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Map of the United States showing the state nicknames as hogs. Lithograph by Mackwitz, St. Louis, 1884. The London underground is nicknamed "The Tube" A nickname is "a usually familiar or humorous but sometimes pointed or cruel name given to a person or place, as a supposedly appropriate replacement for or addition to the proper name.",[1] or a name similar in origin and pronunciation from the original name.

It is not interchangeable with a term called "short-for". It can also be the familiar or truncated form of the proper name,[2] which may sometimes be used simply for convenience (e.g. "Bobby", "Bob", "Rob", or "Bert" for the name Robert).

The term hypocoristic is used to refer to a nickname of affection between those in love or with a close emotional bond, compared with a term of endearment. The term diminutive name refers to nicknames that convey smallness, hence something regarded with affection or familiarity (e.g., referring to children), or contempt.[3]

The distinction between the two is often blurred. It is a form of endearment and amusement. As a concept, it is distinct from both pseudonym and stage name, and also from a title (for example, City of Fountains), although there may be overlap in these concepts.

A nickname is sometimes considered desirable, symbolising a form of acceptance, but can often be a form of ridicule.



The compound word ekename, literally meaning "additional name", was attested as early as 1303.[4] This word was derived from the Old English phrase eaca "an increase", related to eacian "to increase".[5] By the fifteenth century, the misdivision of the syllables of the phrase "an ekename" led to its reanalysis as "a nekename".[6] Though the spelling has changed, the pronunciation and meaning of the word have remained relatively stable ever since.

Conventions in various languages

To inform an audience or readership of a person's nickname without actually calling them by their nickname, English nicknames are generally represented in quotes between the bearer's first and last names (e.g., Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower, Daniel Lamont "Bubba" Franks, etc.), however it is also common for the nickname to be identified after a comma following the full real name or later in the body of the text, such as in an obituary. The middle name is generally eliminated (if there is one), especially in speech. Like English, German uses (German-style) quotation marks between the first and last names (e.g., Andreas Nikolaus Niki Lauda). Other languages may use other conventions; for example, Italian writes the nickname after the full name followed by detto 'called' (e.g., Salvatore Schillaci detto Tot ), in Spanish the nickname is written in formal contexts at the end in quotes following alias (e.g. Alfonso Tostado, alias el Abulense ), and Slovenian represents nicknames after a dash or hyphen (e.g., Franc Rozman Stane). The latter may cause confusion because it resembles an English convention sometimes used for married and maiden names.

Uses in various societies

In Viking societies, many people had nicknames heiti, vi rnefni, or uppnefni which were used in addition to, or instead of their family names. In some circumstances the giving of a nickname had a special status in Viking society in that it created a relationship between the name maker and the recipient of the nickname, to the extent that the creation of a nickname also often entailed a formal ceremony and an exchange of gifts.

Slaves have often used nicknames, so that the master who heard about someone doing something could not identify the slave. In capoeira, a Brazilian martial art, the slaves had nicknames to protect them from being caught, as practicing capoeira was illegal for decades.

In Anglo-American culture, a nickname is often based on a shortening of a person's proper name, a diminutive. However, in other societies, this may not necessarily the case.

In Indian society, for example, generally people have at least one nickname (call name or affection name) and these affection names are generally not related to the person's proper name. Indian nicknames very often are a trivial word or a diminutive (such as Bablu, Dabbu, Banti, Babli, Gudiya, Golu, Sonu, Chhotu, Raju, Adi, Ritu, etc.).

In Indonesia, nicknames are often considered more polite and affectionate, especially when the real name exceeds two syllables. Former Indonesian presidents Abdurrahman Wahid and Achmed Sukarno were usually called 'Gus Dur' and 'Bung Karno', respectively.

In Australian society, Australian men will often give ironic nicknames. For example, a man with red hair will get the nickname 'Bluey'.

Performing arts

Many writers, performing artists, and actors have nicknames, which may develop into a stage name or pseudonym. A bardic name may also result from a nickname. Many writers have pen names which they use instead of their real names. Famous writers with a pen name include Voltaire, Moli re, George Sand, Lewis Carroll, Mark Twain, George Orwell, Dr. Seuss, and Lemony Snicket.


In the context of information technology, a nickname (or technically a nick) is a common synonym for the screenname or handle of a user.

Nickname is a name to shorten a name. Nick is a term originally used to identify a person in a system for synchronous conferencing. In computer networks it has become a common practice for every person to also have one or more nicknames for the purposes of anonymity, to avoid ambiguity or simply because the natural name or technical address would be too long to type or take too much space on the screen.

Nicknames for people

"I, Jimmy Carter..." James Earl Carter is sworn in as President of the United States using his nickname "Jimmy".

Nicknames are usually awarded to, not chosen by the recipient. Nicknames may be based on a person's name or various attributes. Attributes upon which a nickname may be based include:


They may refer to a person's occupation, social standing, or title. They may also refer to characterists of a person.

