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Our Names, Pet Names and Nicknames

Updated on August 7, 2013

What's in a Name?

In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (11.ii.1-2) Juliet says:

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."

But would it? Names of things, and more importantly, names of people have special meanings for us.

In the Bible Isaiah wrote that God said “I have called you by your name” (43.1), and from that we infer that even God knows our names.

Apart from our family name or surname, we have 'given' names or 'Christian' names, and these are often carefully chosen by prospective parents, so that the baby is given a name, or names, that have special meaning or he or she may be named as a namesake.

It doesn't stop there, though. Almost as soon as the baby is born and named, that name is likely to be shortened or he will acquire a pet name, or even a nickname.

Some Interesting Names

Alexander: Greek. Defender of the people.

Amanda: Latin. Lovable, worthy to be loved.

Amy: Latin. Beloved.

Andrew: Greek. Manly (Jesus' first Apostle).

Edward: English. Wealthy guardian.

Elizabeth: Hebrew. God has promised.

Francis: Latin. Free/ From France.

Henry: German. Ruler of the home.

Jane: English. God is gracious.

Jessica: Hebrew. Dove.

Letitia: Latin. Joy.

Margaret: English. Pearl.

Michael: Hebrew. Who is like God?

Mary: Hebrew. Of the sea/ Bitter.

Robert: English. Bright fame.

William: English. Strong-willed warrior.

Meanings and Origins of Names

Names are often chosen because of their meanings or the country where they originated and that makes them special for those who have chosen them and for those who receive those names. Meanings are important, especially to the person receiving that name.

As my father's surname, was a common one in the country of his ancestry, Wales, my parents decided to choose unusual Welsh names for their children. Mother chose 'Bronwen,' without checking the meaning. Later when I asked the meaning she looked it up and told me it meant 'white blossom.' When I changed schools in Year 9 and was being introduced to the class, a teacher asked what my name meant. Blushing a bright red, I told her. For ever afterwards, I was nicknamed, 'Blossom.' However, later in my teens I looked it up and found that my mother had added a couple of letters to the word: it actually meant 'white bosom!' I was really glad I hadn't known that one before, but I also found that there had been a Queen Bronwen of Wales, so that was slightly mitigating.

There are books of names available in libraries and there are numerous sites on the internet where names and their meanings can be found.

Elspeth and Amanda
Elspeth and Amanda | Source
Letitia (Tish) on her wedding day in 1889.
Letitia (Tish) on her wedding day in 1889. | Source

Shortened Names

While some people and some families prefer the full given name, shortened forms of names, or diminutives, seem to have always been popular. Diminutions are often terms of endearment and especially feminine ones are acceptable between friends and family members but can seem derogatory when used by acquaintances or strangers. We children thought it was hilarious when we heard our Grandmother Letitia being called Tish by her sisters, although we valued our skins and kept our amusement to ourselves!

Some examples, using the names listed above are:

Alexander: Alex, Sandy.

Amanda: Mandy.

Andrew: Andy, Drew.

Edward: Eddie, Eddy, Ed, Teddy, Ted.

Elizabeth: Beth, Lizzie, Liz, Betty, Bessie.

Elspeth (the Scottish form of Elizabeth): Ellie.

Francis: Frank, Frankie, Franky.

Jessica: Jess, Jessie.

Letitia: Letty, Tish.

Margaret: Marg, Meg, Peggie, Maggie.

Michael: Mike, Mickey.

Mary: Molly, Polly.

Robert: Robbie, Bob, Bobby.

William: Will, Bill, Billy.

Namesakes

A baby is often given the name of a relative, an ancestor, a much admired famous person, or a friend, so becoming their namesake. The word comes from the phrase, 'for the name's sake.'

My Father-in-law was injured in World War I, and it was deemed too difficult to remove the many bits of shrapnel, so they were left there for a number of years. Later, when he was working on his orchard, his leg became infected and gangrenous and he had to be rushed to a hospital several hours away by ambulance. The leg was amputated and his life hung in the balance, but he recovered. He was so grateful to the surgeon who saved his life that he named a son after him.

The lovely Papuan lass pictured below is my namesake and I consider that a great honour.

Namesake Bronwen
Namesake Bronwen | Source
My Darling in Our Early Days
My Darling in Our Early Days | Source

Pet Names

Pet names are terms of endearment, and some of these are dear, darling, sweetie and sweetheart. There is the story of the visitor who remarked to his elderly friend:

"It's so lovely that at our age you still call your wife, Darling."

"Oh," replied his host, "I forgot her name years ago!"

Some pet names are specific to age or to a country or culture. I have heard a French man call his wife, "Ma petite choux," - 'my little cabbage,' while in Australia we often use the term, possum, meaning someone who is cuddly.

Nicknames

A nickname is often an amusing name for a person, perhaps related to a trait or an occurrence. When we were at school, one girl who owned a pony was mad on horses and never seemed to talk about much else, so she was nicknamed 'Neddy,' while another was always in a hurry, so she was known as 'Speedy.'

In World War I, some of the others in his group discovered that my Dad's second name was Henry, a name he did not like and tried to hide. His mates shortened that to 'Hen' and quite soon his nickname became 'Chook,' which he did not mind at all.

In times past, nicknames were not always kind. Boys who were overweight were often nicknamed 'Fatty' or 'Fatso.' A girl we knew was always slow and earned the nickname of 'Snail.' I have not heard such nicknames recently, so perhaps we are improving in our attitudes towards each other.

Chook
Chook | Source

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    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

      This is a charming hub. My mother's name was Pearl, my father's Jim and mine Ruby, all gems, so they say..Ha..Thank you for sharing your story and photos....

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      You have some very handsome men in your family! I love talking about names, for there are some weird ones in my family and I love meeting up with others who might top me! Loved this. ^

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I never was much for nicknames, so I just used given names unless requested otherwise. A good Hub, Blossom.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      Such a wonderful hub Blossom and voting up without a single doubt.

      Eddy.

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      always exploring: Thank you! What a lovely comment and how lovely that you are all beautiful gems that go to make up His crown.

      Jackie Lynnley: I think they were handsome, but perhaps I'm biased. Our names and how we got them can be very interesting, but at least it's not our fault and weird ones can be fun, too.

      WillStarr: We seem to do that a lot more these days, but nicknames (nice ones) were fun, too, and everyone seemed to have one - we certainly had them for our teachers at school, too, it was like a code.

      Eiddwen: Thank you, Eddy, and for your vote. Now I've said what my name means, I'd love to know what yours means, too.

    • Tonipet profile image

      Tonette Fornillos 3 years ago from The City of Generals

      Hi Blossoms. This is very interesting. My real name then is a combination of everything - Maria Antoniet Toni. My Toni is obviously a nickname, lol and the Maria Antoniet is the traditional Christian name. Luckily it means "extraordinary." It's so nice to know your Blossoms handle is the real meaning of your name and the true scent of your heart.

      Thank you for sharing this. Sometimes, we needed to sit back and look back to know the many other beautiful things that put meanings to our life, yet unseen. My votes beautiful. Best of all:=)-Tonette

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Hi Blossom,

      Very interesting topic here for a hub. In church the other Sunday, the pastor was preaching on the special name our Heavenly Father gives us, and that could be precious one, Dear Child, and I love that new video out now, "Hello My Name Is" ... child of the one true King!

      I was name after both my grandmothers, my first name is my dad's mother's name, and my middle name is my mother's mother's name. I have the nickname of "Tree" as way back when my husband and I were dating, one of his little cousins say our picture together and she tried to say my given name but was unable and what came out was "Tree" and it stayed with me, as almost the whole family calls me that nickname. LOL

      Voted up ++++ and sharing

      God bless, Faith Reaper

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Blossom, I remember wanting a nickname when I was growing up; perhaps, I thought that everybody had one. Anyway, I enjoyed your article. Thanks for the interesting insights.

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Tonipet: How lovely to be called 'extraordinary.' That's very special. Thank you so much for your lovely comments.

      Faith Reaper: I haven't come across that video yet, but it's so special to be the child of the one true King. It's lovely to be named for those who have gone before us, we did that for the second names of our children. I do love your nickname: it suggests someone who stands tall and straight. Hugs and blessings.

      MsDora: Sometimes it's better not to have a nickname, than to have one that might be unkind, as is sometimes the case.

    • FSlovenec profile image

      Frank Slovenec 3 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      Blossom, interesting..I was given the nickname Babe over 63 years ago. My family, all aunts and uncles and cousins still refer to me as Babe. Everyone for many years thought the name was given because my older brother shortened baby. About 10 years ago I asked my mother. Her answer it was after Babe Ruth. The origin of the nickname and the name is important. thank you

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

      Blossoms you do come up with interesting yet entertaining hubs.. almost like a puzzle page in my Saturday Paper.. or a game page .. voted entertaininng and plain old fun to read :)

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      FSlovenec: That was interesting - it was good that you asked your mother, so then you knew. The reason behind our names and nicknames is part of our story. Thank you for telling us about it.

      Frank Atanacio: So glad you enjoyed it. And it is like a puzzle - we have those pages in the Saturday paper here in Australia, too, and I love them.

    • Michael-Milec profile image

      Michael-Milec 3 years ago

      Hello BlossomSB.

      Beautiful and interesting . A lovely writ as always . Helps to understand why people choose to add/change/shorten names. Never could understood "need " of especially when occasionally after introducing my name Michael, the person responded ' hi mike '. It was ever unacceptable,and I was careful to let people know by repeating, my name is Michael. Good opportunity to testify to greatness of the NAME. When you call Michael you just said " who is like self existent God, " there isn't like Him. Since the Satan is " god of this world" he prefers mike- microphone , so he wouldn't be reminded, of the Creator-true God.

      Have a blessed day.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 3 years ago from sunny Florida

      Hi Blossom or should that be Bosom :)

      I loved the story about your name. How cute that was.

      This was an interesting read. I am always curious about how names for people and other members of the planet came to be.

      thanks for sharing.

      Angels are on the way today....ps

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Michael-Milec: Thank you for your positive comments. I like to use a person's full name, too, although we certainly all had nicknames when we were kids. Isn't it wonderful that God knows each of us by our names?

      pstraubie48: I'm glad you enjoyed it, it's fun to share on so many different topics. Thank you for the angels, they're very important beings.

    • stars439 profile image

      stars439 3 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

      Thank you for sharing you're wonderful hub. There is so much in a name, and it seems a lot of folks try to live up to their names. Such a beautiful , and interesting hub. GBY

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      stars439: Yes, their name really seems to become part of them and the best thing is that God knows each of us by our name. Thank you for your comments, it's good to hear from you Stars. GBY and your family.

    • bluebird profile image

      bluebird 3 years ago

      I enjoyed this interesting and well-put-together hub. Great job and good idea!

      I like this part:

      "It's so lovely that at our age you still call your wife, Darling."

      "Oh," replied his host, "I forgot her name years ago!"

      It reminds me of my husband and I, we've been calling each other "sweetheart" and "babe" since we were married 28 years ago and never call each other by any other name unless we're in public - and it sounds so strange to hear it and do it!

      Thanks for sharing the pictures of your father, husband, grandmother, the pretty little blonde girls, it was all good.

      Oh, just a side note, I have always loved the name Bronwen though I've never known anyone by that name, it is unusual but sounds so feminine, yet grand to me.

    • bettybarnesb profile image

      bettybarnesb 3 years ago from Bartlett, TN

      Hey Blossom -I love "old" pictures! Recently, I looked the meaning to my name and it means "an oath." God made an oath about me. Strangely, it fits my life and how I have lived.

      As always, enjoy your work.

      be blessed.....

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      bettybarnesb: That's a lovely meaning, an oath or a promise and God always keeps His promises. GBY.

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      bluebird: Thank you for your lovely comments. I love your story about you and your husband's names for each other. The little blonde girls are our first two children. It's an interesting thing, but they did what lots of Celts do - they were born with dark hair but in a short time it had fallen out and been replaced by blonde and they remained that way until about twelve, when they went much darker. I did the same when I was a child.

    • LadyFiddler profile image

      Joanna Chandler 3 years ago from On planet Earth

      Very nice indeed it's lovely to be still called darling after so many years it shows that there is genuine love in the relationship. My nickname is sweets but I kinda stopped people from calling me it my parents and sisters still call me it though along with some friends. My first name is Abigail it means father of Joy ;)

      Thanks for sharing

      Have a happy Sunday

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      ladyFiddler: It is lovely to be called Darling, especially when it is meant. I like your nickname and Abigail is unusual and has a great meaning. It's a pleasure to share and thank you for your comments.

    • SamitaJassi profile image

      Samita Sharma 3 years ago from Chandigarh

      I really enjoyed this interesting and well-put-together hub. Great job and good idea!

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      SamitaJassi: I'm glad you enjoyed it, thank you!

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 3 years ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      This was a delightful read, Blossom. Thanks for sharing it with us. My name is Chris, not Christopher. But regardless of that fact, my late wife called me, of all things, Topher, and then Tophe.

    • rdsparrowriter profile image

      rdsparrowriter 3 years ago

      Hi Blossom I like this hub. Name is very special. I have so many nicknames other than the given name by my parents. When I was small I was really annoyed and I tried to correct others in calling me by my name, which later I gave up and ignored most of the times .. It's nice to see your family pictures :)Wish you a Happy New Year!

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      cam8510: Thank you! I'm not sure how I missed your comment before, but I'm glad I've read it now. Names are funny things and somehow they become part of us.

      rdsparrowriter: Yes, our names are special. Sometimes we like our nicknames as sometimes we don't and refuse to answer to them. A happy 2014 to you, too.

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 2 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Bossom, this is a great hub which I find very interesting and useful. When I was young, my family members and close friends called me Paulie. Throughout my life, I have also had nicknames and some of them have not been very flattering. It was amazing to see the strange nicknames that some of my Thai girl students had when I was teaching. Voted up and sharing with HP followers and on Facebook.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 2 years ago from Florida

      My wonderful Christian Mother named me Mary. She told me she wanted me to grow up to be a good person like the Mother of Jesus. Mary is an old fashioned name, but I'm proud of it.

      Wonderful Hub; I like your photos very much, too.

      Voted UP, etc. and shared.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 2 years ago from New York

      We don't often stop to think about names anymore. (I wrote a hub about some of the outrageous names people are using now.) This hub shows the traditional way of naming or nicknaming. It was interesting to read and stirred memories of names gone by. Names and nicknames my friends and I had when we were young spring to mind. Loved the pictures too.

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • PurvisBobbi44 profile image

      PurvisBobbi44 2 years ago from Florida

      Hi Blossom,

      It is so great to see you and I enjoyed this hub very much. One of my Great-Great Grandmother's name was Mary Valentine. When I was researching my family tree I found it was true --after being told this by an

      aunt.

      I wish you the best year ever in 2015.

      Bobbi Purvis

      I will tweet it and pin it on my re-pin board at Pinterest.

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 2 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      This is a good read and pretty much entertaining at the same time. I like this part:

      "It's so lovely that at our age you still call your wife, Darling."

      "Oh," replied his host, "I forgot her name years ago!" ~ :)

      I call my daughter, "cheesecake" 'cause we both love cheesecake.

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Paul Kuehn: Thank you. I'm glad you found it interesting. Yes, sometimes nicknames can be quite cruel and difficult to get rid of, too, once the person has been labelled. My daughter had a Thai friend at university and her nickname was dum, I think, - it meant 'little drip'. Not sure if that was very flattering, either - and she was very bright.

      Mary615: I don't look on 'Mary' as being old-fashioned, but rather as a very special name - and a perennial, always fresh. Thank you for your vote and share, too.

      Tilsontitan: Thank you for your comments. To me, our names are important and are part of who we are, and so their meanings. Glad you liked the photos, too.

      PurvisBobbi44: How lovely! It would be interesting to know why her parents chose Valentine - it probably has special significance for them. Thank you for your good wishes - the best ever for your 2015, too.

      CrisSp: Love your nickname for your daughter :) Smiles are important. Thank you for your comments, too.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 2 years ago from sunny Florida

      Blossom I am glad for you that your Momma added the letters to 'bosom' too.

      this was very interesting...I was called a name when I was in 6th grade by a boy who was, well, just mean.

      He called me something that meant I was fat...and I was not at the time. It was very hurtful...he said I was as big as a harbor as the word rhymed with my last name. How cruel that name calling can be. He never knew how bad it made me feel; I never let him know.

      But I never have condoned or allowed such a practice.

      Angels are on the way to you this evening. ps

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      pstraubie48: I know what you mean. Especially when we are children, name-calling can really hurt, even when our parents try to console us by quoting:

      'Sticks and stones will break my bones, But names will never hurt me.'

      Thank goodness we grow up and learn to deal with such things - and such people. You were great as a kid to not let that boy know how you felt. Thank you for the angels - blessings to you, too.

    • norlawrence profile image

      Norma Lawrence 8 months ago from California

      Great Hub. Thank you Enjoyed it very much. Very interesting.

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 8 months ago from Victoria, Australia

      Hello norlawrence, this was a surprise, I'd almost forgotten I'd written this! Thank you for reading and enjoying it - and for commenting. God bless you.

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