Wednesday, September 28, 2011

This or That Game - English Nicknames

With all my posts about English nicknames I decided it would be lovely to give my readers a chance to talk about which nicknames you like best for each name. 

I chose the names that had the most nickname options. Copy the lists and tell me which nickname you like best for each (if you like more than one that's okay too). I'll try and post my favorites too.  

Girls Nicknames

  • Anne - Annie, Nan, Nannie or Nancy?
  • Barbara - Babs, Barbie or Bobbi?
  • Brigid - Biddy or Birdie?
  • Caroline - Caro or Carrie?
  • Catherine - Cat, Cathy, Kate, Kathy, Katie, Kit or Kitty?
  • Charlotte - Charley or Lottie?
  • Dolores - Dolly or Lola?
  • Dorothy - Dodie, Dodo, Dolly, Dorie, Dot or Dottie?
  • Eleanor - Ella, Ellie, Lena or Nora?
  • Elizabeth - Bess, Beth, Betsy, Betty, Eliza, Leeza, Libby, Liz, Liza, Lizzie or Tibby?
  • Ellen - Nell, Nellie or Ellie?
  • Esther - Essie or Ettie?
  • Felicity - Fliss or Lissie?
  • Florence - Flo, Flora, Florrie or Flossie?
  • Frances - Fanny, Frankie or Frannie?
  • Georgina - Georgie or Gina?
  • Henrietta - Etta, Hettie or Hetty?
  • Isabella - Bella, Belle, Izzy, Nib or Nibbie?
  • Jane - Janie, Janet or Jenny?
  • Josephine - Jo, Jodie, Josie or Posy?
  • Julia - Jewel, Julie or Juley?
  • Margaret - Daisy Maggie, Margery, Meg, Meggie, Peg or Peggy?
  • Maria - Mari, Marie or Mary?
  • Mary - Maidie, Maisie, May, Minnie, Molly or Polly?
  • Matilda - Maud, Mattie, Matty, Tilda or Tilly?
  • Philippa - Phil, Pip, Pippa or Pippi?
  • Sarah - Sadie, Sally or Saro?
  • Sophia - Sophie, Sophy
  • Susan - Sue, Sukey, Sukie or Susie?
  • Teresa - Tess, Tessa, Tessie or Terry?

Boys Nicknames

  • Albert - Al, Bert or Bertie?
  • Alexander - Alec, Alex, Lex or Xander?
  • Andrew - Andy, Dandy or Drew?
  • Charles - Charlie, Chaz, Chip or Chuck?
  • Christopher - Chris, Christie or Kit?
  • David - Dakin, Dave, Davey or Dawkin?
  • Edward - Ed, Eddie, Ned, Ted or Ward?
  • Francis - Francie, Frank, Frankie or Frankin?
  • Frederick - Fred, Freddy or Fritz?
  • Geoffrey - Geffrin, Jeff or Jepp?
  • Gilbert - Gib, Gibbin, Gibby or Gil?
  • Harold - Hal or Harry?
  • Henry - Hal, Hank, Hankin, Harry or Hawkin?
  • James - Jaime, Jake, Jem, Jim or Jimmy?
  • John - Jack, Jankin, Jenkin, Jock, Johncock or Johnny?
  • Joseph - Joe, Joey or Josey?
  • Laurence - Larkin, Larry or Laurie?
  • Michael - Mick, Mickey, Mike or Mikey?
  • Nicholas - Cole, Nick or Nicky?
  • Oliver - Noll or Ollie?
  • Philip - Phil, Philkin, Pip or Pippin?
  • Richard - Dick, Dickin, Hick, Rich or Rick?
  • Robert - Bob, Bobby, Dob, Hob, Hobkin, Nob, Rabbie, Rob, Robin, Robbie or Robby?
  • Roger - Dodge, Hodge, Nodge or Rodge?
  • Simon - Sy, Sim or Simkin?
  • Theodore - Dorie, Ned, Ted, Teddy or Theo?
  • Walter - Wally, Walt or Watkin?
  • William - Bill, Billy, Liam, Wilk, Wilkin, Will, Willie, Wills or Willy?

Which nicknames do you like and why? 
Are there any of these names that you think don't need a nickname? or names that definitely need a nickname?

Your Resident Name Enthusiast,
Miss Laurie :)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

English Nicknames in Jane Austen's Day

As promised, here is a list of English Nicknames! Not all of these names were used in Jane Austen's novels but most of these would have been used during her day. As always not everyone would use a nickname and which nickname was used would be the parent's choice. Some of these I've noted as being used in more modern times or by specific nationalities. 

