Weird Nicknames Explained!

We all have those relatives with nicknames that we wonder how they got. What is Uncle Ned's REAL name? What is Peggy even short for??? All the answers are below...prepare to be mind blown!

Article written by: Kat Angus, BuzzFeed Staff, Canada

Images courtesy of Getty Images

1. Dick = Richard

Dick = Richard

Going back to the Middle Ages, there weren’t that many first names yet. And so many people were named “Richard” that everyone needed nicknames to tell each other apart. “Richard” was shortened to “Rick,” and then people would rhyme it with something else to become an entirely new name — so “Rick” became “Dick.” (And then the modern trend of being dirty little pervs meant that everyone today giggles when they hear of a guy named Dick.)

2. Bill = William

Bill = William

“William” was also a popular name in the Middle Ages, so many nicknames were born. It was shortened to “Will,” which turned into “Bill.” Rhyming nicknames strike again!

3. Nancy = Ann

Nancy = Ann

Why is the short form of “Ann” (or “Anne”) actually longer than the original name? People used to use the affectionate phrase “Mine Ann,” which eventually turned into “My Nan.” Nickname trends of the time also had people adding “-cy” to the ends of name, which is how “Ann” evolved into “Nancy.”

Fun Fact: This means that sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson, members of the band Heart, were kind of named the same thing.

4. Ted and Ned = Edward

Ted and Ned = Edward

Yep, you’ve got it: “Mine Ed” turned into “my Ned.”

As for “Ted,” just as “Richard” and “William” were popular names, Edward was a very common name that required nicknames to be created. With names that start with vowels, people often added an easy-to-pronounce consonant, so “Ed” became “Ted.”

5. Nellie = Helen

Nellie = Helen

Yep, “Nellie” is similar to “Ned” and “Nancy.” Since, depending on your accent, the H in Helen might be silent or difficult to say, it was dropped and “mine Helen” turned into “my Nell” and then into “my Nellie.”

6. Daisy and Peggy = Margaret

Daisy and Peggy = Margaret

It seems like there should be a long explanation for “Daisy,” but it’s as simple as this: The French word for “daisy” is “marguerite.”

As for “Peggy”? Well, “Margaret” was shorted to nicknames like “Meg” or “Meggy,” and the rhyming nickname trend turned “Meggy” into “Peggy.”

7. Sally = Sarah

Sally = Sarah

In the time of the Normans in the 11th and 12th centuries, people would often substitute the letter “R” for other letters (in this case it’s replaced by two Ls), and would add “-y” to the end as well. So, “Sarah” became “Sally.”

8. Polly = Mary

Polly = Mary

First off, we have another case of the letter R being replaced by two Ls. Then, the natural evolution of language turned “Mary” into “Molly.” And yes, more rhyming occurred, turning “Molly” into “Polly.”

9. Hank = Henry

Hank = Henry

No one is entirely sure how this came to be, but a popular theory is that the name “Hendrick” is the Dutch version of “Henry.” Then, “Henk” became a nickname for “Hendrick,” so English people borrowed it and eventually it became “Hank.”

10. Jack = John

Jack = John

They have the same number of letters! How does that save any time? There are multiple theories about this nickname, but here’s the most likely one: Back in the 11th and 12th centuries, the Normans would have pronounced “John” as “Jen.” They also added “-kin” to the ends of names as nicknames. So, “Jen” turned into “Jenkin,” which eventually turned into “Jakin” and finally into “Jack.”

11. Chuck = Charles

Chuck = Charles

This one’s a little simpler: In Middle English, “Charles” was actually “Chukken.” (Yes, really.)

12. Buffy = Elizabeth

Buffy = Elizabeth

There aren’t even any Fs in “Elizabeth”! Come on! But in this case, it’s a nickname based on how a child might pronounce the final syllable — “Elizabeth” becomes “Beth,” which becomes “Buff,” and then becomes “Buffy.” (So, yes, the full title of the show should have been Elizabeth the Vampire Slayer.)

Samantha Scott

Samantha Scott

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