“What’s In a Name?”


My parents named me Elizabeth Anne as a compromise. My mother wanted me to be named Elizabeth after a long line of female forebears. My father agreed on the condition that they would call me Betsy. So legally and formally I am Elizabeth. When someone calls and asks for Elizabeth, I know they are probably a telemarketer. I write as Elizabeth because I like the name in writing. Everyone in my off-line life knows me as Betsy. People close to me often shorten it to “Bets” which I also enjoy.

Throughout my life I have known women with nicknames of Muffy, Winky, and Sissie. I assume they acquired those as kids and kept them as adults. My two closest boy friends when I was little were Skipper and Dude, names they kept into adulthood. I’m not sure why all these people hung onto what might seem like childish names, but they did.

I have given people around me nicknames. My granddaughter was “squirt” until she asked me to stop calling her that. My husband is “CW” because it makes me think of an undercover intelligence operative. A good friend is Tinarooni, because we have fun together and I enjoy playing with her name Tina.

Of course nicknames can be applied maliciously as is done with regularity by the leader of the United States. Ex-partners often have nasty nicknames. Archie Bunker called his son-in-law “Meathead” which managed to convey contempt under the cloak of affection. (Or affection under the cloak of contempt. Hard to know.)

I would love to know either what nicknames you had as kids or ones you have or use now. Please share. Thanks.

24 thoughts on ““What’s In a Name?”

  1. I grew up with nicknames, and still use them now. I call my wife ‘Peanut’, or ‘Pudgy’. If I use her real name, she assumes something bad has happened.
    My second wife was called ‘Barney’, after Barney Bear, but her name was Marian. And my first wife was known as ‘Betty’, after Betty Boop, though her name was Sally.
    I am usually just called Pete, but my oldest friends still use nicknames I had at school, aged 11. They would turn my surname backwards, with ‘Johnson’ becoming ‘Nosnhoj’. They shortened that to ‘Nozza’.
    Nest wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My neighbor nick name as a young boy was Bunny when he turned 12 he reminded me his name was Walter. Edward the next house over a very skinny young man was known as Porky.My nickname is Bo


  3. I am glad to have outgrown my schoolboy nicknames and hope they stay in the dim and distant past. I do like the nicknames I have garnered in late life as they come though friendship (I hope)


  4. My wife’s grandma was supposed to be called Elizabeth but her dad had had a few when he finally made it to the register office and she ended up officially named Bessie.


  5. I’ve often thought I had a multiple choice name. Susanne, Susie, Susan, Sue, Suze, Susie Q, Sue-Sue, see what I mean? Susanne is my given name but when I was growing up no one ever called me that except teachers on the first day of school before I corrected them. I was Susie to everybody. Then at the age of 20, I was working at a bank and answered the phone with ‘Susie speaking,’ and it no longer fit – I’d outgrown it. It was then I started using my given name, Susanne. (Susanne with an ‘S’ not a ‘Z.’ – there’s that too.) – Except – you may notice in my blog posts, the cats call me Sue. I left it up to them. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I do remember lots of Betsys (Betsies?) and Bettys in English children’s book. My nicknames were in chronological order Jigger, Robin, Fishface, Tosh and Pud. All gifted by different people, of course!


  7. Here, in the earlier generation children were named after their grandfather or grandmother. In those days women did not say the name of their husband. God only knows who made such a rule. So, grandmothers could not say the names of their grandsons and invariably they were called by nick names and many a time all relatives called them b that name 🙂


  8. Despite being named Sandra, I was never called Sandy. But somehow in my teenage years I acquired the nickname ‘Maggie’. No one knows how it started but for a while that’s all I was known as outside my immediate family. For years my prospective in-laws assumed I was really called Margaret.

    As for my children’s nicknames, there are too many to relate! All 3 of them had a wide variety – each new one seemingly perpetuating another variation. Hence my daughter Elena – Ellie – became Bean and Boot. (Ellie-belly-wellie- BOOT and Ellie-belly-jelly-BEAN)


  9. I love that you have a nickname for me! My birth name is Athena, but I have always been called Tina–Even the nickname of Tina has nicknames; growing up my family and close friends, called me “T” (my husband refers to me that way as well) and at my last job, I was lovingly referred to as “TT”. Tinarooni, howerver, is the most unique!!


  10. When I first read your post it made me remember being a child and overhearing adults talk about older relatives whose real names they never knew because they were always referred to by their nicknames. Not only that, but the spellings of some of the names were in question because they were rarely written down and people with different accents pronounced them differently – think “Charley” and “Cholly.”

    My name is Leslie and over the years I’ve been called “Shorty,” “La-La,” “Les Doll,” and “Legs;” but I’m usually simply called Leslie or Les.


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