  • Agatha - Ag, Aggie, Tag, Taggie
  • Ann / Anne - Annie, Nan, Nannie, Nancy
  • Barbara - Babs, Barbie, Bobbi 
  • Brigid - Biddy, Birdie
  • Caroline - Caro, Carrie
  • Cassandra - Callie, Cassie
  • Catherine / Katherine - Cat, Cathy, Kate, Kathy, Katie, Kit, Kitty
  • Charlotte - Charley, Lottie
  • Clara / Clarissa - Clare, Clarey
  • Dolores - Dolly, Lola
  • Dorothy - Dodie, Dodo, Dolly, Dorie, Dot, Dottie
  • Eleanor / Elinor - Ella, Ellie, Nora
  • Elizabeth - Bess, Bessie, Beth, Bethan (Welsh) Betsey, Betsy, Bette (French), Betty, Elsie (Scottish often used for Elspeth), Eliza, Leeza, Libby, Lise, Lisette (French), Liz, Liza, Lizzie, Lizzy, Tibby
  • Esther - Essie, Ettie
  • Felicity - Fliss, Lissie
  • Florence - Flo, Flora (Scottish), Florrie, Floss, Flossie
  • Frances - Fanny, Fran, Frannie
  • Georgiana / Georgina - Georgie, Gina
  • Harriet - Hattie
  • Helen / Ellen - Nell, Nellie, Nelly
  • Henrietta - Etta, Hettie, Hetty
  • Isabel / Isabella - Bel, Bella, Belle, Izzy (Modern), Nib, Nibbie
  • Jane - Janie, Janet, Jenny
  • Josephine - Jo, Jodie, Josie
  • Julia - Jule, Julie, Juley
  • Margaret - Daisy (from the French Marguerite), Maggie, Marg, Margery, Margot (French), Meg, Megan (Welsh), Meggie, Peg, Peggy (Scottish), Pegeen (Irish)
  • Maria - Mari, Marie, Mary 
  • Mary - Maidie, Maisie (Scottish), Malkin, Marion, May (used by royalty), Minnie, Molly, Molly, Polly
  • Matilda - Mattie, Matty, Tilda, Tilly
  • Philippa - Pip, Pippa, Pippi
  • Sarah - Sadie, Sally, Saro (1800's)
  • Sophia - Sophie, Sophy
  • Susan / Susana - Sue, Sukey, Sukie, Susie (more modern)
  • Teresa / Theresa - Tess, Tessa, Tessie, Terry (modern)      


  • Adam - Adcock, Adekin, Adkin
  • Albert - Al, Bert, Bertie
  • Alexander - Alec (Scottish), Alex, Lex (modern), Xander (foreign)
  • Andrew - Andy, Dandy, Drew (modern)
  • Charles - Charlie (often Scottish), Chaz (modern), Chip, Chuck
  • Christopher - Christ, Christie (often Scottish), Kit
  • David - Dakin, Dave, Davey, Dawkin
  • Edward - Ed, Eddie, Ned, Ted, Ward (modern)  [some of these nickname also used for Edgar & Edmond / Edmund]
  • Francis - Francie (1800's Irish), Frank, Frankie, Frankin
  • Frederic / Frederick - Fred, Freddie, Freddy, Fritz (German)
  • Geoffrey - Geffrin, Jeff, Jepp
  • George - Georgie
  • Gilbert - Gib, Gibbin, Gibby, Gil 
  • Harold - Hal, Harry
  • Henry - Hal, Hank, Hankin, Harry, Hawkin, Henecok, Henkin
  • James - Jaime (often Scottish or Irish), Jake (because James is a form of Jacob), Jem, Jim, Jimmy
  • John - Jack, Jackie, Jankin, Jenkin, Jock (Scottish), Johncock, Johnny
  • Joseph - Joe, Josey
  • Lawrence / Laurence - Larkin, Larry (modern), Laurie  
  • Luke - Luckin, Lukin
  • Matthew - Makin, Matt, Maycock, Maykin
  • Michael - Mick, Mickey (often Irish), Mike, Mikey
  • Nicholas - Cole, Colin (Scottish), Nick, Nicky
  • Oliver - Noll, Ollie
  • Peter - Parkin, Perkin, Pete (modern), Peterkin
  • Philip / Phillip - Phil, Philkin, Pip, Pippin
  • Ralph - Rafe, Rawkin
  • Richard - Dick, Dickin, Hick, Rich (modern), Rick
  • Robert - Bob, Bobby, Dob, Hob, Hobkin, Nob, Rabbie (Scottish), Rob, Eobin, Robbie, Robby
  • Roger - Dodge, Hodge, Hodgkin, Nodge, Rodge, Rodgkin
  • Samuel - Sam, Sammy
  • Simon - Sim, Simkin
  • Theodore - Dorie, Ned, Ted, Teddy, Theo
  • Thomas - Tam, Tom, Tomkin, Tonk, Tonkin
  • Walter - Wally (modern), Walt, Watkin
  • William - Bill, Billy, Liam (Irish), Wilcock, Wilk, Wilkin, Will, Willie, Wills, Willy

While I was searching for some history about Regency names I came across a few websites and articles of interest.


