Elizabeth nicknames range from the automatic Lizzie to the unexpected Birdie and Bess.
With so many centuries of use behind it, classic Elizabeth has developed dozens of short forms, across multiple languages. That makes it among the most evergreen of baby girl names, but also surprisingly versatile.
The name starts out as the Hebrew Elisheva in the Old Testament, meaning “my God is an oath.”
It becomes Elisabet in Greek, before reaching its current English form. Elizabeth is the mother of John the Baptist in the New Testament.
No surprise, then, that this name has been wildly popular across the millennia, in nearly every Western language.
From the late Queen of England’s Lilibet to Elizabeth Taylor’s Liz, famous women have answered to plenty of these nicknames. Fiction gives us Pride and Prejudice’s Lizzy Bennet and Thirty Rock’s Liz Lemon. Hamilton leading lady Eliza falls somewhere in between the two categories – a real historical figure, famous thanks to a re-telling of her tale.
Like Eliza, many Elizabeth nicknames now feel like stand-alone options in their own right. Others read like imports, more expected in German or French.
And some flow more naturally from international variations of the name, particularly Elisabeth, which leads more naturally to Lisa.
It’s also worth noting that Isabella and Elizabeth are close cousins, though shortening the name Elizabeth to Bella feels unlikely.
Depending on the variation of Elizabeth you favor, the best nicknames might be even more obscure. Veta is short for Elisaveta, the form used in Bulgarian. But it doesn’t quite follow from Elizabeth.
With so much history, we expect Elizabeth nicknames to range from the obvious to the obscure.
It’s one strength of choosing a classic given name for a child.
Read on for some great, unexpected Elizabeth nicknames – plus a few familiar favorites.
A French nickname for Elizabeth, by way of that strong B sound. It’s also used – perhaps more logically – for Barbara. Celebrated 1987 film Babette’s Feast won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. (The movie was Danish, but the character Babette hails from Paris.) While we love -ette ending names for girls, Babette hasn’t been heard in the US since the 1960s.
BEE and BEA
That strong B sound suggests that just the initial might do as a nickname.
Tess is having a moment, while Bess remains in limbo. This nickname has been associated with Elizabeth for ages; Queen Elizabeth I of England was sometimes called “Good Queen Bess.”
A long-time favorite, immortalized by a Kiss ballad, Beth has faded in recent years, but remains a classic among Elizabeth nicknames.
It looks like Beth Anne, but Bethan is a traditional Welsh short form.
Betsy feels sparky and unexpected, a fresh-faced retro name that could grow up just as easily as Nancy or Wendy.
Short Elizabeth to Bettina, but then add an -ina, and you’ll arrive at Bettina. It sounds vintage, delicate, and completely unexpected.
Mad Men’s Betty Draper failed to revitalize this Elizabeth nickname. But now Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds have given it to their youngest daughter – and Taylor Swift revealed her name in a song. That might make Betty the new Sadie, but regardless, it remains a traditional nickname for Elizabeth.
We tend to think of Billie as short for Wilhelmina, or maybe as a stand-alone feminine form of William. But it’s occasionally connected to Elizabeth, too, an unexpected but appealing possibility.
Mad Men’s Elizabeth “Betty” Draper was sometimes Birdie, at least to (former) husband Don. It’s not just the show, either – Birdie appears on Elizabeth nickname lists over the years. If you love bird-inspired choices, but want a formal name to fall back on, Elizabeth called Birdie might be the perfect choice.
It’s said that Buffy comes from Bethie. But it really comes from 1960s sitcom Family Affair, which introduced three adorable children – Catherine, Jonathan, and Elizabeth, better known as Cissy, Jody, and Buffy. Following their parents’ death in a car crash, they move to New York City to live with their Uncle Bill. Hilarity ensues. Decades later, Buffy the Vampire Slayer proved that this Elizabeth nickname has bite.
