as an independent name since the 18th century, and is one of those names which seem part of our childhood, as it is such a popular name for characters in books for small children. There’s also the nursery rhyme, Bobby Shafto, and the sweet story of Greyfriars Bobby, the wee Scottish dog who stayed by his master’s grave for years and years. It has a fun meaning in Australia, because in old-fashioned slang, a bobby dazzler is something which is excellent or awesome (it’s probably from Northern English dialect, where bobby meant “well-presented, cheerful”). This year radio host Tim Ross welcomed a son named Bobby Arrow. A bouncy, breezy little name with vintage style, Bobby is around the 300s.
Unisex nickname for either Charles or Charlotte. Charlie has been used as an independent name since the 17th century, and as a female name since the 18th century, where it seemed to have a particular usage for girls in Scotland. The big Scottish connection to this name is of course Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Jacobite pretender to the throne, who has remained a figure of romance in some eyes, and appears in Sir Walter Scott’s novel Waverley. It’s interesting that he seems to have inspired the use of Charlie as a girl’s name. There’s tons of famous Charlies, including actors Charlie Chaplin and Charlie Sheen, and musicians Charlie Parker and Charlie Watts, not to mention Charlie Bucket from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Charlie Townsend from Charlie’s Angels. Charlie has charted for boys since the 1950s, and began rising in the 1990s before joining the Top 100 in the early 2000s. It’s currently #20, and fairly stable. As a girl’s name, Charlie joined the charts in the 1990s, and made the Top 100 in 2011. Although it’s not on the Top 100 for girls now, if you add it together with Charli and Charlee, it makes #71.
Pet form of Fred, short for Frederick or Frederic, and related names, such as Frederico. It can also be used as a pet form of Alfred, as in the English actor Alfred “Freddie” Highmore, who played Charlie Bucket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It also seems to be used as a nickname to match a surname starting with F, such as with English cricketer Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff, and rugby league player Brad “Freddy” Fittler. One of the most famous namesakes is Freddie Mercury, lead singer of rock band Queen; he was born Farrokh Bulsara, and had used the nickname Freddie since his school days. An independent name since the 18th century, Freddie is very popular in the UK, yet doesn’t chart at all here as a full name; neither does the variant spelling Freddy. It’s a bit puzzling since we’re fine with so many other boyish short forms, but Freddie is an insouciant charmer that I feel will win a few hearts yet.
Pet form of Jim, short for James. Jimmy has been used as an independent name since the 18th century, and is a more modern form of the medieval Jemmy. Famous namesakes include American president Jimmy Carter, actor Jimmy Stewart, rock star Jimmy Page, singer Jimmy Buffet, comedy hosts Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon, and comedian Jimmy Carr. Musical Australian Jimmys include Jimmy Chi, who wrote the Aboriginal musical Bran Nue Day, Jimmy Barnes, lead singer of rock band Cold Chisel, and Aboriginal singer and actor Jimmy Little. Jimmy entered the charts in the 1950s at #344, and peaked in the 1990s at #233. It hit its lowest point in 2009 at #474, and since then seems to have been climbing steeply, although still around the 200s. This is a cheery underused modern classic that still has a touch of Everyboy about it.
Unisex nickname which can be short for the boy’s name Christopher, or the girl’s name Kitty (a pet form of Katherine). Kit is historically much more common for boys, and as an independent name, dates to the 18th century for both sexes. One of its most famous namesakes is American frontiersman Kit Carson, while British actor Kit Harington plays popular character Jon Snow on Game of Thrones, and British writer Kit Pedler created the Cybermen for Doctor Who. In Australia, Kit Denton was a writer and broadcaster who wrote the novel The Breaker, about Breaker Morant; he is the father of comedian and television host Andrew Denton. Media personality Chrissie Swan welcomed a son named Kit in 2011. A cute meaning is that a kit is a baby animal in many species, including rabbits and foxes, and is the name for a group of pigeons. This is a cool and casual name that works well as either a first or middle name.
