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Nickname Culture/Etiquette in Your Area?


mom2bee
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Whats your experience with nicknames? If you had a nickname or your siblings, kids, whoever, when did they stop using it if ever? I'm from FL and I had never heard of there being a common age/stage where nicknames are dropped.

 

A school friend commented in the student lounge that in her experience no one uses a nickname beyond middle school unless they have like a gangsta persona or something and I was surprised to hear that. She is from up North and was baffled by we Southerners love of and long term use of nicknames and made a comment about how it seemed like I was in the minority of not having a nickname. In truth I do have a nickname but only my older sister calls me by a nickname, because I don't mind her doing it, but everyone else has to use my real name. However, the other young woman is right: almost everyone that I know has a nickname and has used it beyond--well beyond--12years old.

 

She is from up north somewhere--RI, I think--so I thought this might be regional as I know a lot of Floridian adults from my dads generation and my grandmas who still are known by nicknames. It isn't uncommon in my experience to learn someones real legal name from their obituary. Real names are not a secret or anything but going by 'Peaches', 'Scooter', 'Smoky' or "Baby Jean" for 50+ years isn't unheard of either. However, I also know people who just go by their name but if I had to guess then, in my experience, about 65% of the people I know use a nickname at least half the time. A lot of people also go by a nickname all the time--even as kids in school, the teachers call them by their preferred nickname.

 

I thought it was pretty interesting and I don't think I'd ever thought about it before but now I would love to know more about nicknames around the USA and around the world. If your not from the US, then I'd especially love to hear your experience!

 

 

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I grew up in southeastern Virginia; my mother's family is from the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I don't remember anyone having a nickname. One cousin's name was Joseph Benjamin; we all called him Joe Ben. When he grew up and joined the Coast Guard, he just went by Joe, and his wife says she knows when she meets people who knew him when he was a child because they will call him Joe Ben. I try to say Joe, but it's tricky, lol.

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My dad went by his nickname (Butch - and he was a fluffy marshmallow, not a harsh guy that is often associated with this name) his entire life. My brother was always known just by his first two initials. I never heard anyone call them anything different. I've know many who go by a nickname for years, if not forever. I grew up and currently live in the south.

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Only normal name-shortening nicknames were usual for my Wisconsin family. The Chicago family does nicknames (either family nicknames to replace repeated first names between generations or neighborhood names). 

 

DH has Norwegian family in MN. Most of his grandfathers went by nicknames only (Sonny, Bud, and Shorty), but it seemed to be a work or bar culture thing. I don't think any of the women did it, and it seems to have phased out in the Baby Boom generation.  

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I've never heard of there being a culture around nickname use and dropping.  I think a lot of people change their nicknames when they change schools or move, but that's a personal decision.

 

My mother has permanently and legally changed her name to her childhood nickname because it has been her commonly called name throughout her life except for a short few years in one school and for expediency she finally changed it.  But periodically there would be some complete jerk who gave her random flack about it, like, what's wrong with you for being called this nickname instead of your "grown up" name.

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I wouldn't say it's common, but it's not too rare for someone to go by a nickname like you are talking about. I know a woman named Tutti, her brother is Cookie, I know an older gentleman named Square. They all have real names, but I only know one. I am in Louisiana.

 

I am from California. I never knew anyone to have a name like that, ever. Not even little children.

 

Eta: I'm wrong. I have an uncle Buddy who's real name is Charles, but I never knew that till I was older, and I thought Buddy was an obscure nickname for Charles. I also knew a woman whose mother called her Bunny, but no one else did. She was from Oklahoma.

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Oh, wait, I do know a cultural tradition about nicknames, but not an American one.  In Bengali culture you don't call a child by their real name until they're older - instead you call them by a childhood nickname.  I had a friend in school that I learned about this from - she went by her real name as a teen, but her younger brother was still going by his childhood name and it was a funny one.  Anyway, it's also a major plot point of the Jumpha Lahiri novel The Namesake.