The sound is there – the strong B, the scissory S/Z. But Busy mostly makes this list because we think of actor/author/social media star Busy Philipps, born Elizabeth.
An Elizabeth nickname that now stands on its own.
Another of the nicknames for Elizabeth that feels more like a distinctly different option.
The hero of the Legally Blonde movies-turned-musical, resourceful and stylish Elle Woods, boosted her name. But it tracks with how we shorten names in the US – Benjamin becomes Ben, Katherine is Kate, and Louisa ends up just Lou. So Elle works beautifully.
Popular Ellie – it’s ranked in the US Top 100 since 2011 – works for all the same reasons that Elle succeeds.
The Frozen figure has made her stylish name internationally known. But perhaps it’s made parents hesitate, for fear that they’ll really never hear the last of “Let it Go.” The German and Scandi nickname comes more naturally from Elisabeth – with an s – but it feels like a powerful pick no matter how Elizabeth is spelled.
Sparky Elsie belongs with vintage favorites. Like Elsa, it follows naturally from Elisabeth-with-an-s. But it’s also a stand-alone name, a Top 100 pick in the US from 1880 into the 1930s. Appropriately, it’s a Downton Abbey name, too – though the character is almost exclusively called Mrs. Hughes.
Take Lizzie, mix in Betty, and Lettie emerges as a potential nickname for Elizabeth. It’s uncommon, but names like Leticia, Letizia, Lettice, and Leatrice are rare in the US, so Lettie feels up for grabs.
The first letter of Elizabeth may be E, but the first sound is El. Factor in that strong B, and Libby has long served as one of the traditional Elizabeth nicknames. While it’s seldom heard today, it fits right in with Abby, Gabby, Maddie, and Addie.
Former US Senator and Secretary of Transportation Elizabeth Dole is often known as Liddy to the public. It’s a childhood nickname that stuck. Fans of 30 Rock might remember than Jack and Avery named their daughter Elizabeth “Liddy,” inspired in part by Dole.
A German nickname for Elisabeth, Liesel is familiar the world over thanks to The Sound of Music. Though the eldest von Trapp daughter spelled it Liesl. Either way, it’s one of those surprising choices that everyone knows, but no one uses.
LILY and LILLY and LILLIE
Some will insist that Lily is a nickname for Lillian, and linking it to Elizabeth is just too much. But actually, it’s the other way around. Lily started out as one of many Elizabeth nicknames. Lillian is an elaboration of Lily.
Queen Elizabeth II’s childhood nickname – Lilibet – reminds us that the Lily-Elizabeth link is long-standing. Now that Meghan and Harry’s daughter – the queen’s great-granddaughter – is named Lilibet Diana, this is one of the Elizabeth nicknames in the spotlight.
A 1960s favorite, Lisa started out as a short form of Elisabeth. Unlike some choices on this list, it’s easy to see how the nickname evolved.
LISBET, LISBETH and LIZBETH
Smoosh the sounds of Elizabeth just a tiny bit, and you’ll arrive at Lizbeth. It sounds like a rushed together pronunciation of the name, but it works as a nickname, too. It’s also bestowed independently. Think of Stieg Larson’s fictional hacker-hero Lisbeth Salander of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and sequels.
Take Lisa, add an -ette, and presto – a French, feminine, but still casual Elizabeth diminutive.
North Europeans often shorten this classic name to Lisi – choose your spelling. (In Estonian and Finnish, the names are often spelled Liisi.)
LIZ and LIZZIE
Liz and Lizzie – or Lizzy – serve as the immediate, automatic Elizabeth nicknames. From Lizzie Borden to Liz Lemon, women – real, fictional, and somewhere in-between, have been Liz across the ages. For every wholesome Lizzie Maguire or polished Liz Claiborne there’s a sultry Liz Taylor or edgy Liz Phair.
