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Is This Nickname Fine, or Far Removed?

We are trying to decide on a name for our fourth child, a girl. I love the name Philomena (family name on my side, plus my husband's name is Phillip), with the nickname Mena. My husband doesn't love Philomena and really isn't into Mena. He suggested Philippa with the nickname Pippa. I do not like Philippa, so I thought we might compromise: Philomena, with the nickname Pippa. Is that too much of a stretch?


Yes, it's kind of a stretch. Philomena and Pippa have little to do with each other. But that doesn't much matter. There are plenty of nicknames out there that have taken a long journey from the original given name (like Polly for Mary or Peggy for Margaret). And regardless of tradition, you can use whatever nickname you like.

There is a bigger question here, though. Is this truly a compromise, or are you and your husband both quietly assuming that the name you like is what your daughter will really be called? Are you truly okay with Pippa as long as you don't have Philippa? Is he really fine with Philomena as long as he can avoid Mena? You should both go into this assuming that the other name might be used, and be able to live with it.

As we've discussed here before, compromising in baby-naming is a tricky business. Often, one person's "compromise" is another's "I give in," which can lead to resentment and regret later on. But if you both feel good about this one (it does seem that you're both giving a little and taking a little), go for it.


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October 17, 2016 1:36 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Well, will one parent be calling her pippa and the other mena? Might just naturally gravitate towards mena as it is a more natural diminuitive. I think you need to keep looking.

October 18, 2016 7:56 AM
By Kate (not verified)

I love the idea of Pippa for Philomena, especially since Dad Phillip's name is part of the inspiration, and Pip's a nickname for Phillip. Perfect!

If it seems too far removed, maybe the right middle name can help? Like Philomena Patricia? Philomena Pauline? Or any P- middle name, really. Philomena Pearl, Philomena Paige, Philomena Paz ... or any middle name containing or ending in a strong P sound? Like Hope, Harper, Juniper, Spring, Vesper ...

October 18, 2016 4:05 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I don't think it's too much of a stretch, but dad would really need to really consider if he would be able to live with a name that he doesn't like. What happens if she decides at some point to not use Pippa as a nickname? Is dad going to be upset if she chooses to call herself Mena or use her full, given name?

If you both can agree on Pippa, perhaps you could simply use that as the given name.

Also, while I generally like cross-gender namesakes, sometimes there just isn't one that people can agree on. It might be wise to consider names that aren't related to dad's name. Perhaps mom's name could provide inspiration? Dad's middle name? Another family name?

October 19, 2016 2:17 PM
By EB (not verified)

My husband and I decided early on that we wanted to call our daughter Pippa, but we didn't like Philippa. We originally planned to put Penelope on the birth certificate, but not use it in day-to-day life. At the last minute, we put just-Pippa on the birth certificate. We have received a lot of great feedback and don't regret going that route. I'd say if you can agree on a long name that you both love, do it. But if you can't, just go with what you want to call her. I think Philomena is a fine way to get to Pippa.

October 22, 2016 7:30 PM
By Sabby (not verified)

I would go back to the drawing board. It doesn't sound like you both like the same names. Personally, I don't like Philomena. I think Pippa will take off when she's younger. Or Mena. Since you don't agree find something else.

October 24, 2016 8:40 AM
By Sargjo (not verified)

So for me, the natural nickname of Philomena is Lo or Lolo or Lola or even Lena. These types of nicknames are what I call hidden or mashup nicknames pulled from different parts of the name rather than the end or beginning. They're totally legit. And adorable. Do Lola!!

October 24, 2016 9:58 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I don't think it is a stretch at all, bit you should find a name you both like. If it happens to be Pippa, use that as the first name rather than as a nickname for a name only one of you likes.

November 15, 2016 2:53 PM
By Emily (not verified)

I think Pippa is a perfectly reasonable nickname for Philomena (disclosure: I have a daughter with a completely unintuitive nickname). As the Name Lady points out, English is full of nicknames that are a complete departure from the given name. Other examples of these might be Nell (Eleanor), Kitty (Catherine -- or Kate for that matter, all they really share are the first sound) Daisy/Pearl (both Margaret), or Lily when used as a nickname for something like Elizabeth. I don't see why Pippa is any more of a stretch than those (or than Billy for William, Jim for James, etc.)

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