My name is Elisabeth. It has been Elisabeth since the day I was born. And it is just Elisabeth.

Yet there are a number of people who call me Liz and I find the whole dynamic rather fascinating.

For example, the secretary at my doctor’s office always addresses me as Liz. I will introduce myself on the phone by saying “Hello, this is Elisabeth calling!” and she will immediately respond “Hi Liz!” She is the loveliest receptionist ever and I find it heartwarming.

But where did she get Liz?

I’m no stranger to nicknames. I have a brother Tim (Timothy), a sister Bec (Rebecca), and my Dad is Tom (Thomas). I have a brother-in-law that goes by his middle name, a brother-in-law Timothy (who does NOT go by Tim, which is convenient so we never confuse him with my brother, Tim), and a brother-in-law Chris (Christopher). I even have a child – Abby (Abigail) – that goes by a nickname.

But my name is Elisabeth.

Let’s take this story one layer further, shall we? Let’s talk about when I was called a completely different name.

Years ago, when the kids were still in preschool, another parent (who I knew very loosely, but I assumed we were on a first-name basis since I knew HER name) started very enthusiastically greeting me. As Anne.

The first time it happened I was…surprised? Confused? I guess I waved back/responded? But then she proceeded to do this for TWO WHOLE YEARS. Always very, very enthusiastically and with full confidence in her labeling of me. Even though in every context at preschool (including when I organized the teacher gift for two years and signed my name as Elisabeth on every single e-mail she received) I was Elisabeth.

Then there is the former work supervisor who had pegged me as Elizabeth (with a “z”) for years. Every single e-mail I sent her way was signed Elisabeth (with an “s”) yet she always addressed e-mails to me with a “z.” It didn’t bother me…until she submitted an application for a new e-mail address that was my full name and I had to tell her that I couldn’t have my name spelled as elizabethfrost@blahblah.com because my first name was actually spelled with an “s” and she was absolutely shocked. She even asked me if I had recently changed the spelling of my name. I had not; in fact, I had sent (and signed) 100s of e-mails as Elisabeth with an “s” over our working career together.

All that to say I’m Elisabeth, not Liz.

But I’ll even respond to “Anne” in a pinch.

How about you. Do you have a nickname or shortened name? Any funny stories to share on the topic?

Header photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

30 thoughts on “Hey…Liz?”

  1. This was cute. I remember being jealous when I was a kid of names that have a good nickname. My name is Sarah and the only nicknames for Sarah are ridiculous in my opinion (Sadie, Sally, Sar-Bear, etc). So I had a whole ongoing fantasy about starting to go by my middle name which is a name that is easily shortened to a cool nickname (like Liz).
    I repeatedly get mail, emails, cards, etc to “Sara” og even “Sahra” but now I don’t even really bother to correct it unless I am at the passport office or someplace it really matters.

    1. Ha. I have to admit I never thought of “Liz” as being a “cool” nickname.
      I don’t correct things very often either (like people who spell my name with an “s” or, apparently, people that call me Anne).
      It’s also interesting how some people ASSUME someone with a shortened name must be using a nickname. I have a family member who is called Beth, and people often assume her real name is Elizabeth…but it’s not. It is actually just Beth!

  2. This is so funny! When I was a baby, someone tried to call me Nicki and my mom practically snarled “HER NAME IS NICOLE.” I am totally not a Nicki, I have always been Nicole, but some very close friends call me Nic.

    My next-door neighbour, the one who recently moved away, called me Michelle for probably 12 years. I did correct him at first but after a while I was like, well, I guess I’m Michelle now. Whenever anyone has gotten my name wrong it has always been Michelle for some reason. I guess I look like a Michelle?

    My husband and son go by shortened versions of their names, but at work my husband uses his full name, and one day someone called him a DIFFERENT shortened version (it would be easier if I just said his name but I’m not going to do that), and anyway, it was very funny as it’s a name I would associate with a very old man.

    That said, my friend’s husband is Stephen and for at least a decade I called him Steve, and he finally told me that he doesn’t like to go by Steve. It’s been hard breaking that habit, and also, I feel like an idiot!

