Is It a Given Name or Nickname? – October 30, 2019

One of the most common questions I see in social media groups or pages goes something like this “Is X a nickname for Y?”. While some names have nicknames, that doesn’t mean the name you see is necessarily a nickname. Also, nicknames may have nothing to do with the first or middle name. Please don’t assume that what is often a nickname means it is a nickname. Or, that because the nickname is typically associated with one or more specific names means it is a nickname for one of those names.

Here are three (3) examples.

My friend’s father-in-law was born Harry Chambers; he had no middle name. In early school, he got tired of the other children calling him that “hairy” kid. He started calling himself “Jim” and refused to answer if you called him Harry. As an adult, he legally changed his name to add James as a middle name.  The state re-issued him a birth certificate with the new name, but my friend has the original birth certificate where it does not have a middle name.

My friend Billy was named Billy by his parents. Yet, people have a habit of assuming it’s a nickname for William.

He told me about the death of his Aunt Penny, but neglected to mention that Penny was a nickname. Many people would wrongly assume it was a nickname for Penelope. There are parents who name their child Penny as a first or middle name. In this case, Penny was a nickname, but not for Penelope.I could not find an obit using Penny or her married surname. Anyone want to guess what her name was and why she was nicknamed Penny ? I have given two clues as to what it wasn’t. The first clue was nickname – so Penny wasn’t her name and the second clue was wrongly assuming it was Penelope. Her father was in the military and the hospital bill they received was for $0.01, or a penny.

He did mention her son’s name which was unusual enough that when I widened my obituary search to include his name and found his mother, Aunt Penny – ; her Find-A-Grave memorial:

About Wichita Genealogist

Originally from Gulfport, Mississippi. Live in Wichita, Kansas now. I suffer Bipolar I, ultra-ultra rapid cycling, mixed episodes. Blog on a variety of topics - genealogy, DNA, mental health, among others. Let's
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2 Responses to Is It a Given Name or Nickname? – October 30, 2019

  1. Pingback: What’s Not in an Obituary – October 30, 2019 | Ups and Downs of Family History V2.0

  2. Pingback: More on Obituaries – October 31, 2019 | Ups and Downs of Family History V2.0

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