First off, sorry I’ve been away. I’ve been feeling a tad under the weather for the past two days and slept most of yesterday. Now, onto today’s post.
Elizabeth. A lovely classic, and my middle name. This name, as the title suggests, has so many nicknames it’s hard to keep track; in this post I hope to go through as many of them as I can. From the spunky Eliza to the sweet Bess to the everyday Liz, there’s really a nickname for everyone. That’s what makes this name so great: no matter what personality your daughter has, there’s a nickname to fit it. I’ll be breaking the nicknames up into categories, and I’ll explain each one a little bit here. First off is the normal nicknames. These are names that are commonly known as nicknames for Elizabeth such as Liz, Beth, Eliza, etc. Second will be less commonly used nicknames like Lily, Ellie, Izzy, etc. Last will be foreign nicknames for Elizabeth, like Ilsa and Elise. Well, let’s get started on the Elizabeth parade!
- Eliza: Although it’s fallen out of favor, as far as I know, spunky Eliza used to be quite common as a given name. In the 1880s, it was ranked 105 as a stand alone. It fell out of favor, but it’s since come back a bit and currently stands at 334, again as a stand alone. Personally, I love Eliza, but think it’s best as a nickname. Elizabeth is so stately that you can’t go wrong, and Eliza livens her up a bit. However, this is one of the more stand-alone nicknames for Elizabeth, I just wouldn’t recommend it. If I saw a little Eliza, I’d swoon!
- Beth: Perhaps the nickname that has gained most acceptance as a first name, Beth has had a lot of success as a given name, peaking at #65 in 1964 and 1966. It’s since fallen off as a given name but retains the same sweetness that probably propelled it to the top 100. Although I personally prefer to see it as a nickname, it’s acceptable as a given name by now, in my book. It’s a little on the boring side but has a great, if slightly sad, namesake in gentle Beth from Little Women.
- Liz: This is probably the most common nickname for Elizabeth. It’s got a nice sound with a zippy z ending, but no one can really be bothered about it anymore. It peaked as a stand-alone in 1961 at #375. Objectively, it’s nice, but it’s reached saturation point and should be given a long rest.
- Bess: Sweet Bess. This name conjures an image of an angelic child with blue eyes and honey blonde curls, at least for me. For others it tends to conjure up either a cow or blues singer Bessie Smith. In my humble opinion, Bess is entirely workable; Once someone meets a cute child with the name, all cow thoughts would go out the window. I definitely wouldn’t recommend it as a first name, though. If I turn out to be wrong about workability, well, little Bess is left with a difficult name. However, I fully encourage anyone to give it a try; Bess is ripe for revival, with it’s sweet sound and relative rarity.
- Betsy: I knew a Betsy once. I remember feeling sorry for her that she didn’t have a more grown up sounding name for her age. I was about 13. That tells you something about giving Betsy as a full name: just don’t go there. It’s a nice sound and a great nickname, don’t get me wrong, but imagine being a 35 year old Betsy. Does anyone want to be that cute their entire life? Nickname only, please. But an adorable nickname it is.
- Betty/Bette: Betty is dated, no way around it. It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to be a Betty nowadays. Unfortunately for this blogger, Betty is like Roseanne to me: boorish and brash, with no subtlety. With Roseanne, it’s the comedian, with Betty I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I call my Uncle Chuck Betty and can’t seem to think of it as feminine anymore. Bette is much softer if pronounced ‘bet.’ It reminds me of red lipstick and old Hollywood. Oh, and Bette Midler. I like Bette as a nickname only, but Betty I relegate to the Frumpy shelf with Cheryl and Brenda.
- Libby: Pretty Libby. I like this one, even if it is a little childish. As a nickname though, who cares? I knew a Libby who was an awesome person all around, so that might bias me to liking the name. I would definitely not do this as a full name; it’s way too insubstantial. You can’t go wrong with it as a nickname, though; I’d love to see more Libbys!
- Lily: It might not seem intuitive at first, but Lily can work as a nickname for Elizabeth. From what I can gather, it comes from a shortening of Lilibet, an old nickname for Elizabeth, and what the current Queen Elizabeth II’s close family called her as a child. I’ve never cared for Lily as a full first name (too insubstantial for my tastes) but as a nickname for Elizabeth, I warm up to it. The only problem is that the current glut of Lilys, Lillians, etc doesn’t make this a particularly distinctive nickname. It’s pretty, though, and anyone who loves Lily but wants a longer name should keep this option in mind.
- Izzy: It works, but is definitely more associated with Isabel/la and sort of devalues dignified Elizabeth, in my opinion. If you want an Izzy, I’d just go with Isobel and leave it at that. Again, this isn’t very distinctive nowadays with all the little Isabel/las running around. Just avoid it as a full name at all costs; at that point it’s straight up Muppet.
