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GenderFemale; sometimes Male
Word/nameLatin Patricius
Meaning"Noble" (i.e. a patrician)
Region of originnorth England, Scotland, & Ireland
Other names
Related namesPatricia (fem), Patrick (masc)

A nameEdit

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.[1]

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. President Thomas Jefferson's eldest daughter Martha was known by the nickname "Patsy", while his daughter Mary was called "Polly".[citation needed]

People with the nameEdit



Fictional charactersEdit

A victim of deceptionEdit

The popularity of the name has waned with the rise of its, chiefly North American,[3] meaning as "dupe" or "scapegoat".[1] Fact, Fancy and Fable, published in 1889, notes that in a sketch performed in Boston 'about twenty years ago' a character would repeatedly ask ‘Who did that?’ and the answer was ‘Patsy Bolivar!’.[4] It may have been popularized by the vaudevillian Billy B. Van, whose 1890s character, Patsy Bolivar, was more often than not an innocent victim of unscrupulous or nefarious characters.[5] Van's character became a broad vaudeville "type," imitated by many comedians including Fred Allen who later wrote, "Patsy Bolivar was a slang name applied to a bumpkin character; later, it was shortened to Patsy, and referred to any person who was the butt of a joke."[6]

Lee Harvey Oswald, after assassinating president John Kennedy, denied he was responsible for the murder, and stated: "No, they are taking me in because of the fact that I lived in the Soviet Union. I'm just a patsy!"[7][8]

Byron Smith, after killing Haile Kifer, and her cousin, Nicholas Brady, in self defense, also claimed he was a patsy.[9]


  1. ^ a b c "Names: Patsy". edgarbook. Retrieved 16 November 2007.
  2. ^ "Common Nicknames & Their Given Name Equivalents". Retrieved 16 November 2007.
  3. ^ Soanes, Catherine & Stevenson, Angus (ed.) (2005). "Patsy". Oxford Dictionary of English (2nd revised ed.). Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press. p. 1291. ISBN 978-0-19-861057-1.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  4. ^ Games, Alex (2010). Balderdash & Piffle. Random House. p. 275. ISBN 9781446415054.
  5. ^ "Patsy". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  6. ^ Bader, Robert S. (2016). Four of the Three Musketeers: The Marx Brothers On Stage. Northwestern University Press. p. 103.
  7. ^ "Oswald's Ghost". American Experience. PBS. Retrieved 2018-05-13.
  8. ^ "A J.F.K. Assassination Glossary: Key Figures and Theories". The New York Times. October 26, 2017. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-05-13.
  9. ^ "Transcripts". Retrieved 2018-07-15.