Conventional abbreviations for forenames

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Abbreviations of names may give some problems.

  • There are several conventional written abbreviations for the commoner 'Christian names' - = forenames - in British culture. These date back to the times when all lists, registers and records of all sorts were kept manually, in handwriting. Some of the 'abbreviation' consists of writing in flourishes, such as a superscript letter or two. These written abbreviations are not much used these days, but you may see them in the names of old-established businesses, and in the course of historical or literary reading. As they are not always easily decoded, AWE contains a list of some of the more common.
  • There are also several conventional informal shortenings of these names, in essence spoken. (Withycombe 1950 calls them 'pet-forms', as they are mostly the sort of names that fond parents may use to children, rather than their more formal baptismal names.) These may not be easily recognized - any more than their written, more formal, equivalents. As they are in essence spoken, the spellings are not fixed, and, in particular, the ending of many may be written '-y' or '-ie'. Some of these have developed over time into being used as forenames in their own right. These are shown in the fourth column; it should be noted that while some parents give these 'independent names' to their children as the official forms, others continue to use them merely as pet-names, continuing to register the children under the full name (the one in the left-hand column).
Name in full (handwritten) abbreviation informal shortening
(Hypercorism)
Independent forms Remarks
Albert Bert; Bertie See Bert - Bertie for a list of other names for which this shortening is used.
Alexander Alex: Alec; Alex; Sandy; Sawney Used in past as stereotypical male Scots name
Alexandra Alex; Sandy
Andrew Andw Andy; Dand(y); Nand; Drew Dand(y) and Nand are mostly used in Scotland
Ann - Anne - - Annette, Nanette; Anita; Anna; Hannah
Ant(h)ony Anty Ant; Tony
Bartholomew Bart: Bartw Bart; Bat; Brat St Bartholomew's (teaching) hospital in London is widely known as Bart's
Benedict Ben; Bendy
Benjamin Ben Ben; Benjy
Bertram Bert; Bertie See Bert - Bertie for a list of other names for which this shortening is used.
Catharine/Catherine Cath(y); Kate, Katie; Kay; Kitty Caitlin, Cathleen, Ekaterina, Kathleen, Kathryn, Catriona, Katya An alternative spelling of Katharine/Katherine
Charles Chas Sometimes called Chaz as a joking nickname
Christopher Chris, Christ: Kit; Chris Kester
Christine Chris; Chrissie Christina
Cuthbert Cuddy; Bert; Bertie See Bert - Bertie for a list of other names for which this shortening is used.
Daniel Danl Dan, Danny There is also the Jewish tribe of Dan, descended from Dan, son of Jacob
Dorothy Dory; Dot; Doth Doll; Dot(tie); Dodo
Edward Ed: Edwd Ned; Eddie; Ted(dy) Ted is also used for Theodore (below)
Eleanor/Elinor Nell Derived from Helen. Possible source of Leonora
Elizabeth Eliz: Bessy; Betty; Bess; Eliza; Libby; Lisa; Liz; Liza; Tetty Elsie; Elspeth; Isabel(la); Isobel
Frances Fanny; Fran(ny); Frankie This is a girl's name, homophonous with Francis.
Frankie may be used with either, but is most usual for girls.
Francis Frank boy's name, homophonous with Frances.
Frank may be used with either, but is most usual for boys.
George Geo: Geordie; Dod(die) Georgie is perhaps commoner for Georgiana
Georgiana Georgie, George Georgie is rarely used for males.
Georgina Georgie Georgie is rarely used for males.
Gillian Gill, Gilly, Jill
Harriet Harry; Hattie
Helen Nell
Henrietta Etta; Hettie
Henry Hy Hal; Harry In the twentieth century, Hal has been used for Harold.
Herbert Herbt Bert; Bertie See Bert - Bertie for a list of other names for which this shortening is used.
James Jas Jim(my) Sometimes called Jas (sounds like 'jazz') as a joking nickname
John Jno Jack (Jock in Scotland)
Jonathan Jon; Jonty Don't confuse Jon with John
Katharine/Katherine Kath(y); Kate, Katie; Kay; Kitty Caitlin, Cathleen, Kathleen, Kathryn, Catriona, Katya An alternative spelling of Catharine/Catherine
Margaret Margt Madge; Mag(gie); Maisie; Meg; Peg(gy)
Mary Mall(y); Moll(y); Polly; Maria For a note about Maria (originally a European form), see Maria (pronunciation)
Michael Michl Mike; Mick See also Michal - Michael
Mick is also a label for a stereotypical Irishman
Oliver Noll; Olly Oliver Cromwell, Protector of the Commonwealth 1649-1660, was nicknamed Noll
Patrick Pat: Pat; Paddy Paddy is also a label for a stereotypical Irishman
Philip Phil:, Phil. Phil, Pip
Richard Ric; Richd Dick; ; Rick; Rich(ie) Dickon
Robert Rob: Robt Bob(by); Dob; Hob; Nob(by); Rob(by) Robin
Roger Rodge, Rog; Hodge; Dodge Hodge and Dodge are no longer used. They gave rise to many patronymic surnames
Sarah Sally; Sadie; Sarrie Sadie, Sally
Theodore Ted(dy); Theo Note the confusion with Edward - see Ted
Thomas Thos Tommy; Tammy Thomism, Thomist and Thomistic refer to Thomas Aquinas
Walter Wat Wattie
William Wm Bill(y); Will(y) Liam