I know that tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day (one of this Irish girl’s very favorite days!), and St. Joseph’s Day is just two days later (a big Italian feast day), and though I’ve done a bunch of posts on Irish names and Italian names, I’m going to focus on Victor this month because it’s my last column before Easter and I can’t think of any more appropriate time to discuss the name Victor than in anticipation of Jesus’ Victory over sin and death.
Why a focus on Victor? In 2015, out of 1118 known search terms that led people to my blog, 13% had to do with the name Victor. When you consider that 41% had to do with simply finding my blog (e.g., “sancta nomina blog” and “catholic baby names blog”), Victor’s 13% is a huge amount. And not only did no other name bring people to my blog as much as Victor did, most of the queries had to do with nicknames for Victor. Funny, right? (My favorite: “wat is d nick name of victor.”)
Victor is from the Latin for “victor, conqueror” and was the name of three popes and several saints, so its Catholic pedigree is impeccable, and its connection to Jesus makes it extra attractive. We talk a lot about Marian names, but not so much about Jesus names -- I think Victor’s a really great option in that regard.
And what about those seemingly elusive nickname options? A mom had emailed me last year a few weeks before her first baby was due to arrive with this name dilemma: she and her husband loved the name Victor, but wanted a good nickname for it; Vic seemed to them to be too much of a man’s nickname for a tiny guy and Vicky seemed too inevitable and too feminine. So this is what I came up with as possible alternatives:
(1) Vicster, Vic-Man, Vicker
Nicknames ending in a long E sound seem such a natural fit for a baby, and Vicky being too feminine for a boy made me think of two-syllable alternatives like Vicster and Vicker (is Vicker too like vicar though? Or if it is, is that a bad thing?). And “Man” seems a natural add-on to a boy’s name, at least in my house and with my nephews as well. I can totally see Vic-Man working, too cute!
(2) Vito, Vin, Vinny
I know, none of those is directly connected to Victor, and they’re so Italian sounding (which might be great for an Italian family, not so much for other ethnicities?). But Vito has all letters from Victor, and Vin(ny) could be from a combo like Victor Nathaniel.
(3) Vicho, Victo, Vico, Vitty, Vio
I also came across Vicho and Victo (said to be Spanish nicknames for Victor), and Vico (unknown), and the Italian version Vittorio made me think of Vitty, and one of my books says there’s a St. Vio and when I googled him I did find a Chapelle de St. Vio in France but no other info … but Vio? Kind of cute?
(4) Sporty/attribute/snookums-type nickname
I brought up this nickname dilemma at my parents’ dinner table, and my dad came up with the great idea of Champ, because he was trying to think of names that meant the same as Victor — I thought Champ was pretty inspired. I have a bunch of boy baby clothes that say something about “champ” on them, so it’s definitely a fairly common boyish reference. His idea also made me think of some of the traditional attribute nicknames, like Red or Rusty for a redhead, or Sis/Sissy for a big sister, that kind of thing. And of course parents often seem to come up with crazy cutesy little nicknames, like (as I call all my boys) Lovey and Sweetie Petey. Siblings do too — one of my brothers often calls me Blu (don't ask). These are the type of nicknames that you can’t plan for, though, which is frustrating to parents wanting to decide the nickname ahead of time.
(5) Totally unrelated nickname
I know of a John who goes by Gus, a Gregory who goes by Duke, an Edward who goes by Zeb, and a Gerard who goes by Sam. I love a great formal name for the birth certificate and diploma and marriage invitation — well thought out, nicely balanced, good distinguished feel, taking into account faith and family and heritage — but then I really love a friendly, accessible, easy everyday name. There’s no real reason why the formal name and the everyday nickname have to be connected. Even when they are, there’s no guarantee that everyone a person meets will know that (as someone I know named Elizabeth, who goes by Betsey, recently discovered. Who doesn’t know Betsey is a traditional nick for Elizabeth? More people than you might realize). This idea opens up a whole lot of opportunities — you and your husband love the formal name Benjamin but you really want to honor your grandfather who went by Cap? No reason you can’t have a Benjamin nicked Cap.
And those are my nickname ideas for Victor! I’d love to think they might encourage more usage of Victor, an awesome name full of faith significance with a clear nod to our Victorious Savior, whose triumph we celebrate at Easter.
Would you consider giving your son the name Victor, or have you? Do you have any other ideas for Victor nicknames, and/or do you know any Victors that have nicknames besides Vic?
Copyright 2016 Katherine Morna Towne
Photos copyright (2015) (Katherine Morna Towne). All rights reserved.
About the Author
Kate is a writer, wife to a really good man, and mama to their seven boys ages 1 to 15. She shares her thoughts on Catholic baby naming at Sancta Nomina, and her first book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018) can be found at ShopMercy.org and Amazon.