In the English language (and predominantly American English), it is relatively common to see a (limited) set of first and middle names that form initials used as a first name. (ex. TJ, JT, DJ). Thomas John Washington becomes TJ Washington. Where does this practice come from and why those handful of specific initials?

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    It comes from people who wanted a shorter way to refer to someone. – Jim Mar 1 '18 at 1:31
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    You mean, why is it that some initials seem to be preferentially used (as in "tee jay" for the initials T J) and others (eg, "ess are" for S R) are not? Because "tee jay" just has a snappy sound to it. – Hot Licks Mar 1 '18 at 2:25
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    Where does this practice come from? - I cannot imagine what kind of answer you are looking for. – Drew Mar 1 '18 at 3:07
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    Are you referring to people who are commonly addressed by their initials? I'm not aware that this is limited to particular letters. People's nicknames evolve within their family for all sorts of reasons, not necessarily logical. – Kate Bunting Mar 1 '18 at 9:20
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    Welcome to EL&U. This is not really a question about the language itself, but of a particular social convention; I would consider it a form of hypocorism. I would dispute that it is "relatively common," however; if anything, the practice has declined sharply since the mid-20th century, when name diversity increased and the need to include middle initials to distinguish between 10 Williams or 10 Marys in intimate situations declined. – choster Mar 1 '18 at 16:32

I'm having a hard time finding sources for this, thus all of the following is from my own head.

A name like JT can come from having a given name they would rather not use, and a first + middle name that says JT, or JR, or anything else. Hyphenated first names aren't very common in English speaking countries but someone might also abbreviate something like Jean-Baptiste into JB.

If the second letter is J, in my experience it almost always refers to "junior". The reason someone might be called DJ is because they were named after their father named Douglas, David, whatever, and instead of others in the family calling both people the same name, they call one a shortened version. Maybe Doug, maybe David, but also maybe DJ (Doug Junior).

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    You acknowledge that you don't have sources, which I understand. But I've never heard of that first part. Every TJ, BJ, or DJ I've met has had a J middle name, making the letters initials. Like "Thomas John Lastname". I've never heard of a Junior being the J, and that would be structurally different than my question. – WakeDemons3 Mar 1 '18 at 21:20
  • I knew a lot of guys named Chris and David growing up, some of them ended up as CJ or DJ not because their middle name was a J middle name, but because they were Juniors. That's purely off personal experience, specifically experiences from elementary to high school, a while back. Some people did have J initals from their middle name, but not all, in my experience. – Dispenser Mar 1 '18 at 21:29

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