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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Baby Naming Issue: Nicknames for Elizabeth

Claire writes:
Hello!

I am due with a baby girl on June 30th. We've already decided her name will be Elizabeth. We simply LOVE the name. That's not the problem.
The problem is giving her a nickname. At home, she will be Elizabeth. However, she's due in only 3 weeks and my father-in-law is already calling her "Lizzie" or "Liz!" This is the one nickname I do NOT want for my child. I just don't like the sound and it's too common. I also don't like "Beth" for the same reason.
I think our only option here is to choose a nickname WE like and use it so that THAT is the nickname people will use. If the nickname we use right from the beginning sticks, then hopefully she will not be a Liz or Lizzie.

So my question: What nickname to choose?

I'm drawn to Ellie, Elle, or Ella. However, I see the name Ella is already a top 20 name. I already gave my daughter a top 10 name, so I want her nickname to be different at least! Most little Elizabeth's I know these days are going by Ellie or Elle. Plus, there are going to be SO many little "Bellas" since Isabella is such a popular name. Elle, Ella, and Ellie are too close. Plus, I already know a baby Elizabeth who is being called Ellie who will eventually be in my daughter's class.

I thought "Bess" was cute. But will she get the "Bessie the Cow" teasing? Same thing with "Betsy." Will she get "Betsy Wetsy" teasing?

What do you think? My sister thinks Buffy is cute, but I'm not sure about that.

I want a nickname that isn't too common, yet won't incite any teasing. I want it to sound fresh and not overused like Lisa. Not old fashioned like Betty.

I thought you'd be a great person to ask! Plus, I see you have a daughter Elizabeth so you probably have great incite into the "nicknames for Elizabeths" issue!

Thank you!

My Elizabeth is a pseudonym, but do you know WHY it is a pseudonym and not her actual name? BECAUSE OF THE NICKNAME PROBLEM! So I feel you, sister.

Like you, my favorite nickname for Elizabeth is NO nickname. And on one hand, it's easier to do that now than when we were children and every Elizabeth was a Beth or a Liz---but on the other hand, I didn't want my daughter growing up and choosing FOR HERSELF one of the nicknames I disliked, and there were many I disliked, so finally we gave up on that name.

I'm afraid you're right that the nicknames Ellie and Ella are getting overdone for Elizabeth: Ellie and Ella are in style right now so people are trying to find ways to get the trendy names while still using a traditional name.

I think Bess is adorable, and my guess is that Bessie the Cow has slipped from elementary school consciousness, now that so few of us own cattle. Bess would be my first choice.

My second choice would be Libby. For awhile I was worried it would get overused, but it hasn't seemed to, and now everyone's attention is turning to Ellie so I think Libby is safe.

I wouldn't have known it was a nickname for Elizabeth, but The Baby Name Wizard mentions Elsie. Adorable. Here are all the TBNW nicknames for Elizabeth:

Beth
Bess
Betsy
Betty
Bette
Buffy
Eliza
Elle
Elsie
Elsa
Izzy
Liz
Lisa
Liza
Lizbeth
Lise
Liddy
Libby

Oh, Liddy, that's super-cute! Maybe I would choose that instead of Libby. I also think Bette has potential, though I wouldn't use it myself because I know I'd almost immediately turn it to Betty without even meaning to.

I wonder if Liss or Lissie would feel fresher than Liz/Lizzie? And the nickname Bee isn't an intuitive choice but might work anyway.


What nicknames does everyone else like best for Elizabeth?

56 comments:

JMT said...

I have 2 non-standard nicknames for Eli(z/s)abeths in my circle.

My grandma is Elisabeth and when she was young, went by Lu. Is it old-fashioned? And, maybe you don't want to deviate from nicknames that are recognizably Elizabeth.

A good friend in high school was called Lizbeth. However, if you try to call her that, it will do nothing to stem the tide of Liz.

Good luck!

Leslie said...

