This blog has moved! Please join us over at!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Baby Naming Issue: A Formal Version for the Nickname Coco

B. writes:
Growing up, I always loved baby names and I thought for sure that when the time came to actually have a child, the naming process would be very simple! Our baby girl is due in mid August and choosing a name has been anything BUT simple, and that is why I am writing to you! This is our first (and most likely only) child and the surname will be Munro. If we had a boy the name would have been Edwin George. Our favorite name thus far is Coco, and although we 100% love the name, I feel like she should have a more formal full name with the nickname being Coco. No matter how hard I look I cannot find a single name that works as a full name that seems like 'the name'. The main one we have been considering is Charlotte but it is awfully common in our area, we also really adore Clementine but think it might be a bit of a stretch. Aside from Coco, the other first names we are considering are Veronica, Michelle and Gabrielle. For middle names we like Christine, Gwen, Gabrielle and Veronica. The more we keep looking, the more I'm beginning to think we really should just use Coco as the first name but it feels so incomplete at times. We really need your help! Thank You!!!

You will find plenty of support if you want to name her Coco and not bother with a full form: many people think a formal name is a silly waste if you don't love it or don't plan to use it, and I think Courteney Cox and David Arquette helped things further by using Coco as their daughter's given name.

I find Laura Wattenberg's "Would I want this name myself?" test very helpful here: I think of some nicknames (for my generation I use the samples Beth, Jenny, Jess, Angie, Steph, Nicki, Krissy), and then I try to imagine if I myself would prefer (1) to have been named the nickname instead of the full name, so I wouldn't have the hassle of continually telling people "Please, call me Krissy/Nicki/etc." when they call me by my full name, OR if I would prefer (2) to have Kristen/Nicole/etc. to fall back on if I wanted it. I usually end up deciding I'd prefer to have a formal name to fall back on: even though the parents might never plan to use it, the child might prefer to have options.

I think that if Coco is The Name, the formal/longer version for it does not ALSO need to be The Name---just as a potential nickname doesn't have to be The Name if the formal version is. Many a parent who really wanted Charlie has used Charles to get to it; many a parent who really wanted to use the name Annabel has used it even though the nickname Annie produced only a warm feeling instead of a lightning bolt. However, since the child may choose to go by the former version later in life, it's nice to find one you like very much.

To get the nickname Coco, I would look for a name that started with "Co":

The closer the "Co" sound is to the "Co" of Coco, the better---so, for example, I think Colette works perfectly, but that Constance is a bit of a stretch. And I think Coco Chanel's Frenchness may make the French names feel like a more natural route to the nickname Coco.

I would also look for names with a strong internal "co" sound that matches the sound of Coco: with nicknames, sound can be very important, and Coco might work more naturally for a Nicolette than for a Constance.


On the other hand, Coco Chanel's formal name was Gabrielle, so nicknames don't always have to make sense. I see Gabrielle is on your list; one possibility is to name her Gabrielle, nickname her Coco, and say "like Coco Chanel!" to anyone who blinks.

I also seem to remembering hearing Coco used as a nickname for Caroline---probably because it sounds a little similar to Caro. It's not a natural one to me, but I think I'd come around to it with time.


Marjorie said...

Oh, love Collette for Coco! Coco is good by itself too.

Sara said...

I knew a girl named Coraline that went by Coco.

Jaclyn said...

I know a little girl named Corina nn Coco. It's an adorable nickname and doesn't at all feel like a stretch from Corina.

Anonymous said...

I think Coco could be used a given first name, but I usually prefer a formal first name with a cute nickname. I was also going to suggest Colette to get to Coco. Colette Christine would be very cute.

Since you love Clementine what about selecting a middle name to get to Coco? Perhaps Clementine Colette or Clementine Cora?

My husbands name is Conner so I've thought about naming a future girl Clara Conner and calling her Coco. It's a bit of a stretch but if you use the nickname Coco people won't think twice about it.

Or I suggest choosing any two "C" names that you love to get to Coco. Such as Clementine Christine or Charlotte Claire, etc.

