Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, during a photocall with their newborn son, in St George’s Hall at Windsor Castle, Windsor, south England, Wednesday May 8, 2019. Baby Sussex was born Monday at 5:26 a.m. (0426 GMT; 12:26 a.m. EDT) at an as-yet-undisclosed location. (Dominic Lipinski/Pool via AP)

North American parents eschew nicknames despite royal fondness for Archie, experts say

Revelation of Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor sparked questions about his ‘real’ first name

On this side of the pond, the revelation of Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor as the name of Prince Harry and Meghan’s newborn son immediately sparked questions about his “real” first name — Is it Archibald? Could he be Archer?

Nope. Last week’s royal announcement revealed this kid is simply Archie, an apparent statement by his parents that they hope to give him as normal a life as possible.

The name is “a quintessentially English choice,” declares Boston naming expert Laura Wattenberg, but it notably bucks convention in North America, where many parents eschew such cutesy, short monikers.

“Archie is a Top 20 given name in England and it’s not alone. Charlie and Alfie and Freddie and Reggie are all big hit names in England. It’s one of the biggest differences as you cross the Atlantic in baby name style,” says Wattenberg, author of “The Baby Name Wizard.”

“Cute just plays differently in England versus here, and particularly for boys and girls. We’re much more willing to give diminutives to girls…. You wouldn’t be surprised to meet a Gracie or an Emmy but you would be surprised to meet even a Billy.”

READ MORE: B.C. man Archie Windsor laughs about royal baby name link

In general, handles ending in “-ie” and “-y” have largely faded over the last century in Canada and the United States, agrees L.A.-based Linda Rosenkrantz of the website nameberry.com

It’s one of the biggest differences in naming trends between the two continents. Archie’s dad, notably goes by the nickname Harry, instead of his given name Henry.

If anything, many North American parents are more likely to bestow an invented name that’s so new it can’t be truncated into something casual, say the experts.

“What I hear today is not, ‘Well, of course we’ll name Billy ‘William.’ I hear, ‘How do I keep people from calling William, “Bill”?’” says Wattenberg.

Consider the myriad short names that have been lengthened to seem formal, like Trenton and Jackson.

“The parents look for ways to add something formal, even when a name was a perfectly full name to begin with,” says Wattenberg. “It’s purely a parent’s sense of the name not feeling like it’s enough.”

Professor Cleveland Evans, an onomastics expert at Bellevue University in Bellevue, Neb., says preferred boys’ names tend to be two or three syllables in length, which can be cut to one syllable in everyday conversation.

“By far, the most popular sound pattern in the U.S. and I would guess probably Canada, too, for boys’ names, especially newly popular boys’ names, is two syllables ending in ‘n’ — so you have Jackson and Jayden and all the things that rhyme with Aiden and Mason,” says Evans, author of “The Great Big Book of Baby Names.”

Some parents do choose Ben and Mike for birth certificates instead of Benjamin and Michael, but most still favour a formal name for official identification, no matter the social class, he adds.

“The image American parents have is any child can grow up to be anything and so no matter what their own circumstances are, they want to give their child a name that will fit into the executive suite,” says Evans.

“Meanwhile, I think a lot of working class people in Britain are proud to be working class and are not thinking in that way.”

Gender plays a role, too, with “-ie” nicknames growing in popularity among girls, even if they started out as primarily boys’ names — think Frankie, Billie, Charlie and Teddie.

That trend has pushed some boys’ parents to look for masculine alternatives, says Wattenberg, who studied names that were made out of words and found “boys are being given new names that literally mean weapons and violence.”

“Riot. Rage. Cannon. I think that’s why I think it will take a lot for the cute British nicknames to catch on,” she says.

“Even as gender roles have changed, what hasn’t changed is that parents want boys to be strong above all.”

Top baby names registered with U.S. Social Security in 2018 were Emma and Liam, the agency revealed Friday.

They did not include Riot, Rage or Cannon, but Ruger — also known as a brand of firearms — was used 134 times.

There were only 207 Archies, barely enough to crack the Top 1,000 at 992.

Archie’s middle name Harrison is far more popular in Canada, says Toronto kindergarten teacher Melissa King-Ferman, who says the name was especially popular in her class about five years ago.

In contrast, she’s only met one child named Archie.

“I know more people that have an Archie dog than an Archie kid,” says King-Ferman, a self-proclaimed royalist.

Wattenberg says parents who give a long formal name thinking that they can keep nicknames away are kidding themselves.

“At some point in childhood there’s a change in ownership and the name no longer belongs to the parents, it belongs to the child,” she says.

“I’ve talked to so many parents who thought that they’ve successfully called their son only Christopher, until he was 14 and they suddenly learned he’d been going by Chris at school for years.”

Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

VIDEO: Medea Ebrahimian mourned by friends and family

Memorial held for one the of three found dead at a house fire in Langley Meadows last month

Langley vigil demands justice for Ontario animal activist killed protesting slaughterhouse

More than two dozen people gathered at Britco Pork to remember Regan Russell, and fight Bill 156

VIDEO: Langley Ukulele Ensemble opens doors for socially distanced kids camp in August

Instructor Peter Luongo said precautions are being taken for the annual uke week, Aug. 24 to 28

LETTER: Police education and reform best solution

Langley man disagrees with defunding law enforcement, but says change is needed

LETTER: Politicians should be held accountable for their decisions

Another letter writer is critical of Langley Township’s handling of the Yorkson community park

QUIZ: A celebration of dogs

These are the dog days of summer. How much do you know about dogs?

First glimpse of Canada’s true COVID-19 infection rate expected mid-July

At least 105,000 Canadians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the coronavirus was identified

Semi and BMW collide on South Surrey highway

At least one person to hospital, both vehicles sustained significant damage

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Most Read