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

Just Posted

Join the Regional District on Instagram Live

The Regional District of Central Okanagan parks interpretive programs are going online

COVID-19: Diabetes Canada donation bins becoming garbage dumps amid pandemic

Diabetes Canada has asked residents to stop overflowing bins with donations and garbage

Okanagan College students receive emergency funding

Funding is available to domestic and Indigenous students from the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training

Lake Country ceases tourism operations for 2020, Okanagan tourism continues to suffer

The District of Lake Country voted to suspend tourism on March 31

COVID-19: City of Kelowna defers property tax penalty, other city charges until September

The city is deferring interest and penalties to September, for those who need it

UPDATE: Coronavirus concerns prompt event cancellations across the Okanagan

This is a running list of events cancelled across the Okanagan

Here’s how to talk to people who aren’t taking physical distancing seriously

Approach the conversation with empathy says conflict expert

B.C. clears more acute hospital beds as COVID-19 case growth slows

Province holding about 40% of beds empty for peak still to come

As 500K+ apply for emergency benefit, Trudeau says aid coming for Canadians left behind

Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $2,000 per month

Spike of visitors to Princeton-area stressing grocery supply chain and healthcare teams

‘We are really not set up to have this many people at this time of year.’ Area H Director Bob Coyne

Summerland to offer mental health webinar

Event will examine ways of coping during COVID-19 pandemic

Van crashes into Kamloops home

Police say the driver went into medical distress before the crash

Salmon Arm Silverbacks remember Humboldt Broncos on anniversary of fatal crash

Sixteen people killed, 13 injured after semi collided with team bus on April 6, 2018

Most Read