Why Is Dick a nickname for Richard

Thu Aug 13 16:22:13 UTC 2009

        I'm not sure what to make of the original post, but I think any
real answer does need to take account of the fact that some traditional
nicknames are rhyming short forms of the full given name, such as
Dick/Richard, Bob/Robert, Bill/William, and Ted/Edward.

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
Of Laurence Horn
Sent: Thursday, August 13, 2009 12:02 PM
Subject: Re: Why Is Dick a nickname for Richard

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 (and maybe a bit of markedness). [r] is
learned relatively late by children, so a neighboring "easier" sound is
substituted:  if the child retains voicing and articulatory position
(alveolar) but changes manner of articulation, the [r] turns into [d].
Affricates are tricky too, so [k], voiceless velar stop, replaces [C],
voiceless palatal affricate (in lieu of a palatal stop).  Similarly, for
"William", [b] is mastered before [w], they're both voiced bilabials, so
the former is called on to replace the latter.  And enough kids were
doing this to result in the hypocoristics becoming standardized.  At
least that seems more reasonable than any of the below.


>* * *
>Q: Why is Dick a nickname for Richard?
>A: a man named richard from the 40s or 50s nick named dick because he
>was a Detective named Richard aka DICK RICK
>The name Richard is very old and it's true origins may well be lost in
>the depths of time past. 'Richeard' is a name from Old English where
>'Ric' meant ruler and 'heard' meant hard. In those days of yore, before

>word-processors, everything was written down and abbreviations became
>common and agreed upon. Also in the 13th century rhyming slang became
>popular so Richard becomes Rich and eventually Rick which rhymes with
>Dick. Much like William - Will - Bill.
>'Dick' eventually, like 'Jack', came to mean all men as in "every Tom,
>Dick, or Harry". Shakespeare uses "every Tom, Dick, or Francis" in
>Henry IV Part I.
>I know a guy named Richard, and he was a total dick.
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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

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