Physical characteristics, personality, or lifestyle

Physical characteristics

The Weimaraner's coat color led to its nickname of the "Silver Ghost". Nicknames can be a descriptor of a physical characteristic, or the opposite of a physical characteristic. It should be noted that in English, such nicknames are often considered offensive or derogatory, unless the nickname is based on a trait that is viewed positively. Some examples of nicknames related to physical characteristics include:

  • Weight: "Fatso" or "Slim" for a person who is overweight or thin.
  • Height: "Beanpole" or "Short Fry" for a person who is tall or short.
  • Hair colour: "Red", "Ginger", "Ranga", or "Bluey" for a person with red hair. "Blondie" a girl with blonde hair.
  • Type of hair: "Curley" or "Cue Ball" for a person without hair as in "Curley" from "The Three Stooges"
  • Skin Colour: "Pinky" for a person with Rosacea

Sometimes nicknames are based on things that alter a person's physical appearance. Such nicknames can be temporary.

  • "Four-eyes" for a person with glasses
  • "Train tracks", "tin teeth", or "braceface" for a person with braces, such as Sharon Spitz on the animated series Braceface
  • "Zit" can be a name for someone with pimples.

All of the above examples would be offensive in most contexts.


Nicknames can be a descriptor of a personality characteristic, or the opposite of a personality characteristic. These types of nicknames were often used in fairy tales such as "Snow White". Sometimes such nicknames may be indicative of a physical disorder.

  • Talkative:"Motormouth","Chatterbox","Ratchet-Jaw"
  • Cautious: "Nervous Nellie"
  • Tired Demeanor: "Sleepy" as in a dwarf from Snow White
  • Pessimistic: "Sad Sack"

Mental characteristics

A nickname may allude to a person's apparent intelligence (though often used sarcastically):


Social group

Mary Mallon (1870 1938) was nicknamed "Typhoid Mary" Sometimes an adjective can become a nickname for a member of a social group that shares a given name with another member of the same group. For example, to differentiate two tennis partners with the same name from each other, the more junior tennis buddy may be given a differentiated name or "nickname". This is, and never will be able to be chosen or even debated by the recipient. It simply is.....allocated. Paul number two in a team may be designated a name starting with the first letter of his surname. E.G.: Paul Haworth may be designated "Harry" and so on. It is a differentiator and not a statement.

  • "Gay Anthony" or "Little Jake"
  • In a department with two professors with the initial and last name Liu, they may be referred to as "Important Liu" and "Adjunct Liu".

Abbreviation or modification

A nickname can be a shortened or modified variation on a person's real name.

  • Contractions of longer names: Margaret to Greta.
  • Initials using the first letters of a person's first and last name.
  • Dropping a Letter: With many nicknames a letter, usually R, is dropped: Fanny from Francis, Walt from Walter.
  • Phonetic Spelling : Sometimes a nickname is created through the phonetic spelling of a name Len from Leonard.
  • Letter Swapping: During the middle ages, the letter R would often be swapped for either L or D: Hal from Harry, Molly from Mary, Sadie from Sarah, Robert: Hob, Dob, Rob, Bob and Nob, from Richard: Rick, Dick, and Hick; Bill from Will (which in turn comes from William), and Peg from Meg (which is derived from Margaret).
  • In the 19th century, frontier America, Mary and Molly were often given the nickname Polly.

Name portions

  • Front of name:Sometimes a nickname can come from the front: Chris from Christopher/Christina, Ed from Edward/Edmond/Edgar/Edwin, Iz or Izzy from Isaac/Isaiah/Isidore/Izale/Isabel/Isabella, Joe or Jo from Joseph/Josephine/Joanna, Abby from Abigail, Nick or Nico from Nicholas, Peg from Peggy, Sam from Samuel/Samantha/Samson
  • End of Name: Drew from Andrew, Xander from Alexander, Eth from Kenneth, Topher from Christopher, Beth from Elizabeth
  • Middle of Name: Liz from Elizabeth or Del/Della from Adelaide
  • Addition of Diminutives to Names:Before the 17th century, most nicknames had the diminutive ending "in" or "Kin", where the ending is attached to the first syllable: Watkin/Walter/Wat-kin Hobkin/Robert/Hob-kin or Thompkin/Thomas/Thom-Kin. While most of these have died away, a few remain such as Robin (Rob-in, from Robert), Hank (Hen-Kin from Henry), Jack (Jan-kin from John), and Colin (Col-in from Nicolas).
  • Many nicknames usually drop the final one or two letters and add ether ie/ee/y as an ending: Davy from David, Charlie from Charles, Danny/Dani/Danie from Daniel/Danielle and Jimmy from James
  • In some cases, another name may be used as a nickname.
  • Initialization, which forms a nickname from a person's initials: A.C. Slater from Albert Clifford Slater
  • Nicknames are sometimes based on a person's last name ("Tommo" for Bill Thompson) or a combination of first and last name ("Droopy" for Andrew Peterson, or "A-Rod" for Alex Rodriguez)
  • Loose ties to a person's name with an attached suffix: Gazza for English footballer Paul Gascoigne (though used more widely in Australia for Gary) and similar "zza" forms (Hezza, Prezza, etc.) for other prominent personalities whose activities are frequently reported in the British press. (See also Oxford "-er" for a similar but wider phenomenon.)
  • Combination of first and middle name, or variations of a person's first and middle name. For example, a person may have the name Mary Elizabeth but has the nickname "Maz" or "Miz" by combining Mary and Liz.


