Dwight D. Eisenhower’s mom didn’t like nicknames.
The future president, who was born in 1890, was going to be named “David Dwight Eisenhower” — David for his father, Dwight for evangelist Dwight Lyman Moody — until Mrs. Eisenhower realized that David would inevitably be shortened to Dave.
It was the contraction of Edgar’s name to Ed and another brother’s name from Arthur to Art that inspired Mrs. Eisenhower to try to forestall the cognomen of Dave for the son who was to lead the Allied armies in the second world war.
So she reversed David and Dwight.
But it made no difference. Dwight’s boyhood friends started called him “Little Ike” (because his older brother Edgar was called “big Ike”) and Ike stuck.
(Eisenhower biographer Stephen Ambrose tells a different story. He says Mrs. Eisenhower reversed the order of the names because she wanted to avoid the confusion of having two Davids in the family.)
- “Mother of ‘Ike’ Shuns Nickname, Gets It Anyway.” Sarasota Herald-Tribune 15 Jun. 1945: 2.
- Smith, Jean Edward. Eisenhower in War and Peace. New York: Random House, 2012.