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Nicknaming on the whole is less common than it has been in the past. For example, it has become (at least where i live) exceedingly uncommon to give a son their father's name. Most of the people I know of who are a "junior" or III are no younger than 25. So, that's one facet of it - i don't know any Juniors, Skippys, Chips, Buckys, etc., which was once common when there could be three "John"s in the family.

 

Even common nicknames are much less typical now than 30 years ago. Parents who name a daughter "Elizabeth" are more likely to call her Elizabeth. If they are aiming for calling her Beth or Liz, there's a good chance they will give her Beth on her birth certificate. Less confusion that way. There aren't so many naming customs now as there once was. I know someone who just named their baby Vince - not Vincent. They don't want to ever call him Vincent, so they see no need to name him one thing and call him the other. The name is to honor a family member, but it obviously doesn't bother them that they are not using the typical form of the name.

 

I do know plenty of folks 50+ who still use their nickname. Dh's friends nearly all go by a nickname version of their names, such as Jimmy, Kenny, Billy, Chuck. It is unimaginable that they could be called James, Kenneth, William and Charles! Good grief, that sounds like a group of attorneys! :D One of his best friends goes by a unique nickname; he has gone by it since childhood and never dropped it. (This is not the name, but similar to going by Kix, say, or Grimly.)

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We are in FL and nicknames are common here, some people have more than one. My boys have 2 nicknames a piece. One from their given name and one I made up for them and then one they made up themselves. Depending on who is talking to them (and how much trouble they are in) they may be called one of three names.

 

Buddy went by a shortened version of his legal name in school, he didn't want his teacher calling him his 1st name because she said it wrong. Pal went by his first name without problems.

 

ETA1: I go by Gil, but its short for Gilroy. I HATE to be called Roy. I do have some friends who call me Gilly-boy.

ETA2: Removed the boys names for privacy.

ETA3: Removed the cryptic versions of the boys names also because they are worried about identity thieves. Sheesh!

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I've never heard of there being a culture around nickname use and dropping.  I think a lot of people change their nicknames when they change schools or move, but that's a personal decision.

 

My mother has permanently and legally changed her name to her childhood nickname because it has been her commonly called name throughout her life except for a short few years in one school and for expediency she finally changed it.  But periodically there would be some complete jerk who gave her random flack about it, like, what's wrong with you for being called this nickname instead of your "grown up" name.

 

I suspect it depends on the type of nickname. For example, my son's first name doesn't lend itself to the usual shortening for nicknames. So, when he was younger, we called him all kinds of things that weren't based on his name. As he's grown up, we've phased out (most of) the more embarrassing ones. 

 

However, like your mother, I legally changed my first name to the nickname version, because it's what I had been called my whole life. I never felt connected "Jennifer" and always resented having to claim it for official purposes. And my daughter uses the shortened/nickname version of her first name for almost everything, too.

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I think people call you the name they know you by.  When my husband runs into people he grew up with they use his nickname.  Luckily he isn't his brother.  His brother's nickname is Wiener.   The worst part is that his parents gave him that nickname and still to this day use it.

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I am generalizing for Australia as a whole since I get the impression we are similar across the board on this, but I live in Queensland, so if any other aussies have a different experience with nicknames I'd love to hear it! In Australia a lot of people go by their nicknames as adults, but nicknames are somewhat cultural here and even they go through trends (Bazza and Shazza for Barry and Sharon for example, the azza names were huge among my mums generation).  There is a class thing to it, the working class are much more likely to use nicknames for adults than the upper class, but it's by no means a gangsta or 'bogan' thing (mostly... lol)

 

For kids, depends on the name. Most people follow the lead of the parent or pre-existing friends when deciding what name to use. A lot of popular modern names don't lend themselves well to nicknames to be honest. 

 

Also, making a nickname of someone's last name, while somewhat old fashioned and english, is still very common among teenagers in particular. A good friend of mine growing up was known as Fozzy, his last name was Foster. I was called by my last name until I was 15 or so at which point I got a new nickname.

