PEG TO MEG TO MAGGIE–HOW NICKNAMES MORPH OVER TIME

Baby Name Trends

I was talking to an acquaintance the other day and when she mentioned her young daughter Becca, I suddenly thought, “Hey, whatever happened to  Becky?”  You rarely hear of a Rebecca under the age of 13 these days who is called by that traditional diminutive.

This is something that happens with pet forms in general–they go through phases and changes as much as–or indeed more than–the mother name.  For example when you hear the name Elizabeth, you have no idea of her age–she could be 99 or 9 months old–but you can certainly guess that Betty is a Grandma and that Liz and Beth are probably young adults.

Some other examples: Patricia‘s nicknames went from Patsy to Patty to Pat to Tricia to Trish to practically non-existent.  The no longer popular Mary spawned any number of offshoots before it faded, including Mamie, Molly and PollyKatherine moved from Kate and Katie to Kit and Kitty to Kay and Kathy, back to Kate and Katie,  to the current Kat; and Edward launched not only Eddie and Ward but Ed, Ted and Ned.

But the prizes for the two names with the most mutable  pet forms and offshoots have to go to Margaret and Elizabeth, many of whose diminutives have become stand-alone names.  Here, in the roughest chronological order, is what Margarets and Elizabeths been known as over time:

MARGARET


PEG
PEGGY
MAGGIE
MAGO

MARGO

MAY
DAISY
MADGE
MIDGE
MAISIE
MARGIE
MEGGIE
MEG
GRETA

ELIZABETH

TIBBY
ELIZA
BETSY
BESS
BESSIE
ELSIE
BETTA
ELSA
BETTY
BETH
LIBBY
LIZBETH
ELISA
ELISE
LISA
LIZA
LIZZIE
LIZ
(But note that many, if not most baby Elizabeths these days are called Elizabeth.)

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21 Responses to “PEG TO MEG TO MAGGIE–HOW NICKNAMES MORPH OVER TIME”

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Charlotte Vera Says:

March 25th, 2009 at 3:13 am

I know a Marg and a Bizzy.

realpraise Says:

March 25th, 2009 at 8:23 am

I know an 8-year-old Eliza, and what about the nickname Margo for Margaret?

Lola Says:

March 25th, 2009 at 10:05 am

Hey, All the Liz’s and Beth’s I know are between 40 & 50! That’s middle aged (I know, I’m 41) not young adult anymore. 😛 I also know a Tibby, a May and a Meggie who just turned 21!

If I had an Elisabeth (carrying on the family tradtion), she’d be Elspeth, nn’d : Bess/Bessie Elsie or Tibby.
If I would use a Marg- name, it’d be Margery, for sure. And nicknames would be Daisy, Maisie, May or Meg.

too funny you did Elizabeth & Margaret today, Melian over at Xanthe Linnea covered Katherine!
(http://xanthelinnea.wordpress.com/2009/03/25/name-of-the-day-the-katherine-family/ )

I think of these few eternal classics, Margaret is my favorite, the Elisabeth (please, that spelling) and Katharine (spelled like that).

Abby Says:

March 25th, 2009 at 10:12 am

I went to school with a Rebecca, nn’d Reba. But you’re right – the only small Rebecca I know is Becca. In the Shopaholic movie (and books), she’s Becky or Bex, but then, I think she’s also in her late 20s.

And Lola, I’m with you on Katharine. It just has the Hepburn/Graham sophistication.

Marilyn Says:

March 25th, 2009 at 11:39 am

This reminds me of a question I’ve been meaning to ask here: I know Daisy is a nickname for Margaret through the French Marguerite, but it seems so far removed that most people would never understand that connection. So what other names could potentially yield “Daisy” as a nickname? I really love Daisy for a little girl, but I’d like something a little more dignified as an option, if she wants it, when she’s older. I can’t really think of longer names that could lead to Daisy, though!

linda Says:

March 25th, 2009 at 12:30 pm

Thanks–I added the omitted Margo–even if it did somehow mess up the spacing of the blog.

rachelmarie Says:

