Dear Duana,

I am in a real pickle. We named our newborn son Francis... and I hate it. So much so that whenever I think about it I get a pit in my stomach. I know this makes me sound like a terrible person and that I could/should have named him something else, but my husband so badly wanted this name and I entirely got my way with our daughter’s name... so here we are. Husband and I also disagreed for nine months on names so maybe after labor and delivery I was just too tired to keep fighting about it all. 

So, this brings me to you to ask advice on nicknames for Francis. I can get behind Franz or maybe just Franci, but I don’t like Fran, Frank, or Frankie. I feel like I need to think more outside the box to find something that fits? Kind of like a Betsy is short for Elizabeth situation?? If you have any ideas or advice, I am all ears. I know his name will probably grow on me... eventually. But right now my little guy is only 5 days old and I’m so sad that I don’t love his name.


Oh, I’m so sorry – there’s nothing worse than thinking you don’t love a name that’s going to be with you forever; however, there’s lots of hope, I promise. You’ll surprise yourself by the various ways you’ll find to love this name. 

First of all, I’m obligated to say that you might be affected by the onslaught of postpartum hormones – even when you’re feeling absolutely blissed out and in love with your new baby and newly expanded family, the hormone dump can be a real whirlwind to deal with (and I’m not a physician but I’d say that’s probably true for parents who don’t give birth as well). 

Second, you might be surprised to know that I applaud you for going with a name, even the one you don’t love. I know that contradicts all the advice I usually give, but I think that after disagreeing about names for nine months, it can be easy to get into a stalemate that exists even after the baby is born, and just looking at the nameless bundle can contribute to the overwhelm, and you start to think you’ll never find any name. You, on the other hand, have a much more manageable issue – what’s the nickname you’re going to use for Francis, which as of right now is not your favourite? 

To start off with, I’d ask you to consider why your husband loved Francis so much to begin with? Is it a family name, and if so, any chance whoever it was had a nickname you can get down with? (If so, it was probably either Frank or Frankie, but I had to ask…) Or is there something else about the name he loves that you can start to think about in order to see the name in a new light? 

While you ponder that, let’s move on – I’m going to suggest a two-pronged approach, and I think you should work them both in tandem, until something comes out. 

My first approach is to be impressed that you are into flexibility and getting to nicknames that, at first, don’t feel like they’re an obvious fit. I didn’t find anything completely out there, but there are a few variations I think you might want to play with… 

My first thought was Francisco. Even though it’s long, it’s got a zippy ending with that O, and it may wind up feeling less like it belongs to a staid, possibly-saintly individual and more like a teeny baby whose story has yet to be written. Plus, I’m always a fan of a ‘nickname’ that’s longer than the actual name – see again where yeah, I may be pretty contrary when all is said and done. 

If you chose this one, you’d be in good company… lol.  Whether you like this option or not, you can also think about calling him just ‘Cisco’, or maybe Francesco or ‘Cesco’, or hell, even Chet. Do I know a lot of people called ‘Cesco’? I do not. Do I think that matters, if it makes you happy to say it? Absolutely not.  

Another thought along this vein is Francois – this will vary wildly based on your taste for international names (Francisco is, of course, a Spanish variant but tends to veer ‘easier’/more global because of the North American city) but it’s really fun to say. In fact, there are all kinds of international variations: Franjo (pronounces ‘Fran-yo’) is Serbian, Frasco is Spanish, as are Francilo and Paco. And, saving the best for last,  I actually found an amazing French/Latin variant on Francis: Feri. Baby Feri? Come on, it’s amazing! 

You could also go with something as simple as Finn or Franklin, if you want to have the name be more of a ‘play’ on the name instead of a variant – are any of these getting you excited? 

While you contemplate them, I’ll give you my other piece of advice, with the caveat that you most assuredly already know it since you already have a daughter. I hope you’ll forgive my namesplaining, but this situation means you might want it reviewed. 

When you’re talking to a wee tiny baby, you say their names all the time, right? Both so that they start to recognize it, and because who else are you going to talk to at 4:17 AM? And inevitably out of that delirium comes a lot of the nicknames we love, right? I don’t know who first called Melissa Vivianne Jefferson ‘Lizzo’, for example, but you can kind of see how it happened, right? “Melissa! Lissa, come here my little Melisso! I’m going to give you a kiss-o! I love you, Lisso… hey, wait a minute…” You get the idea. 

I bring up this very basic principle because if you don’t love the name, you might avoid playing around verbally with the name Francis, and wind up, when you’re talking to him out loud, calling him Sweets or Monkey or History’s Greatest Monster. 

But try saying the name over and over, until it almost doesn’t make any sense to you, kind of like what happens when you stare overlong at a word like ‘spoon.’ Spoon. Spoon. Francis. Francisco. Transistor. San Francisco. San Quentin. “Hey, what if we nickname him Quint?” 

I know, I know. But the type of nickname you’re looking for comes from hearing and saying a name over and over and selecting a couple of key syllables – so don’t be afraid to be silly to see what you come up with, and if it turns out the perfect nickname for Francis is Simpson, or Sync, or Frico as a result of calling him Frangelico, that’s all okay, and you’ll know it when you hear it! 

I’m excited to find out what you choose – let us know!