English pet name for Elizabeth [q.v.], from an ancient Hebrew name meaning "oath of God", often a given name in its own right.
A correspondent [LP], commenting on the plethora of pet names for her own name, Elizabeth, sent the following anecdote:
- "My Gran used to tell me this old saying -
'Elizabeth, Betsy, Betty & Bess, went out to seek a bird's nest. Which one got it?'
"It took me an age to realise that we were all the same people! I also got called Beth or Bethea. I was a very confused child!"