I Spy a Nickname - All About Pi

I Spy a Nickname - All About Pi

by Maureen Welcker
February 20, 2019

Have you ever had a nickname? Or have you ever known someone with a nickname? Below are a few names with popular nicknames associated with them. Some of these nicknames may be familiar to you.

Alexander – Alex
Samuel – Sam
Elizabeth—Liz, Betty, Bette, Beth, Liza, Lizzie...
Rebecca – Becky

Among other reasons, we give people nicknames to shorten long names, to help with speaking or writing a name, or to make a difficult or unusual name easier to say or remember. Take a look at this long list of numbers.


These numbers represent only the FIRST 1,000 numbers of π. π is an irregular number, which means its numbers go on and on forever and will not repeat in any sort of pattern. If anything needed a nickname, it is π!

In the early 1700s people did just that. This very long number was given a Greek nickname by some mathematicians and other scientists who began using the Greek letter pi to refer to this constant ratio. A few decades later, π was introduced as it is the symbol for the Greek word for “perimeter”.

Why Greek? The Greeks were some of the first experts in the study of geometry (a type of math that studies the size, shape, and position of figures like circles) so many geometry terms in English come from Greek. The nickname given by some mathematicians and other scientists at the time began using the Greek letter pi to refer to this constant ratio.

Interestingly, Legos got their unusual name in much the same fashion as π. Legos were first made in Denmark and thus given a Danish nickname. Lego is actually an abbreviation of the two Danish words “leg godt”, meaning “play well”.


This is the third in our series of Pi Day activities and resources created by STEMstitute.  Be sure to check out Finding Pi Around the House, Make a Pi Necklace, and Pie for Pi Day!

Maureen Welcker

Maureen Welcker is the owner of STEMstitute, an organization committed to showing kids and families how the fun of STEM is connected to just about every area of our lives. She adventures in Boise, Idaho with her husband and three children.


We're a clothing company for girls who love all things awesome.


Princess Awesome 5 Girls

Leave a comment

Also in Awesome Thoughts from our Blog

Fit, Fashion, and Ms. Frizzle
Fit, Fashion, and Ms. Frizzle

by Eva St. Clair July 12, 2019 5 Comments

Now, Rebecca and I have been saying for years that the problem with making adult sizes is that even if we did make them, no one would actually want to wear them because they would put them on and realize immediately that they look just like Mrs. Frizzle. And who wants to be Mrs. Frizzle?!

Well, it turns out that I do.

Read More

I Hate My Purse. Give Me Pockets!
I Hate My Purse. Give Me Pockets!

by Eva St. Clair July 07, 2019 1 Comment

More than 25 years later, I have lived the gamut of consequences that accompany a life trained to rely on a purse instead of a pocket, the sum total of which has shown me that carrying a purse has made me more vulnerable and incompetent than I otherwise would have been if I’d been equipped with pockets instead.

Read More

You Can Fly - A Giveaway in Honor of Women in Aviation International
You Can Fly - A Giveaway in Honor of Women in Aviation International

by Kerstin Shamberg May 18, 2019

Read More