Most Spanish nicknames are developed with the diminutives -ito and -ita, as in Miguelito (“little Michael”) indigenous Miguel, or Sarita (“little Sara”) indigenous Sara. Others started as acronyms, such as Mabel from MAría IsaBEL, or abbreviations, such as Nando because that Fernando. Two usual nicknames, though, are genuine puzzlers: Pepe, the nickname for José (“Joseph”), and Paco, the nickname for Francisco (“Francis”).

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When i studied in Barcelona one summer, ns was happy to find out that both this nicknames have religious origins. The explanation in ours textbook go something like this:

In the new Testament, Joseph to be Mary’s husband, but not Jesus’s father: just his suspect (“so-called”) father, or padre putativo in Spanish. Abbreviation this as p.p., give it a Spanish pronunciation (the letter ns being pronounced /pe/), and you gain Pepe. Together for Paco: Saint Francis established the Franciscan stimulate of monks and was thus the father of the Franciscan community, or pater comunitatis, in Latin. Take the first syllable of each word, put them together, and also you acquire the nickname Paco.

Since the summer, I’ve often seen this explanation stated as truth in various websites around Spanish names, but couldn’t find any kind of scholarly validation the it. So i turned come the ultimate source, querying the real Academia Española with its on-line consultation service. Your answer was unabashedly negative:

nickname Pepe comes, in reality, native the Italian Beppe, chin a nickname because that Giuseppe….In the case of Paco, none of the data top top names that we have at our disposal support the etymology the pater comunitatis.

On a personal note, I currently deeply regret that i have regularly passed this delightful however false etymological tidbit on to my students. Never ever again…Live and also learn.


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35 think on “Pepe and also Paco — 2 secret Spanish nicknames”

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jay 12 November, 2014 in ~ 9:57 am

Wikipedia says that Pepe is based upon ‘Josep’, an earlier version that Jose, and also closer to the initial Joseph.

(Spanish nicknames regularly are based upon the end of names).


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jhochberg write-up author12 November, 2014 in ~ 11:26 am

I would certainly trust the actual Academia over Wikipedia! but that’s one interesting alternating theory.


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Dave Brast 27 July, 2015 at 12:16 pm

Sure, trust la genuine academia española, however they’ve only offered a an adverse response: “none the the data ~ above names that we have at our disposal support the etymology that pater comunitatis.” That’s what they need to say until they have something substantive one means or the other. If they had said Paco is from blah blah blah according to Profesor Fulano Mengano who qualities that to blah blah blah, climate there’d be factor to believe that pater comunitatis is no the origin of Paco. Till then we should keep an open up mind and say we’re not specific about the origin of Paco, but we have actually heard it’s indigenous pater comunitatis.


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Edward Gonzalez 3 February, 2016 at 8:24 pm

The actual Academia Española (REA) has actually their version, however even despite they’re the source that everyone regards as the pure authority in spanish language, the does no mean any other conclussion is false. Webster thesaurus is the most used resource in English but there are many others as well which are not conveniently dismissed as La RAE tends to do.


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Jon Aske 18 April, 2016 in ~ 7:53 am

In mine view, the most reasonable concept for the nickname Pepe it comes from Italian Peppe, which is a (more reasonable) hypocoristic the the surname Giuseppe (other alternate Italian hypocoristics space Beppe and also Peppino). By much more reasonable I average that it is a reasonable shortening in boy talk.

Less obvious, however equally likely, is the Paco is a hypocoristic derived from Italian surname Franco in son talk. Franco is a typical version of the name Francesco. Actually, Francesco is a diminutive the Franco. It was the nickname offered to Saint Francis (né Giovanni) by his father. It expected ‘little Frenchman’.


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Babbleon 18 May, 2016 at 3:57 pm

You might want to check the language of Catalonia, i. E. Catala, for clues. Jusep is a common name there and may it is in closer come Pepe 보다 is Jose. Another name in use in Catalunya (for a man) is Sese, which ns was said derives indigenous both Jose and also Pepe.


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Babbleon 23 October, 2016 in ~ 11:49 am

What taken place to mine post around the nickname Pepe being acquired from Padre Putativo?


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jhochberg post author26 October, 2016 at 12:16 pm
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PepeJose 15 December, 2016 in ~ 11:56 am

REA claims “ nickname Pepe comes, in reality, from the Italian Beppe, itself a nickname for Giuseppe”. Maybe that’s true, perhaps not. But they additionally do no seem to offer a factor why pepe is tied come jose.


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Scott 28 March, 2017 in ~ 7:33 pm

For what it is worth…I have constantly understood that Pepe was a nickname because that the boy of Jose, of which is called after his father (Jose II) the second. Lot like ‘Chip’ in English ? (Chip off the old block)


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Laura Milagros
31 December, 2018 at 9:13 am

Pepe has actually Latin, Italian & Iberian Castellano (Castilian or Spanish) origins. In Northern Italy, Beppe or Pepe is a pet form of Giuseppe (Joseph) … Giuse-PEPE.

In Latin, Saint Joseph’s name is always followed by the letters “P.P” because that Pater Putativus because he is the embraced step father of Jesus. The letter “P” is pronounced “peh” in Spanish, which provided rise come the nickname Pepe for José.


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jhochberg article author31 December, 2018 in ~ 10:57 am

Laura, if friend reread the blog post you will see that the actual Academia has debunked the charming Pater Putativus origin story for Pepe.


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Ex-Oligarch 29 November, 2020 at 11:16 am

No offense, however some guy offering a short answer an digital inquiry isn’t specifically persuasive, even if he functions for a reliable institution. Walk the Academia employee administer a citation to someone’s research?


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Sonia K Guterman 15 January, 2019 at 12:09 pm

At the famed art museum in Madrid, the guide pointed to a Renaissance painting of the divine Family, and Joseph had a little “PP” next to the painted figure. The guide defined the Pater Putativa meaning. So the is no a myth at all, however an historically precise derivation the the nickname.


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Anne-Marie Gonzales Rosado 1 May, 2019 in ~ 6:04 pm

My uncle’s surname is, Josepe. We room Galician from La Coruña. We call him Pepe. Never ever heard it regarded anything religious.


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jhochberg short article author1 May, 2019 at 6:19 pm

The spiritual angle has been proposed as the historical origin of Pepe. No one is declare that world who use the nickname today have a religious motivation.


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Roy Ermitanyo 17 March, 2021 in ~ 10:35 am

May I recognize what textbook you to be quoting n your write-up above, the one that mentions the spiritual origin that Pepe as derived from pater putativus/padre putativo? say thanks to you.


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jhochberg post author17 March, 2021 in ~ 11:21 am

I’m sorry, i don’t remember. Ns didn’t think much of the textbook in basic so i abandoned it in Barcelona. If you are really curious you could call International House, which is a chain of Spanish language schools. The Barcelona branch is currently closed but they most likely all use the exact same textbooks.

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Martin Ellis 16 May, 2021 in ~ 3:42 pm

Perhaps there are an ext issues to debate. Simply be happy come remember Paco = Francisco, Pepe = José.


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