 

My husbands name is Andrew and he HATES being called Andy. He has always tried to avoid it, however at his current workplace the guys took it upon themselves to begin calling him Andy the first day and it has stuck, so he does use his nickname at work, though not exactly by choice lol. My brother in law ONLY goes by his nickname.

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I use my nickname when I introduce myself. There are 2 reasons for this. 1.  It is what I have always gone by so its what I respond to the most.  My nickname is a shortened form of my name.  If someone tries to get my attention by saying my full name chances are I will not turn my head.  2. I don't want people to assume that I go by some other shortened form of my name (how an adult thinks its ok to refer to someone by an entirely different name is unbelievable but I have it happen ALL the time!)  

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The only people I know who had nicknames are from the WWII generation or before that.  Some of it was because everyone in the family had the same first names so nicknames or using a middle name was used out of practicality. There was a Southern tendency to name family members after older family members on both my mother's side and on both sides of my husband's family.  We believe in naming children what you intent to call them, so it's not an issue for us.

 

My brother, Travis (42) is called by a nickname at Intel where he's worked for 20 years. His male co-workers call him T-bone. I call him Trav, but I'm not sure the shortened version of a name is the same as a nickname.

 

Most of the Gen Y and Millennials around here don't use shortened names.  It's Michael, not Mike.  It's Johnathan, not John or Johnny.  It's Daniel, not Danny. It's Jacob not Jake.

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Is a middle name a nickname?  We have a family culture of using middle names.  My dd gets so mad when people ask her why she doesn't use her "real" name.  Her middle name is her real name.  It is just her real middle name.  The only person who calls me by a nickname is my doctor who uses the common shortened form of my first name, which I only use in doctor's offices.  

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Is a middle name a nickname?  We have a family culture of using middle names.  My dd gets so mad when people ask her why she doesn't use her "real" name.  Her middle name is her real name.  It is just her real middle name.  The only person who calls me by a nickname is my doctor who uses the common shortened form of my first name, which I only use in doctor's offices.  

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Oh man. I know a lot of life-long nickname people. It's not most, or even half, but it's not uncommon. I have twin cousins I've called Bobo and Buddy my whole life. I don't even know their real names . . .one might be Charles.

 

I think in cultures where you tend to have a junior in the family you NEED nicknames. My mom had a husband, brother, son, and nephew with the same first name. Nicknames helped. I'm from southern WV.

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Is a middle name a nickname?

I have a whole lot of older family members who go by names that have nothing to do with their real name. Like, my great-aunt Bridget's name is really Vera. My dad has a cousin called Noni, my sister didn't realize Noni's name was really Mary until Noni got a Facebook account. I don't know why, but there are a LOT of people like that in my family.

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I have a whole lot of older family members who go by names that have nothing to do with their real name. Like, my great-aunt Bridget's name is really Vera. My dad has a cousin called Noni, my sister didn't realize Noni's name was really Mary until Noni got a Facebook account. I don't know why, but there are a LOT of people like that in my family.

 

 I was trying to explain to dh what everyone's names actually were when he had been introduced by their nicknames. These are people in their 50s+. He thought it was hilarious that half our family doesn't go by their names.

 

It was our other sister that didn't know her real name. :lol: 

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I have a whole lot of older family members who go by names that have nothing to do with their real name. Like, my great-aunt Bridget's name is really Vera. My dad has a cousin called Noni, my sister didn't realize Noni's name was really Mary until Noni got a Facebook account. I don't know why, but there are a LOT of people like that in my family.

We have some of these in my family as well.

 

My Aunt Jean's real name is Emma - no, Jean is not her middle name. My Aunt Ruth's real name is Pearl - once again Ruth is not her middle name.

 

It makes absolutely no sense. I have been having a devil of a time trying to put together a family tree. It takes hundreds of phone calls to find out anyone's actual birth name. LOL.

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Being from California, I never really got a nickname, let alone a life long one. It was only recently that I was able to get my friends to call me "Candy" (although now I use the I variation so candi). Most of my life my father always said "I named you Candice, not Candy", and I always rebelled back saying it's my name, it's my choice. Now he doesn't really have much say anymore.