I do love Liss, and my other favorite is Eliza. I don't know if that seems too old-fashioned, but I think it's sweet.

No matter what you pick, Elizabeth is a lovely name! Best of luck!

Alison aka Baby B said...

First of all, Elizabeth is such a great name! Somebody mentioned Lu above. Lulu would be cute! Eliza is seems so bright and adorable to me. I'd also vote for a B nn, Betty or Betsy.

My suggestion is to have a few tolerable nicknames in mind and decide when you meet little Elizabeth. She could seem like a Libby or not at all. Then introduce her as "Little [nn] has arrived!" or "Elizabeth has joined our family. We're so happy to have our [nn]." Something like that would make it really clear what to call her.

Hope everything works out!

heather said...

I love Liss or Lissie, I think that is so cute... with the traditional feeling of Lizzie but softer and new. And it's similar to the Bess Claire likes.
My other favorites are Libby (I really think Libby is adorable!) and Elsie. Surprising for Elizabeth but different and cute cute!!

Annika said...

If I had used Elizabeth (and there was a moment after we named Grace that I thought she maybe could have been an Elizabeth or an Elinor), I would have used Betsy or Bess. Those, with Bettie, are my favorites--but I wouldn't use Bettie because I sometimes go by it online. I don't think Bessie the Cow or Betsy Wetsy are at all in the pop culture awareness these days. I only knew Betsy Wetsy because I had one, purchased at a thrift shop circa 1980, and while Bessie the Cow was still said when I was young I don't think I ever heard a person named Bess called that. And it's been 20 years so I'm sure the kids are onto new taunts.

Annika said...

Oh, also--I do not think of Liddy as a nickname for Elizabeth but rather for Lydia. However, that may just be because Lydia is very much on my radar, being my Grammy's name and Grace's middle name.

beyond said...

Elizabeth is such a great name. My favorite nn is Izzy, so sweet and spunky! Little Izzy. (But maybe that's too close to Lizzy for you?) I also like Liss and Libby. (And Liddy! I didn't know it was a nn for Elizabeth, but I think it works!)
Good luck!

Elizabeth said...

I am an Elizabeth (with no nicknames!) and I STRONGLY recommend just using Elizabeth! It's such a great nickname and my whole life, I have always been the only one in classes, etc, because people don't use the full name.
From a very early age, I had a little saying that my mother taught me to recite to people and it worked like a charm - "If my mother had wanted me to be called Liz, she would have named me Liz, but she named me Elizabeth."

You can also just say = "It's not Liz, it's Elizabeth". I have never had to correct someone more than once.

Fran said...

I have found that some people will call your child what they want to regardless of your wishes. The thing that will finally stop someone calling her Liz or Lizzie is when she is old enough to look at them and say, "THAT'S NOT MY NAME, I'M ______!"
If you don't want her called anything other than Elizabeth, then just always call her Elizabeth. We have 3 kids and only one has a nickname/shortened version of his full name. Most often we call them something totally different from their names like, sweetie, baby, honey, sugar, kids, clones, peanut, monkey, sissy, bubby, bubba, buddy, etc... anyway. Elizabeth is a lovely name!

Trina said...

I haven't read the other comments because I was too excited to voice my opinion! My husband's great grandma's name was Elisabeth and she went by Elisa (E-lye-zah)and I just love it. I would've named my daughter Elisabeth after her but my husband's cousin beat us to it. Her Elisabeth goes by Elisabeth only. Because her mom made certain that everyone was aware that her name is Elisabeth only. It will take some work on your part initally, but, it works and people won't be offended when you correct them. My cousin Matthew is only Matthew because for the first few months after he was born my aunt corrected every one who tried to call him Matt. On the flip side, I have a cousin named Jeffrey, who at 3 years old INSISTED he be called only Jeff and wouldn't answer if you called him Jeffrey.

Adey said...

One of my really close friends is named Elizabeth and that's what we call her. She made it clear from the beginning that it was Elizabeth and that's that!

