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.

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] 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."[5]

Lee Harvey Oswald, after murdering 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!"[6][7]

Byron Smith, after murdering Haile Kifer, and her cousin, Nicholas Brady also claimed he was a patsy.[8]

This page was last edited on 15 July 2018, at 18:11 (UTC).
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