My dad himself goes by JJ, his abbreviations, and my mother goes by "Sis", even to folks that aren't her siblings.

Although, I guess it could be a nickname, my mom likes to call me "Amazon" because I'm 5' 8 1/2" while she's only 5' 5".

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It was our other sister that didn't know her real name. :lol:

Speaking of cradle to grave nicknames...I just remembered a story and wanted to share it: My mom (also from FL) went by nicknames as a little girl so much that she didn't know her real first name until she went to school. My moms name was, unbeknownst to her, Caroline Bernadine Jones, but everyone called her Bern, a dimunitive of Bernadine.

 

There was a big to-do when in the 2nd or 3rd week of 1st grade, my mom was reported truant by the school because there was no Caroline Jones in the first grade in the entire school. There was a Bernadine Jones, but its a super common last name and my mom told them her name was Bernie Jones and no one in the school seemed to know this Carol Jones person. The school called her home a few times and was told that each day Carol Jones had been sent to school, but on their end she wasn't showing up. It never even occurred to my grandparents that there was a disconnect about the name!

 

more than 50 years later and she is still known as Bern to everyone in her home town.

 

My family is full of nicknames. Weird ones.

 

Boobie. Fat Sam (his name is not Sam). Pooh. Pookie. Ne Ne. Speedy.

Yep, I know a Boober, Fat Sid (her name is not Sid, or Syndey, or anything might make sense) and there is are a bunch of Pookies, Teeter, Ni Ni, Bassol, Freddy (his name is like...John or something.) Flynn and Titty. Lots more weird ones like Tig, Midge, Ing, Termite, Snot (I hate this name, personally, but he introduces himself this way) and more!

We also have relatives who are from my grandmas generations called, by everyone who knows them: Mother, Brother, Pa Pa, and Uncle, it has nothing to do with whose related to who.

 

They get called that from cradle to grave. The majority of them, I have no idea what their real names are.

Its really crazy when the person has a normal sounding nickname that has nothing to do with their real name so you don't even suspect that 'Johny' isn't John/Jon(athan)/Johny and you are caught off guard to realize that his name is actual Charles or Scott :lol: :lol: :lol:

 

Big Buckin' Longhorn, on 14 May 2014 - 01:15 AM, said:snapback.png

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Speaking of cradle to grave nicknames...I just remembered a story and wanted to share it: My mom (also from FL) went by nicknames as a little girl so much that she didn't know her real first name until she went to school. My moms name was, unbeknownst to her, Caroline Bernadine Jones, but everyone called her Bern, a dimunitive of Bernadine.

When my dad went to kindergarten, he got in trouble because he wouldn't answer to anything but Slugger.

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My dad named me Barbara.  My mom called me Barbie from day 1.  I am 44 now and am still Barbie--just can't see myself ever growing into Barbara!

 

Then we had a daughter of our own.  We named her one thing but called her a shortened form of it, thinking she could use the longer form of it when she got older if she chose.

 

She hates the longer version and wishes we had just named her the shorter version.  She claims she will always be the nickname, just like me. 

 

You'd think I would have seen this coming.

 

I am from the midwest and now live in the south.  I have known both grown up people and little people with nicknames my whole life, so I guess you could say nicknames are prevalent where I have lived.

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I'm from the south.  My kids don't have nicknames, except at home.  My oldest we call Sissy or Sis at home, but she is never called that outside the house or by other people.  My youngest two have names that could be shortened and still be nice names, but we call them the whole name always. 

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People are BIG on nicknames in my area and pretty much everywhere I have been I Australia. One of my brothers is pretty much only known by his nickname. He has had the same nickname since he was 10 and he is 39 now. When my neighbors shifted  beside us it took us 2 years to work out how many grown children they had as they sometimes referred to them by their nicknames and other times by their actual names.