Strictly speaking, Liza peaked as an independent given name in the 1970s. But it never really caught on. Credit for the 70s peak goes to Liza Minnelli, daughter of Hollywood legend Judy Garland and an Oscar-winner in her own right. Today Liza feels both vintage and slightly undiscovered – a name everyone knows, but no one is using.
Maybe Lizzo is more like Cher – a mononym too big to belong to more than one person. Singer Lizzo was born Melissa Viviane Jefferson, but it’s easy to imagine an Elizabeth answering to Lizzo, too.
T seems an unlikely letter to inspire Elizabeth nicknames. Except the sound is there. And if Elizabeth can be Bess, is Tess really so far away?
As Tess is to Bess, Tetty is to Betty. The difference is that Tetty surfaces in the historical record, particularly in the 1700s. It’s all-but-forgotten today. And yet, with Theodora on the rise, Teddy sounds like Teddy – which has some promise.
Take the last two letters, add the first letter, and then tack on an ‘a’ and – ta da! Thea emerges as an unconventional Elizabeth nickname.
We love Z names, and Elizabeth’s strong Z sound offers several. The ZAB is right there, smack in the middle of the name.
Shift the Z from the middle to the front, and maybe – just maybe – Zella works. But in our age of Stella, Bella, and Ella, Zella is just as likely to stand on its own.
First, the downside: Zizi is children’s slang for male genitalia in French. Is that a dealbreaker? In the US, I’d say no. After all, Zizi sounds like the kind of a name that evolves naturally from Lizzie and that strong Z sound in the middle of Elizabeth.
What do you think of these Elizabeth nicknames? Are there others that should be on the list?
First published on March 11, 2016, this post was revised substantially on May 17, 2020; December 1, 2020; and March 30, 2023.
My little sister is Elizabeth, when she was young she couldn’t pronounce her name and caller herself “Elizabiff” ever since then the nickname Biff has stuck.
Elizabeth J W says
I used to be called Little Bit as a kid, lol! People automatically want to call me Liz or Lizzy, I have never gone by those, don’t like them, call me Elizabeth or Beth!
Elizabeth Eveleyne Schuyler says
I am Elizabeth S. and my friends and coworkers call me “Eliza” but my husband calls me “Beth” I was known as “Eliza” as a child, much to my mothers dismay. She used to call me “Lizzybeth” My brothers also called my “Bea”
Elizabeth L. says
I’m an Elizabeth born in the mid-1950’s. My Dad named me but wanted to call me Betty so that’s the name that I’ve gone by my whole life. I’d rather be Liz but it’s a little late in the game to change it now. However if I’m ever asked for a name for a food order I tell them “Liz”. LOL Officially/Professionally I sign as Elizabeth and my business cards read Elizabeth (Betty).
I found it interesting to hear that Lily is derived from Elizabeth. One of my twin granddaughters is named Lily so now I feel a little more connected to her name. 🙂
Helen Ryan says
In “Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter,” Simone de Beauvoir’s best friend is named Elizabeth, but is called Zaza, which I love.
I love Bess because it make me think of Tea Leoni on Madame Secretary. Elsie is probably my favorite though.
My favorite is Libby, which my cousin used as the formal name for his daughter. How is Eliza not on this list??
There’s also Elise, Eliza and Belle.
My great grandmother was Bessie. Her twin daughters were Bess and Birdie (my grandmother.) She had another set of twins, one named Elsie. Bess had a granddaughter, Bethany. My Grandma Birdie had two daughters, my aunts, Birdie and Betsy. No one was named Elizabeth. (I was named after the other side of the family.)
Our daughter (11) mostly used Elizabeth, but at home we call her Bitsy (came from Little Bits when she was a toddler-our son couldn’t say Elizabeth so he called her Weezebit and Libbis( and Zuzu, which she started calling herself. I wish she’d take her nicknames public! I like them so much better than Liz or Lizzy. Love this name and all of its iterations!
