Comic by Jim Davis. Image source

Comic by Jim Davis. Image source

I have a theory – completely without proof – that “Elizabeth” has more variants than any other name. You have:

  • Betsy
  • Eliza
  • Elsa (for you Frozen fans out there)
  • Ellie
  • Lisa
  • Liz
  • Isabel
  • Libby
  • Bess
  • Beth
  • Betty
  • Buffy (no, really)

(Thanks to Baby Name Wizard for helping with that list.)

Other names have variants you might not expect. Peggy, for instance, is a diminutive of Margaret.

And John is fun to trace around the world:

  • Jean (French)
  • Johan (German)
  • Giovanni (Italian)
  • Juan (Spanish)
  • Ivan (Russian)
  • Sean (Irish)

…not to mention Jack.

James, meanwhile, is a derivative of the biblical Jacob, which means “heel-grabber.”


Coming soon: weird old American names that nobody uses anymore. Like “Philander.” No, really.

6 responses to “Names

  1. I read a book once where the narrator posed the thesis that not only are there a lot of versions of Elizabeth, but you can make some predictions about personality based on which one a particular Elizabeth uses. A Beth is usually very different from a Liz or a Libby (the theory goes).

    Also, for Eli as female name, see the movie Let the Right One In. Or just see it because it’s really good. 🙂

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