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A nickname is a short, clever, cute, derogatory, or otherwise substitute name for a person or thing's real name (for example, Tom is short for Thomas). As a concept, it is distinct from both pseudonym and stage name, although there may be overlap in these concepts. A nickname is sometimes considered cool to have, symbolising a form of acceptance, but often times there is no need for a nickname. Artists, actors, a.s.o. have usually also nicknames, then called screen name. A person's online nickname may also be known as his handle, especially within hacker culture.

Etymology: In Middle English the word was ekename (from the verb to eke, "enlarge"; compare Swedish öknamn). Later, an ekename developed into a nickname.

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.


Nicknames for people

Types of personal nickname:

Relating to given names

1. A nickname may be a hypocoristic form of a person's first name. This is often a simple abbreviation of the name. For most English names the shortened form is taken from the first syllable e.g. Walt for Walter. However in many other languages it is much more common to use the last syllable of the whole name e.g. Italian Nino for Giovanni (via Giovannino, which is a diminutive form of Giovanni). Some abbreviations can use the middle of a word e.g. Liz for Elizabeth. There are a few names for which an archaic pronunciation of the full name is preserved in the short name e.g. Rick for Richard indicates that the -ch- was originally pronounced as -ck-. Some other nicknames wre created by rhyming the shortened form of the full name, such as Ted or Ned for Edward (Ed), Bill for William (Will), and Bob or Nob for Robert (Rob). For those abbreviations that do not begin with the same letter as the full name, see list of short name forms. Examples:

  • Ally, Allie for Alexandra, Allison, Alison or Alice
  • Al, Alex, Lex, Xander, Sasha for Alexander or Alexandra
  • Andie for Andrea
  • Andy, Drew for Andrew
  • Ant, Tony, Toni, Tone for Anthony
  • Barb, Barbie, Babs for Barbara
  • Ben, Benny, Benji for Benjamin
  • Bert, Bertie for Albert, Herbert, Bertram
  • Betta for Elisabetta
  • Buck for Charles
  • Chuck, Chaz, Charlie for Charles
  • Chris, Chrissy, Chrissie for Christine
  • Chris for Christopher
  • Donna for Donnatella
  • Dan, Danny for Daniel
  • Dave, for David
  • Den, Denny, Dino, Dean for Dennis
  • Dot, Dotty for Dorothy or Dorothea
  • Ella, Ellie, Elle, Nell, Nellie for Eleanor
  • Beth, Bess, Bessie, Betsy, Betty, Bette, Eliza, Lisa, Liza, Liz for Elizabeth
  • Ed, Eddie, Ned, Ted for Edward
  • Eli, Lige for Elijah
  • Eli, Lish, Leesh for Elisha
  • Em, Ems, Emmy for Emily and Emma
  • Rikki, Rikkie, Ricky for Erica
  • Frank for Francis
  • Gerry for Gerald or Gerard
  • Harry, Hal, Hank for Henry and Harold
  • Isa for Isabellaskljasaddjhdsfsasd
  • Jack, Johnny for John
  • Jake for Jacob
  • Jay for Jason
  • Jeff for Jefferson or Jeffrey (originally for Jefferson but now more often Jeffrey, a new form of Geoffrey)
  • Jerry for Jerome
  • Jim, Jimmy, Jamie, Jock for James
  • Joe, Joey for Joseph
  • Jon for Jonathan
  • Josh for Joshua
  • Kat, Kate, Katie, Kathy for Katrina, Kathleen or Katherine or Kaitlyn
  • Ken, for Kenneth
  • Kev, Crank for Kevin
  • Larry, Lar, Laurie for Lawrence or Laurence (male only)
  • Laur, Lauri, Laurie for Laurence, Laura or Lauren (female)
  • Leo, Len, Lenny for Leonard or Leopold
  • Mandy, Mandi, Manda for Amanda
  • Maddie, Maddy for Madeline
  • Marge, Marg, Maggie, