Dickie

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Dickie or dicky has several meanings. It may be a proper noun or an adjective, often used substantively (as a noun).

  • Dickie is a short form of the forename Richard. There are two main types of such shortenings: they are convenient for writing, e.g. in lists; or they are essentially spoken pet-names, and thus informal. (See Conventional abbreviations for forenames.)
Short form Long form Informal or written Other short forms Remarks
Dickie Richard informal Dick; Dickon; Rich; Rick;
Richd (written)

There is a list of similar names at Conventional abbreviations for forenames, as well as the category:short names

Note that any informal form may be spelled in different ways. Notably, any spelling listed that ends in '-ie' may be written with the ending '-y', and vice versa.
  • The adjective, which is at best colloquial, has two general applications, one familiar, informal and rather affectionate; the other a general sense of 'of inferior quality', 'sub-standard', 'second-best' or 'in poor condition'.
    • A dicky-bird is a nursery, or childish, name for a bird. This is sometimes rhyming slang for 'word': "I didn't say a dicky bird", and can be shortened to dicky: "I give you my dicky". More loosely, it can be used in sentences like "I couldn't give a dicky", meaning 'I don't care', 'It doesn't matter to me.'
    • A dicky ticker is rather old-fashioned slang for 'a weak heart'.
    • An unsuccessful racehorse may be described as dicky-legged.
  • Some nominal uses follow from the adjective, mostly with the sense of 'of inferior quality', 'sub-standard', 'second-best':
    • As a garment, a dicky is a false shirt front, particularly a starched front worn on formal occasions to present a good appearance without the trouble or expense of a full garment. They were sometimes made of cardboard or celluloid, saving more expense. Waiters traditionally wore dickies, no doubt to reduce the heat of their working conditions and their working expenses.
    • A dicky bow is a common name for a bow tie. It sometimes carries the implication of a pre-tied, or clip-on garment - suggesting that the wearer is not capable of tying a formal bow tie.
    • In vehicles, a dicky, or dicky-seat, is a spring-mounted seat, usually facing backwards, to cram extra passengers into the space. These fold out of the way when not being used. They are to be found in traditional black cabs, amongst others.
      • In horse-drawn carriages, the dicky was the box-seat on which the sriver sat; or the similar box seat at the back, for a footman or, in mail coaches etc, the guard. Thisd is sometimes called a dicky box.