- Elsie: It might seem cute, but this screams cow to most people. I quite like it myself, but the dairy product association is just too strong right now, at least in the US. Maybe after those stupid Elsie the Cow commercials stop airing, we’ll see more little Elsies.
- Liddy: This reminds me of eyelids and Liddy Dole in a really unpleasant way. But eyelids freak me out a little; others might not have my same hang-up. However, with Liddy Dole’s recent unscrupulous activities, I’d avoid it. Anyone who implies that one can’t be trusted because of their personal beliefs and try to use atheist as a smear is not a worthy namesake. The allegations were false anyway, but damnit it shouldn’t matter. *steps off soapbox* Liddy is charming, but I’d wait until Dole and her reprehensible smear tactics are off the political scene before using it.
- Elle/Ellie: Eh. I’m quite lukewarm on these. It’s like Izzy; just use Eleanor if you want these nicknames. They’re not unusual and they’re not very interesting, frankly.
- Liza: Minnelli! That’s the first thing anyone hearing this name would think. If the association doesn’t bother you, it’s a great nickname with a lot of spirit. I don’t know what else to say about it, really. It’s really spunky as a nickname, and serviceable as a full first. However, I’d keep it as a nickname so your spawn can change it up if they get tired of the Minnelli remarks. Two thumbs up.
- Lisa: Liza’s all-American cousin, Lisa is hardly seen as a nickname anymore. I’m a little bored of hearing it, but it’s better as a nickname for Elizabeth. Nothing wrong with options!
- Buffy: The Vampire Slayer. Enough said.
- Elise: Seen as overwhelmingly French, this is also a German and Dutch short form of Elizabeth. The French has an accent over the first E, but in the US, it’s more likely to be a pain in the butt than a critical mark. This is pretty acceptable as a full name in the US, but I can’t speak for Germany and France. It oozes elegance, and I say use it, unless you’re trying to put on airs. Those who have a penchant for pretentiousness should avoid this name, because most will just roll their eyes at this newest development. Otherwise, it gets a double thumbs up from me. It’s a nice sound and fairly intuitive in English.
- Elisa: Pretty similar to Elise in feel, with an added touch of femininity. According to Btn, it’s German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Finnish. It’s graceful like Elise, but with the -a ending that parents are crazy about nowadays. It works as a stand-alone in English, but shines as a nickname. It’s intuitive for English speakers, although you may want to use the Elisabeth spelling to make it a little easier to grasp.
- Bethan: This is a Welsh nickname. Personally, I feel quite meh about it. It doesn’t have the fairytale sparkle that most parents looking at Welsh names want. It’s somewhat intuitive, but too close to Beth and Bethany to be too exciting.
- Ilse/Ilsa: As you can probably tell by my username, I love Ilse/Ilsa. I prefer the Ilse spelling; it’s a name that’s like liquid silk to me. Absolutely beautiful. I would swoon at a little Ilse but for one thing: Ilse Koch, the wife of a high ranking Nazi in WWII. Now this gorgeous name is ruined for a good while; as much as it pains me to say it, I do not recommend Ilse for this reason. Maybe someday. It functions as a stand-alone in Germany and Austria, and so I find it acceptable.
- Liesel/Lisesl: Another German nickname, Liesel is cute. However, the proximity in sound to diesel and weasel and the unintuitiveness of the nickname for English speakers are drawbacks. I don’t think it’s accepted as a full name in Germany, but don’t quote me on that. I would love to see a little Liesel, actually. I think it can work as a stand-alone to all but the most namenerdy English speakers. However, I prefer it as a nickname; my namenerdery won’t let me forget that.
- Bettina: Since we’re on a roll with German names, let’s move on to Bettina. It makes sense in an English speaking context, but I can’t say I like it. It’s less harsh than Betty, sure, but it sounds like a combination between dated Betty and dated Tina. Eurgh.
- Babette: A French diminuitive, I can’t say I like this one either. It’s very cutesy, I don’t like -ette endings, and Bab is a really unattractive sound. It’s not really easily derived by an English speaker either. I’ll pass on this one.
- Lisette: I know I just said I hate -ette endings, but I like Lisette as a nickname or a middle name. My mother’s middle name is Lizzette (yeah my g-mom wanted to be “different,” bless her soul) so I have a soft spot for it. I’ve played around with it in the middle slot. My standing combo for it is Dorothea Lisette.
Wow, sorry for the novel! I know there are more nicknames, but I think that’s quite enough for now.
The nicknames for Elizabeth, as you can see, range from the familiar to the absurd, the timelessly elegant to the hopelessly dated. It’s all a testament to the timeless nature of the name. From Betty to Ellie, there’s something to fit every period of time.
So, reader, what are your favourite Elizabeth nicknames?