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Some parents name their child with a nickname instead of the full name.  There are reasons for doing so… they don’t like the full name, they want to name their child what they want him/her to be called, or they just really like the nickname.  There are also reasons for not doing so and using the full name… the child is left with more options of what to be called, the full name sounds more “adult” and ages better, or it may keep the child more unique against common nicknames (Addie can be a nickname for Addison, Adelaide, and Adeline).

To be honest, I tend to side with the latter option.  I like full names because it does allow the child to choose what he/she would be called as he/she gets older and some nicknames to sound more for a child than an adult.  As with every other opinion I have though, there are exceptions.  🙂  I love the name Tessa, but dislike Theresa.  I also love Molly, but wouldn’t want to use Margaret.  It could be argued that these names have become “legitimate” names in themselves, like Jack, Carrie and Lucy.  But I’m not sure who decides the legitimacy of a name anyway.  🙂

There’s also the subject of interesting nicknames.  For example, how did the nickname Peggy come from Margaret?  I have read something in the past about how it’s just a gradual change and switching letters… Margaret turned into Margie, which turned into Maggie, which turned into Peggy.  And William turned into Will, which turned into Bill and Billy.  Some other interesting nicknames include Nell (Eleanor), Jack (John), Sadie (Sarah), and Ned/Ted (Edward).

A lot of people say (me included) that any name will develop a nickname, whether it be “official” or not. Brent is not a fan of nicknames, and that was a bone of contention as we were picking Rachel’s name. My family loves nicknames (I am Kelli Jo, KJ, Kel Jo, Kay, and Kel) so I was always suggesting a name with a nickname (“We can name her Charlotte and call her Charlie”). But that was not something Brent would go for. So, we finally chose the name Rachel, which is seen as nickname-proof. But of course, she is called Rach, Ray Jo, and Ray-Ray. It is inevitable. I guess the name Brent is pretty nickname-proof, but not really since my brother calls him “B.” Anyway, those are probably more “pet names” than official nicknames since I doubt Rachel will ever sign her name “Rach.” A little off topic, but not really. 🙂

So, I would like your thoughts on this topic, as well as some opinions on the following: what nicknames are your favorite?  Would you choose them over the full name?

And which of the following nicknames do you prefer for each full name?  Or do you just prefer the full name the most?

Elizabeth – Bess, Beth, Betsy, Elise, Eliza, Elle, Ellie, Elsie, Liz, Liza, Lizzie

James – Jamie, Jay, Jim, Jimmy

Katherine – Kat, Kate, Katie, Kathy, Kay

William – Bill, Billy, Liam, Will, Wills


12 Responses

  1. Of course, I’ve gone by many nicknames in my life – kris, krissy. But it always bugged me when people called me by a nickname I had “given up” (my grandparents called me Krissy for YEARS and YEARS after I was no longer Krissy). So that can be a problem. With my own kids, I named them the name I want them to be called – and with Michaela, Matthew, Nathan, and Adrienne, I’ve been told many times that their friends are going to call them nicknames eventually. But I hope not. 🙂
    For the names you listed:
    1. Elizabeth – I like Elisabeth and call her Elisa (rhyme with Lisa) or Ellie or Elsa
    2. James – I know someone named Jaim and I like that – also Jaimus
    3. Katharine – Kate is cute, but I’d probably just name her that instead of having it as a nickname
    4. William – if I had to use that name, I’d stick to William. I like Liam better, but, again, I’d just use it as the given name
    I guess I’m not a nickname fan. Family pet names are fine and cute sometimes (we use Spanish and German pronunciations on our kids names sometimes for fun) – but generally, I keep them at home. 🙂

  2. As far as Lucy goes, I’m pretty sure it’s always been a full name (well at least dating from the third century) as it is the Anglican version of Lucia, which is popular in Italy and Spanish-speaking countries. Of course, it could always be a nickname for Lucile and the like as well but there are saints with the name Lucy/Lucia not Lucile.

    That said, I’m a fan of full names but think nicknames have their place… as nicknames.

  3. Kelli – you’ve heard my opinion on this one a few too many times, no? 🙂 I’m definitely in the same boat as Brent — not a fan of nicknames. Ben and I were both in agreement on this one when we were picking names — in fact, it was probably the most important “criteria” for us. That’s what happens when one of you goes by a “nickname” of your middle name and the other one has a chip on her shoulder about people shortening her name!

