Nickname: Buffy

What do you all know about the name Buffy? I’m assuming most of us are familiar with it through Buffy the Vampire Slayer (I’ve never actually seen the show, but it’s familiar to me anyway, so I assume you’ve all at least heard of it), but I first heard it in college (which was around the time the Vampire Slayer show came out, but I hadn’t yet heard of it) when I spend three summers working as a writer’s assistant to an artist named Buffie (she was writing a book about art, hence “writer’s assistant”). The name baffled me — I couldn’t figure out what kind of a name it was — maybe a nickname? If so, for what? Or could it be a given name? What could its origins be? I didn’t feel comfortable asking my Buffie though, and the name was shrouded in mystery until I later discovered that Buffy/Buffie’s actually one of the trillion traditional nicknames for Elizabeth — fascinating, right? (Though I think my Buffie’s given name was actually Buffie, as none of her obituaries offer anything different.) I then found out that the late Queen Mother (Elizabeth) was called Buffy by her family, and one of her biographies is even called My Darling Buffy: The Early Life of the Queen Mother.

So I figured the case was closed, but then I recently met a woman named Buffy, and so I assumed her given name was Elizabeth, until the other day when I saw her email sign off said, “Carol ‘Buffy.'” A new mystery! So I asked her about it, and turns out her mother wanted to name her Buffy, because she liked a little girl in a show whose character’s name was Buffy, but she didn’t feel like Buffy was formal enough for the birth certificate, so they went with Carol instead (I think she said it was a family name) but called her Buffy and she’s always and only been Buffy. So interesting!

I looked up the show she said her mom liked — “Family Affair,” which aired from 1966-1971 — and discovered a fun little namey tidbit: little Buffy’s character’s “real” name was Ava Elizabeth — how pretty! The character of her twin brother was Jonathan Joshua nicknamed Jody, and their older sister was Catherine nicked Cissy.

What do you all think of Buffy? Do you know any? If so, is it a nickname for Elizabeth, or a nickname for some other name, or a given name on its own?

13 thoughts on “Nickname: Buffy

  1. I never met a real Buffy, but if I hear it, it definitely is immediate association with Family Affair! LOVED that show – since I am very mid-century, lol. I am sure that at some point I was aware her “real” name was Ava Elizabeth but not anything I recalled. To me it would definitely only ever be a nickname kind of name. References online are to it being a “country club” type of nickname – like Muffy, Biff, Mitt, etc.

    P.S. You come up with such fun name topics to share.

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    • Yes, a “country club” type of nickname! Grace said something similar on the FB post, I think you’re both spot on. (Thanks! It’s so fun to me to have willing conversation partners about all this!)

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  2. Also found this interesting bit of trivia:

    “Although deeply geeky fans know Yoda’s original name was Minch Yoda, it turns out he had an even earlier name. And that name was … Buffy.

    According to StarWars.com, the 900-year-old Jedi Master was named Buffy in George Lucas’ outline of The Empire Strikes Back. Leigh Brackett, who wrote the screenplay, wisely changed the name to Minch Yoda, which was later shortened to Yoda.”

    ————————————–

    “Yoda was originally named Buffy. No, really. In George Lucas’ earliest outlines for the sequel, Luke meets a supernatural entity named Buffy, or Bunden Debannen. Here’s how Lucas described it:

    Buffy very old — three or four thousand years. Kiber crystal in sword? Buffy shows Luke? Buffy the guardian. ‘Feel not think.’
    And Lucas concludes by saying Luke will become the chosen one, ‘the human Buffy.’ In later drafts, he thought of Yoda as a kind of small frog, and Yoda had a full name: Minch Yoda.”

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  3. I’ve never met a Buffy! But an interesting nickname for Elizabeth that I’ve encountered twice is Biddy! Which is kind of similar to Buffy but I think I like Biddy more.

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  4. I knew a Buffy in college whose real name was Buffy. She would have been born ca. 1970 or 1971,so the name could have come from the TV show as well. There was also a folk singer from the 1960s called Buffy Sainte-Marie, whose real name is apparently Beverly. And my aunt’s cat was named Buffy, probably because she was a buff color.

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