AskDefine | Define nicknames

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Plural of nickname

Extensive Definition

A nickname is a name of an entity or thing that is not its proper name. It may either substitute or be added to the proper name. It may be a familiar or truncated form of the proper name, such as Bob, Bobby, Rob, Robbie, Robin, and Bert for Robert. Most nicknames are shorter than the proper name.
The term hypocoristic or "pet name" 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 of the names, e.g., referring to children. The distinction between the two is often blurred.
As a concept, it is distinct from both pseudonym and stage name, and also from 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.
Etymology: 1440, misdivision of ekename (1303), an eke name, literally "an additional name," from Old English eaca "an increase," related to eacian "to increase".
In Viking societies, many people had nicknames heiti, viðrnefni or uppnefi 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.


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

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. One very famous writer with a pen name is Dr. Seuss.

Nicknames for people

To inform an audience or readership of a person's nickname without actually calling them by their nickname, the nickname is placed between the first and last names and surrounded by quotation marks (i.e. Catherine "Cate" Jones). The middle name is eliminated (if there is one). Very rarely is the middle name mentioned with the nickname (exceptions being when the first name is composed of two words, e.g. "Beth Ann").
  • They may refer to a person's job or title.
    • Sawbones (or further shortened to "Bones," as in Dr. McCoy from Star Trek: TOS) or Doc for Doctor
  • They may reference a person's physical characteristics.
    • In English
      • Tubs, Chubby, Fatso, or Wideload for a fat person (generally offensive)
      • Four-Eyes for a person with glasses (mildly offensive), and train tracks for braces
    • In Spanish-speaking cultures
      • Flaco (thin, weak) or
      • Palito (little stick)
      • El Gordo (the fat guy) It should be noted that description of one's physical characteristics in a nickname should almost never be taken as an insult in Spanish.
  • A nickname can also originate from someone's real name.These are usually used to make names shorter and thus easier to say.
    • CJ for someone whose initials are C.J.
    • 'Thommo' for an Andrew Thompson
  • 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:
    • A son named after his father (but not after his grandfather) is often referred to as Junior, Chip, Skip, or Sonny.
    • The third generation carrying a name (usually with III after his name) is often referred to as Trey, Tripp, or Trip (from Triple).
    • The fourth generation carrying a name (usually with IV after his name) may be referred to as Ivy or Dru (as in Quadruple).
    • The fifth generation carrying a name (usually with V after his name) may be referred to as Quint or Quince.
  • It may compare the person with a famous or fictional character. Examples:
  • It may be related to their place of origin or place of residence. Example:
    • Gloucester, Paul from Gloucester or PFG for someone named Paul who comes from a town called Gloucester.
A famous person's nickname may be unique to them:
  • Tippecanoe for William Henry Harrison
  • Dubya for George W. Bush, an exaggeration of Texan pronunciation of 'w', President Bush's middle initial.
  • Opa for the Dutch lifesaving KNRM-hero Dorus Rijkers. Dorus became a Grandpa, (Dutch:"Opa"), at the age of 23 (by the marriage to a widow with eight children), and soon everybody called him Opa.
  • 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

Nicknames of geographical places

Particularly with geographical places, it is important to distinguish between nickname and title. A nickname is almost always a brief term that is either friendly or derogatory and can be substituted for the real name at will. A title is usually a multi-word term, often created for promotional purposes, sometimes created as a putdown, that cannot be substituted for the real name at will.
Most of the "city nicknames" are not nicknames; they are titles. For example, Kansas City is titled (or dubbed) 'Heart of America' and 'City of Fountains'; it is nicknamed KC. People will use KC frequently in everyday speech as a substitute for Kansas City; it is the popular nickname for the city. By contrast, the term 'City of Fountains' is uncommonly used as a title (not a nickname).

See also


nicknames in Catalan: Àlies
nicknames in Czech: Přezdívka
nicknames in Welsh: Llysenw
nicknames in Danish: Øgenavn
nicknames in German: Spitzname
nicknames in Spanish: Anexo:Alias
nicknames in French: Surnom
nicknames in Croatian: Nadimak
nicknames in Indonesian: Nama julukan
nicknames in Hebrew: שם חיבה
nicknames in Dutch: Bijnaam
nicknames in Japanese: 愛称
nicknames in Norwegian: Kallenavn
nicknames in Low German: Ökelnaam
nicknames in Portuguese: Alcunha
nicknames in Kölsch: Shpeznaame
nicknames in Russian: Прозвище
nicknames in Simple English: Nickname
nicknames in Finnish: Lempinimi
nicknames in Swedish: Smeknamn
nicknames in Thai: ชื่อเล่น
nicknames in Ukrainian: Нік
nicknames in Walloon: Såvaedje no
nicknames in Chinese: 綽號
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