Traditionally a pet form of Leonard, although these days it is often used as a pet form of the fashionable Lennox. Some famous men named Lenny include rock singer Lenny Kravitz, and comedians Lenny Bruce and Lenny Henry. Australian namesakes include AFL star Lenny Hayes from St Kilda, who just retired this year, NRL player Lenny Magey from the North Queensland Cowboys, crime novelist Lenny Bartulin, and Len “Lenny” Pearce from Justice Crew, who was featured as a celebrity dad on the blog. There are famous Australian female Lennys too – Olympic badminton player Lenny Permana, who was born in Indonesia, and children’s author Lenny Pelling. Lenny has been chosen as a baby name by Australian celebrities AFL footballer Michael Firrito, and comedian Mick Molloy, and is used as a nickname for Lennox by radio host Ryan Fitzgerald and racing driver Jason Bright. A favourite in Australia (France is the only country where it’s more popular), Lenny is around the 100s, and could easily go Top 100.
Short for names such as Montgomery or Montague; surname names where the Mont- part is from the French for “mountain”. Monty became very well known as the nickname of Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, who served with distinction in both world wars, but is especially famous as the decorated commander of the successful North African campaign in the Western Desert during World War II; Viscount Montgomery spent part of his childhood in Tasmania. His nickname was the inspiration for the British comedy group Monty Python, who found it amusing, and in their turn, Monty Python inspired the character of Dr Montgomery Montgomery, or Uncle Monty, a snake researcher in A Series of Unfortunate Events. Field Marshal Montgomery is rumoured to be behind the phrase the full monty, meaning “everything, the works, the whole kit and caboodle”, although it may actually refer to a complete suit from tailors Montague Burton (the phrase is familiar from the film, The Full Monty). Very much in line with British trends, Monty is around the 400s.
Usually seen as a short form of Oliver, but could be a nickname for Olivia or Olive as well, and is sometimes used as a surname-based nickname, such as Australian composer Ian “Ollie” Olsen. Other famous Australians named Ollie include celebrity chef Ollie Gould, who was named Young Chef of the Year in 2013, and Ollie McGill, who is in the band The Cat Empire. Famous sporting namesakes include Ollie Wines, who plays for Port Adelaide in the AFL, Ollie Hoskins, who plays for the Western Force in Super Rugby, and Ollie Atkins, who used to play for the Waratahs in Super Rugby, and is currently signed with Edinburgh. Ollie has a connection with sports, because in skateboarding, an ollie is an oft-used trick where both rider and board jump into the air without the use of hands. It is named after its originator, Alan Gelfand, whose nickname is Ollie. An Australian sporting connection is Olly the Kookaburra, one of the mascots of the 2000 Sydney Olympics – his name was short for Olympic, and he symbolised the Olympic spirit. Ollie is around the 300s, and is in line with British trends, while having a strong Australian feel.
Short for Ezekiel, a Hebrew name meaning “God strengthens”; it has more history of use in the United States, where the name Ezekiel has been far more common. It’s well known from popular culture, such as the Big Bad Wolf in Disney cartoons, skater boy Zeke Falcone from Disney sitcom Zeke and Luther, and baking-obsessed basketballer Zeke Baylor in High School Musical. Zeke is the name of the farmhand in The Wizard of Oz movie, who is also in the role the Cowardly Lion (this might explain why some people see Zeke as a “cowpoke” name). Famous Australian namesakes include former Olympic snowboarder Zeke Steggall, the brother of alpine ski champion Zali Steggall, and DJ Zeke Ugle. Zeke was also the nickname of Corporal Roy Mundine, an Indigenous soldier who served with distinction in the Vietnam War, and was severely wounded in the line of duty. Fictional namesakes include the teenage boy whose drawings on his magic electronic pad come to life on cartoon Zeke’s Pad, and the character Zeke Kinski from soap opera Neighbours. This is a cool alternative to Zack in line with American name trends, and is around the 400s.
The public’s favourite names were Charlie, Kit and Alby, and their least favourite were Jimmy, Lenny and Bobby.
(Picture shows Zeke from Zeke’s Pad, a Canada-Australia co-produced animated TV show)