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Elizabeth (f) Hebrew, ‘(my) God is perfection’ (or ‘satis-
faction’). The Gaelic is Ealasaid. One Scottish woman in
every twenty-four bears this name, though there are signs that it has been going out of fashion since 1965. The name has also steadily declined in England and Wales, where it was a great favourite until the end of the nineteenth century, but it is still one of the most frequently used names in the U.S.A.

In Scotland it was in 3rd position in 1858 and 1935. By 1958 it was in 2nd place. A count in 1975 showed it to have fallen away considerably. Elisabeth Inglis, discussing the names most frequently mentioned in birth announcements in the Scotsman during 1977 (Scots-
man, January 4th, 1978) also shows that the name is no
longer in the Scottish top ten. Elizabeth has a great many pet forms which are often used as independent names. In 1958, for example, girls born in Scotland received the names Bessie, Beth, Betty, Eliza, Elsbeth, Elsie, Elspeth, Lillibet, Lisa and Lizbeth. Other Scottish girls were given foreign forms of the name or their diminutives: Spanish Isabel, French Elisabeth, Lisbeth, Elise, German Lisa, Lise. In earlier times Isabel and Isabella were in fact totally interchangeable with Elizabeth. The various pet forms have been popular at different times in Scotland. In the nineteenth century Eliza and Betsy were especially fashionable, and were used rather more than the Scottish Eispeth (or Elspet). By 1935 Elsie had come upon the scene, Elspeth was being less used, and Eliza and Betsy were no longer
among the top hundred names. In the 1970’s Lisa has been the up-and-coming form, with Bettina also enjoying
a spell of popularity. James Boswell makes a well-known comment about the use of pet forms of Elizabeth in his Life of Dr Samuel Johnson (1791). Mrs Johnson was an Elizabeth ‘whom he used to name by the familiar appellation of Tety, or Tetsy, which, like Betty or Betsy, is provincially used as a contraction for Elizabeth.’ This usage, continues Boswell, seems ludricrous ‘when applied to a woman of her age and appearance.’ This seems a little harsh. One might interpret the use of such endearments by a speaker who was notoriously formal in his speech as a gesture of great tenderness.

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