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For other uses, see Patsy (disambiguation).
Pronunciation PAT-see
Gender Female; sometimes Male
Word/name Latin Patricius
Meaning "Noble" (i.e. a patrician)
Region of origin north England, Scotland, & Ireland
Other names
Related names Patricia (fem), Patrick (masc)

Patsy is a given name often used as a diminutive of the feminine given name Patricia or sometimes the masculine name Patrick, or occasionally other names containing the syllable "Pat" or "Pet" (such as Cleopatra, Patience, or Patrice). Among Italian-Americans, it is often used as a pet name for Pasquale.

Historical usage[edit]

In older usage, Patsy was also a nickname for Martha or Matilda, following a common nicknaming pattern of changing an M to a P (such as in Margaret → Meg/Meggy → Peg/Peggy; and Molly → Polly) and adding a feminine suffix.[1][2] President George Washington called his wife, Martha, "Patsy" in private correspondence, while President Thomas Jefferson's eldest daughter Martha was known by the nickname "Patsy," while his daughter Mary was called "Polly."

While usually a feminine diminutive name, from the 18th century, Patsy also came to be used as a nickname for men and boys called Patrick.[1]

The popularity of the name has waned with the rise of its, chiefly North American,[3] meaning as "dupe" or "scapegoat".[1] This usage may come from the vaudevillian Billy B. Van, whose 1890s character, Patsy Bolivar, was more often than not an innocent victim of unscrupulous or nefarious characters.[4] At least two murderers have been recorded using this word, to refer to themselves, after their killings: Lee Harvey Oswald, after murdering USA president John Kennedy, and Byron Smith, after murdering Haile Kifer, and her cousin, Nicholas Brady.




Fictional characters[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Edgar's Name Pages, accessed 16 November 2007.
  2. ^ Common Nicknames & Their Given Name Equivalents, accessed 16 November 2007.
  3. ^ Soanes, Catherine and Stevenson, Angus (ed.) (2005). Oxford Dictionary of English, 2nd Ed., revised, Oxford University Press, Oxford, New York, p. 1291, ISBN 978-0-19-861057-1.
  4. ^ "Patsy". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 7 August 2016.