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Q: Question on first name ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   7 Comments )
Subject: Question on first name
Category: Family and Home > Families
Asked by: mlfolk_wa-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 20 Oct 2004 21:13 PDT
Expires: 19 Nov 2004 20:13 PST
Question ID: 417888
I have seen first names where the official name and nickname are
different. such as: william and bill, christopher and chris, etc. Is
it usually the case for someone with a first name bill or chris to
have official name of william or christopher? is it uncommon to have
bill or chris both as the nick name and the official name? I am asking
because a friend is thinking of naming his son either bill or chris,
but does not want to have the nick name and official name different.

Subject: Re: Question on first name
Answered By: juggler-ga on 20 Oct 2004 22:31 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars

"Is it usually the case for someone with a first name bill or chris to
have official name of william or christopher?"

Yes, that is usually the case.

"Is it uncommon to have bill or chris both as the nick name and the official name?"

Relatively speaking, yes.

For the 1990s, for example, U.S. Social Security registrations
indicate that 9587 boys received the official name "William" while
only 58 boys received the official name "Bill" (i.e., a ratio of 165
to 1).
16421 boys were named "Christopher" while just 220 were officially
"Chris." (i.e., a ratio of 75 to 1).

See: Social Security Administration: Most Popular Names

WILLIAM - 9587
BILLY   -  514
WILLIE  -  496
WILL    -  125
BILL    -   58

CHRIS       -    220

source: Social Security Administration: Most Popular Names - 1990s

Interestingly, it seems that receiving the nickname as the official
name seems to be much LESS common today than it was 40 years ago.  In
the 1950s, there were lot more boys officially named "Bill" and
"Chris" than there are now.

WILLIAM - 30141
BILL    -  1245
(i.e., a ratio of 24 to 1).

CHRIS       - 1327
(i.e., a ratio of 3 to 1).

source: Social Security Administration: Most Popular Names - 1950s

search strategy:
common names "social security"

I hope this helps.

Request for Answer Clarification by mlfolk_wa-ga on 21 Oct 2004 13:56 PDT
thanks for the answer and all the comments.

After reading the answer and all the comments, it seems my friend
should name his son bill (or chris) with a full name william (or
christopher), as recommended by most of the response. however, I am
not sure how much trouble bill (or chris) will run into when he should
use bill (or chris) and when use william (or christopher). for
example, suppose he uses william in his passport and he uses bill for
all his travel document, when the names do not match, he may not get
through the airport. this is probably less severe for chris and
christopher but still can be a problem. how realistic of a concern is
this? thanks

Clarification of Answer by juggler-ga on 21 Oct 2004 14:09 PDT
It's not a problem, generally.  English is well-known at airports
around the world and most people are aware of the William/Bill
connection because the name is quite popular (e.g., Bill Clinton).

More obscure nicknames can be a problem.

I know a man who goes by the nickname "Skip," which is not even close
to his legal first name.  His passport indicates his legal first name.
 Once, though, he bought a plane ticket to another country under the
name "Skip." When he arrived in the other country, a local
immigration/entry official was confused by "Skip."   However, "Skip"
explained that it was a nickname and showed his driver's license with
his picture. The official then understood and there were no problems.
mlfolk_wa-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars

Subject: Re: Question on first name
From: whyisitso-ga on 20 Oct 2004 22:46 PDT
juggler-ga came up with pretty much the exact same answer that I was
typing when the question was locked.  Here's what I had, because I
hate wasting it:


I think your question can be answered by examining the listings of
names compiled by the Social Security Administration and comparing the
numbers of full names and nicknames.

Here is an example, using the SSA's list of most popular baby names in the 1990s.

There were a total of 10780 people named William, Billy, Willie, Will, and Bill.   

William - 9587
Billy   - 514
Willie  - 496
Will    - 125
Bill    - 58

Out of the total, 89% were officially named William.

The results are even more extreme with Christopher.

Christopher - 16421
Kristopher  - 655
Chris       - 220
Kristofer   - 122
Cristopher  - 110

If you count the alternate spellings as all "official," they make up
99% of the total 17528.

This shows that only 11% of the people with nicknames for William have
them as their official names.  This is even more rare with the
Christopher names, at 1%.

Of course, it should be noted that I did not include less common
nicknames, ones which people often do not associate with the full
names (e.g. Liam for William, Topher for Christopher).


As I said, it's pretty much the same, though juggler-ga included the
1950s data (which I think is very interesting) and I included the
alternate Christopher spellings.

Of course, there is still no way to know for sure what names these
people go by.    If most of the Williams go by William and not a
shortened form, then it would be possible that the 'Bill/Bill's
outnumber the 'William/Bill's, but I doubt that this is the case.

One last personal note.  My wife's given name is Elizabeth, but she
goes by Liz.  She absolutely hates Elizabeth and often wishes Liz was
her legal name (or that she had been named something less common to
begin with).  I would guess that this is the case with most people who
choose to use a shortened form of their name.  If your friend plans on
calling his son Bill, it would probably make things easier for the son
if that was his legal name.
Subject: Re: Question on first name
From: probonopublico-ga on 21 Oct 2004 00:24 PDT
My mother was christened Elizabeth Ann but in later life she was
always known as Betty.

She told the story of working at one place where they already had an
Elizabeth so she was dubbed Betty and the new name stuck.

Yesterday I met a woman with a very young baby girl, called George.
Yes George, not Georgina. She said that it was because she had been
born on St George's Day. Dunno what George will think of that when
she's old enough to care!
Subject: Re: Question on first name
From: grthumongous-ga on 21 Oct 2004 02:10 PDT
Maybe George will be drawn to a boy named Sue.
Subject: Re: Question on first name
From: nelson-ga on 21 Oct 2004 03:47 PDT
Convince your friend to use the full name as the official name, lest
your friend's child be thought a hick.  I once addressed as "William"
a guy who had introduced himself as "Billy".  He did not seem to
understand that this was his full name.  He looked quite puzzled.
Subject: Re: Question on first name
From: frde-ga on 21 Oct 2004 08:09 PDT
I totally agree, giving a kid a 'naff' name is a cruel trick.

As is giving them an absurdly pompous name.

They are future adults, not race horses or pedigree poodles.
Subject: Re: Question on first name
From: pinkfreud-ga on 21 Oct 2004 14:02 PDT
One nice thing about giving the more formal version as a legal name is
that it may enable a wider choice of nicknames in the future. My late
brother's name was Robert. As he grew older, he decided that he did
not want to be called 'Bob' or 'Bobby'. He flirted with 'Rob' for a
while, but in the end he chose to use the full form of the name
Robert. When I remember my brother, I always think 'Robert', not
Subject: Re: Question on first name
From: nelson-ga on 25 Oct 2004 03:59 PDT
One should be careful to use one's full name on all travel an other
legal documents.  If William uses Bill on his plane ticket, he's just
being stupid.

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