However, whenever she wants something shorter (i.e. when writing letters, etc) she signs it E. I love it because it's not common, and yes it's just a letter, but it's neat too.

As for other options, I like Eliza or Liza the best I think... But Elizabeth is beautiful as a full name~

Erin said...

I really like Libby as an alt, and I don't love the B nicknames as much (except Buffy). Bess and Betty and Betsy all still feel old and frumpy to me. Izzy I think is overused for Isabelle/a, a top 3 name. I actually like Liz, though, too.

My middle is Elizabeth and I always wished it was my first (and I had decided I would have gone by Liz/Lizzie). There is also Liza, and I like Buffy too, but I agree with the other posters, if you want it to be the full Elizabeth, a few gentle corrections is all it should take.

Homa said...

I have a friend whose daughter is Eliazabeth and her nickname is Zabby. Cute and different.

Patricia said...

I prefer nicknames that are derived from the name Elizabeth. I don't think Ellie or Elle were usual nicknames for Elizabeth until fairly recently when parents wanting to call their daughter Ellie/Elle looked for names to attach those nicknames to. Liddy is a nn for Lydia. Elsie is a nn for Elspeth, the Scottish form of Elizabeth.

My favorite name for Elizabeth is Betsy, but it may seem dated to some and perhaps not the best for an adult. I think Libby may work better, and I like it a lot too. Also I like the cute pet name "Lilibet" that Queen Elizabeth was called as a child (and still is called within her family, some say).

If I had an Elizabeth, I might call her the full name most of the time, with Lilibet as a pet name and "Libby" as the 'official' nickname for those who are determined to shorten the name.

Patricia said...

Just read through the posts I hadn't seen prior to writing mine. I very much agree with those who advised that you call her Elizabeth and ask others to do so too. Most of my young grandsons are called by their full names, including the 4-syllable name Alexander. But there will always be those who want to shorten classic names to one of their usual nicknames, and so I think you're right to have something in mind of YOUR choice. It seems that the most usual nickname for Elizabeth is Liz, and if you don't like that, then maybe Grandpa can call her the similar Libby, which doesn't lead to Liz when she's older. For everyone else, I'd stick with Elizabeth, and I'm sure before long that's who she'll be. We call my grandson Andrew by his full name, and while I've had to discourage "Andy" a couple of times, it's not been a problem. *He's* Andrew and doesn't respond to Andy at all (who's that?). (I do have a very occasional pet name *I* call him - Drewby -because sometimes I feel the 'need' of a pet name for him too, just like your FIL. ;-) )

StephLove said...

I was going to suggest Elsie even before I got to the end of Swistle's response. I also like Eliza and Liza.

Joanne said...

I would name that baby Elizabeth and call that baby Elizabeth and it will be fine. My son's name is Anthony Joseph and I happen to live in a city with a big freaking race wherein someone named A.J. Foyt has been very successful. The whole time I was pregnant, people threatened to call Anthony A.J. and some even tried after he was born, but I find that if you ignore them and keep referring to the child by his, you know, ACTUAL NAME, people will fall in line. No one calls him anything but Anthony now, and he's five.

Susanica said...

When I was a teacher I had a student named Elizabeth who was only ever called Bizzy. It was a perfect name. Maybe it worked so well for her because her last name was a one syllable name now that I think about it. I never heard her called any other name and to this day (20 some years later) I can picture her perfectly. Who knows? Give it a try!-Monica

Kelley said...

Eliza/Liza are by far my favorite nn's for Elizabeth. I love that they manage to sound spunky yet classic all at the same time.

My roommate's name is Elizabeth, and she went by Liz/Lizzy all throughout high school, but then switched to Elizabeth in college as it sounded more grown up and it's what her parents always called her.

Anonymous said...

I know several Ellies that are Elizabeths, including my neice. My favorite nn is Bess, but I also love Betsy and Betty. I'd love to use it myself, if not for the neice... I like the spunkiness of Libby as well!

