Monday, February 25, 2008


Randy Seaver's post on grandparents' names got me to thinking about other names used in my family - namely (bad pun) nicknames.

I don't know if the same is true with other large families, but in mine, it appears that there is a "naming scheme" for children and then there are nicknames which make almost no sense at all.

Example: my mother grew up with 11 other siblings for a total of 12 children - 4 boys and 8 girls. Most of the girls had names starting with J (Joan, Josephine, Judith, Jacqueline, June, Julia, Jennifer) and the boys had names starting with L (Lawrence, Lee, Lemuel). The excepts were just two children, Pat (from a previous marriage) and Alfred (named after his father).

In talking with others, it seems that using the same first letter when naming children is somewhat common especially with large families. And with Irish Catholic families it can take a twist: I knew a family growing up with 6 girls all named Mary. Mary Ann, Mary Margaret, Mary Catherine, Mary Jane, Mary Jo and Mary Lee.

Besides the naming scheme used in my family, the nicknames abound: Butch, Pudgie, Ginny, Jo'el, Jerry. Sometimes the nickname is related to the person's original name (i.e., Jo'el is Josephine Eleanor) but most times it is not.

My mother's nickname is Suzi and it has nothing to do with her given name of Jacqueline. There is a cute story involved however:

As a child my mother loved to eat Tootsie Rolls and she had earned the nickname "Tootsie." However, the younger children could not pronounce "Tootsie" to the point where it came out as "Sussie" hence "Suzi."

Did your family use nicknames? Do you still have a nickname or did you grow up with one that you absolutely hated? Do you have any funny stories involving how nicknames got started?


Nikki-ann said...

My Nan and her sisters all have names beginning with M - Mary, Murial, Margaret, May, Martha, Maud and Mabel, whereas her brothers were named after uncles. However, Nan was known by her middle name and Mary was known as Polly. I've come across many insidences where ancestors/relatives have been called by their middle name instead of their first name.

Terry Thornton said...


Nicknames sometimes can be funny --- and some are downright awful. The worse was a child I knew only as "Boll Weevil" in South Mississippi; he was the youngest in a long line of tall thin very blonde kids. No doubt he is to this day called Bo-Weevil.

As you know my middle name is Terrance; my brother who was about 2 years old when I as born could not pronounce the name. It came out with the "Rs" sounding like "Bs" so I was stuck with the nickname "Tebby" which, fortunately, was later shortened to "Teb." In college, I became "Terry" and at one job of several years duration, the boss insisted that my name was "Bill." I can judge how long I've known someone by how they start the converstion. LOL!

TERRY or BILL or TEB but don't call me TEBBY!