    1. A bit ironically I have someone else in my family who is a Thomas (like my Dad, but he goes exclusively by Tom). But this family member is ONLY Thomas. Never, every Tom or Tommy and his parents were always so, so insistent on this.
      Michelle for over a decade; that’s hilarious and definitely beats my “Anne” story.
      I don’t think I’ve ever asked anyone not to call me Liz. It doesn’t bother me, it just always feels strange since I never ever use that name for myself. And some of the most random people call me that (like a person I have only met in person once but has always called me Liz in other conversations since.)

  3. I grew up with a nickname, but once I was in high school, I started going by my full name. So that means my husband calls me by my full name, but my family calls me by my nickname. I can generally keep it straight and respond to basically all variants of my name, but I think it’s super strange when my BIL calls me by my nickname. I met him as an adult, and, as such, he should call me by my full name, but because he lives with my sister and mother, he hears me referred to by my nickname and he generally does call me by my nickname. It’s strange.

    My husband has an unusual nickname. Let’s say his name was Robert (it’s not, but I’m going to use it as an example) – he doesn’t go by Rob or Bob, he goes by Bert. It’s always clear when people don’t really know him because they’ll call him Rob or whatever. It’s always interesting to me to see if my husband thinks it’s worth correcting someone or not – if it’s a one-and-done interaction, he’ll usually let it go, but if it’s going to occur more than once, it’s a tough call. (Ha ha! This all sounded familiar and it turns out that I wrote an entire post about it more than a decade ago – https://ngradstudent.blogspot.com/2010/04/its-all-in-name.html).

    1. We have something similar in one branch of my family; someone who goes a nickname with EVERYONE but the family.

  4. Yeah, that’s funny people would call you “Liz.” I can’t decide if it’s presumptuous or endearing. I have a similar thing where people will call me “Jen.” Um, my name is JENNY (well, actually Jennifer but that’s beside the point.) Jen is close enough so I don’t really care, but it’s still interesting that people take it upon themselves to give us a nickname.
    Your story about “Anne” reminds me of a Seinfeld episode… Elaine’s boss keeps calling her “Susie” and it goes on so long she feels like it’s way too late to correct her. It’s a good one!

    1. I’m choosing to see it as endearing, it just always feels strange since it’s never people that are close to me (with the exception of a friend from university who calls me Liz, but she gets a pass because her name is Elizabeth but she goes exclusively by Beth and I adore that she calls me Liz).
      I did wonder if your name was Jennifer (as I wrote in another comment, I have a family member that is called Beth and that is her whole name – it’s not a nickname, though people often assume it is).
      I remember that Seinfield episode!

  5. What a fun post! I get Susan A LOT, even from people (mainly acquaintances) I have known a while. Our financial advisor, for instance, goes back and forth between Susan and Suzanne, like maybe he is not sure so is covering his bases. In college, most people called me Suz, so that’s what my husband calls me, and our friends from college, and a couple of friends who know me through my husband. Even though I am used to it, it is still a little jarring since I have gone by Suzanne exclusively since college (which was TWENTY YEARS AGO OMG). My husband’s late grandmother referred to me as Sue, which I didn’t care for but didn’t correct.

    I am so delighted/empathetic that you went by Anne for so long. I also am cringing retroactively because I referred to a former colleague by NOT her name for A WHOLE YEAR until I realized my mistake. We communicated almost solely through email, so I was mistyping her name, which seems slightly better than misnaming her in person. But… A WHOLE YEAR. I was mortified. She never mentioned it, though, so I hope she noted the change in spelling and was relieved. I haven’t talked to her in a good decade now, but if she hasn’t forgotten about it, hopefully she is getting good mileage out of my error on her blog! LOL!

    1. Sounds like you have a lot of iterations to your name!
      I actually have someone that I see regularly and I CANNOT remember if her name is Suzanne or Susanna and I feel bad every time I see her because I’ve asked at least twice for clarification and I can never remember. Grrr. And it feels beyond rude to have to ask again. But then it feels rude to not say her name when I greet her. What to do?!
      Also, for a while, I couldn’t remember a neighbour’s name but did remember the name of her dog and I felt awful saying hello to her dog and then being friendly to her but avoiding calling her by name.

  6. I don’t understand why people would shorten your name to Liz when you are so clearly Elisabeth! Follow what the person uses in emails, etc. I did wonder if you were the Liz from Canada who told Sarah about a long-term planning resource. But I thought – surely that can’t be the Elisabeth I know because she is NOT Liz!

