Posted by: Jack Henry | May 2, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Nicknames, Part 1

I’m not sure how we got started, but the other day my dear amigo Javier and I started discussing nicknames. And not just regular nicknames, but Spanish nicknames. I was really excited, because to me, Spanish nicknames are so much more interesting than calling young Jim “Jimmy,” or referring to Margaret as “Margie” or “Maggie.” This is, however, a blog about English, so I will be certain to connect the dots somehow.

Let’s start with the word nickname. What does it mean? A nickname is a familiar or humorous name given to a person or thing instead of or as well as the real name”. It could be a shorter version of your name (“Rob” instead of “Robert”), a bit of a tease (calling your short friend “Stilts”), or just a pet name (like “Bunny”—don’t ask).

Where did the word nickname come from? Did someone named Nick or Nicholas want to invent something for the dictionary? Not even close! It’s actually from very old words that were misheard or written incorrectly. Here is the etymology from the Online Etymology Dictionary:

nickname (n.)

mid-15c., misdivision of ekename (c. 1300), an eke name, literally "an additional name," from Old English eaca "an increase," related to eacian "to increase" (cognate with Old Norse auknafn, Swedish öknamn, Danish ögenavn.

I still have so much information for you! But let’s move back to the Spanish nicknames, and tomorrow I will share more with you about English. (And to Javier, ¡muchas gracias!)

Alberto, Robertoà Beto

Antonio à Toño

Dolores à Lola

Eduardo à Lalo

Francisco à Pancho

Guadalupe à Lupe

Guillermo à Memo

Isabel à Chabela

Jesús à Chuy

Jose à Pepe

Ignacioà Nacho

Kara Church

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