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What's the Right Nickname?

My husband and I named the oldest of my two sons Quinlan and we call him Quinn for short. My father thinks it's confusing and wacky to spell Quinn Q-U-I-N-N. He thinks it should be spelled Q-U-I-N, the first part of his formal name. Is he right? I sincerely don't think so. But I don't want Quinn to be the kid at school whose name always gets botched. Any advice? - Mom of Quinn, not Quin

A nickname doesn't have to be a chip off the old full name. Plenty of traditional nicknames look different from their sources. Think of Hank for Henry, or Peggy for Margaret. Back in the day, plenty of folks also answered to nicknames that had nothing whatsoever to do with what was written on their birth certificates. If you met a Buddy or Red, you understood that he was probably also Howard or Francis, and it wasn't a problem.

Are all nicknames created equal, then? Not quite. Suppose you met a Thomas who said "call me Doug." Or imagine you're a school nurse trying to find the records for Lizzie Smith, when Lizzie is short for Madison. If you cross up expectations that way, you can expect confusion to reign.

Your choice of Quinlan/Quinn doesn't go that far. What you've done is more like using John as a nickname for Jonathan. Sure, Jon and John sound alike. But John is a separate, independent full name. You wouldn't expect anyone meeting John to know it's short for Jonathan or vice versa, would you?

Like John, Quinn is a full name in itself. It may resemble Quinlan, but the two names are actually completely unrelated -- and yes, the expected nickname for Quinlan would be Quin.

I'll take a guess that the reason for your extra "n" is that you started off loving the name Quinn, then built outward. A lot of parents feel skittish about one-syllable names. They're too nicknamey, not substantial enough for formal occasions, so parents tack on endings. Trent becomes Trenton, Bryce becomes Brycen, and Quinn morphs to the Irish surname Quinlan. In the last case, you're left with a spelling mismatch.

Can you call him Quinn anyway? Of course. Will it cause occasional confusion and misspellings? Of course. It's up to you whether you love the extra "n" enough to make it worthwhile.


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October 5, 2009 11:00 AM
By abbey (not verified)

This is definitely us. We just named our daughter Marguerite with the full intention of calling her Maggie (with double g). Likely to be some confusion, but as you say above wanted to give her more than the nickname, and didn't love the expected Margaret. C'est ma vie!

October 8, 2009 6:43 PM
By jamie (not verified)

why dont you spell it Quinnlan. not only is the name unique but then when he goes to spell his full name there wont be any confusion.

October 9, 2009 8:47 PM
By RobynT (not verified)

I don't know that Quin would reduce problems. I bet lots of folks would just know him as Quin (not knowing he's a Quinlan) and assume it's spelled Quinn. Either way there could be mix-ups; I would just pick the one you like.

October 12, 2009 4:01 PM
By yakira (not verified)

Quin,er i mean quinn is a cute name, but grandpas right it should be just quin.Less confusion for the kid,and that's how everyone thinks it's spelled.

October 22, 2009 5:35 AM
By Persephone (not verified)

To me, Quin just looks ridiculous and unfinished. Quinn looks attractive and is what most people will automatically spell. I think your father is way off the mark.

October 29, 2009 3:55 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My name is Nicole and everyone calls me Nicki. I don't think Quinn is confusing at all...I think Quin is. I've never seen a Quin before.

May 31, 2012 3:51 AM
By skin tags (not verified)

This article is indeed very interesting. The content of this article is quite descriptive.

May 31, 2012 3:53 AM
By joel (not verified)

This is indeed an interesting post
skin tag

May 28, 2013 1:47 AM
By more info (not verified)

Good share of this post.

July 5, 2013 10:07 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Why does it matter how a nickname is spelled? When it is time for him to spell his name he should spell the whole thing any way.

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