Tuesday, October 28, 2014

From Betty to Lizzi... Elizabeth Nicknames as Given Names


Elizabeth is the only girl name that has been in the Top 100 every year since 1880. It's no wonder though, as it is a classic name with an abundance of nicknames to create some uniqueness to each special girl. But what about the girls who have the nickname on their birth certificate? They are related to the name by custom alone and may have to explain to people that their name is not actually Elizabeth. These girls have parents who simply loved the diminutive more than the full name. And the popularity of these nicknames-as-given-names is pretty grand.

I consulted with my name sums database (all given names since 1880 totaled) and picked out the names that have been in the Top 100, as well as any commonly spelled names that are well known nicknames for Elizabeth. I did not include all possible spellings of each nickname, such as Elleigh or Alyzah.

*Has been in the Top 100

The top names are not a curiosity. Betty was a powerhouse name in the 1920s and 1930s, when up to 3 out of 100 girls were given the name each year, so it is no surprise that it is the most popular Elizabeth-nickname-as-a-given-name overall. Lisa held the #1 spot for the majority of the 1960s, so that is no shock either.

I guess the only thing that had me pause was how "low" Lizzie is. It seems as though Lizzie is more often heard as a nickname than a given name, but the fact that it was in the Top 100 made me think it would be higher. Further digging however, shows that Lizzie was in the Top 100 in the 1880s and 1890s when there weren't as many babies born and/or recorded. Even more interesting is that there have been only seven girls given the name Lizzi since 1880. Seven!? That's not even an "outrageous" spelling of the name. Or maybe it's just weird to someone named Kelli? ;) There have been many other spellings of several of the Elizabeth-nickname-as-a-given-names that have been given to much more and even less than Lizzi... this one just stuck out to me as surprisingly low.

Many Elizabeth nicknames can hold their own quite well. To me, Lisa and Lillian sound more substantial as a given name, probably because they do not have the -ee ending most nicknames possess. I am also a huge fan of Elise for this reason. It is a fantastic option to those wanting to honor an Elizabeth without sounding too nicknamey.

There are several nicknames that have not been given as names. My personal favorite is Busy (could also possibly be spelled Bizzy), but I also know a young Elizabeth called Dizzy, which I absolutely adore. Others include Tibby, Zibby, and Tetty.

How would these Elizabeth-nickname-as-a-given-names rank against each other in 2013?

Fascinatingly, the majority of the names that start with B filter towards the bottom of the list (Betty still being the tops of the Bs) and the E names take over. In fact, all but 4 of the top 15 are E names (the 4 being L names) and the bottom 24 are all B and L names.

In the end, the main joy from this post is seeing all together so many wonderful names with roots from one of the best names of all time. I would have to say that I wish I heard more girls named Betty nowadays, but I probably prefer Elizabeth over any of her nicknames as a given name. That way, I can pick and choose which nickname to go with, or even go with several.

Here's an interesting question... Would your favorite Elizabeth-nickname-as-a-given-name be different from the nickname you would call your daughter named Elizabeth? Or is your favorite Elizabeth nickname the main one you would consider as a given name?

Last but not least... how many suspect Elsa will rise significantly in the coming years? {Raises hand.}

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