Barb @ getupandplay said...

I love Betty, Betsy and Bess. I think they are old fashioned but sweet and just familiar enough!

Cindy said...

Just chiming in to say my five-year-old's name is Elizabeth and she's always called by her full name. We had planned to give her a nickname when we picked the name, but none of them seemed right for her once she came along. We got the nickname question all the time when I was pregnant, and occasionally get it now when we meet someone new, but pretty much everyone just accepts that she goes by the full name once we tell them. It helps that she's quite vehement at this point that her name is Elizabeth and NOT Liz/Bess/Betsy/whatever.

So I say go with the full name if that's what you love, and everyone else will probably accept it eventually. Is your FIL the type would go along with it if you ask him to call her Elizabeth, or would he keep on with the nickname just to make some sort of point?

Guinevere said...

Li, like Lee or Leigh, was what my grandmother Elisabeth went by.

My favorite is Lisbeth, LEES-bet, like the heroine of Stieg Larsson's Millenium Trilogy, and who I would totally enjoy nicknamesaking if I had an Elisabeth daughter!

I think Bess or Bessie are not fatally cow-associated, and I like in a rural area.

krisfun said...

My husband and I had the same problem! We chose to name our daughter Elisabeth, and because we couldn't agree on a nickname (he wanted Lisa; I wanted Libby or Betsy), we didn't give her one, and agreed to wait until she was older and decided if/what she wanted it to be. 5 years later, she still prefers to be called Elisabeth, and will adamently tell you so, although she will write Eli at school, "because her name is just too long!"
I agree with a previous poster...you can tell people what you prefer to call her, but chances are, they are going to call her what they want.
Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Elsie or Betsy! Loving the retro!

Meg said...

I'm strongly in the Bess/Bessie camp. Good luck!

Kimberly said...

If I have an Elizabeth one day, I will call her Eliza or Essie. I know Essi is really a nickname for Esther, but I think i works for Elizabeth and I LOVE the sound.

Elizabeth said...

My mom insisted that I be called Elizabeth and had me convinced until I was in middle school that that was what I ought to be called. Then peer pressure made me want to have a nickname, so I was Lizzie or Liz. I finally came back to Elizabeth after college.

Anyhow, I love the nickname Eliza. My friend calls her little Elizabeth that and I think it's adorable, but it's also a name that isn't silly on an adult.

Anonymous said...

I knew an Elizabeth nn Zibby in college. By that point she'd switched to using her full name, but I've adored that nickname since I heard it!

KMW said...

I love Elsie, Bess, and Betsy. Super cute! Eliza is adorable also. But I think Elsa/Elsie is my favorite.

The Schwant Family said...

I have a friend who calls her Elizabeth "Betts" and I think it is super cute!

moojoose said...

I've always loved Libby as an Elizabeth nickname. It's fresh and not very common.

Anonymous said...

I like Libby and Liza the best. But definitely call her Elizabeth for as long as you can!

The Cochran Fam said...

I think that if you love the name Elizabeth, use it without a nickname! It is such a beautiful name!

When my son Campbell was born, my mother-in-law kept referring to him as "Camp." My husband kindly told her that we would not be using a nickname and she could call him Campbell. Worked like a charm and she hasn't called him Camp since.

My own name is Jennifer. Growing up my mother HATED the nickname Jenny. It rubbed off on me and I now if anyone calls me that, I just correct them and say, "My name is Jennifer." It is possible to steer clear of nicknames!

Bethtastic said...

I say call her Elizabeth and tell people.

My given name is Beth, and I recited the same sort of thing commenter Elizabeth recited (and in fact I still do), "If my Mom wanted to name me Elizabeth she would have, but she named me Beth."

Also, my cousin has a little girl named Elizabeth (she's 9). And she has always been Elizabeth. When Grandma tried to shorten it, Mom just simply said there are so many Lizzies/Beths/Lizs/Ellies, and so few Elizabeths. Please call her Elizabeth.

