I know the maiden name of someone is sometimes shown in parenthesis on a headstone.

But I have sometimes seen first names with a name following that in parenthesis, for example:

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In cases like this, is it usual that the person's real name is listed without parenthesis and the used/commonly-known name in parenthesis, or is it usually the other way around?

In the above example, you would think that Betty would be the wife's given name at birth, and Hye would be the husband's given name at birth, but that would be inconsistently using the parenthesis on the same stone, which doesn't seem logical.

Or could there be other reasons for a given name to be shown in parenthesis?


PolyGeo's answer is correct that the names in parentheses are nicknames. It is quite common to include nicknames in either parentheses or quotation marks, and usually it is more clear than this particular case that those names are nicknames.

Betty's obituary can be found in the Winnipeg Free Press in 2010, which states she was:

Fondly known as Boozy within the family

Hymie's obituary from 2000 also confirms he was known as Hye.

Various records including Canada voter lists confirm that Betty and Hymie were their legal names.

  • 2
    Trust a genealogist to do a great job of investigative reporting.
    – lkessler
    Aug 13 '17 at 3:01

I think the most likely reason for the name in brackets to be considered important enough to place on their headstone would be that it represents the name that they used between them and/or amongst their friends and family.

I think that they are both nicknames. Perhaps Betty enjoyed a drink, and people thought Hymie was too long to always say in full. Also, Hymie as a name seems to be considered derogatory and if that was his given name perhaps he preferred that it not be used during life but was important to have recorded on his headstone.

I would expect such, in Australia, to be more often placed within double quotes rather than brackets.

To be more confident that they are nicknames you could try to locate their birth certificate and/or newspaper reports of them, especially obituaries, if they exist.


the formal (i.e., "real") name is always a preferred name for headstones in literate families. Elizabeth is usually the formal name for Betty and Hyman is the formal name for Hye or Hy.

It isn't "Hymie" that's derogatory, it's "Heinie /Heinie" that is derogatory, as a slang word for German (during WWII or before) combined with "hind-end" or Buttocks as in "Wipe your hind end clean, it's dirty."

Further: Brackets are typed/printed as [] indicating that you have inserted information in someone else's sentence when quoting. Parenthesis are typed () to indicate that you've inserted something to aid in readers' understanding of your own sentence.

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