 

 I referee basketball, just about every U21 boy is called exclusively by their nickname in the game, some times it is a corruption of their last name- like Dicko for the boy who's last name is Dixon and other times I have no idea how they got the name - like Pixie

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Both of my kids have long names that can be shortened.  They both have a commonly used shortened version that we use with them at home.  One prefers that same version when she is out, the other usually uses the longer version but will use either when out.  They also both have a revolving set of (sometimes strange) nicknames that I have given them.

 

I grew up in the north and there were quite a few people who went by nicknames even as adults.  I do think it is becoming less common though.  As names have become more unique there is less need for nicknames to distinguish between which Chris or Sarah you are talking about (or which generation of male relative).

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From the Northeast - we tend to shorten names, but rarely use random noun or adjective nicknames, even for children (although we to tend to use diminutives like Sweetheart, Princess and Buddy as generic names for all babies). Some sports teams have their own sub-culture and use nicknames within the team quite a lot, but I don't know of anyone who has chosen to use that name as an adult.

 

Do people really apply for jobs using a nickname like Scooter? Does that tend to affect their career?

 

ETA: Edited because I realized that the first way I phrased this was unintentionally insulting. Sorry!!!

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My husband is friends with a group of older men (in their 70's) and they are the only people I've known with odd nicknames - Baldy, Buzzy, Old Bob, Snake, Catfish...  My experience is that they call each other these names but I've never heard their wives use them.  Other than that, the nick names I'm familiar are shortened versions of given names.  Often people drop them (i.e. Johnny becomes John) around Middle School age.

 

Adding that Baldy has some great stories about his experiences in WWII.  Somehow the stories are a little better because they are coming from a Baldy and not a Charles.  It makes him more of a character.

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I'm from the North East....

Do people really apply for jobs using a nickname like Scooter? Does that tend to affect their career?

Well, we're in the South East (FL) and I have seen many nicknames on name-tags. I'm sure their boss knows who they are legally, as does the payroll dept. but depending on the level of formality on the job, yes. Many applications even have a field for Name and What You Prefer to be Called. Keep in mind that in truly professional settings, most people don't wear name tags so that can also give insight into where and when this isn't allowed.

 

I have seen door and desk plaques with obvious nicknames on them or I will see Josh 'Scooter' Kingston or K. 'Rico' Johnson on a name plaque at a desk, in the store or somewhere less high end you might see just Scooter or Rico on the name tag. I wouldn't expect to see something like Titty, Pookie or Snot on anything but that could just be because I have yet to see any of the weirder nicknames used on work-related literature...

 

I had a coworker who was Dusty to everyone who knew him--not even the boss realized his name was Ralph until the payroll dept called to tell her some of the checks hadn't been picked up and gave her the names. She figured out Dusty was Ralph because of the last name.

 

ETA: To include your edit and also to say that, in my opinion, your original phrasing wasn't insulting at all! Its great to see the wide array of opinions and experiences on such a simple subject. I don't think you will insult anyone in this thread without being an intentional jerk and saying something overtly cruel. Personally I think it is so amazingly cool to see where and how a culture diverges.

 

I think that because the odds are that the boss has a nickname and knows people with (weird, wild, funny and normal) nicknames, that nicknames are more excepted in our area. Because tons of people have them! Where as, I wouldn't go around introducing my self as "Oz" (my only nickname) it wouldn't bother me if someone introduced themselves as Tig. Many young adults might also say: My name is Janet, but everyone calls me ____" or "Hey, I'm Janet, but I go by ____"

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My family never used nicknames, but dh's family does. Dh's nick name shifted over the years. People who knew him in high school call him one name, and the university friends know him by another name. Neither of these are names he uses since I've known him (last 20 years).

 

Our dc all have nicknames for use within our home, and 3 of 4 of the kids' legal names are shortened and used by everyone. They know their legal names, but these are only used at the doctor's office.

 

When I lived in Norway, no one ever used nicknames that I knew of. And if they had two first names they used them both all the time (e.g., Jan Erik). Their first name could be a shortened version of another, longer name, but that shortened version was their legal name (e.g., Stina, Tina, Ina - all could have originally from the name Christina, which isn't a traditional Norwegian name at all).

