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Not Hemingway's Spain: Common Spanish nicknames

6th November 2012, Comments0 comments

Not Hemingway's Spain: Common Spanish nicknames
From Lola to Nacho, Zach Frohlich explains the most popular Spanish nicknames.

If previously I described some common composite names used in Spain, here I will expand a bit to mention some common nicknames (whose closest translation in Spanish is "apodo"). In general, giving your friends or family (random) nicknames, at least as a form of endearment, is not as common a practice in Spain as in the United States. What is common is hypocorism ("hipocorístico"), that is to use the "short for" version of a name much like "Bill" is short for William, "Dick" for Richard, or "Susie" for Susan in English. This particular kind of nickname is _very_ common in Spanish.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of common "short for" names you are likely to come across while living or visit Spain (or other Spanish speaking countries for that matter):

Common "Short for" Names:

Women:                                        Common nickname:
Adoración                                     Dori
Araceli                                          Cheli
Beatriz                                          Bea
Concepción                                  Concha
Consuelo                                      Chelo
Daniela                                         Dani
Dolores                                         Lola
Inmaculada                                  Inma
Jesús                                            Chus
Josefa                                          Pepa
Macarena                                     Maca
Purísima                                       Puri

Men:                                             Common nickname:
Daniel                                           Dani
Eduardo                                        Edu
Enrique                                         Quique
Fernando                                      Fer, Nando
Francisco                                      Paco
Guillermo                                      Guille
Ignacio                                         Nacho
Javier                                           Javi
Jesús                                            Chus
Joaquín                                        Chimo
José                                             Pepe
Manuel                                         Manu
Rafael                                           Rafa
Sebastián                                     Sebas

I can't help but think that some of these nicknames have become popular simply to compensate for how depressing, anachronistic, or overly religious the significance of the original full name is (e.g. Dolores, Concepción, Inmaculada).

I learned an interesting nicknaming trend in my Valenciano class recently. In Castellano, nicknames tend to come from the start of the name (e.g.Fran, Edu, Dori, Inma), whereas in Catalán they often come from the end (e.g. Cesc for Francesc, Pep for Josep, Bel for Isabel, Cent for Vicent). Not a hard and fast rule, but interesting none the less.


Reprinted with permission of Not Hemingway's Spain.

Zach FrohlichOriginally from Austin, Texas, Zach Frohlich has been traveling between Spain and the U.S. for over a decade, and has been living in Valencia for the last few years. He is a historian by training and is married to a Spaniard. He shares cultural insights on Spain at Not Hemingway's Spain


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