Do any of these nicknames surprise you? 

Your Resident Name Enthusiast,
Miss Laurie :)

P.S. I'm still planning on posting about Jane Austen & English Nicknames on Old-Fashioned Charm bit it's going to take me a but to edit it so it's more readable. Thanks for all of your encouragement! 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Jane Austen and English Nicknames

This post is sort of a request but I've also been wanting to investigate the theme of English Nicknames for a while now. Back in February I commented on my blogging friend Melody at Regency Delight ~Jane Austen, etc.~ posted Sense and Sensibility: Nancy or Anne? in which she asked why Miss Steele, sister of Lucy Steele in Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility is sometimes called Anne and sometimes called Nancy.
The easy answer is that her Christian name is Anne and her nickname is Nancy, but this leads to the question why is Nancy a common nickname for Anne? And for that matter why is Catherine Bennet in Pride and Prejudice always called Kitty and why is Fanny Price of Mansfield Park named after her mother Frances but she's never called Frances in the book? 

Those folks in the United Kingdom have always seemed to me to be quite fond of nicknames, shortening and abbreviating. But this leads to the question where did these "common" nicknames actually come from? To answer this question some research on English nicknames and their origins was in order! It took me a while to find a good source but once I did I found more information than I'd ever dreamed of! Reading's terrific article Where Do Our Nicknames Come From? was an enlightening experience for me, one of those "ah ha!" moments. I highly recommend reading their article but I'll be quoting heavily from them here too.

Nicknames and terms of endearment have been used in almost every culture world wide but common English nicknames we have today have their roots in the Middle Ages. 
"Way back in the middle ages, a common way to make diminutives of names is to add -kin-in, or -cock to the end. Thus, John  became Jankin or Jenkin, which eventually became shortened to Jakin, which in turn became Jack. Many of these names today survive in surname form (i.e., Jenkins, Wilkins, Perkins, Tompkins, Wilcox, Johncox, etc.) though there are not many used as first names anymore." -

Some examples of these -kin / -in / -cock type of nicknames I found interesting:
  • Francis = Frankin, Frank  (Jane Austen's brother Francis "Frank" Austen and Emma character Frank Churchill)
  • Gilbert = Gibbin
  • Henry = Hawkin, Henkin, Hankin, Hank, Henecok
  • John = Jankin, Jenkin, Jakin, Jack, Johncock
  • Lawrence = Larkin
  • Nicholas = Colin, Cole (this answers some of my Colin origin questions!)
  • Robert = Robin, Hobkin  (like Robin Hood, Robert of Locksley)
  • Simon = Simkin 
  • Thomas = Tonkin, Tomkin, Tonk 
  • William = Wilkin, Wilk, Wilcock
Other style of nicknames in the Middle Ages were: "Rhyming names also have been popular diminutive forms of names. For example, Robert spawned not only Rob, but Hob and Dob as well, which in turn became Hobkin and Dobkin." -
Other examples are:

  • Andrew = Andy, Dandy
  • Robert = Rob, Bob, Hob, Dob, Nob
  • William = Will, Bill

"The Norman Invasion of England in 1066 changed the language as well as the naming pool. The Normans introduced many new sounds into the language that the native populations had difficulty with. The "r" sound was one of these, which led to it being dropped or changed in many diminutive forms of names."

For example:
  • Barbara = Babs
  • Dorothy = Dolly
  • Mary = Moll, Molly, Polly, Maisie, Maidie  (Molly Gibson of Mrs. Gaskell's Wives & Daughters is named after her mother Mary)
  • Margaret = Maggie, Meg, Meggie, Peg, Peggy 
  • Sarah = Sally, Sadie  (Answers the conumdrum of Catherine Morland's sister's name in Chapter 2 Northanger Abbey!)
  • Frances = Fanny
  • Brigid = Biddy
  • Teresa = Tess, Tessa, Tessie (like in Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbevilles)

"-ch and -th sounds were pronounced like "k" and "t" in these days as well. Surviving today are the pronunciations of Thomas, Theresa and Anthony (pronounced like Antony in Britain still). Richard was pronounced more like Rickard, thus giving rise to the pet forms Rick, Hick, and Dick."

