How did Sasha come to be a diminutive for Alexander?

The question’s in the title. All the other diminutives I can think of are at least a little bit similar to the original name, but this seems to be out of left field.

it is from the sandr part of aleksandr. the sa of sandr with the sha diminutive gives you sasha.

kinda like some alexanders get called sandy instead of alex.

Is that a common method of forming diminutives in some languages?

-sha as a diminutive is certainly common in Russian, which is also I think where “Sasha” comes from. Russian seems to have a lot of diminutive forms, and I understand it’s usual for a person to go by many different nicknames with different friends. The Russian students I’ve met here all seem to be a bit bemused by the fact that everyone they meet calls them by the form with which they introduce themselves.

Russian, I believe. It’s more complicated than that, but there are a lot of Russian nicknames formed in that general way - Ivan becomes Vanya, Alexander becomes Sanya or Sasha, etc.

Also, while there are other spelling variants of Alexander in various languages which make Sasha a little more obvious, it’s not the strangest one out there - a common example is Daisy for Margaret. The flower that we know of as a Daisy is called a Marguerite (spelling?) in France, and so even though Marguerite and Margaret aren’t precisely the same name, Daisy for Margaret ended up as quite a popular diminutive for a while.

in russian, yeah. you take a few letters and add a diminutive ending. the ending is by gender and familiarity.

the common niks for alexander in russian are: alek or sasha.

micheal is misha, take the mi add the sha.

It’s just the same in English: take the “sand” part of Alexander (or Alexandra) and add the diminutive -y ending to get the nickname Sandy.

Did you know that Peggy is a diminutive of Margaret? Fun, eh?

There’s also “Masha” for “Maria”.

My Ukranian ex pa in law called his son Michael Mahashku.

There’s also “Richard” and “Dick.”

I think Polly was a nickname for Mary at one time. As Sally was for Sarah.

It seems a large part of the western world was named after Alexander The Great. The names Saunders and Sanders both come from it.

Huh, I didn’t know that. This can be my thing to learn for today. Thanks. :slight_smile:

Reading Chekhov without understanding a bit of the russian diminutive process can be confusing. I remember throwing The Cherry Orchard across the room crying that every character had three names and no one was referred to by the name in the character list.

The President’s daughter Sasha is simply named that - it’s not a diminutive for Alexandra, in her case, IIRC.

The ending (spelled a little differently, but pronounced the same) is common in Polish for feminine names.
Marya -> Marysia or Masia “Marisha/Masha” (Mary)
Małgorzata -> Małgosia/Gosia “Mao-gosha/Gosha” (Margaret)
Katarzyna -> Kasia “Kasha” (Catherine)
Barbara -> Basia “Basha” (Barbara)
Dorota or Teodozja -> Dosia “Dosha” (Dorothy or Theodora)


Slavic, not “Russian”.

People from what used to be Yugoslavia, for instance, aren’t Russians and don’t speak Russian, but they do use the same diminutives in their names, and someone called “Sasha” is just as likely to be Serbo-Croatian as Russian.

Little slip of the keyboard there. I meant to type “Maria” for “Marya,” although the latter is an older Polish spelling of the name, as is “Marja,” so far as I understand.

I had never heard this before either. Finally explains why Sasha Baron Cohen has a girl’s name.

Next you’ll be telling us that Nikita is a girl’s name.