    Oddly, I’ve been called Liz by a handful of people. Who changes Lisa to Liz? I think it’s often laziness? I communicate with a lot of sales people and I always check to see how they signed their email before assuming Stephen goes by Steve, for example. It’s the least you can do!

    Our youngest currently is called “Taco” by nearly everyone in his life. That is what Paul named the baby when I was pregnant and it just stuck! Every people at school call him Taco or Taquito. I don’t know if that will stick forever? Paul goes by Pablo or Pablito. I think he identifies more as Pablo than Paul but that may change when he goes to school!

    1. I definitely see myself as an Elisabeth. Maybe some people are just more likely to go for a nickname as well? I am definitely not the Liz from Sarah’s podcast.
      I’ll also agree that I’ve never heard of Lisa being changed to Liz. Sounds like a stretch.
      My biggest thing with work is the spelling of names. There are just a lot of idiosyncracies with things like Caitlin’s/Meghan’s/Steven’s etc. I don’t catch the nuances every time, but I think having a name that gets misspelled so frequently (the “s” vs the more typical “z”) likely makes me more sensitive to it. And when I DO make a mistake, I almost always make a point of highlighting my error at some point because I do actually appreciate when people clarify in a later email that they’ve noticed the specific spelling of my name.
      Taco is such an endearing nickname. My kids answer to oodles of nicknames, most of them only internally to our family, but they really do answer to them all. We call Levi “Hector” sometimes (no idea why) and a few weeks ago at the park I told him “Hector, it’s time to go home.” And he came right away of course and a little girl gave me the strangest look because she, of course, assumed he was actually called Hector which is not a typical name for a 7-year-old where we live…
      I also agree that things can change with age. We almost exclusively call Abby “Abby” and I find it slightly jarring when people say “Abigail” but I can definitely see her using Abigail when she’s older. Levi can’t be shortened very much…

  7. Great post! Such a funny story about being called Anne. You have to wonder where she got that from!

    My name is Gaelic (from Ireland) and is therefore spelt with a totally different set of phonics. When I was a child people could not pronounce it, never mind spell it. This was in the days when there was a lot less written word than there is now, so folks might have heard the name spoken but not seen it spelt. I could probably write a dictionary on the spellings and pronunciation of my name over the years. I do love my name though as it is unusual, I have not yet met a single person with the same name as me.

    I think perhaps as I have a somewhat unusual, difficult to spell and pronounce name I always make sure that I get other peoples right, I will always check the spelling and exact pronunciation if I am not sure of either. I remember getting really cross with a teacher who for seven years had mis-pronounced my name despite repeatedly being corrected by me and other pupils in my class. At the end of my time at school (around the age of 18) I called him out on it, in front of a class full of fellow students. To me it was the height of rudeness that he had not listened to me and pronounced it correctly for all those years.

    1. I know a Siobhann (sounds like Chevon) and I had NO idea how to spell her name for the longest time. I also know an Aoife (sounds like Efa; she IS from Ireland); definitely wouldn’t have spelled her name right the first time. I love both names, but imagine it would be very frustrating to constantly have people guessing at the spelling of your name.
      Like you (though my name isn’t as unique as yours I’m sure and there are definitely others with the same spelling, especially in Europe) I think I’m extra sensitive to making sure I spell other people’s names right. I make a real effort to pay attention and, when I do mess up, to make a point of following up to acknowledge my error.

  8. Hi Elisabeth, my favorite name. I named myself Elizabeth when I was 13 years old when I moved to Argentina. People from that era still call me Eli or Liz. Now I named my daughter Elizabeth, Lizzy for short. My professional/real name is chinese, and people often gets it wrong, which I don’t mind. Yet, i try to remember others’ names in case they care how to be called properly.

    1. Aww. How sweet that you love the name Elizabeth so much!
      I’ve always been happy with my name – it’s classic, but still feels relatively uncommon where I live. I know some people that hate their names, so I’ve always tried to appreciate that I’m happy with mine. And I love, love the “s” – it just gets misspelled frequently, for obvious reasons.

  9. Haha, we had an email exchange about this topic not long ago!! Your stories about Liz and ANNE are too funny! Well, as I mentioned, my real name is Kaelyn, and that’s really what I normally go by most of the time. Some friends would call me “Kae”, but more of just like…only saying the first half of my name? If that makes sense. As in, it was just slightly quicker.

