Quiz: Where Do These Nicknames Come From?

Sep 12th 2014

Want to make a nickname? No problem! All you need is a pair of name clippers. One quick snip turns Samantha into Sam and Jaxon into Jax.

At least that's how it works today. Once upon a time, nicknames were were less predictable. I recently wrote about some long-lost nicknames that transformed their source names with rhymes, contractions and more.

Today I'd like to look at a different group of nickname relics. These nicknames will be more familiar to you; some are even fashionable given names for babies today. What's lost is their nickname origins. See how many of these nicknames you can pin to their original formal-name sources.

The Nicknames:
















. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The Answers

Betty (Elizabeth)

Daisy (Margaret; note that marguerite is French for daisy)

Chance (Chauncey)

Cole (Nicholas)

Hal (Henry/Harry)

Judd (Jordan)

Maisie (Mary/Mairead)

Moss (Moses)

Nan (Ann)

Nell (Helen/Ellen/Eleanor)

Ned (Edward/Edmund)

Pip (Philip)

Sadie (Sarah)

Sukie (Susan/Susanna)

Tess (Teresa)


September 13, 2014 2:58 PM

The creation of nicknames intrigues me. My mother was called Nikki all her adult life, and if I thought about it, I guessed Nikki was one possible feminine version of Nicky, from Nicholas. Of course the problem was my mother was christened Erma Irene in 1920, and I never understood how to get from Erma to Nikki.

Fortunately, my sister took the trouble to find out, by asking. Turns out, while growing up, Erma always regretted not having a nickname, and mentioned this to friends when she reached college and independence. One of her friends there thought, helpfully if not so cleverly, to call her 'Nickname.' 'Hi, Nickname. How are you?' Now it's easy to see the process in action: in short order, the lengthy nickname Nickname became the much more useful Nikki.

Discoveries are rarely made in only one place. With names, a certain density is required. There must have been a number of women who acquired this name during World War II, and eventually it became established enough that my sister could put it on Nikki's granddaugher's birth certificate. 

September 15, 2014 8:40 AM

Hal is also a nickname for Harold (source: my father-in-law)

September 15, 2014 10:04 AM

That makes sense, since Hal is a nickname for Harry, which is itself a nickname for Harold.

September 16, 2014 9:21 PM

Name nerds, who (else) knew most of these? ✋


September 16, 2014 9:39 PM

I didn't know Chance, Judd, or Moss, but knew the rest of them. As always, it was nice to learn something new!

September 16, 2014 11:43 PM

The only ones I didn't know were Chance and Judd. Moss I learned about relatively recently on the BNW forums, and Sukie was another recent addition to my "arsenal" (after the umpteenth encounter with the name in Mother Goose, prompting me to look it up).

I am somewhat perplexed by the identification of Maisie with Mary, though: Withycombe (The Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names) identifies it as a Scottish diminutive of Margaret, which makes sense as a rhyming-name starting from Daisy. (The only actual Maisie I've ever met had it as her full name.)

September 17, 2014 10:24 AM

The ones I didn't know were Chance, Judd, Moss, and Sukie. For some odd reason, I also had to think long and hard about Tess before I realized where it comes from.

I'm not sure I agree that Chance is a nickname for Chauncey: I've never even heard of anyone named Chauncey, but Chance occurs with some regularity. If I had to guess, I would have derived Chance from Charles.

@TheEnvelope, Nikki can be derived from Nicolette or even from Veronica. I rather doubt there are too many people out there who derive it from Nickname.

By mk
September 18, 2014 4:11 PM

I really like the story about how Erma got the name Nikki. Those types of storys are so interesting to me.

The ones on the list I didn't guess were Cole, Chance, Judd, and Maisie. The Coles I know derive it from Colton, Colden, etc and the Maisies are Margaret. I always thought of Judd as a first name, not a nickname.

September 21, 2014 10:23 AM

The more I look into this, the more I think Maisie = Mary is a mistake. Mary has many, many nicknames, but Maisie is Margaret, plain and simple. I'm wondering if maybe Laura was confusing Maisie with Maidie or Mamie? Maidie is a Scottish pet form of Mary, and Mamie is a chiefly American one (according to Withycombe).

September 28, 2014 11:57 PM

Mamie is also something children call their grandmothers in some families (pronounced differently, MAM-ee). This is how I came across it, and having grown up with Mamie=grandmother, it is sort of strange to think of it as a baby name. 

September 15, 2017 7:25 PM

Ogrodzenia plastikowe PCV - Bramy Balustrady Pergole Altany Wiaty http://www.piotrsycz.pl - More info!