They may refer to the relationship with the person. This is a term of endearment.

  • In Japanese culture, Japanese honorifics are designed so that a term of endearment conveys the exact status of the relationship between two people. However, the recipient of the honorific is allowed to restrict the use when used by a certain person.


To avoid confusion between peer groups with the same given names, surnames may be used.


A nickname can be used to distinguish members of the same family sharing the same name from one another. This has several common patterns among sons named for fathers:

  • The first bearer of the name can be referred to as Senior, Daddy or have "Big", or "Older" placed in front of his given name, as in "Big Pete", or "Older Pete".
  • A son named after his father (but not after his grandfather) is often referred to as Junior, Chip (also a diminutive of Charles, but in this case in reference to "a chip off the old block"), Skip, Sonny, Bud, Buddy, or Deuce. Skip can also refer to a man named after his paternal grandfather, implying that the name "skipped" a generation. Another common, but much less popular nickname for a son named after his father is having "Little" placed in front of his name, as in "Little Pete", though this tends to be avoided if possible (especially if the son happens to become physically bigger than the father he's named after, and/or when the son becomes a full grown adult, regardless of if he does, or doesn't physically outgrow the father he shares a name with), due to its unpopularity with most sons who share the same name with their fathers. Likewise, a similar, and more acceptable form of this kind of nickname is to have "Younger" placed in front of the son's name instead, as in "Younger Pete".
  • The third generation carrying a name (usually with III after his name) is often referred to as Trey, Tripp, or Trip (from Triple). Skip also is a frequently used nickname for "thirds" because they "skipped" being a "Junior".
  • The fourth generation carrying a name (usually with IV after his name) may be referred to as Ivy, (as in IV) Quad, Quadry, or Dru (from Quadruple).
  • The fifth generation carrying a name (usually with V after his name) may be referred to as Quint, Quince, Quincy, or Quinton (from Quintuple).


It may relate to a specific incident or action.

  • Capability Brown was so called because he used the word "capability" instead of "possibility".
  • Chemical Ali and Comical Ali.
  • Thirteen for Dr. Remy Hadley from TV's House M.D., because she was assigned the number 13 in her job interview process and continued to be called by her number even after she was hired.
  • "Opa" for the Dutch lifesaving KNRM-hero Dorus Rijkers. Dorus became a Grandpa (Dutch:Opa), at the age of 23 (by marriage to a widow with eight children), and soon everybody called him Opa.
  • "The Falling Man" for one of the jumpers during the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center terrorrist attacks.

Famous/fictional character

It may compare the person with a famous or fictional character.

Place of origin/residence

It may be related to their place of origin or residence.

  • Gloucester, Paul from Gloucester or PFG for someone named Paul who comes from Gloucester.
  • Newf or Newfie a person from Newfoundland,Canada


It may be derived from or related to what the person is well known for.


It may refer to a person's political affiliation.


A famous person's nickname may be unique to them:

Nicknames of geographical places

Gingko street]]" Many geographic places adopt nicknames because they can help in establishing a civic identity, help outsiders recognize a community or attract people to a community because of its nickname, promote civic pride, and build community unity.[7] Nicknames and slogans that successfully create a new community "ideology or myth"[8] are also believed to have economic value.[7] Their economic value is difficult to measure,[7] but there are anecdotal reports of cities that have achieved substantial economic benefits by "branding" themselves by adopting new slogans.[8]

Collective nicknames of inhabitants of a geographical place

Besides or replacing the demonym, some cities and villages have collective nicknames for their inhabitants. This tradition is still strong nowadays in Wallonia (Belgium), where this sort of nickname is referred to in French as "Blason populaire".

See also


External links

af:Bynaam be: bo: br:Lesanv ca: lies cs:P ezd vka cy:Llysenw da:Kaldenavn de:Spitzname eo:Petolnomo es:Apodo fa: fr:Surnom ko: hr:Nadimak id:Nama julukan it:Nomignolo he: lt:Pravard nl:Bijnaam nds-nl:Tweantse skeeldnaamns ja: no:Kallenavn nn:Kallenamn nds: kelnaam pl:Nick pt:Alcunha ksh:Shpeznaame ro:Porecl ru: simple:Nickname fi:Lempinimi sv:Smeknamn te: th: uk: wa:S vaedje no zh:

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