    My big “family” nickname has always been KK- but mostly limited to my parents/ sister. (my full name is Kaelyn Kae- so Kae could either be a shortening of my first name, but it’s also my middle name. 🙂 ) Hence- KK. how cute. 😉 my Dad still calls me that the most, and my sister. Mostly in things like emails or texts though, nowadays, they’ll often always use “KK”. If I introduce myself to people, I always say Kaelyn though. As I told you, I did adopt “Kae” for my blog name though, mostly just because it felt slightly more private, I guess, when I first started blogging… I think my spelling of Kaelyn is quite unique, so when I was brand new and was sort of trying to “hide” a little, I went with Kae instead. And I don’t mind Kae at all, it’s just not the name I really use “in real life”. 🙂

    My name (Kaelyn) is misspelled constantly…it becomes Cailin, Cailyn, Kailyn, Kailin….and probably most annoying, KaTelyn. The “t” kind of bugs me, because that’s a totally different name… Ha. If I first meet someone and they repeat it back and add the “t”, I will always correct them (“oop- no T! Just KAElyn!”). But if it’s someone I’ve known a while, and they still say it wrong/ start adding the t, I don’t usually bother. 🙂

    1. I remember our discussion. You have more layers of complexity than I do for sure. I think KK sounds cute; I’ve actually always loved shortened names like MJ. I know someone whose name is Elizabeth but she goes by “B” which suits her so well and I find it very endearing.
      I can imagine the endless iterations of how people might spell your name. Kaylie can be spelled a dozen ways and I always get cold sweats when someone tells me their name is Meghan because I’ve known a number of different spellings of that name, too.
      Someone who knows our family WELL used to spell Abby’s name “Abi” – I have never once written it that way OR Abbie OR Abbey. I think the default people expect is Abby, though, so she hasn’t encountered many issues with mispelling.
      There actually is a lot to think about with a name (and I love thinking about/discussing names).

  10. The name Liz is such a far cry from Elisabeth in my mind! I get how it’s a nickname, but it has such a different feeling. I guess it’s nicer than “Bith”, which is what Manny calls you (don’t worry, he’ll grow out of it). My oldest sister is Elizabeth (but with a “zed”) and my mom immediately called her Beth to avoid her getting nicknamed Bessie or Betsy, which also seems like a far cry from Beth and Elizabeth.

    The names Elisabeth and Anne sort of fit in a similar category, I find. Classic, familiar and queenly. To tangent from this, recently Abby showed Manny a quarter, pointed to the front and said, “That’s Queen Elizabeth.”. He promptly turned the coin over and queried, “John?”

    I once had a basketball coach who constantly called me Dawn. He would self-correct or be corrected by someone else every time but something in his mind just thought “Dawn” when he looked at me. By the end of the season, everyone was calling me Dawn. On a similar vein, when Evie was little, one of the local librarians often called her Lily because she made the jump from Evangeline to Evangeline Lily the actress and then associated Evie with the name Lily. Funny how our minds work.

    1. To me Liz is a bit harsh sounding, but I know people that exclusively go by Liz and prefer it to Elizabeth. Elizabeth IS a long name to say. And nothing could be cuter than what comes out Manny’s mouth.
      My Mom wanted me to go by Beth but my Dad insisted it stay Elisabeth. I don’t feel like a Beth, but know another Elizabeth that exclusively goes by Beth and every time I see her name written out in full it feels foreign and “heavy” for her. Beth just suits her so well. But then maybe if I had only ever known her as Elizabeth that would never cross my mind.
      Years ago one of my best friends had a friend that had her first child. They knew it was a boy and for years this person had insisted her first son would be called Henry. That was the only name being considered. When my friend when in to see the new baby she cooed over Baby Henry only to have the mother look up and say: “Oh, this isn’t Henry. He didn’t look like a Henry. Meet Elliot.” That story makes me laugh every time. And guess what. That person went on to have THREE MORE SONS and they never ended up using the name Henry.
      Shifting back to Manny – that child is adorable. And he definitely sees John and I as coming in a package.

      Dawn. Wow. That does not fit at all (IMO). Joy is the perfect name for you!!!! I’m curious if the librarian who called Evie “Lily” is the one who called Levi “Eli” for years? That said, since Eli was our boy name for Abby, I actually called Levi “Eli” several times the first week after he was born; somehow my brain had been hardwired into thinking “Eli” if I had a boy, even though we’d made the shift to Levi from the get-go).

