Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Elizabeth and its diminutives and alterations

History: Elizabeth is a fairly common throughout history. It is of Hebrew origin from Elisheva - 'God is my oath'. In the Bible Elisheba was Aaron's wife and John the Baptist's Mother (who is now known as Elizabeth).

An early recording of Elizabeth is a Russian Princess Elisavetta who was sang about by Viking king Harald Hardrada. The songs established the name in Scandinavia and so came the alterations: Elsebin, Lisbet and Helsa.

Changing of Elizabeth:
Elisheba to Elisabet by the Greeks
Elisabet to Elisabeth in Latin
Elisabeth to Lescinska by the Russians
Elisabeth to Elizabeth by the Germans
And Elisabeth to Isabelle in the 12th century

Creation in a nutshell: Belgian Princess Elizabeth married Philippe August of France and changed her name to Isabella. This became Isabelle, Isabel and Ysabel.

Elizabeth = Ellie, Ella, Eliza, Elsie, Elspeth, Elise, Liz, Liza, Lizzie, Libby, Lisette, Lilibet, Beth, Bet, Betsy, Bess, Bessie, Bettina, Babette, Betty, Bella, Belle, Izzy

Elisabeth also gives Lisa and Lissie

So what do I think of Elizabeth?
1) Terrific numbers of nicknames and alterations eg Isabel, even if Elizabeth is common the vast amounts of nicknames means that an Elizabeth will not get lost in the crowd. The only names with similar scope that I can think of are Alice (because of all the different Alicia spellings) and Katharine/Katherine/Catherine/Catharine/Kathryn.

2) Huge numbers of namesakes as well - Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, Elizabeth I and II of England, several St Elizabeths, for celebrities there's Liza Minnelli, Bette Midler and Elizabeth Taylor. Also included in plays and literature such as Eliza Dolittle in Pygmalion and My Fair Lady.

3) However, I also think that Elizabeth is common and can be plain. I consider Isabel to be a prettier alternative, especially in the middle name spot. However, Isabella is rising sharply in popularity - last year it was #6 in the USA. But Elizabeth is a safe choice - unlikely to attract the kind of teasing that other 'made-up' and 'unique' names will, and will last a lifetime.