Spotlight on: Elizabeth

Grace asked for an Elizabeth spotlight a while ago, which is so great, because when I think of doing spotlights, I tend to think of names that are a little unusual or offbeat or have issues (like, what nickname? how does this name come across? does this name have any saintly connection?), and since I don’t consider Elizabeth to fall in any of those categories, I probably wouldn’t have thought to spotlight it.

But Elizabeth — I mean, come on. Is there any more impeccable name than Elizabeth? I love so many things about it, like:

It’s the name of Our Lady’s beloved cousin and mother of John the Baptist, known as St. Elizabeth of the Visitation (I love that!). Her Mystery of the Rosary is a tremendous pro-life witness and the first announcement to those other than Jesus’ parents that the Messiah had come.

It’s the name of a sainted queen (St. Elizabeth of Hungary) and an Irish martyr (Bl. Elizabeth Kearney) and two wives of men who lived Godless lives and converted and became priests after their wives’ deaths (SOG Elisabeth Leseur and Bl. Elisabetta Canori Mora) and a whole bunch of other holy women. One of them, Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity, is set to be canonized this year, having had her second miracle recently approved.

It has about a thousand variations — not only Elizabeth, Elisabeth, and Elisabetta as mentioned above, but also:


So many cool options! Two really unusual ones (to me) that jumped out from this image are Zabel, which I’d actually suggested for this mom, and Elixabete, which Mary (skimac) had recently mentioned (I’ll leave it to her to tell us how to pronounce it!). In that same comment she also shared the diminutive Sabeth, which someone she knows gave to his daughter as a nod to Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity, as her childhood nickname was Sabeth. I’ve also seen Zbeth in real life! Then there’s Elsa, Isabella, Lisbet, Bethan … all legit variants of Elizabeth.

And the nicknames!! Abby recently did an awesome post on unexpected nicknames for Elizabeth, which included one of my favorites, Tess (as I say, if Betty and Tetty are both traditional nicknames for Elizabeth (they are), and Bess is also, then Tess should certainly be!). I’d also add Eily (said EYE-lee, like the Irish variant Eilis [EYE-lish or AY-lish]) and we’ve discussed the possibility of Zelie as an Elizabeth nickname as well (it totally works! Two saints in one!). I also did a tiny post about Elizabeth nicknames here. But if you want your girl to go by her full name, Elizabeth is feminine and sophisticated, smart and distinguished. An Elizabeth can be a Supreme Court Judge, or an artist, or an engineer, or an opera singer, or an Olympic athlete.

Which is your favorite Elizabeth variant? How about nicknames? Do you know anyone named Elizabeth who goes by one of the nicknames not mentioned or linked to here?


52 thoughts on “Spotlight on: Elizabeth

  1. We have an Elizabeth 🙂 One of our 3-year-old twins (she’s the older of the two, and Mary Claire is her sister, with the Visitation as their twin feast day). We definitely don’t meet many Elizabeths her age! Tons that are my age, though (late twenties/early 30s). Actually, three of our children’s godmothers are named Elizabeth, although two go by Beth!

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  2. I just love Elisabeth! It has definitely been one of our top names for each baby. We are not nicknamers, but if I had to pick one, I think I like Lily the best. 🙂

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  3. My daughter is the fifth Elizabeth going back on my Mother’s side, and there were some further back than that. My great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother used it as a middle name. It’s my middle name, too, but I go by the nickname Liza. My daughter’s name is Elizabeth Pauline and we call her Betsy. When she made her appearance last August I knew there was no other name for her but Elizabeth, due to the strong family tradition but also for the Biblical reasons – the Gospel readings at that time were all out of John, and I love his account of the Baptist, and we were considering John as a boy’s name had things gone differently that day. I also grew up Baptist, so it’s all in there somewhere; I love names that have a ton of different meanings and no one single, absolute reason. For instance, her middle name of Pauline was my (other) grandmother’s middle name name and also a feminized version of my husband’s name (so she bears both our names, just as I do with my parents), not to mention the whole conversion aspect, too.