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Oh, and I also know a friend (his mom is from Alabama, I believe) and his mom named him Ross. I asked him about it once and he told me that his mom wanted a name that was short just so that no one could make a nickname out of it.

 

Unfortunately she brought him to FL when he was a toddler and raised him here. People call or have called him Boss-Ross, Rossy-Pooh, Gus-Gus Rossykins. He said it doesn't bother him, but he prefers just Ross and thats what on his name tag. I call him Ross. (Or, sometimes, Mr. Lastname)

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From the Northeast - we tend to shorten names, but rarely use random noun or adjective nicknames, even for children (although we to tend to use diminutives like Sweetheart, Princess and Buddy as generic names for all babies). Some sports teams have their own sub-culture and use nicknames within the team quite a lot, but I don't know of anyone who has chosen to use that name as an adult.

 

Do people really apply for jobs using a nickname like Scooter? Does that tend to affect their career?

 

ETA: Edited because I realized that the first way I phrased this was unintentionally insulting. Sorry!!!

 

I've seen resumes with John "Nickname" Doe or John (Nickname) Doe on them and never thought twice about it. Maybe I would with something truly off-the-wall like Baldy or Fat Sam, LOL!

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Lots of nicknames in my family, used all the way through adulthood.  In fact, with some family members I couldn't tell you what is on their birth certificate to save my life.  And lots of middle names used as the name to call them (including my bro) since so many family first names get passed down.  Middle name makes it easier to distinguish who you are talking about.  Regionally, where we live now, sometimes nicknames are used, or middle names (and some have a LOT of middle names because of the cultural naming practices here in the more southern region of Texas).

 

Hadn't given this much thought.  I wonder if anyone has done a study of nicknames.  Interesting....

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In my family, my two older kids use their full first name, versus the shortening that we tended to use.  I, in fact, now tend to use the adult shortening of older dd's name at times but not the diminutive one very much anymore- though there is a celebrity who is older than me who is still using the diminutive.  My youngest always used her full first name but this year decided to use a shortening because here in the south, too many people mispronounce her name- her name everywhere else- including other countries and everywhere in the US, has three syllables- over here some make it into four and totally mispronounce it. 

My daughter's fiance also uses his full first name. 

 

It does seem like more of the older people use shortenings or nicknames.   My dh's name can't be shortened and mine can be but I don't do so. 

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In DH's family, nicknames seen to be abandoned at adulthood. In mine, well, not everyone has a nickname. My mom doesn't. My Dad goes by a shortened form of his name, always has. One sister adopted a short form of her name as a nickname as an adult. Several children have diminutive nicknames, others don't.

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My Grandpa was notorious for nicknaming everyone, Foxy, Booger, Toad, Boney, Spider, Pidge, Shorty etc, Those were nicknames for his wife and kids. I NEVER knew their adult legal names until I married and had to address invitations, "Mom, who is Lorrayne?! Aunt Pidge, really!" 

 

Haha, personally I"ve never used my legal name beyond paperwork. I have had at least 3 different nicknames that have been used over the past 40 years. Depending on who I was with my name changed. Not drastically, but different variations. 

 

When I turned 40, I picked one of those nicknames and worked hard to make it stick. Only my in-laws are having issues. :)) 

 

Only a couple of my kids have nicknames. Maybe I need to change that. :) 

 

 

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If people use nicknames yeah it generally fades out of use before high school.  I only use my teens nicknames to pester them now.  I give all kids nicknames half of my daycare group I only call by nickname unless they are in trouble haha but once they move on from my program they won't be getting called that anymore...well except maybe george, I think I will always call her that.

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I also wanted to add, that if you live somewhere where people STAY and you are still surrounded by people who knew you as that nickname, it's more likely to stick into adulthood. Not all communities are that cohesive into adulthood and beyond. I know I live in a town that people move TO for jobs and opportunities. It's a community of transplants and nicknames are much rarer than "back home" where everyone remembers your parents as children and have a more common history. I think it takes a consistent community to make a nickname stick and it's not usually just about the bearer of the name.

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