Abe Lincoln’s son

My husband is reading a book about Abraham Lincoln right now (Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln; he loves it), and was telling me about his son Tad. He said he didn’t know the boy’s given name, though he assumed it was Thaddeus, and asked me if I would look it up to be sure.

Any time my husband asks me to do name research, I drop everything and scurry off to do it, so rare is it and so delighted am I to have any kind of name conversation with him ever. 🙂

I discovered that Tad Lincoln’s given name was Thomas! He was nicknamed Tad because his dad thought he was “as wiggly as a tadpole” when he was a baby. How cute is that! To me, that makes Tad very doable as a nickname for a Thomas in a more “official” way because there’s a precedent for it. Do you agree? What do you think of Tad as a nickname for Thomas?


12 thoughts on “Abe Lincoln’s son

  1. We are about to name our son Zeke. After his great grandpa, Raymond Kenneth…. Basically RK was one of 12 kids (he was 9th) and as a toddler he was always zipping around places so he got nicknamed “Zip” which then morphed to Zick, and then Zeke by his older sisters and it stuck…to the extent that when he died at 98 he was still exclusively called “Zeke”. I feel back in the day when people were given names from a smaller pool of options the potential for creative or unrelated nicknames was higher.

    I did ask my husband “Are you in anyways worried about ADHD as he are naming our twitchy fetus for a person who was basically named for his physical activity as a toddler?” hahahaha. It’s interesting “Tad” was also basically named for his movements as a baby. 😉

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    • I love this!! I also feel like nicknames for characteristics are a lot rarer these days (like Tad and Zip/Zeke and Red, Rusty, etc.), maybe because parents prefer to choose nicknames ahead of time rather than see what happens.

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  2. How fun! I love Tad and Thomas. My grandma was named Esther but was a beautiful baby (and the youngest in her family) so her godmother called her Dolly when she was first born. She just died this year at 80 and was still Dolly and the name fit her so well.

    In reference to the article above, I fell down the First Lady rabbit hole and clicked through a lot of them on Wikipedia. There are some interesting children’s names listed! Paine and Birchard caught my eye, both family names but still Paine is pronounced Pain… You know? 😉 If you have some time to kill sometime, you might enjoy reading some too. Plus how fun is Lady Bird?!

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  3. “Tad” because he was as wiggly as a tadpole is maybe the cutest nickname story I’ve ever heard!! Ahhh!!

    You know the word minute? Minute (my-noot) as in small, not a minute of 60 seconds – sometimes I’m called Minuto (muh-noot-toe) at family gatherings because my uncle dubbed me Charley-Minuto (shar-lee muh-noot-toe) as a baby, since there’s also my grandma Charlotte. I suppose it quickly shortened to just Minuto (and sometimes even further to just “muh-noot”). I don’t particularly hate it, but I’m not particularly fond of it. It is certainly not as cute as Tad for tad pole!! hahaha. But it’s similar in that it’s a nickname from a circumstance and not just a shortened version of a formal name. (Though I’ve always wondered why I was the full Charlotte when there are so many nickname options!)

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  4. When I saw Tad as a nickname, my first thought was: from Theodore. Then I was surprise by your guess Thaddeus. But then realized your guess sounds more fitting. Maybe I was thinking, obviously the beginning T, the A from maybe how it typically get pronounced (ThE-ah-door) and then yah the D of the third syllable. Just guessing.

    I had a Tad in my class growing up. It was elementary school so I didn’t think to tear down the name, analyze it and ask if it was a nickname or where is was derived from. 😉

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    • That’s so funny! As far as I know, Ted is more traditional for Theodore and Tad for Thaddeus, though I know a Thaddeus who goes by Ted, and your reasoning about the sound of Theodore makes sense too, so who knows! 😂 Tad can also stand alone as a given name.

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  5. I just love the name Tad, and I think parents could definitely use it for Thomas although since Tad Lincoln was called that because of a trait, I don’t know if I’d say it specifically sets a precedent. Still, I do think Tad is a super cute name and one that grows up well, too. 😍

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