English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

In two British films I recently recalled, I noticed a trend in nicknaming that I'd like confirmation of, by someone familiar with spoken Cockney English.

In the first one, Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, I believe Barry the Baptist, an entertaining paid enforcer, is called Bazza or Bazzer either by his boss, or by those "two Northern monkeys", I can't remember which.

In the second movie, Layer Cake, I remember a guy, part of a Cockney English-speaking drug gang, being referred to as Gazza basically throughout the entire movie.

My first question is: Is this a standard rule for nicknaming amongst Cockney English speakers? My second question is: If it's a rule, from what personal name does Gazza come from? My final question, the one I care about most about, is: If it's a rule, can I get some examples on how this rule would be applied to other names?

share|improve this question
I don't have any references for a rule, so I won't post this as an answer, but: "Gazza" is Gary; "Bazza/Bazzer" (as you mentioned) is Barry; "Shazzer" is Sharon (see "Bridget Jones' Diary".) I would expect "Mazzer/Mazza" to be a nickname for Mary, but I can't find any examples; I've found a couple of instances of "Lazzer" for Larry, but it doesn't seem to be as common as the first three (B/G/Sh). Also: I don't think I'd classify this pattern as "Cockney"; that's a fairly small subset of London, and these seem to cover all of England. But I'm American, so what do I know? – MT_Head May 18 '11 at 6:27
Also not found, though you'd expect it from the pattern: "Tazza/Tazzer" for Terry. I have found some guys called "Jazza", but none of them seem to be named Jerry. There may not be a predictable rule... – MT_Head May 18 '11 at 6:32
@MT_Head: The first vowel in Mary is different from that in Gary/Barry/Sharon, so Mazza is unlikely. I have encountered at least one Mary who was nicknamed Mezza. And by the same token, Tezza would be far more likely for Terry (I've never encountered that, but it wouldn't surprise me at all if I did). I have, however, encountered more than one Jerry referred to as Jezza or Jez. – psmears May 18 '11 at 10:03
@psmears - Interesting - to an American ear, Mary/Gary/Barry/Sharon/Larry all DO have the same vowel, and Jerry/Terry have the same sound if not the same orthography. All schwa, all the time. – MT_Head May 18 '11 at 14:35
Also common are the forms Baz, Gaz, Shaz, etc. – z7sg Ѫ Aug 10 '11 at 8:24

It's very common, but certainly not specifically Cockney. In fact, one of the most well-known owners of this nickname - footballer Paul Gascoigne, universally known as Gazza - is from Gateshead, in the north-east of England, about as far as it's possible to go from Cockney London and still be in England.

share|improve this answer

I'm not sure if it's specifically cockney, but it's a common transformation. It's mostly applied to an "ry" ending:

Gary -> Gazza

Jeremy -> Jezz or Jezza

Mary -> Maz (or Mazza, although that seems to only be applied in jest in my experience).

share|improve this answer

Aussies do it as well.

I spend a lot of time in Australia (for my sins - bloody family moved there).

Aussies do it with every name and every thing in general...

Example: g'day Bazza, how ya goin ya goose? Given ya a heads up that me, Davo, Tomo, Stevo, Macka and dazza gonna go tha pub to get blotto tis arvo.

Means: hello Barry, how are you? Letting you know that Dave, Tom, Steve, Mack, Darrel and me are going to the pub for a few beers this afternoon.

I think the heat gets to them after a while. Attempts to communicate with Aussies rarely move past responses of 'yeah' or 'nah', and various uninteligible sounds of approval and/or disapproval that often lead to violence towards other or each other.

share|improve this answer

Doesn't see like a rule, just something that's done frequently with any name. For instance. Manchester United star Wayne Rooney is known as Wazza amongst some players and fans, so it seems like it can be done for anyone. Maybe it just sounds right with some names than others. Only true English ears could decipher that though.

share|improve this answer
OK answer, not quite worth the downvote someone else gave you, but still, the answer would be improved and worth upvotes if you can find and provide some specific usages from literature or public press for other names. – Jay Elston Nov 15 '12 at 1:57

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.