And everyone has, ever since.

Congrats on the new little girl on the way!

Kate said...

My sister is an Elizabeth called Betsy, named specifically to get the nickname. I'm old enough that I remember Betsy Wetsy, and asked my parents if they wouldn't consider Eliza. 19 years later, she's never heard of Betsy Wetsy, and the cow connotations didn't reveal themselves to her until her sleepaway camp put on a play from the 1940's that had a cow named Betsy in it. She was 9 then, and it only bothered her for a week or so. I also grew up with a "just Elizabeth" and there were no problems enforcing that. You should be fine with that, but I endorse Betsy and Bess wholeheartedly.

Ms. Molly said...

Libby & Betsy are my favorites!

JCF said...

I think that regardless of what nickname you pick (if any), make sure you pick it either before she's born or at least before you announce the name, and make sure you're loud and strong about enforcing it over other nicknames.

We decided before our Eleanor was born that she'd be Nora or Eleanor, but never Ellie (it doesn't sound good with our last name and the close extended family has an Ally and an Elle already). We found that we really had to be firm with people about not calling her Ellie, even to the point of repeatedly asking one person not to call her that. If you're wishy washy about a nickname, some people will just pick the one they like and go with it, whether or not you like it!

Anonymous said...

I can relate to this situation - because I was in the same one about a year ago! We named out daughter Elizabeth and we dislike Liz and Beth. I also thought we needed to come up with our nickname to put an end to Liz and Beth. So I went ahead and picked Ellie - my husband like it too. I even put it on the announcements so people would know what to call her. I called her Ellie for the first month or so and then she just turned into a Betty (which was actually her prenatal nickname - which I never thought would turn into the real name!) She just is a Betty.

My advice would be to wait until you meet her. Have a few in mind but don't decide until one really sticks and don't put one on the announcement!

Beautiful name, by the way!

Emily R said...

I'm so glad you asked! My sister goes by Beebe, and I have a friend who goes by Liisi (pronounced LEE-see). I acknowledge that Beebe is a little off, but she's always loved it, and I think Liisi is just charming.

Deniselle said...

It would seem that nicknames to classic names like this are cyclic. I.e. when Liz had been super popular, it gradually becomes dated and matronly, while something like Bess and Beth might begin to sound cuter again. I've heard people debate about William in a similar manner - whether "Billy" is old-fashioned and "Will" more little boyish, or something like that.

It sounds like time might be ripe for Bess again. I personally think it's lovely. That said, I'd love to see more Zabbys out there! I've always wondered why all other parts of the name are used in nicknames, but not Zabe/Zabby.

There's also Elisa, which is a given name in Finland. Stressed E-lisa here, but could be e-LII-sa as well.

Emily R: Liisi is also a Finnish given name. Fun to hear it's being used elsewhere too!

Meredith said...

My high school friend Liz decided in college to go by Elizabeth. It has been 10 years and yes some slip-ups, but mostly we remember to call her Elizabeth. She was named after her great-aunt who went by Lily. My husband is Daniel, and could never be a Dan or Danny. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry for not reading all comments (bedtime!) but I love:
1. the retro vibe of Betsy ... super cute
2. Lissa
3. Lisbet (was in a book I loved as a child, "Mardie's Adventures" by Astrid Lindgren)

I love Elizabeth for the Biblical connotations, and it is such a beautiful name. Conrgatulations!

(ps - Verification code has "clog" in it so maybe it's a sign toward Lisbet! :P )

♥ Tracy ♥ said...

I come from a very Dutch community in Michigan, and know a family in which all of the first-born women are named Elizabeth, and who go by many nicknames: Bess, Libby, Izzie, Ella, Liza, and my favorite unexpected choice-- Elsha. Very gorgeous!

Shawna said...

Isn't Becky short for Elizabeth? I knew a Becky that became Becks in high school. (Sorry if this has been mentioned already.)

VanderbiltWife said...

