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07 March 2014

Nicknames versus Diminutives

It may be a technicality, but diminutives are usually names for a person that are based upon their actual name; Mike or Mick for Michael, Betts, Liz, or Beth for Elizabeth, etc.

Nicknames usually aren't based upon the person's actual name and may be based on a physical characteristic, an embarassing event, or something totally random. Red, Bud, Half Pint, etc. are nicknames.

The difference usually isn't the end of the world but keep in mind that some names usually have an associated "pool" of diminutives. Nicknames can be more arbitrary and come from anywhere.


  1. When my brother Paul was about 13 he shot a hoot owl. Thereafter he was known as Hoot. At his recent funeral a lot of people came up and ask me why he was called Hoot.

  2. My persistent brick wall, great-great grandfathe, is Leonard Bolden on the 1880 GA census and either "Larry" or "Lany" on the 1870. Searched forever for him on the 1850 and 1860 censuses. Have found a "Lion Boland" (GA) on the 1850 and "Lyon Boland" on the 1860, both in same county, further south in GA. But not sure that "Leon" would sound like Lion/Lyon to two different census enumerators. But your post made me think ... maybe Leonard at age 6 (1850) was full of endless energy with a strong personality and "Leon" became "Lion" (or could have been a sibling's mis-pronounciation that stuck). His name on records (post war oath, marriage,tax) was L.B. Arrrrrgh! Anyway, thank you for the post. Lucy McCoy