Let's take John, Fred and Paul and consider the affectionate diminutive (AD) forms of their names. John becomes Johnny, Fred becomes Freddie, Paul becomes Paulie. Formalizing the transformation:

  • Trailing consonant doubled: J+, F+, P-
  • ie as a trailing vowel pack for the AD form: J-, F+, P+
  • y as a trailing vowel for the AD form: J+, F-, P-

I understand that this is how English works, different names get transformed differently. But is there a rule that tells which pattern a particular name would follow, or you simply have to memorize all the names and their proper AD forms?

  • 3
    You'll need to memorize it per person. Johnny Depp, Johnnie Walker; Freddy Krueger, Freddie Mercury; Pauly Shore, Paulie Gualtieri.
    – Kevin
    Feb 15, 2018 at 23:13
  • ... and Kev and Ed follow roughly the same pattern, but there are Eddy and Eddie too. Feb 15, 2018 at 23:14
  • Winston -> Winnie
    – user205876
    Feb 16, 2018 at 1:50
  • 1
    Not usually :o) Feb 16, 2018 at 1:50
  • I think this might be more appropriate on Linguistics, although it's possibly more cultural than linguistic, and subject to the vagaries of both the parents and the child when choosing them. Feb 16, 2018 at 1:53

1 Answer 1


Spellings of such nicknames vary according to personal taste and to historical period. 'Charlie' was commonly spelled 'Charley' in the 19th century. In the Middle Ages nicknames such as Jankin (John) and Perkin (Peter) were popular. Today people spell the abbreviation of their name whichever way they choose.

  • If I understand you correctly, what you're saying is that each person chooses the AD form of their name themselves. But, with such spelling subtleties in mind, how do others find out which exactly form the person has preferred if they weren't notified beforehand? E.g. which form a grandfather would use to address his baby grandson in a letter? And is it typical for people to actually ask each other which AD form they should use in writing, i.e. "hey John, are you a Johnny or a Johnnie?". I understand it's a different question already but it's important to find out how things like this work =).
    – Semisonic
    Feb 16, 2018 at 10:37
  • 1
    @Semisonic They wouldn't find out, any more than they would find out, without being told, that Geoffrey spells his name Jeffery, Linda spells hers Lynda, Carl spells his Karl, Rory spells his Ruaridh or Sarah spells hers Sara. There are lots more of these but that's enough to give you the idea. Names are personal, spellings are often idiosyncratic and diminutives even more so. However most Fredericks would accept Frederick from their mothers, Freddie from their fathers, Fred from their teammates, Freddy from their cousins and Fweddydarling from their spouses. There are no rules.
    – BoldBen
    Feb 16, 2018 at 11:22

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