We have a Libbie. I love it because it's very old-fashioned and not every Elizabeth goes by it. But we named her Elizabeth with the intent of calling her Libbie.

Mel said...

Along the same lines of the people suggesting that some people will end up calling her whatever they like, I'd like to also point out that, at some point, your daughter may choose a nickname other than your preferred choice.
My name's Melissa and my parents called me Melissa or Meliss my whole life, and still do, but one friend in middle school decided to call me Mel - I loved it and it stuck. Years later, that's what I mainly go by.
I don't mean to discourage you - by all means, please call her what you like and most likely it'll stick, but I think you have to at least partially come to grips with the chance that she'll choose something else later.

Sydney says. said...

I have a close friend named Elizabeth. Now in her mid-20s, she has always gone by Bethy, a suggestion I don't think anyone has made.

The Valkyrie said...

Libby, Elsa, Elsie and lilibet are my favs. :) oyster beautiful full name, my middle. Ive thought long about the nn, bc ive thought of using it for my daughter, I too dislike Beth and Liz.

Anonymous said...

My Elizabeth was an unplanned Bitsy until age four. When she went to school, she went as Elizabeth. Now at age eleven, she goes by Liz or Lizzie in school. I still call her Elizabeth.

Anonymous said...

My name is Elizabeth and i go by Libby. I think im going to change the spelling to Libi the only teasings i got was libby libby libby on the label label label... but only by family and teachers

Anonymous said...

i dont think any one has mentioned zabby, it is a real name but uncommon. i found out about it in a book. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm an Elizabeth and my whole life my family called me Lizzie, which was fine until elementary school. Some boys called me Lizzie the Lezzie. I had no idea what that meant, but when I did, needless to say I wasn't a happy camper and insisted on being called Liz. Fast forward to high school. I overheard a date refer to me as Liizzzzzzzz regardin what a hot time he had over the weekend - he was implying we had slept together. From then on it was Elizabeth! Unfortunately my bio-mom still calls me Liz and introduces me as such. When I put out my hand and say, "I go by Elizabeth, actually," She'll later call me a pretentious bitch. Sigh.

Today I go by Bettie Jean - my hubs and I are really into the Rockabilly scene, so it's perfect!

What really frosts my cookies are people, who assume I go by Liz and just automatically call me that, then get indignant when I correct them. If I'm introduced to Martin, I would never call him Marty unless he asked me to. Same with Robert, James, Kimberly, Margaret, Suzanne, Richard, etc.

For a while I went by Lizzie profesionally until a CEO told me how unprofessional that was, so it was back to Elizabeth. Some executives call me E, which is totally fine.

I went to college at Chestnut Hill(really small all girl catholic college back in the 90's) with a bunch of Kittys, Crickets, and Muffins who gave me the nickname Bitsy, which I loved, but it was short-lived, sounds kind of silly in the throws of passion.

So, here I am, a 41 year old tattooed Rockabilly Kitten names Bettie!

Victoria Roth said...

I have a 5 year old Elizabeth, and when she was born her big sister couldn't say Elizabeth. She called her sissy-bet and lil-bit and bizzie-bet. Eventually Bizzie stuck. Busy Phillips (actress) is actually and Elizabeth too. I love the nickname and i saw somewhere it is an old fashioned nickname for Elizabeth. I also heard Birdie was a nickname for Elizabeth, and I love it, but not for my child. Maybe for another Elizabeth though.

Anonymous said...

I am an Elizabeth and I have the perfect nickname. When I was little I pronounced by name Isabif and ever since then I have been Bif. It's different, and no one ever forgets me! My grandma has always been the only person to call me Elizabeth. Sometimes I get Biffy, Ebie, or Ebif. The only thing is some people think I am a boy before they meet be. But I have to say it's a great nickname! If you want to go a more traditional route try Ebie.

Anonymous said...

Well my names Elizabeth but everyone calls me Bitsy cause my aunts name is Betsy also short for Elizabeth