Abby@AppMtn said...

Our daughter is Claire Caroline Wren, nn Clio - but if I'd had my way she would have been Coco!

A very long list of possibilities is here - - but I'm fond of Colette. They both have that a sort of cool, French vibe that makes Coco seems like a natural short form of Colette, even if the sounds aren't exactly there.

Best wishes!

Joy said...

I agree with all who have said that any name that starts with a C would work. Other suggestions, that might fit a mom with a different naming style:

Carolyn said...

Corinthia is pretty; I knew a girl with this name who went by Coco.

the hills said...

my 2 y/o daughter is a cossette (family name) that goes by coco a lot. my husband loves the nickname & while i'm not huge on it, it's fun for a little one. i'd suggest against naming her coco as a full name but only if you find a full version you are really fond of. :)

AirLand said...

I would pick a first and middle name that starts with "Co"

Cora Collette
Cordelia Courtney
Corinne Cosette
Corinna Cole

If someone named their child just Charlie and not Charles, I wouldn't think much about it. But, I think Coco is just too nickname-y to be a standalone name.

Laura said...

I would choose a "Co" name to get to Coco - my favorites are Cosette, Cordelia, Colette, and Constance. However, you can use Coco even if you don't give her a "Co" name. Supermodel Coco Rocha's first name is really Mikhaila - Coco was a childhood nickname.

Portia said...

Ooh, I love Colette and Nicolette -- those seem like very natural full versions of Coco. Cordelia is another favorite of mine. I do think any name with a hard C could work as a full version.

I know a couple who named their daughter Coco, and while I think it's very cute on her, they've gotten a pretty mixed reaction to the name. Her grandparents still kind of sigh and roll their eyes when people ask what their granddaughter's name is.

Barb said...

I went to elementary school with a Coco- given name, Nicole. She got the name because her older sister couldn't say Nicole- it came out as Coco!

Ms. Key said...

Just chiming in to say, I think you should use a more formal given name with Coco as a nickname. Any of the above suggestions work great, love any of the C names that have Co- at the beginning, Cordelia and Colleen or Collette, or Cora... all really cute!

Anonymous said...

i think Coline is a great option! (~#300 in France, higher than Coralie/Colette, but rarely spelled like this in the US, it makes the 'o' sound longer than that of Colleen, more like Coco)

Coline Munro sounds darling!

Coline Clementine Munro "Coco" is my fav!!

Coline Veronica Munro also flows very well! Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I agree that Coco does need a full name. I'd be wary about using just any C name as I think something like Clementine Christine is more likely to get people who want to use Cici instead of Coco. A first name with a "coe" sound would be better. Colette & Nicolette seem like a good match for Michelle & Gabrielle. To emphasize the repeating sound of Coco, perhaps a first & middle combo like Cora Nicolette or Nicolette Corinne.

Claire Wessel said...

My suggestion would be Caroline or Nicolette. That said, my daughter Crimson has half-siblings who call her Coco. This apparently started when one of the young children couldn't say Crimson and just started calling her Coco instead, then it stuck! She loves her name, and her nickname. I'd encourage you just to pick a formal name that you like and call her Coco, or do what I did with Crimson and give more run-of-the-mill middle names in case she wants something less playful on her business cards :) (I used Alexandria and Eleanor in the middle). One never knows if the child will be a rock star or an accountant :)

Anonymous said...

I know a half-Japanese Hanako who goes by Koko as a family nickname (I'm guessing she nicknamed herself when she started talking.) Neither of you are Japanese, right?
I like the initial "C" first and middle name combo idea to give you Coco.

Jelly said...

I know this is probably not your style at all but I've always loved indigo but hate Indy so I was thinking of nicknames and I though coco from the go at the end. It looks a stretch but when you say it aloud it sounds great :D

Patricia said...

Coline Cosette Munro "Coco" is my suggestion. Even though all 3 names have 2 syllables, the French first and middle names have the accent on the second syllable which makes them work well with your surname.Coline Cosette is darling as is, but also leads perfectly to the nn Coco.

gail said...

