Baby name consultation: Formal names for the nickname Sonny

A reader wrote to me asking:

I really love the name Sonny. But! I’ve yet to find a formal name I like that could be the official name… and now I’m wondering if I even need that? Especially if I can find a good spiritual connection to the name… apart from the obvious “son.” lol is this making sense? Do you have any thoughts?

Do I have any thoughts? Always!  😂😂😂

I LOVE the nickname Sonny!! The first name that comes to mind is Santino — Sonny on The Godfather was Santino nn Sonny, and Santino means “little saint,” which is fantastic! HOWEVER, I know some might be like, “Ew! The Godfather!” I get it! (Another funny reference: Mario Lopez and his wife named their youngest son Santino and call him Sonny!) For what it’s worth, there was a little guy in one of my boys’ preschool class named Santino nn Sonny, which I’d never seen in real life before then, and I just died of happiness, SO cute. (He was not obviously Italian.)

I’ve also thought that Sonny could be a great nickname for Solanus! I wrote about it here; I think it’s a fantastic option. Bl. Solanus Casey is amazing! There are some people who are hesitant about using Solanus as a given name because of the last four letters, so if you like this idea but not that detail, you could consider Solano instead — Bl. Solanus’ religious name was actually Francis Solanus, and it was bestowed in honor of St. Francis Solano, a 16th/17th century Franciscan.

I’m also thinking, since Jesus is THE Son, maybe Sonny would be a nice nickname for a Jesus name? Like Joshua, Christo, Emmanuel … I’ve always loved Christo/Cristo but thought it might be hard to work with and/or seen as disrespectful in English-speaking locales (though it’s used in other languages) — having a nickname like Sonny could make something like Christo/Cristo do-able as a legal name without the hassle maybe?

I really think Sonny could also work for any S name, especially if it has an N in it (Stephen, Solomon, Sebastian, Simon, Simeon), or any name containing or ending in -son (Samson or any number of surnames — maybe one in your family tree?), or really any name at all! Sonny is one of those Junior/Red/Chip-type nicknames that can be completely unrelated to the boy’s given name — it might be perfect if there’s some family member you’d love to honor but who has an unfortunate name, or a nickname for a Junior. Using Sonny as the exclusive call name means the given name can be anything at all. You know? 

Do you agree? What other names do you think would be good formal names for Sonny? Do you know anyone named Sonny, and if so — I’d love to know about his given name and how he got his nickname and whether he likes it!

My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!


17 thoughts on “Baby name consultation: Formal names for the nickname Sonny

  1. My husband’s granddad has always gone by Sonny, even though his given name is William. So it can work without a clear connection. Personally, I prefer a nickname that is somewhat related to the given name.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like the idea of any name ending in -son.
    Here are a few (I prefer the ones that allow for an obvious patron saint):
    Anderson (for St. Andrew)
    Johnson (for any of the St. Johns)
    Jameson (for St. James)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My grandfather’s best friend (who was like another grandpa to us because he and his wife never had any children) was always called Sonny. His real name was Emmanuel, just like you suggested! I don’t think anyone ever called him that. I remember being completed surprised at his funeral to hear him called anything other than Sonny.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have a great uncle called Sonny whose given name was Leo. My understanding is that he was called Sonny mostly because the family was big on nicknames and he was the youngest boy.
    I think the nickname Sonny could be a nod to Our Lady of Sonsoles (a devotion in Avila, Spain).

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love the nickname Sonny, and I really like Santo/Santino and Solano/Solan. Some other options (many of which have subtle saint connections) are:

    Caspian (maybe a stretch lol)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I agree with the understanding that “Sonny is one of those Junior/Red/Chip-type nicknames that can be completely unrelated to the boy’s given name”. Any son can be a Sonny 🤣

    I also like Sol-names nn Sonny, because sol > sun > sunny > Sonny. 😋 Solano, Solomon, Solon…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I feel like it can be used for any name. If you must connect it to a name, anything ending in -son works: Carson, Dawson, Emerson, etc. I like it paired with names that bring to mind the sun (bright) as well — Blaze, Beacon, Albus, etc.


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