When an invitation recently dropped through the door inviting me to ‘Eddie’s’ retirement do I was confused to say the least. ‘I don’t know any Eddie’s’, I thought; certainly not any having a party in Dorset. Turns out I do. My husband’s uncle, who I have always known as Robert, is known by everyone else as Eddie. Finding this out reminded me of a friend at school who’s mum used to be known as Jean, but her real name was Barbara. WHAT?
So, it got me thinking, where on earth do people get these names that are so far removed from their given name, and what other strange combinations are there? Most people have heard of William/Bill, James/Jim and Edward/Ted, but here are some of my favourite, and sometimes more unusual, nicknames.
Harry is quite famously a nickname for Henry, coming from English Medieval times, along with Hank, which is also a diminutive of Henry.
Many Monarchs with the given name Henry have chosen to be known (unofficially) by Harry. The most notable Royal, using Harry as his official name, being Prince Henry of Wales; or as he’s better known, Prince Harry.
Molly|Mary or Sally|Sarah
In England and France there was a trend where the letter ‘R’ was replaced by ‘L’, resulting in Sarah becoming Sally and similarly, replacing the ‘R’ in Mary resulted in the nickname ‘Molly’. It is thought that the evolution of Molly goes something like this: Miryam (Hebrew) –> Mariam (Greek) –> Maria (Latin) –> Marie (French) –> Mary (English) –> Molly (English pet form).
The name John stretches far back into Biblical times. However, it was the Germanic language of Medieval times that altered the name John slightly to Jankin or Jackin, and it is the shortened form of Jackin that gives the nickname Jack for John today. One famous actor, born John, who prefers to use the nickname is the actor Jack Nicholson, famous for his roles in The Shining and As Good as it Gets.
Susan (Susanna)|Suki (Sookie/Sukey)
It is thought that the name Suki is of Japanese origin and Susan/Susanna of Hebrew origin, however, there doesn’t appear to be any evidence to show how Suki came to be a nickname for Susan or Susanna.
In the absence of any interesting facts about the name, how about some Suki celeb facts instead: perhaps the most famous Suki is the British actress/model Suki Waterhouse – who famously dated Bradley Cooper back in 2013. Or maybe you’ve only heard of Suki from the nursery rhyme ‘Polly put the kettle on’!
The name Richard has been around since the Middle Ages and in an era where everything was handwritten, the name was often shortened to Rich or Rick to save time. Rhyming nicknames at the time were popular so Rick eventually became Dick (Rich morphed into Hitch). The name Dick stuck, becoming such a popular name that the phrase ‘every Tom, Dick or Harry’ was coined to describe multiple unspecified people. There are so many famous Dick’s it would be imposible to mention them all, but one of my favourites has to be Dick van Dyke!
It is thought that the nickname Lilibet simply originates from an inability to pronounce the name Elizabeth at a young age. Certainly, this is how the most famous Lilibet came to be known – you know her better as HRH Queen Elizabeth II.
In Middle English, Charles was Chukken, which is probably where the nickname Chuck was born. Interestingly, Chuck Norris wasn’t actually a Charles, his given name was Carlos. Chuck Berry and Gossip Girl’s Chuck Bass on the other hand were both named Charles’ at birth.
This is surely one of the more obscure nicknames around you might think; how on earth do you get Daisy from Margaret? But actually it’s not so much. Simply put, Marguerite is the French name for Daisy. However, nowadays Daisy is seen as a name in its own right. Famous Margaret’s known as Daisy were the Crown Princess of Sweden, Princess Margaret of Connaught, and English novelist, Margaret (Daisy) Ashford.
It is only in the process of writing this post that I’ve remembered I used to have a nickname that had absolutely nothing to do with my name – my dad used to call me Mindy or sometimes Steiny. How did Hannah end up there? Well, it wasn’t simple: Hannah –> Hammy –> Armie –> Arminda –> Mindestein (= MINDY) –> Steinblock (= STEINY). Fortunately these nicknames haven’t followed me into adulthood!
So far though, my research has not given me any logical explanation for Robert/Eddie or Barbara/Jean so perhaps these are just people choosing to go by their middle names or perhaps they have a father like mine!
If you have any more knowledge on how any of these names came about, or you’ve got any favourite nicknames, make sure you let us know in the comments.