Have you considered Chanel nn'd Coco? A wonderful namesake and role model, especially in this age of Etsy and the resurgence of making stuff by hand.....Also, what with girl's being named Monet and Matisse, Chanel isn't that big a stretch.

Heidi said...

I agree on giving a more formal or longer version, so there's an alternative if she doesn't like it later, or if she just doesn't end up SEEMING like a Coco. (So make sure the longer name is one you like too.) I also agree on using a name that actually HAS the "co" sound in it, whether at the beginning or somewhere in the middle. Colette--really like it. Along with getting you to Coco, there's the French writer by that name (Colette) who was a truly fascinating person and amazing writer.

Anonymous said...

I would really stay away from Chanel as a first name, not because I have anything against the amazing Coco Chanel, but because giving your child the same name as a luxury brand sounds -- well, there is no really tactful way to put this, but pretty déclassé.

If you wanted an internal "co" sound, Giacoma might be nice. I also really like Colette, Cosima, and Constance.

Anonymous said...

What about the dutch name Jacoba, pronounced Ja-CO-ba.

I know the nickname is sometimes Cobie but it could easily be Coco, especially with a first and middle name combo.

Jacoba Nicolette. Nice!

I really like Nicolette Cora together too.

Good Luck!

StephLove said...

I'd go with a formal name. I liked the double C idea. Cora Christine is nice.

Patricia said...

I really like double CO in her given name. COra COlette lends itself to Coco too and would give her the lovely name Cora to use as an adult if Coco doesn't suit her.

Anonymous said...

Nico!! Nico nn Coco. I like Nico Gabrielle.

Patricia said...

Further thoughts: I have concerns about using Coco as a given name. Coco *sounds* catchy and cute with the repeating syllables, Co-co, having the same cute appeal as Lulu, Gigi, Fifi. All these names appeal to some parents as sweet names for a little girl, but I don't think these names grow up very well (unless she works in the entertainment industry). I think that most women named Coco would be ask repeatedly, "What is your real name?" and find it a hindrance not to have a more formal name to use on resumes, etc.

I googled Coco and found it included in an article called "The 20 Most Bizarre Celebrity Baby Names":
"#16.Coco Child Of: Courteney Cox and David Arquette According to Wikipedia...they were originally going to name the baby Courteney Cox Arquette, but this went against David's Jewish traditions, so they named it Coco after a nickname Courteney [COurteney COx] used to have. Courteney decided this was a good name after she decided she didn't want her daughter to ever get a spot on the Supreme Court."

I recommend giving your baby a first or middle name that has the sound "CO" -- Nicole, Nicolette, Colette, etc. -- and a full name that is compatible with the boys' name you like, Edwin George. I especially like Cora Nicole "Coco"for you and think it would be easy for a girl nicknamed Coco to use Cora, at least in formal situations, when she's older. Or choose a first name that fits with Coco so that she could be called that too while growing up and thus easily transition to that when she's older: Nicole Charlotte "Coco" would be compatible with Edwin George too.

Anonymous said...

Coco is a cute-sounding name, but how will she fare with that name or nickname throughout her life? Will she be teased at school? (Coco sounds similar to Coo-coo/Cuckoo.). Will she be perceived as less capable than girls with more serious names like Emma or Charlotte? Coco at 4, cute; Coco at 18, maybe; Coco in grad school, maybe not; Coco as a professional, doesn't work well. I'd choose another name for her.

Patricia said...

You may find this of interest from "The Great Big Book of Baby Names" by Cleveland Kent Evans, Ph.D., President, American Name Society:
"Coco - French "coconut". Coco became the nickname of the famous French fashion designer and entrepreneur Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel when, as a young woman, she got a job singing in a nightclub. One of her favorite songs was about a lost dog named Coco, and young men who frequented the nightclub started calling her Coco as a result. Coco has aroused a lot of comment as an unusual baby name ever since Courteney Cox and David Arquette bestowed it on their daughter in June 2004."

