Why Is Dick a nickname for Richard

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Thu Aug 13 16:18:24 UTC 2009

On Aug 13, 2009, at 9:01 AM, Larry Horn wrote:

> At 11:42 PM +0800 8/13/09, Russ McClay wrote:
>> Hey, my dad was called Dick so I was curious.
>> Here's something I found. Any comments? lol
> If this is a real question and you're seeking a real answer, as
> opposed to those below, I'd look for explanations based on
> articulatory phonetics and acquisition ...

OED2 says 'playful alteration of Ric-' (Norman Fr. and Anglo-Norman
Ricard, Latin Ricardus).  the nickname is probably very old (at least
13th century); by 1553, the OED has cites for "dick" 'fellow, lad,
man' (the 'penis' sense is much later).

of course the OED doesn't do the history of proper names.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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