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How can Bill be a short form of William? And why are people with first name James also called Jim? I don't get it.

I understand that you can turn Daniel into Dan or Stephen into Steve, but I never understood how you get from William to Bill. And what about that James Belushi- Jim Belushi thing?
Any other weird examples? Can anybody explain this?


Asked by BeachMom81 at 11:52 PM on Jan. 30, 2011 in Baby Names

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This question is closed.
Answers (17)
  • My dad's name was James and he was called Bud.

    Answer by Anna92464 at 12:04 AM on Jan. 31, 2011

  • Or Dick is a nick name for Richard???? My mom went to school with a Richard "Dick" Head....lmao. I'm with you tho I don't understand either. I'm curious to find out.

    Answer by luvmygrlz at 11:56 PM on Jan. 30, 2011

  • Jack from Johnathan? WEIRD!
    Hank from Henry? WEIRD

    Answer by SleepingBeautee at 11:57 PM on Jan. 30, 2011

  • I don't know either but My hubby is a James that goes by Jim. As is his dad and his dad before.
    The real brain scratcher for me is how my friend William is a 4th and goes by KIP ha ha

    Answer by mslksdh at 12:02 AM on Jan. 31, 2011

  • I've never understood it either! My dad's name is Jack, and his entire life, most people have assumed his real name is John, when it's not! Haha! They are both one syllable and four letters, so that one never made a bit of sense to me.

    Answer by MyGiftsFromGod at 11:59 PM on Jan. 30, 2011

  • Okay I oddly just read something on this. A long time ago they use to take a shortened form of a name and then rhyme with it to get the nickname. Thus William shortened to Will is Bill. Richard shortened to Ric and then rhymed to Dick and even Hick.

    My husband and I were talking about how we liked the name Richard but could never name a son that because of the nickname that is what go me researching it.

    Answer by Melbornj at 12:08 AM on Jan. 31, 2011

  • LOL I know a man whose name is (Literally first and middle) James Jimmy..... explain that. John and Jack, I don't get - but William I get, because of the German influence, in which W is pronounced V.... then add an inability to pronounce V... usually comes out B.... so William, is Villiam, is Billiam, is Bill for short? LOL Hey, it's a thought.
    Seriously tho, my grandmother said it's an old 'quick-speak' thing that people did when she was a kid and before.... Either the first letter of a name or one of the first three letters of a name was changed so the name could be said as quickly as possible.... "lazy tongue" my grandma said.

    Answer by ShelbyShareAlot at 12:12 AM on Jan. 31, 2011

  • I have ALWAYS wondered this and still have yet to come up with why..

    I found that when you spell "William" shortened to "Will" in Russian) since it's not a name that rolls of the tongue so easily in the Russian language) Using the Russian alphabet, the "W" is replaced by a "B". In the Russian alphabet and the Russian "B" is closest to the English "W" sound.

    Is the only thing that I found that sorta explains it.. so blame it on language differences

    Answer by Punkslilncs at 7:39 AM on Jan. 31, 2011

  • I've always wondered that too! My grandpa's name was William but he was always referred to as Bill!

    Answer by poptart0325 at 11:19 AM on Jan. 31, 2011

  • I dunno... I didnt find out my Uncle Jim's name was actually James til I was like 16

    Answer by cassie_kellison at 1:59 PM on Jan. 31, 2011