    Obviously, I’m a big fan of your website.

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    • We have an Elisabeth and a John! My daughter is the 6th Eli(z/s)abeth in an unbroken line on my mom’s side, going back to my mom’s German great-grandmother (my Elisabeth’s great-great-great grandmother!) Some were middle names as well. We decided to go back to the s spelling (that great-great-great grandmother was the only other one with the s). Our son John was named after St. John the Baptist after I had a very profound experience during adoration, meditating on St. John the Baptist’s words, “Behold the Lamb of God.”

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  4. When we thought this baby was a girl, I had fallen head-over-heals in love with Libby (still don’t feel that strongly about our boy name). We considered both Elizabeth and Isabel as full names, but we’re leaning strongly towards Elizabeth in large part because of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.

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  5. I have a six year old Elizabeth and I love it. She keeps wanting to go by a nickname though- and it’s so hard for me because I love Elizabeth. We try to call her Lizzie, but it doesn’t feel right. She also likes Betsy which is cute on her… but I can’t get used to it. I just want her to stay Elizabeth.

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  6. “Is there any more impeccable name than Elizabeth?”—I totally think this answer to this is no! I seriously adore adore adore the name Elizabeth/Elisabeth, I can never decide between the two spellings! I love how you listed all the things that an Elizabeth could be! I think that’s what I like so much about it, it’s so versatile.

    I think my favorite nickname might be Ellie but I also like Eli (like the boys name) and Elsa 🙂 I like preserving the EL sound in the name a lot. I know if I ever used the name Elizabeth though my dad would call her Betty. He’s been pushing for a Betty for years for some reason, which none of us can figure out, he’s just obsessed.

    I have the problem though of Elizabeth being one of my cousins names, and I’m not really sure if it would be super duper weird for me to use it in the future, but not in an honor way at all (Love my cousin, but we’re not that close and even if we were, it would be awkward to only honor one cousin).

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    • Oh also, in terms of nicknames for Elizabeth. I know of an Elizabeth who goes by Biddy, which I had never heard of before her (she’s friends with my roommate). Biddy could be a fun nickname if someone was looking for something more creative!

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    • My dad is all about his own nicknames for my kids too! Haha! Re: your cousin Elizabeth, I think Elizabeth is one of those names that’s so used (in a good way) that it would be hard for any Elizabeth to feel like a little one was really named *for* her unless the parents specifically said so … do you all agree? Now, if your cousin Elizabeth had one of the more unusual nicknames, and you named your daughter Elizabeth and call her by that nickname, well yes, it would seem you were naming her after your cousin.

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    • Sticking with the “El” in her nickname was my one big rule when we named our daughter. I have nothing against Liz, Lizzie, Beth, etc. but I wanted her to have an “El” name. So Elsa, Elsie, Elspeth, etc. are our “approved” nicknames, and no one is allowed to call her Lizzie 🙂 I think our nickname choices go well with the Elisabeth spelling too.

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  7. Elixabete (Basque) – pronounced Eh-leesh-ah-beh-teh

    I love Elise, Elyse,and Elisa which maybe are more variants than nicknames as I would have used that as a name if we had more girls. But they make lovely nicknames as well.

    I also really think Libby is a cute nickname from those mentioned.

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  8. Love this! One of my favorite things about this name is that there are so many forms and nicknames, and there are versions throughout the world. My youngest daughter is Elisabeth Eleni. I stole it from a girl named Elspeth Eleni, and sometimes I wish I had gone with that, because Elspeth is just so adorable. But my Elisabeth is replete with nicknames! We named her with the “S” spelling because my husband (and thus our last name) is of German background and we intended to call her Elsa. It has taken her whole 10 months of life thus far to actually call her Elsa – we called her mostly Elisabeth at first, but Elsa as her “proper” nickname is starting to stick. I got a little gun-shy at first because of the Disney association (and my name is Arielle, so I have a little PTSD regarding having a Disney name :)) And it still annoys me no end to have my daughter always associated with a Disney princess (I haven’t even seen it!) But Elsa is such a classic, German, and still cute name that I just had to go for it!