The Arquettes' choice of Coco as the name for their daughter hasn't greatly affected the use of Coco as a baby name and whatever effect there may have been seems to be waning:
Number of baby girls named Coco (per SSA records):

2003 - 16
2004 - 33 (Coco Arquette born in June)
2005 - 49
2006 - 61
2007 - 65
2008 - 66
2009 - 88
2010 - 74
2011 - 72

Susan said...

I think the "ca" from Veronica is enough to get you to Coco if that's where you really want to go. Veronica Christine from your list is lovely, and I think the repeated hard C ending and beginning are close enough. Nicknames should be anything goes, after all.

Swistle said...

I think I would not try to get Coco from Veronica: when I tried that out, I found it slipped easily/accidentally to Caca---a regional slang term for, er, poop.

Dee said...

You could also choose a C first name, and an O middle name to get to Coco as a nickname. Something like Clementine Opal nn Coco, Capri Odette, Charlize Oceane, Cassidy Olympia, Clare Ophelia, Clemency Olivia, Corinne Orla.
Or I even think that the names Cleo or Calypso lend themselves nicely to the nn Coco.
Hope this helps!

Anonymous said...

I thought about this and I think if you love the name Coco you should use it and not worry about a nickname. Maybe it does have a nickname feel, but why settle on a name you are just okay with to get to a nickname you love. I think if you want a ne for her to fall back on then concentrate your efforts on the middle name.

Laura said...

I love Corinne for you...or Cora. Although my issue with Cora is that with a 4-letter "formal" name, a 4-letter nickname seems a little unnecessary. Corinne seems to fit more with the style of Charlotte without being as popular. And Coco seems like a natural fit for a nickname. Adorable!

Anonymouse said...

I love Coco as a stand alone name AND I love it as a nickname for Collette. Is there a way to get a "co" in the middle name too and do something like Collete Nicole, nickname Coco?

I will make an argument for just using Coco. My formal name is Elizabeth and I have always gone by a common nickname of Elizabeth. It was annoying to me in school and professionally to have to sometimes use my formal name and sometimes use my nickname. It was definitely enough to make me name my daughters names that don't have natural nicknames!

Anonymous said...

I would opt for using a longer formal name, with Coco as her nick name. There are so many excellent options! My personal favourite is Cordelia. I love the sound of Cordelia Colleen.

I also ADORE Clementine! I might be tempted to use Clementine and just go ahead and call her Coco. With Clementine, you've also go Cleo, Clema, Lemen, etc. as nn options. Our family is a bit nn-crazy: the more the merrier and some are used more than others for months-long periods, then they switch up.

If I met a little girl named Cordelia, nn Coco, or a little girl named Clementine, nn Coco, I would be enamoured with her name and want to congratulate her parents on their moxie!

Anonymous said...

Please make Coco a nickname, not a formal name. So many options have been given about how you can get to Coco. I talked to a couple of my friends who have nice, but nicknamey, types of formal names, and they strongly argued that giving a future adult the option of Coco or a more formal name is preferable (one friend is Beth and one is Dee, just Dee). My own daughter has a nickname which has similar sounds to her formal name, but isn't much like it in spelling..and it works. Best wishes!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Most of the suggestions I have read have been for very feminin names however, we have friends with a daughter named Cohen who goes by Coco.

M.Amanda said...

I definitely fall into the formal name group. Nicknames can come and go as your life changes. The formal name usually sticks with you for life.

I love the idea of Gabrielle in honor of Coco Chanel, whose strength, independence and grace changed fashion forever and helped open the door for women in the industry.

But that's me. If you have no interest in fashion or feminism, it might not tickle your fancy. Then Colette or Corina flow very nicely with your last name.

rosamonte said...

What about Constanza?

Patricia said...

I thought of your question again today when I saw this birth announcement in the alumni magazine of the small liberal arts college my husband graduated from:

"Nicole "CoCo" Taylor (surname)."

CoCo was born last November and is a first child.