  11. Ally is my nickname. It suits me so I don’t mind being called it. I have a friend whose name is Candace, not Candy. Yet people default to Candy. I drives her nuts and puts her in the sometimes awkward position of correcting them. Thought you’d like to know that, Liz. 😁

    1. Hmm. I have to admit, I don’t think I’d like being called Candy!
      So few people call me Liz that I find it funny, but if it happened a lot I think it would make me rather irritable?!
      Ally is a sweet nickname. I wonder if your name is Alison? I know someone who goes by Allison to everyone except her family (who all call her Ally) and whenever I hear them calling her Ally it just feels very sweet.

  12. I had to chuckle about this… isn’t it funny how people always tend to “give nicknames” or shorten names?
    I never had a nickname growing up, but when I moved to the States, I often introduced myself as “Sandra” and quite a few people would respond with “hi Sandy”, which I will quickly correct. I am NOT a Sandy, but some people call me “San”. (Sounds a lot like Nicole’s experience :)).

    Since Sandra is not “as common” here as it is in Germany, I get often asked which pronunciation I prefer…. “Sandra” with a long “aaa” or “Sandra” (pronounced as in “man”).

    1. I never even thought about the different “a” sounds in Sandra, but now that I think about it know someone who uses a long “aaa” and one with a short “a” (and one of them DOES go by Sandy). Names/languages are so nuanced!

  13. Long time reader (from SHU initially), never posted before, but knowing your love for picture books I had to mention this … My daughter randomly picked this book out at the library literally the day before you posted this (serendipity!), so when I saw your post I had to laugh, as the book is basically this post in picture book form 🙂 … It’s called My Name is Elizabeth by Annika Dunklee if you want to check it out! I hope your library has it as I’m sure it would make you laugh.

    1. Thanks for commenting! I do love picture books and I will try to find that book in my library system ASAP 🙂

  14. Oh, this is a fun topic! I am a Stephany through and through. Only my brother and some friends call me Steph. I actually don’t mind it too much when someone shortens my name to Steph; I find it endearing. But I never introduce myself as Steph and I use my full name in most things (like blog comments!) In college, my roommate’s boyfriend would call me Steph and it drove me crazy because I didn’t like him and didn’t want him giving me a nickname.

    I do get a little annoyed when people use the more traditional spelling of my name (Stephanie) when referring to me. I try not to get too perturbed, though, because I know it’s human error and they’re not doing it on purpose!

    1. What an interesting point – only wanting people close to you to use a nickname. That makes SO much sense. Ironically, the ONLY people in my life who call my by this nickname aren’t close friends.

      I think you are the only Stephany I’ve ever seen spelled with a “y.” I have also known a Stepanie spelled without the “H” and one (from Germany) spelled with a Stefany (so I guess with a “y” just missing the “ph”). Names leave so much scope for the imagination.

  15. Oh, Elisabeth. I hear you on this one. Why on earth do people just… give someone a nickname, without, you know, asking? 🙂 With my name, I experience many of the same things: 1) people misspell my name (the horrors of being misspelled “Ann”, which just looks… naked? unfinished? on this, I am completely aligned with our favorite Anne…); 2) people also call me by the wrong name; 3) I am randomly called Annie by some who think the “e” on “Anne” is pronounced that way; 4) I have always been an “Anne”, never an “Annie”, with a few exceptions.
    RE: #2, this happened most frequently when I was working as an inpatient nurse, and parents would call me Amy, for some reason. That was the most common option. It got to the point where I would gently correct them, but also said that if they forgot, that was okay, the only “name” I didn’t answer to was “Hey you!” 🙂
    RE: #4, the only ones who are able to call me Annie are close family friends. As in, close enough that one family has my “second parents” and the other is a family that has known me since I was 3 or 4. That’s it. No one else. I am not an Annie, but when I hear it from these people, it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside, not annoyed.
    Also? FWIW, I have always – ALWAYS – loved the way you spell your name, vs. the more common “z” version. It’s unique, just like you (in a good way! :>).

    1. I’ve always loved the “s” – it just always looks less harsh than the “z” to me. And I agree that Ann without an “e” just doesn’t look right to me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *