Call it a moniker, a sobriquet, a diminutive or whatever, in everyday use, people tend to shorten the names of friends or associates, whether for informality’s sake or just for the heck of it. 

       As a word lover, I have always been intrigued by the fact that the same name, in its informal variation, has so many possibilities.. Why oh why do some people prefer one diminutive over another? And some resist any attempt to avoid using their full name? Following are 25 names with at least two frequently-used variations

Albert Al, Bert

Alexander Alex, Andy

Alfred Al, Alfie

Barbara Barb, Barby

Beatrice Bea, Bede, Trish

Bernard Bernie, Barney

Charles Charlie, Chuck

Deborah Deb, ,Debby

Edward Ed, Eddy, Ted, Teddy

Elizabeth Liz, Lizzy, Beth, Betty

Estelle Essie, Stella

Francisca Fran, Franny

Gertrude Gert, Gerty, Trudy

Herbert Herb, Herby

Leticia Letty, Trish,Tricia

Lillian Lil, Lilly

Margaret Meg, Margie

Morton Mort, Morty

Patricia Pat, Patty, Trish

Richard Dick, Rich, Richey, Rick

Robert Bob, Bobby, Rob, Bert

Roberta Bert, Bertie, Robby

Samuel Sam, Sammy

Sheldon Shell. Shelly

Thomas Tom. Tommy

       If your name is Richard, why do you prefer Dick over Rich ––or Rick or Richey –– or vice versa? Are you offended if someone shortens your name or uses a form you just don’t like?

       Only on occasion do I get an answer. My friend Deborah objects vigorously if you call her Debby. She thinks of herself as a serious, accomplished individual with a serious name. She thinks of Debbie as a brainless character, perhaps the subject of a movie entitled “Debbie Does Dishes.” My niece Judith hates being called Judy.  That’s what her parents called her when she was a child.  She is a grown-up now ––Judith, not Judy.

       Sometimes, people shorten your family name rather than your first name, My son Jonathan Rubinstein, a prominent businessman and engineer, prefers to be called Jon but never objects when many people call him Ruby Here’s a funny observation. Some nicknames or shortened forms skip a generation.  My father was called Ruby, but nobody used that name for me. However, Ruby was resurrected for one of my sons. Not for the other.

Go figure.

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