I often see that in nicknames, the initial An- is omitted.

Anthony → Tony
Android → Droid
Andrew → Drew
Annabelle → Bella

  • Is my understanding correct? Are there restrictions on when this applies?
  • If so, why is An- omitted? Is it a morpheme meaning something?
  • What other regular rules are there in creating English nicknames?
  • 1
    I fear that you are over-generalising. Angelo !=> Gelo; Annabel !=>Nabel; Anne!=> Ne
    – Fortiter
    Commented Mar 6, 2013 at 12:07
  • 1
    I found Annabel => Bella. Anne is probably too short to be omitted.
    – sawa
    Commented Mar 6, 2013 at 12:11
  • 3
    @sawa Na.‪‪‪‪‪‪‪‪‪‪
    – tchrist
    Commented Mar 6, 2013 at 12:25
  • 1
    Although a great many nicknames are formed by shortening the first part of a name (David → Dave; Patricia → Pat, e.g.), there are some formed by dropping the first part of the name instead – but that's not limited to names that begin with An-, though it seems to happen often when the first syllable is short and begins with a vowel. I know an Alexandra who goes by Xandra, e.g., there's also Amanda → Mandy, Elizabeth → Liz, Eugene → Gene, etc.). Sometimes it can go either way, too; I've known Abigails who have gone by either Abby or Gail.
    – J.R.
    Commented Mar 6, 2013 at 12:27
  • 1
    @MrLister I have repeatedly seen advertisements of Android that Clearly says "Droid". It does not matter if it is a person's name, it is a proper noun/name of something.
    – sawa
    Commented Mar 6, 2013 at 13:40

1 Answer 1


There are no regular rules for nicknames. I have a friend whose legal name is Andrea. All of her friends call her 'Drea. Some *Andrew*s are called Andy (actually, most of them are, I'd imagine) and not 'Drew. There's no rule that says their nicknames have to drop the "An": they just do sometimes. I've known women named Anita with the nickname 'Nita: only the initial "A" is dropped.

The only rule for nicknames that matters is what the person with the nickname thinks about it. I have a friend who's tall and morbidly obese. He calls himself Tiny Tom.

The famous overweight pool player Minnesota Fats was originally called New York Fats. That was okay by him. Fats Waller (jazz singer and piano player), Fats Domino (R&B singer), and Chubby Checker (pop singer) had no problems with those nicknames.

Nicknames are generally shortenings of given birth names. Turning a multisyllabic name into a monosyllabic one is usually the goal, e.g., Percival often becomes Percy, Elizabeth becomes Liz, or Beth, or Liza, etc., but it could just as easily become Tater or EG (if her name is, say, Elizabeth Gloria), or Goldie if she has blond hair.

The famous French writer Anatole France never did have the nickname 'Atole. He was named Jacques-Anatole-François Thibault and changed François to France, a pen name, not really a nickname.

  • I knew a "Tater" in high school, although his "real" name was Bobby, which (as you might have guessed) means his parents named him Robert. Just goes to show how convoluted this can get.
    – J.R.
    Commented Mar 6, 2013 at 12:50
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    Anyone who calls me Andy gets thwacked.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Mar 6, 2013 at 12:54
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    A couple other things you could add to this answer, if you wanted to make it more comprehensive: sometimes names are lengthened (with an extra syllable, generally -y, so that John becomes Johnny and George becomes Georgie, and sometimes names will get shortened and lengthened, e.g.: Edward → Ed → Eddie, or Elizabeth → Beth → Betty. And then there's nicknames often bestowed on sons named after their fathers, like Junior or Chip.
    – J.R.
    Commented Mar 6, 2013 at 12:56
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    My brother, Andrew, insists on Andi, with that spelling. I think it looks like a girls name. Andrew Leach, above, seems very particular about being called Andrew. There are no rules for nicknames.
    – Carl Smith
    Commented Mar 6, 2013 at 14:33
  • Chubby Checker has (AFAIK) never had a weight problem. According to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chubby_Checker he got his stage name from an impression of Fats Domino he did: Fats->Chubby, Dominoes->Checkers Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 21:47

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