Some examples:
  • Dorothy = Dot, Dodie
  • Elizabeth = Bess, Bessie, Betty  (and Betsey like Fanny Price's sister in Mansfield Park and other characters!)
  • Catherine = Kit, Kitty, Kate (like Kitty Bennet of Pride and Prejudice!)
  • Christopher = Kit
  • Theodore = Ted
  • Theresa = Tess, Tessie
"Another pet name trend was to use "mine" in front of a name. This eventually contracted to add an "n" sound to the beginnings of some names."
For example:
  • Ann = Nan, Nannie
  • Edward = Ned
  • Helen = Nell, Nelly
"Present day finds us adding -ie, -y, -i or other "ee" sounds to a name (or name's syllable) to form the diminutive. This began in Scotland and spread to the rest of England, and then were brought to the USA. In Scotland, Christie was originally a man's name, short for Christopher. Likewise, Josey was short for Joseph (i.e., the Clint Eastwood movie The Outlaw Josey Wales)." -

Like I said, this article answered so many questions for me! 
But there's just a few more questions lurking in the back of my mind.


If there are all these cool nicknames why do some of Jane Austen's characters (especially heroines) have nicknames and some do not?
Similar to today nicknames in Jane Austen's day were entirely up to the individual and the family.
A lot of times the child would be named after a family member and often a nickname would be used for the young child to distinguish one from the other (i.e. Molly Gibson of Elizabeth Gaskell's Wives and Daughters is said to have been Christened Mary after her mother but was called Molly to tell them apart, when her mother died she kept being called Molly because it suited her). Often parents would Christen their child after a wealthier relative and make them godfather or godmother of the child in the hopes that the wealth relative might favor their namesake with wealth. I believe this is the case with George Wickham in Pride and Prejudice, his godfather the elder Mr. Darcy mentioned Wickham in his will. (This and the fact that his young daughter was named Georgiana leads me to believe that the elder Mr. Darcy's first name was probably George!)  In Mansfield Park Fanny's youngest sister Betsey is goddaughter to their Aunt Norris (which leads me to believe they shared the common Christian name Elizabeth) but young Betsey is less fortunate than other godchildren receiving from her stingy aunt only the apologizes of not sending her a prayer book!
Names always tell a story, the naming of a child can tell you volumes about their parent's hopes and dreams for them. I believe Jane Austen knew this and chose the names of her characters very carefully. If you look closely at the sounds, histories and meanings of her character's names you'll find that most of the names suit the character's personality to a tea!

Why are some characters only called by their nicknames? do these characters even have proper Christian names?
Like I said before a lot of children who were named after family members often were given nickname to distinguish them from their relatives. Some children would grow into their full names but some would find that their nickname suited them throughout their lives. (Example: In a letter to a relative soon after Jane Austen's birth her father called his daughters Cassie and Jenny but we find in their teens and early twenties "Jenny" is never in use in family letters to mean Jane but Jane Austen sometimes called her sister "Aunt Cassie" when writing to her nieces and nephews.)
Why is Catherine Bennet called Kitty and Catherine Morland is never called so? Well, perhaps Kitty Bennet was named after her mother and so they always use her nickname to distinguish, or perhaps she's named after her Aunt Phillips. Perhaps Catherine Morland never needed a nickname because she didn't live close to a relative she was named after. Why is Anne Steele usually called Nancy and Anne Elliot is never called by a nickname? Perhaps she is named after a family member but then again their names may tell us more about their stations in life. Nancy Steele is from a humble Devonshire family while Anne Elliot's family is among the nobility of England and Ireland! To Sir Walter Elliot Anne was the name of Queens and royalty so in his eyes it suited his daughter better.  
Characters like Fanny Price who are only ever called by the nickname would most certainly have had full Christian names even if they aren't mentioned in the novels. Most of Jane Austen's characters would have had a faith association that required in proper society that a child be Christened otherwise it would be considered that they didn't legally have a name. Among the middle and upper classes that Jane Austen associated with there were definitely names that were considered acceptable as Christian names and those that were not, names have even stricter connotations than they do now.  A nickname like Sally, Jack, Fanny or Ned would not have been considered a "proper Christian name". Therefore Fanny would have been legally Christened Frances Price, but her family called her Fanny. It tells volumes of her relative's thoughts about her that when she is taken into their upper class society she is not raised to the rank of a Frances but is kept at the lowly positions of "just Fanny Price". I personally think the nickname suits the meek character better and Jane Austen must have too!

