Mexican Names

I was thinking about a friend I had in elementary school named Eduviges. She was from Tijuana. Eduviges means “fighting woman.” We called her “Dube” (in Spanish) for short.

Copied over from a Myspace blog post from 2007:


In a life long ago, I worked in a bank and tried to find numerous ways to entertain and guard myself against the tedium of “Next customer, please!” One way was to collect interesting names in Spanish.
Here are a few:

Atendoro Coyotl
Fidencia Matlacuatzi

Perhaps these names were popular two centuries ago and managed to survive in sheltered pueblitos or they’re names of unpopular saints, quien sabe? They’re immensely preferable over the much too popular “Juan” and “Jose.”

Speaking of which, I’ve been trying to figure out for years which nicknames go with which proper names. So far I’ve got:

Enrique=Kike or Kiki

Can’t think of any others at the moment. Anyone else?

Frances had these to add:
nicknames…in my family

weird names
Hermila….(people call her Milly for short, weird). my mom
Avigail…(Avi for short) my grandmother”

Thanks Frances!


I wrote this in 2007 and had hoped to come up with a definitive list which sorta got pushed to the backburner. If you know anymore, please leave your submissions in the comments section and I will try and compile them all for one post. Thanks!


Forgot to add this in from my follow-up post. Ask A Mexican covered this question too!

Dear Mexican:
How do Mexicans get such ridiculous nicknames from seemingly normal names? For instance, Jose becomes Chepe, Eduardo is Lalo, Gabriel becomes Gabi, and Guillermo devolves into Memo.
It’s Marcela, Not Chela

I want to know why Mexicans have such incongruous nicknames. In English, people have nicknames that have some relation to their given names—for example Kenny is the nickname for Kenneth, or Jenny for Jennifer. Granted, there are some nicknames that seem like a stretch of logic, like Jack for John and Peg for Margaret, but there are none so incompatible as Pepe for Jos.., Pancho for Francisco, or Chucho (or Chuy) for Jesus. I have asked many Mexicans about this and they all tell me, “Porque as.. es,” so I finally decided to ask THE Mexican.
La China Curiosa Who’s Really Korean

Dear Wabette and Chinita:
The definitive study on this quirk remains Viola Waterhouse’s “Mexican Spanish Nicknames,” included in the 1981 anthology Linguistics Across Continents: Studies in Honor of Richard S. Pittman. Unfortunately, the ethnolinguist devotes most of her article to including as many seemingly wacky Mexican apodos as possible (some of the better ones mentioned are Goyo for Gregorio, Licha for Alicia, Nacho for Ignacio, and Cuco for Refugio) instead of theorizing why Mexican Spanish is prone to such a mangled morphology. Waterhouse does identify one phenomenon that factors into many of these name changes: palatalization, when speakers pronounce non-palatal consonants as palatals—for example, the transformation of s into a ch sound when Salvador becomes Chava. Other phonetical laws not mentioned by Waterhouse that influence Mexican Spanish nicknames include apocopation (the dropping of a word’s last letters or syllables—Caro for Carolina), apheresis (when a word loses syllables or letters at its beginning—Mando for Armando) and syncopation, when a word contracts by shedding sounds—that’s how Roberto becomes Beto.

But the question remains: Why the dropping of sounds and letters in Mexican Spanish nicknames? This Mexican’s take: most nicknames derived from proper nombres are shortened versions of the original. Mexicans advance this process by employing the above-mentioned tricks. Such trends occur in languages that are evolving into newer, bolder tongues. So enjoy your pussy Billys from William and Cathys from Catherine, gabachos: Mexicans will take the linguistic wonder that is creating Lencho from Lorenzo any day.

13 thoughts on “Mexican Names

  1. soledadenmasa says:

    Paco is a nickname for Francisco.

    Other nicknames:

    Jose Maria – Chema
    Refugio – Cuco/a
    Antonio/a РTo̱o/a
    Jes̼s РChuy (obvious omission)
    Benjamin – Benja
    Ezequiel – Cheque
    Geovani (and any other spelling variation) – Geo/Gio
    Apolinar – Polino

  2. don quixote says:

    I love those those old names Chimatli, in many mountain New Mexico pueblitos you can still run into a bunch of them, usually old timers. Prudencio, Venancio(Benny), my own name which is kind of rare anymore, “Timoteo” (Timmy), Filadelphio, Filemon, Fidencio,(Phil), and a bunch of my relatives names, usually from my grandparents generation, Tio Abundo (Uncle Bun), Geronimo (Momo), Casimiro (Cass), Abuela Eloisa (Elsie), Juanita (Jenny), Primo Irineo (James?),Tia Salome (Sally), Great names that have been replaced in the young generation by the Brittany’s, Jeremiah’s, and Ashley’s.

  3. don quixote says:

    A couple more that come to mind Soledad (Chole), Felix (Pepe), Julio (Lulo), Jesus (Chuy or Jess), Asencion (Chon), Guillermo (Willie), Concepcion (Concha), Trinidad (Trini), Natividad (Natalie).

  4. EL CHAVO! says:

    Isn’t Pepe the nickname for Jose? Which is odd that such a short name would even need a nickname, same amount of letters, same # of syllables.

  5. jimmy tumors says:

    some names from my family:

    – tati
    – tenchi
    – tito
    – lencho
    – trini
    – cuco
    – nena
    – polvito (my grandma’s name for her great-grandson, dustin)
    – pamfila

    if my parents had gone with the spanish version of my name, santiago, i would’ve most likelye been saddled with the nickname “chago.”

  6. Daniel says:

    My mother’s name is Esperanza (Spanish for Hope). Everybody (including me) calls her Pera. I think that one is pretty obvious.

  7. Chepe Lalo Chucho Galván says:

    Peg for Margaret? I think you can answer it by yourself. In every part of the world people do the same shit with names. Period.

  8. Elaine says:

    I love this post. I am a lifelong student and lover of all things Mexican. Great blog. Thank you.

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