Elizabeth is a beautiful name. If it were my name that’s what I would want to be called
Stuart Godden says
My beautiful late wife was called Elizabeth, no other..
Cannot follow that so
My given name is Elizabeth but I’ve gone by Bethy for my whole life. It’s rarely heard of (the only time i’ve seen someone with it was in Little Women) and most people start calling me Betsy bc they assume they heard me wrong when I introduce myself. I want to change it to something easier or maybe just to something more adult but I really love going by Bethy!
Elizabeth Harris says
I never know what to answer to. My mother never waivered from Elizabeth but my school friends called me Liz,…which I don’t like at all. My Dad nicknamed me Tibby or Tib which many friends, family still call me. As an adult I dislike that but suck it up.
I always have called myself Elizabeth. Too many short forms. I wish there had been one only that I really liked. My second name is Ellen so Elle would have been perfect.
My sister is called Elizabeth and when my younger sister Janice was little she couldn’t say Elizabeth, some how it ended up as Biddy. She was biddy till starting big school, then she wanted to be called Liz. I’m awkward and still use her Sunday name.
We named our daughter Lusa after a character in a book. Wasn’t till later I realized the character was named Elizabeth & nicknamed Lusa!
She uses Elizabeth as her incognito name 🙂
I was Beth as a kid, but am Elizabeth now that I’m grown up. People tend to shorten my name without asking, so I am sometimes called Liz or Lizzy, and also Eliza and ElizaCate (my middle name is Catherine). I never correct them–I think its endearing when someone sort of gives you a pet name, so I am happy when then do. And I still love to be called Beth…
Elizabeth K says
I am an Elizabeth and my family has called me Libby forever which I dont really like. Lol. Most co workers and friends call me Liz
Okay tbh relate with you. I’m called Elizabeth by everyone else but my family and close relatives are the only ones who call me Lisa! I’ve been called that name so often that I thought Lisa was my real name and Elizabeth was my nickname in kindergarten. I’m also 22 btw which is totally coincidence. Power to all Elizabeth’s <3
My name is Elizabeth and my friends at work call me Lizzybeth. I love it. My teacher in school use to call me Lizzy. I use to hate it. But now that he is gone. It has a different meaning to me. I also worked in health Care and one patient always called me Lizzy. A nurse valled me Eliza.
My parents never gave me a nickname just my name. I love the thought of being called something either than my original name.
Another nickname starting with L is Liza! Another starting with E is Elisa! (:
I’m an Elizabeth – from a very long family line of Elizabeths but have been called Betsy since the day I was born….Please don’t ever ‘be ready to revive’ it. I like having a unique name and would rather not share it with or have it turn into the ‘Jennifer’ type masses.
My Daughter is Elizabeth…and has been Bethany from day 1.
❤ to all the Elizabeths out there!
My daughter is Elizabeth and has always been known as Bethany. From day one people were so vocal about how I couldn’t call her Bethany as it has no relation to Elizabeth. She’s 22 now, although professionally she is known as Elizabeth she still uses Bethany for everything else. Nice to see someone else has done the same.
I came across this article because I have long questioned whether my nickname is connected to my birth name. I go by Lily (because I used to be Lilybet when I was younger) and everyone thinks there is no connection. But it’s nice to know there is 🙂
Also there are so many more than I thought possible! My personal favourites were Elle, Elsie and Liesel. I never liked the B names so much (probably because I connect them to other people) but Bess is one I never thought of and it’s really sweet! xoxo
Kristen Cheng says
A lot of my favourite nicknames for Elizabeth are there but also: Zabette, Elita, Etta, Eliska Lilibet (technically on there) as well as Tillabet and Tessabette (technically more of a pet name)
Great list, Kristen – thank you!
my name is elisabeth i have more then on nickname the one is lizz or lizzy and the other is biz and there is a long story behind the nickname biz
My name is Elizabeth and it’s just never been shortened. Except when i was was really little little my teacher and my friends called me Lizzy. Until we met someone called Lizzie so my friends stopped calling me it. But i’ve always really wanted a nickname. I really liked the nickname Tessa and Liz though.
