Names in English

I had an interesting discussion with a student the other day about short names in English. To summarize, she wasn’t aware that “Dave” is short for “David,” for example. I thought I’d make a little list of some common short names that you might hear in Vancouver.

Male names:

  • Dave – David
  • Bill, Will, Willy – William
  • Charlie, Chuck – Charles
  • Ed, Eddie – Edward
  • Tom, Tommy – Thomas
  • Rob, Bob, Bobby – Robert
  • Rob – Robin
  • Sam – Samuel
  • Russ – Russell
  • Chris – Christopher, Christian
  • Larry – Lawrence
  • Pat – Patrick
  • Art – Arthur
  • Matt – Matthew
  • Al – Albert, Alphonse, Alan
  • Zach, Zack – Zachary, Zachariah
  • Alex – Alexander
  • Luke – Lucas
  • Jon, John – Jonathan
  • Mike – Michael
  • Nick, Nicky – Nicholas (note: “Nicky/Nicki” is also a female name)
  • Gabe – Gabriel
  • Rick, Ricky, Rich – Richard
  • Josh – Joshua
  • Benji, Ben – Benjamin
  • Jay – Jason
  • Ray – Raymond
  • Ron – Ronald
  • Jim, Jimmy – James
  • Henry – Hank
  • Jeff/Geoff – Jeffrey/Geoffrey
  • Tim, Timmy – Timothy
  • Brad – Bradley
  • Frank – Francis
  • Max – Maxwell, Maximilian
  • Vince, Vinnie – Vincent

Generally, male short names that end in “y” or “ie” are associated with children. For example, James and Robert might be called Jimmy and Bobby when they are young, but they might want to be called Jim and Rob when they become teenagers or young adults. This isn’t a rule, though, so it’s always best to ask what someone’s preferred name is!

Female names:

  • Steph -Stephanie
  • Em – Emily
  • Cath, Kate, Kat, Katy, Cathy – Catherine or Kathleen
  • Jen, Jenny – Jennifer
  • Pat, Patty – Patricia
  • Marge, Maggie – Margaret
  • Meg – Megan
  • Jill, Gill – Jillian, Gillian
  • Chris, Christy, Tina – Christine, Christina
  • Laurie – Lauren
  • Joy – Joyce
  • Lori – Lorraine
  • Rosie, Rose – Roseanne
  • Liz, Lizzie, Beth, Eliza – Elizabeth
  • Fran – Frances
  • Max, Maxie – Maxine
  • Sherry – Sharon
  • Jules – Julie, Julia
  • Becca – Rebecca
  • Jess – Jessica
  • Mel, Melly – Melissa, Melanie
  • Alex – Alexandra, Alexis
  • Kim – Kimberley
  • Nat – Natalie, Natalia
  • Mandy – Amanda
  • Sue, Suzy – Susan, Suzanne

Female short names that end in “y” or “ie” do not usually have the same connotations about age as male short names do.

Of course, some people may have a short name as their legal name. If you’re not sure, you can ask the person once you get to know them. “Hey Patty, is that short for Patricia?”

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