Matching up Nicknames With Given Names

How to Research Nicknames in Your Family Tree

Learn which given names are most commonly associated with certain nicknames in this free list.

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It can be hard enough to find great-grandma Jenny, without having to figure out if she could also be Jane, Janet, Jeanette, Jennett, Jennifer, or Virginia. But it is common in many genealogical records, especially more informal records such as census records and obituaries, to find your ancestors listed under names you might not expect. In many cases these names may have been the nicknames that they were known by to their family, friends and business associates—no different for our ancestors than it is today.

How to Match up Nicknames With First Names

Nicknames can sometimes be difficult to catch, however. "Kim" as a nickname for "Kimberly" is fairly straightforward, but "Polly" as a nickname for "Mary" and "Peggy" as a nickname for "Margaret" have tripped up many researchers. Sometimes nicknames were formed by adding a "y" or "ey" to the end of a name or part of a name—i.e. "Johnny" for "John" or "Penny" for "Penelope." Other times the name was shortened in some manner—i.e. "Kate" for "Katherine." But sometimes it is just a matter of knowing which nicknames were commonly used in a particular time and place. That's why it is important, as a genealogist, to familiarize yourself with commonly used nicknames and their corresponding given names.

Do not forget, however, that what appears to be a nickname isn't always—many nicknames became so popular that they later came to be bestowed as given names.

My father's name is Larry—which is not short for Lawrence as many might assume. And my great-grandmother really was baptized as "Effie," not Euphemia or Evelyn.

Scroll down to explore this list of common nicknames associated with popular given names to determine the various ways in which your ancestor might appear in genealogical records (these are just some of the most common possible given name/nickname variations, but certainly not all).

While researching, keep in mind that the same nickname might be associated with different given names, and the same individual might show up with different nicknames in different records.

NickamesGiven Names
Bell, Bella, BelleArabelle, Anabelle, Belinda, Elizabeth, Isabel, Isabella, Mirabel, Rosabel
BelleMabel, Sybil
Bess, Bessie, Bessy, Beth, Bette, Bettie, Bettie, Betsy, Betsey, BitsyElizabeth, Elisabeth
Bird, BirdieAlberta, Albertine, Roberta
Bob, BobbyRobert
Bobbi, BobbieRoberta
Bridey, BrieBridget
Carrie, CarryCaroline, Carolina, Charlotte
Cindy, CindieCynthia, Cinthia, Lucinda
Dan, DannyDaniel, Sheridan
DeeAudrey, Deanne, Deanna, Denise
DeliaAdelia, Adele, Cordelia
Dell, Della, DellyAdelaide, Adela, Cordelia, Deliverance, Delores
Dobbin, Dobby, DobRobert
Dode, DodyDorothy, Theodore
DoraDorothy, Eudora, Theodora
Dot, Dotty, DottieDorothy
Ed, Eddie, EddyEdgar, Edmund, Edward, Edwin, Edwina
Effie, EffyEuphemia, Evelyn
ElizaElizabeth, Elisabeth
Ella, EllieEleanor, Elenora
ErmaEmaline, Emily
Fannie, FannyFrances
FrankieFrances (female), Francis (male), Franklin
Ginger, GinnyVirginia
GretaMargaret, Margaretha
HalHarold, Henry
Hank, HarryHenry
HattieHarriet, Harriett
HettieEsther, Henrietta, Hester
JamieJames, Jameson
JennyJane, Janet, Jeanette, Jennett, Virginia
Jim, JimmyJames
Jock, Johnnie, JohnnyJohn
Kate, Katy, Katie, Kay, Kit, Kitty, KittieKatherine
LenaAngelina, Caroline, Helena, Magdalena, Paulina, Selena, etc.
Lisa, Lise, Liz, LizzieElizabeth, Elisabeth
Madge, Maggie, MidgeMargaret
Marty, Martie, MattieMartha
Meg, MeganMargaret
Millie, MillyAmelia, Mildred
Moll, Mollie, MollyMary
Nell, Nellie, NellyEleanor, Elenora, Ellen, Helen, Helena
NoraEleanor, Elenora, Honora, Honoria
OllieOlive, Olivia, Oliver
Pat, Patsy, Patty, PattieMartha, Matilda, Patricia, Patience
Peg, PeggyMargaret
Polly, PollieMary, Paula
Rich, Richy, RickRichard
Rob, Robbie, RobbyRobert (Male), Roberta (Female)
RobinRobert, Roberta
RonAaron, Ronald
RonnieAaron, Ronald, Veronica
Sadie, Sally, SallieSarah
Sam, Sammy, SammieSamuel, Samson, Samantha
Sukie, Suchie, SuchySusan, Susanna, Susannah
Ted, TeddyEdward, Theodore
Terry, Tess, Tessie, Tessa, TracyTheresa, Teresa
TillieMatilda, Mathilda
TrinaCatherine, Katherine
WinnieWinefred, Winifred