March 25th, 2009 at 2:27 pm

I love the nickname Eliza for Elizabeth! In fact, Eliza is one of my favorite names.
And, I love the name Margaret, with the nicknames Maggie and Meg. I think they’re great. But my mom hates them and it bothers me because I think Margaret is a great name! I mean, I don’t like the nickname Margie, but I love Maggie and Meg 🙂

Ha ha anyway, interesting post, because I was actually wondering this myself.
Also, as you said about Rebecca, I know 3 Rebeccas. 2 are my age, and one is an adult who I babysit for. 1 that is my age goes by Becca (which I prefer), and the other one my age and the adult go by Becky. It is interesting to see the evolution of nicknames.

Andrea Says:

March 25th, 2009 at 9:03 pm

My grandmother was Margaret, nicknamed Marna as a child. My mother is Margaret, nicknamed Peg or Peggy. My cousin is Margaret, nicknamed Maggie. I’m rather bored with Maggie. I think they should bring back Peggy.

Jill Says:

March 25th, 2009 at 10:39 pm

I really love Eliza and Libby, as well as Daisy and Maisie. I actually grew up with a Peggy, whose mom simply liked the name. (No Margaret, just Peggy!)

Annika Says:

March 26th, 2009 at 5:56 pm

Marilyn – even though those names are not really related I knew a girl who was nicknamed Daisy for her full name Desirée. I guess that is an option if you like Desirée better than Margaret.

Ashley Says:

March 27th, 2009 at 1:02 am

another nickname for elizabeth is Izzy .

Gigi Says:

March 27th, 2009 at 3:49 am

I know two girls in their twentys who go by Liz. My niece Margaret who is eleven goes by Mara.

Elizabeth Says:

March 28th, 2009 at 6:16 pm

To switch to the male gender for a moment, there seems to have been a shift, in the US anyway, from Bob to Rob for Roberts, and from Dick to Rick or Rich for Richards. I don’t know many Bobs or Dicks who are under 40.

Jessica Elaine Says:

April 11th, 2009 at 5:28 pm

RE: Daisy

My cousin had a baby girl (later died of SIDS) named Haley Daisy. They called her Daisy as a nickname, but she would have had the option of her first name also.

roloRaroorice Says:

April 28th, 2009 at 12:19 pm

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Joyce Says:

May 8th, 2009 at 5:56 pm

My mother Margaret went by Peg and Peggy. My daughter Margaret used to go by Meg until she was one. Everyone calls her Margaret. Another girl in the area goes by Margaret. A friend’s Margaret in high school goes by Maggie and yet another young high school Margaret goes by Meg – all in our neighborhood of girls 13 -18.

Nicknames « Genealogy Says:

July 2nd, 2009 at 5:10 pm

[…] Peg To Meg To Maggie–How Nicknames Morph Over Time […]

twinkle Says:

October 5th, 2009 at 5:51 am

I adore Elsa and Betty as nicknames for Elizabeth (in fact, I know a Betty who is a teenager at the moment, and the name suits her just fine – I urge people to pick up this adorable vintage nn again!).

Carolie Says:

March 23rd, 2011 at 9:50 am

We’re adopting a baby girl — and we’re naming her Betty after three of her four grandmothers. We plan to call her Bess.

theroadtohere Says:

March 24th, 2011 at 12:19 pm

My grandmother and mother are both Margaret Elizabeth (called Pegie and Peggi respectively). My sister is Margaret Cara, called Maggie. It’ll be up to her to use it as a first name, but it is on my list as a middle for a daughter. Elizabeth is one of my top three girls’ names (despite 2 of 4 great-granddaughters’ bearing it as a middle name), and I love Lizzie/Elsa/Ilse as potential nicknames.

Megan Says:

April 2nd, 2011 at 3:08 am

My name is Megan it’s a derivative of Margaret too. I love my name though I wish my mom had only named me for my grandma once as my middle name is Margaret as well! my mom had no idea and I didn’t either until my high school Spanish class when my teacher translated my name to Margarita Margarita! Haha! (margarita means little daisy)

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