What’s in a Name — Monikers in Community and the Relationships They Imply
by Shinigami Apple Merchant
(Note this doesn't include nicknames since there are sooooo many used throughout the series)
Part I–> Jeff Names: Jeff, Jeff Winger©, Winger, Jeffrey.
From Britta: I've noticed during Season 1 if she does refer to him directly it's MOSTLY by his last name. After they become closer, more and more to the present day she just sticks with Jeff. Pretty straightforward setup there– first trying to keep her distance then slowly building a close friendship. She does use Jeff Winger© a bit too when denouncing his Act Cool antics ("The ultimate Jeff Winger© blow-off class! The one that doesn't exist!").
From Abed: Mostly Jeff but he IS the one who utilizes Jeff Winger© more than anyone else on the show. Jeff Winger© speeches, Winger© comebacks, the Jeff Winger© way to approach women. Though again, by Season 3 the pop culture filter/shield is down and it's Jeff this, Jeff that.
From Shirley: Almost always refers to him as Jeffrey. Even if they're close in age, Shirley's caring and respectful nature does make her the backbone mother of the group. So she wants to connect with everyone on as a polite a level as possible regardless of how angry or excited she is at a given moment. Though AGAIN, as with Britta and Abed, I notice her focusing on "Jeff" more in Season 3, particularly post-Foosball. They're closer friends now and her need to hide her personality and rage therein beneath conversational civility dissipates by then.
From Pierce: It's all about being accepted, seeming relevant, and getting his due attention from Pierce's perspective, so he primarily uses Jeffrey when he wants to seem wise and knowledgable to the rest of the group. Every other time it's Jeff and if Jeff's not there Pierce throws out a Winger to boot. [Modern Movement– “Where’s Winger? Sick? Yeah right!”]. So how Pierce names Jeff says more about what Pierce wants at any given moment than how Pierce actually feels about Jeff and their friendship.
From Troy and Annie: I'm pretty sure they're both 95%+ in the Jeff only column here. Makes sense for Troy. He wants to emulate and be equals with Jeff so putting him on a pedestal or keeping him at a distance wouldn't fit. He sees everyone in the simplest terms and aside from jumping on the bandwagon to bash Britta, he judges people the least.
As for Annie, more than anyone in the group she refers to each person by the easiest shorthand available. At first this can be seen as her being too driven and people simply being a means to an ends for her in her journey through college. But really it's just as she says in Modern Movement– she works hard to fit in with everyone else and accepting everyone on the most basic terms as who they are is all a part of that. Going back to her relationship with Jeff, it realy shows her inner maturity even from the start– she loves the idea of romance with Jeff buts never lets it fully cloud her view of who he really is. He's not Jeff Winger©- Romance King at any time to her, just Jeff with a little twist in her mind as her feelings allow.
Ian Duncan: Almost always Winger. Given his back history with his own father abandonment issues, his drinking problems and his inner loneliness, and that Jeff is one of if not his only real friend, it's probably his way of keeping Jeff at a distance to avoid being hurt and to fulfill his most basic needs for friendship. All as seen in Early 21st Century Romanticism. He doesn't want to hang with Winger, he just wants the TV. He doesn't want to help Winger with his problems, he's just waiting for a taxi while he's too drunk to leave. Anything gets too close to home and it's "Shut up, Winger."
Dean Pelton: Almost always Jeffrey. As the Dean makes it clear EVERY SINGLE LOVINGLY AWESOME SECOND he's on the screen with Jeff, he reveres him and wants to get closer in any way possible. He does seem to use Jeff instead of Jeffrey more from Conspiracy Theories onward, so maybe this signifies when they share more and more of a friendship in set of worshiper and worshipee, but really he's been dead set on Jeff lovin' from day one so it's tough to tell.