Matching up Nicknames With Given Names

Table full of name tags with a person filling out a new tag.

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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.

List of Nicknames for 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.

Nickames Given Names
Bell, Bella, Belle Arabelle, Anabelle, Belinda, Elizabeth, Isabel, Isabella, Mirabel, Rosabel
Belle Mabel, Sybil
Bess, Bessie, Bessy, Beth, Bette, Bettie, Bettie, Betsy, Betsey, Bitsy Elizabeth, Elisabeth
Bird, Birdie Alberta, Albertine, Roberta
Bob, Bobby Robert
Bobbi, Bobbie Roberta
Boots Bertha
Bridey, Brie Bridget
Carrie, Carry Caroline, Carolina, Charlotte
Cindy, Cindie Cynthia, Cinthia, Lucinda
Daisy Margaret
Dan, Danny Daniel, Sheridan
Dee Audrey, Deanne, Deanna, Denise
Delia Adelia, Adele, Cordelia
Dell, Della, Delly Adelaide, Adela, Cordelia, Deliverance, Delores
Dick Richard
Dobbin, Dobby, Dob Robert
Dode, Dody Dorothy, Theodore
Dora Dorothy, Eudora, Theodora
Dot, Dotty, Dottie Dorothy
Ed, Eddie, Eddy Edgar, Edmund, Edward, Edwin, Edwina
Effie, Effy Euphemia, Evelyn
Eliza Elizabeth, Elisabeth
Ella, Ellie Eleanor, Elenora
Erma Emaline, Emily
Fannie, Fanny Frances
Frankie Frances (female), Francis (male), Franklin
Genie Eugenia
Ginger, Ginny Virginia
Greta Margaret, Margaretha
Hal Harold, Henry
Hank, Harry Henry
Hattie Harriet, Harriett
Hettie Esther, Henrietta, Hester
Jack John
Jamie James, Jameson
Jenny Jane, Janet, Jeanette, Jennett, Virginia
Jim, Jimmy James
Jock, Johnnie, Johnny John
Kate, Katy, Katie, Kay, Kit, Kitty, Kittie Katherine
Lena Angelina, Caroline, Helena, Magdalena, Paulina, Selena, etc.
Lisa, Lise, Liz, Lizzie Elizabeth, Elisabeth
Lucy Lucinda
Madge, Maggie, Midge Margaret
Mamie Mary
Marty, Martie, Mattie Martha
May Mary
Meg, Megan Margaret
Millie, Milly Amelia, Mildred
Moll, Mollie, Molly Mary
Nell, Nellie, Nelly Eleanor, Elenora, Ellen, Helen, Helena
Nora Eleanor, Elenora, Honora, Honoria
Ollie Olive, Olivia, Oliver
Pat, Patsy, Patty, Pattie Martha, Matilda, Patricia, Patience
Peg, Peggy Margaret
Penny Penelope
Polly, Pollie Mary, Paula
Rich, Richy, Rick Richard
Rob, Robbie, Robby Robert (male), Roberta (female)
Robin Robert, Roberta
Ron Aaron, Ronald
Ronnie Aaron, Ronald, Veronica
Sadie, Sally, Sallie Sarah
Sam, Sammy, Sammie Samuel, Samson, Samantha
Sukie, Suchie, Suchy Susan, Susanna, Susannah
Tad Theodore
Ted, Teddy Edward, Theodore
Terry, Tess, Tessie, Tessa, Tracy Theresa, Teresa
Theo Theodore
Tilly Temperance
Tillie Matilda, Mathilda
Tina Christina
Trina Catherine, Katherine
Virgie Virginia
Winnie Winefred, Winifred