    I actually chose to go by a nickname for about a year in middle school, and I really don’t mind if people ask me what I prefer to be called. It just really makes me mad when people take it upon themselves to call me a shorter version of my name without asking me if I’m okay with it (which, in most cases, I’m not). I just think that’s kind of rude. Of course, that could be because I remember from an early age my father saying, “her name is Katherine!” 🙂

    So, my preferences are for the long versions of all the names you listed. Although, I did have a teacher whose given name was Elizabeth, and she went by LIbby, and I always thought that was cool. 🙂

  4. A lot of people ask us if Abby’s name is Abigail. The answer is NO!! We named her Abby because that is what we wanted to call her 🙂

  5. Elizabeth – Beth, Betsy, Liz, Elise (I thought “Elise” was just a French form of Alice, not a nn from Elizabeth. Maybe it’s both…)
    James – stick with the whole name
    Katherine – Kate, Katie
    William – Liam, Will, Wills (Wills is nice but it sounds so British…)

    Just as an added nickname note: Joseph is a family name on both sides that we plan to use in some form or another with our own child/children. But we have it in a few unusual ways. It is my father’s middle name, from his mother’s middle name, which is Josephine (which I absolutely love, but hate the nn “Josie” from the very deepest parts of my soul, so we will not be using it as a middle name. No offense to anyone who goes by that…). Joseph also happens to be my husband’s middle name in honor of his grandfather who was named Joe. Just Joe. Not Joseph. The birth certificate just says “Joe” and I think that’s great! Even though we’ll be going with the full name, I love that his grandfather – a good, salt-of-the-earth kind of man – had so simple a name as that with no need for pretensions or fancier-sounding “proper” names. I just think that’s kind of neat. I’ve just never heard of any other non-Joseph Joe.

  6. I never thought I would be a fan of nicknames–it can get confusing–and yet we have a daughter, Katelyn, that we call Kate. She answers to both but I’m sure she’ll have her own opinion pretty soon!
    I always hated being called Krisy, or Kristy growing up, I try to speak clearly when I am introducing myself for this reason. Of course my Grandpa has called me “Christian” since the day I was born despite many years of trying to convince him that my name is Kristen!!
    As for the list- I tend to like the longer versions. I love “classic” sounding names.

  7. I guess I take nicknames on a case-by-case basis — I like some but I don’t like others. Some names, like some of the ones you listed, naturally lend themselves to be shortened. But I would never presume to call someone I don’t really know by anything other than what they call themselves. I have two friends named Kimberly, one is always Kimberly but the other is Kim with most of her friends (in fact I only ever hear her mom call her by her whole name). I do find it disconcerting, even maddening, when strangers decide to give you a nickname. Just this past week, I was in Florida visiting my parents and this old man took to calling Corban Corby (which I am not a fan of). Weird! I never experienced this much myself, since my name doesn’t really have a recognized nickname. Some kid in elementary school tried to call me Air all the time but I think I beat him up or something and he stopped! 🙂

    But I am a huge fan of pet names — everyone in my family has several, just like you Kelli. Of course mine have nothing to do with my actual name. They’re Schnuffy, Squirt and Nerd (from my dad, mom and brother, respectively). We call Corban Corbeany, Beany and Beany Baby all the time but I don’t think she’ll ever choose to go by one of these (at least I hope not!).

  8. Oh and Tim’s dad’s name is Edward, everyone calls him Ed except for his brother and sisters who ONLY call him Pete. No one, including Ed, know why they do this. I think it’s because they’re crazy hillbillys from the backwoods of Virginy and they’re all pretty crazy! 🙂

  9. Pet names are fine, nicknames not so much.

  10. The Ed/Pete thing reminds me of my grandpa. His name was Leo, but everyone called him Jack (???). I mean, they don’t even share a single letter in common.

  11. I love nicknames! As a child, I always wished for my name to be Elizabeth so I could have a bunch of options. Now, I just prefer the shortened version of most names…maybe because I’m named Jill instead of Jillian. Out of the ones you mentioned, I prefer Elle, James, Kate, and Will.

  12. My friend Rachel goes by Chel.
    And i am also Kel, so it rhymes. =]

    People always think my name is pronouced like Keylime Pie without the m….or the pie obviously. (key-lie)
    So now its also one of my nicknames.

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