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Possible Duplicate:
Changes in English names of people

For example Bill Gates and Bill Clinton are actually Williams.

I guess if you first make it short for Will then you can go from there to Bill and from Richard you can first go to Rick and then to Dick... English speakers seem to form their nicknames like that.

But it just seems very strange to a native Finnish speaker. I think nicknames here in Finland pretty much never change the first letter, and rarely alter any of the whole first syllable of the name when converting to a nickname. I think it would make typing initials a little confusing too! Are the first letters of first names not that important to English speakers?

The other part of the question is, how long has this been going on. What are some of the earliest examples of Williams being called Bills and Richards being called Dicks?

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    In English, if you're typing initials you don't use the nickname. It's not done that way. D might mean David or Daniel, never Dick. – pavium Jul 22 '11 at 7:59
  • @Mehper It is a dup and I have voted but the accepted answer there has too many examples (reduces clarity) and does not explain anything about the history, although someone mentions in a comment this has been going on since C13th they don't cite any sources for that. – z7sg Ѫ Jul 22 '11 at 9:11
  • This is not a duplicate. This question is asking about etymology of specific hypocorisms, which is not addressed at all in the linked question. The asnwer to english.stackexchange.com/questions/84744/… somewhat gets at what this is looking for, even though the question was much more limited. – Jetpack Apr 12 '18 at 16:59

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