name is Elizabeth and everyone calls me liz or lizzi, i really like the name elle tho
My youngest sister-in-law is Elizabeth, nicknamed Elisa-Betty. It’s so adorable on her and it somehow fits her sweet, but spunky personality.
my name is Elysabeth (pronounced as Elizabth) My family calls me Elysa(Alyssa), Bella, lys, lysie, lysa or Maria(honestly I don’t know where that came from…) and all my friends call me tetty (like teddy) I can’t remember how it started but it stuck.
I also like Busy, as in Busy Philipps
My grand daughters name is Elisabeth. My son calls her Lily. Her mom goes with Lissie. I like Bess myself.
My sister’s name is Elizabeth. As a child, I started calling her Izzy, and it stuck. She is now known to absolutely everyone, except our Mom who calls her by her real name, as Izzy. She even introduces herself as such. She is 26 now.
I was called Lilibet by my dad as a baby, went by Liz during my teenage years (for convenience reasons – a lot of people will take it upon themselves to call you Liz, assuming that it’s what you prefer), and now go by Elle in my adulthood.
I didn’t mind Liz, but it’s less feminine than Elle.
Lee Anne Bowie says
I call my Elizabeth Lilibet. She was named after relatives named Eliza Bess Betty — none of whom were Elizabeth— and my favorite aunt whose middle name was Elizabeth. Elizabeth was often a middle name in the family.
My daughter’s name is Audrey Elizabeth. We decided on a middle name LOOONG before agreeing on Audrey (it was between that and Caroline), and started calling her Izzi before she was born. Our son’s name is Isaac, and our last name starts with the letter “I”, so it stuck . She’s turning 8 this month and has always been Izzi.
I know an Elizabeth that goes by Libba…
Also I was always under the impression Bonnie was a nn for Elizabeth but have never seen it listed so I must be mistaken…but where does Bonnie come from? Or is it not a nn but simply from Scotland?
My name, Elissa, pronounced Alyssa, was intended to be a derivative of my grandmother’s name, Elizabeth. (She went by Betty.)
My parents wanted to honor her with my name, but they really hated the nicknames Liz and Lizzy, so they shortened it to their favorite part.
Ooh – interesting! And a lovely addition to the list. Thanks Elissa!
Sela, Ellis, Thea & Betsan!
Oooh – lovely additions, Lisa – thanks!
I’ve heard of an Elizabeth nicknamed Liddy, though it seems more conventional to get Liddy from Lydia.
My grandfather’s sister was an Elizabeth nicknamed Bebe.
Ella was the family nickname of two Hessian Princess Elisabeths.
There’s also Betta, Bettina, etc.
LOVE Bebe for Elizabeth – great additions, Andrea!
I went to college with an Elizabeth called Eli!
I know a few others that struck me as interesting and wearable too. I know an Elizabeth called Bethan (like Bethany-sans-y). I think she’s an Elizabeth Anne, but I’m not certain.
I also know an Elizabeth called Bessa, which was inspired by Tessa/Jessa.
I’ve also heard Lizza but I think it sounds like Lizard, so that one’s out for me.
Effie (as on SKINS)! Not uncommon in England. I also knew a Lisa from Elisabeth.
Growing up,kids from my school called me Beth ( sounded old), my paps n big bro called me Bessa,Mum Eliza or full name Elizabeth. High school I choose Lisa and it stuck ( at least with my closest friends )
Elizabeth M Hooten says
My name is Elizabeth but I’ve been called Beth or Bea (which I prefer) my whole life. My Mom wanted me to have a formal sounding name for work and such but a fun one for:other things. The hardest thing about being called Elizabeth us that there are so many variations and people call you by whichever nickname the prefer. Drives me crazy sometimes.