Literary nicknames

Apr 05, 2013
Nicknames are everywhere. Often they are the shortened version of a “formal” name or mean something to you or your family, even if they are silly. I have daughters whose nicknames are Pie and Bean. And yes, when my husband and I refer to them as a group we call them Team BeanPie. Nicknames are affectionate names for people that we love even if they would have to be explained to other people. Some of the greatest nicknames come from characters in a story. Think about it. Ramona’s older sister Beezus’s name is actually Beatrice. Ron Weasley’s little sister may have been born Ginevra but can you think of her as anything other than Ginny? The Great Expectations protagonist is named Pip which is somehow short for Philip Pirrip. Katniss has a little sister named Prim (short for Primrose) in The Hunger Games. Even Clementine calls her little brother Spinach because she doesn’t want to be the only one with a food name. The thought being, if she could share a name with a fruit, why can’t her little brother be a vegetable? Kid logic at its finest. Nicknames in a story always make me feel instantly closer to a character. It evokes a familiarity between reader and character that I find comforting. As a reader you know that the lives of the characters will forever be linked with yours through the sheer act of reading. They are a part of you. Having them enter your life with their own nickname just feels natural with certain characters. Because Ramona as a small child couldn’t say Beatrice, we don’t know Beezus as anything other than what her adoring baby sister called her. It is that affection that is transferred from sister to reader. What are some of your favorite character nicknames? Or do you have a great affectionate nickname? (My nickname was Jessi when I was younger. I gave it to myself – spelling and all – because of Jessi from The Baby-sitters Club.) Share it in the comments!