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

Just Posted

Upgrades at Alex Fraser Park in Quesnel going ahead with higher budget

The additional funding will come from the North Cariboo Recreation and Parks capital reserve

B.C. firefighters being deployed to Northern Alberta

The Chuckegg Creek fire has been burning for several days and thousands of people have been told to evacuate

Cariboo North MLA Oakes pushes for Clare’s Law legislation

The bill will allow at-risk individuals to access info on partner’s potentially abusive past

Quesnel RCMP looking for witnesses to a wheelchair turnover

They would like to speak with a Good Samaritan who helped out or some kids who may have witnessed

Quesnel Farmers’ Market is in full swing

The downtown market runs Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. until 1 p.m.

Killer of Calgary mother, daughter gets no parole for 50 years

A jury found Edward Downey guilty last year in the deaths of Sara Baillie, 34, and five-year-old Taliyah Marsman

Raptors beat Bucks 120-102 to even series at 2-2

Lowry pours in 25 as Toronto moves within two games of NBA Finals

Body of missing snowmobiler recovered from Great Slave Lake

Police confirm the body is that of one of three missing snowmobilers

Around $13.6 million of capital projects have been completed or committed in the 108 Mile Ranch area

A string of announcements was made at the 108 Mile Golf Resort for the near future of the community

Toddler seriously injured after falling from Okanagan balcony

RCMP are investigating after a two-year-old boy fell from the balcony of an apartment in Kelowna

Cost jumps 35% for Trans-Canada Highway widening in B.C.

Revelstoke-area stretch first awarded under new union deal

Is vegan food a human right? Ontario firefighter battling B.C. blaze argues it is

Adam Knauff says he had to go hungry some days because there was no vegan food

Winds helping in battle against fire threatening northern Alberta town

Nearly 5,000 people have cleared out of High Level and nearby First Nation

Most Read