A few other observations:

  • Few Biblical names were accepted in the upper classes of Jane Austen's day, perhaps because they were still associated with the Puritains, Quakers and other pious religious groups who scoured their Bibles for the names of saints and virtues. Biblical names were often considered plain and used more frequently among the lower classes. Anglicized versions such as Anne (Anna), Elizabeth (Elisabeth), Jane (John and Joanna), Susan (Susana) and Maria (Mary) were more frequently used.
  • Names were very much linked with their origins so it could be assumed that if you had a "foreign" name that you would probably be a foreigner. 
  • Flower names didn't come into fashion until the late 1800's so it would seem odd for a girl to be named Violet or Lily. 
  • Meanings of names, their histories and associations (social, political, religious) were almost always taken into account when parents named their children. Jane Austen plays on this language of names from time to time in her novels. 
I hope this answers some of your questions as it has mine about the whys and wherefores of English nicknames and Jane Austen's usages of them in her novels.  
In a few days I'm hoping to post a fuller list of names and their common nicknames so be on the look out for that!

Your Resident Name Enthusiast,
Miss Laurie :)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Blog Buttons!

Dear Readers, I've long been wanting to make buttons so you could link to me if you wish. It took me a while to come up with images I liked but in the end I decided on these three so you can all pick which one you like best.

I hope you link to me and visit often. Thanks! :)

Name Enthusiast

Name Enthusiast

Name Enthusiast

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Liebster Blog Award

Mel at But when a young lady is to be a heroine kindly awarded me! The Liebster Blog Award is an award which is given to blogs with less than 200 followers in the hope that we can spread the word about their lovely blogs.

Rules of this award:

1. Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them
2. Give the Liebster Blog Award to five bloggers and comment on their blogs, letting them know they got it.
3. Copy and paste the award to your blog.
4. Have faith your followers will spread the love to other bloggers
5. Have blogging fun!

I only have a few followers so far and most of them have already been awarded with this blog so I'll try to think of five but we'll see. 

I award:
Larkin from Libri - thanks so much for being a faithful follower!
Miss Emma from All Things Jane Austen
Elinor Dashwood of Floating Lanterns
Pallavi from Period Movie Box

I hope to see you all pass on this award!

Thanks so much to Mel for being such a fabulous follower and commenting often on Name Enthusiast and for awarding me! 

Very Truly Your's,
Miss Laurie :)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Strange Victorian Names!

I just found this delightful Horrible Histories video about Names In Victorian times. Some of these names are horrid but they were actually given in Victorian times! A great laugh!

Horrible Histories Victorian Names

Just wow!

Miss Laurie :)

Interesting Facts on Storm Names

Hurricane Irene

Recently I was chatting with a friend about Hurricane Irene which touched the east coast of the USA last weekend. She was wondering why all east coast hurricanes seem to be named using girls names. So I had some fun doing a bit of research about the naming of hurricanes here in the USA.

First of all, I knew that not only girls names are used for storms and hurricanes. Storms are named through the alphabet, alternating between girls and boys names. For example Hurricane Irene was followed by Hurricane Joel and then Katia. It does seem recently that more of the hurricanes with feminine names have touched land and therefore they get more publicity.

After this I had to do some research and found some interesting facts about the naming of storms. In 1979 the World Meteorologist Organization are the ones who originally made up six alphabetical lists of names to be used for storms. The lists are rotated through so that the same names are used over and over again. In 2011 the same names used in 1999 and 2005 are being used.
The name lists and the years used look like this:

Click Image to View names larger
(list came from

The only exception to this list is with storms that are particularly destructive (like hurricane Katrina in 2005), then the name can be replaced with a different name starting with the same letter (like this year Katrina was retired and Katia has been added to the list in it's place). I found a list of Retired Hurricane Names with what years they were retired (this list doesn't include info for 2011).
A few names I'm glad they took off the storm naming list are: Andrew, Eloise, David, Elena, Fabian, Hugo, Keith and Opal.

My parents still mention Hurricane Andrew of 1992 from time to time. How glad they must be that my brother, Colin Andrew "Andy", was born the year before this storm. I remember in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina went through it created so much damage and I thought at the time how awful it was that such a beautiful name had been given to such a horrible storm. I'm sure the name Katrina has suffered a downfall in popularity since that time.

Would you still used a name you liked even if it was associated with a natural disaster (hurricane, storm, volcano)?
Are storms in your area given names?

Your Resident Name Enthusiast,
Miss Laurie :)