Nicknames, or short form names, are an important consideration when you name your baby. Some parents will only choose names with a nickname and some go the opposite route. If you pick a name with a nickname, you really have to consider how you feel about two (or more) names given that the nickname might be the one used most often.
Many names have a nickname that makes perfect sense. The nickname might be one syllable of the full name like “Jeff” for Jeffrey. Or it might be one syllable of the name with a “y” or “ie” stuck on the end like “Becky” for Rebecca or “Cathy” for Catherine. Nobody thinks twice about them.
Some nicknames are real head-scratchers. They bear little resemblance to their proper name partner but are commonly accepted. Here we cover 17 names with unconventional nicknames (or short form names) and explain the reasons why. See how many you know.
17 Alexander Becomes Sasha
Alexander has a few short forms – Alex, Xander, Sandy, or Sasha. Alex and Xander are no brainers. Sandy requires a little more thought, but it makes sense if you think of the pronunciation a-lek-SAN-dur. Sasha is the one that causes pause, but the explanation rests with its Russian origin.
Russian diminutives are often formed using different suffixes, including “sha.” So, you take the “sa” from the “alekSAndur” and combine it with “sha” to get Sasha.
16 Ann Becomes Nancy
It’s interesting that this nickname is longer than its proper long form. Back in the 18th century, Nancy was a nickname for Annis. As Annis became Ann, we suppose the nickname carried over.
15 José Becomes Pepe
Reason has it that Pepe comes from the Italian Beppe, short for Giuseppe (a version of Joseph). Beppe becomes Pepe. We still aren’t sure how you get Beppe from Giuseppe but that’s clearly another story.
14 Richard Becomes Dick
This one is rather unfortunate. What’s wrong with Rich or Richie? Or even Rick? The origin of this nickname goes back a long way to the 12th or 13th century. Rhyming nicknames were common back then. (There may not have been a lot to do.) So, Rick became Dick and it stuck.
13 Isabel Becomes Libby
A medieval short form of Isabel is “Ibb.” You don’t have to go too far to get to Libby from there. That said, Izzy, Iza or Bella seem more natural.
12 Edward, Edgar, Edmund, or Edwin Becomes Ned
Medieval times give us the affectionate term “mine Ed” that was later shortened to Ned. Sweet and simple.
11 Sarah Becomes Sally
Sally originated as a nickname for Sarah in England and France, where it wasn’t uncommon to replace “r” with “l” when forming nicknames. We suppose “Sallah” sounded too much like a side dish, so the last syllable was replaced with a “y.”
10 Sarah Could Also Become Sadie
Some have heard this nickname while others have not. It’s not entirely clear how it arose, but there is some indication that it may have to do with Middle English pronunciation. Another possibility is that Sarah became Sarie and then Sadie. Sadie is more common now as a stand-alone name rather than a nickname for Sarah.
9 John Becomes Jack
This one is a bit of a riddle. To the Normans (the folks who lived in Normandy in Northern France), Jen was the term for John. They often added the suffix “kin” when they were making a nickname, so there you have Jenkin. Eventually, this became Jakin, which gave way to Jack. Of course, Jack is a very popular stand-alone name now.
8 Charles Becomes Chuck
Again, we have to go back in time. Charles in Middle English was Chukken. The nickname stuck, but rid itself of the unnecessary extra “k.”
7 Mary Becomes Polly
Similar to how Sally is derived from Sarah, Mary becomes Molly. Then start rhyming and Polly is born.
6 William Becomes Bill
It’s a bit baffling why a name with a perfectly obvious short form like “Will” takes on another short form like Bill. Shouldn’t Bill be reserved for William’s cousin, “Billiam?” Would Billiam also be called Bill and Will? This is obviously another one stemming from rhymes.
5 Henry Becomes Hank
One theory behind this odd transition starts with the Dutch name Hendrick, the English version of which is Henry. Henk is short for Hendrick. Change one letter and you get Hank.
4 James becomes Jimmy
Doesn’t Jimmy sound like a completely different name than James? Well, Jimmy takes us back to medieval times, when Jim was a short form of James. It starts to make sense when you consider that “Jammy” doesn’t sound so tough.
3 Theodore Becomes Teddy
How Teddy morphed into Theodore is not clear, but we know that Teddy Roosevelt popularized it. A likely hypothesis is that while Theodore has Greek origins, it is related to the English name Thaddeus, the short form of which is Tad. Change a vowel to get to Ted and soon you have Teddy.
2 Margaret Becomes Peggy
Peggy is one of the more obscure nicknames in this list, but the explanation is pretty straightforward once you hear it. Obvious nicknames for Margaret are Marg, Margie, and Maggie. It doesn’t take much to get to Meg from there. We know now that rhyming had a major role in many nicknames, so you rhyme Peg with Meg, add a cute ‘y’ and there you have Peggy.
1 Margaret Could Also Become Daisy
Not as commonly known as Peggy, Daisy is also a nickname for Margaret. “Marguerite” is the French form of Margaret. Marguerite also means Daisy in French, hence, it is another nickname for Margaret.