    We also call her Elsie, Elsie-Beth, Elsa-Beth, Elspeth, and…Biff. My four year old can’t say “th,” so she calls her “Elisabiff.” That stuck, and now she is Biff, Biffy, Biffaloo, and my husband’s own favorite pet name, The Mighty Biffalo (like buffalo). I probably call her Biffy as much as Elsa 🙂

    I didn’t think I would ever go for such a “common” name, but we named her after one of my own personal heroines, St. Elizabeth the Grand Duchess and New Martyr of Russia. She was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, and then the Grand Duchess of Russia, and after her husband’s assassination because a saintly nun and was eventually martyred by the Bolsheviks. I love that my daughter has a saint recent enough to have photographs of and letters in her own hand, including letters about her conversion (all my other children have saints from the 1st-3rd century).

    I also love the name Annelise, but I also have a Miriam Anna, so Annelise duplicates both Anna and Elisabeth so I think I’m out of luck on that one! But that would also be a lovely name that honors two relatives of the Blessed Mother!

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  9. My grandmother was Elizabeth and I love the name. Mostly because it’s beautiful but also because of her. I’ve always wanted to have a little girl named (Elizabeth nn Ella) after her but my husband doesn’t like it. 😥 I know! Who doesn’t like Elizabeth?

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  10. I really like the German variations. A friend just named her daughter Liesel, it has such a sweet, feminine sound… maybe because of the Sound of Music images that come to mind.

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  11. Elizabeth is my confirmation name, mainly because it is my mom’s middle name.

    My grandmother’s sister Elizabeth goes by Betty; my grandfather had a sister Elizabeth who went by Bebe.

    I’ve known Elizabeths called Libby, Lisa, Ellie, Beth, Becky and the typical Liz. I like Lizzie the best, probably because of Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice.

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  12. Well, you know I love Elisabeth/Elizabeth! When our second child was a toddler, he couldn’t say Elisabeth, so he called her Lissie. That nickname stuck (just in our family) for a few years but now she just goes by the full Elisabeth. Most of the Elizabeths I’ve known in my life were Beths, but quite a few Lizes, as well, especially in my mom’s age group. I also knew a Betsy in college, and have a good friend now (about a year or two older than me—late 30’s) who goes by Libby. It is kind of of funny to me that I named my daughter THE most nicknamed name ever and we don’t use a nickname. 😂

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  13. My twin’s name is Elizabeth… it’s a family name passed down quite a bit. She went by Lizzie and later Liz, but now prefers Elizabeth. In the next generation, we also have an Elise, and when we were naming our daughter, my twin surprised me (I thought she would feel it was “hers” or overused) by heavily supporting my desire to name my daughter Eliza. (Dh nixed it haha). I think Eliza is my favorite variation at this point… it maintains much of the original feel of the longer name, but has a little extra spunkiness. And yet stays classy.. reminds me of Eliza Bennett (who was technically “Elizabeth,” but got called Lizzie and Eliza, too). My mother is also an Elizabeth and disliked the nickname Beth so much that that stuck with all of us.. we all tend to shy away from the Beth/Betty/Betsy nicknames and gravitate towards the nicknames heavy on the El/Li side :).

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  14. My kids are in the pool with their granny so I was randomly going back through name spotlights for fun. I feel like I might have commented some of this before, but in case anyone is browsing These comments for info…
    I’m an Elizabeth and have always primarily gone by Elizabeth. I like having the z spelling because Z is kind of rare and fun, but I admit the softer-looking s spelling is also so pretty! In my family my nickname is sometimes Billy, morphed from my 3rd sister down the line’s pronunciation attempt, “Billis” (rhymes with Phyllis), which was cute and then stuck. Particular people have given me them-only nicknames through the years…in elementary my best friend called me Liz, in middle school a different best friend called me Lizzie (I called her Manda then, but as adults we call each other Elizabeth and Amanda again, ha!). My great-grandpa has always called my Libby. One friend from college often calls me Lisbet.

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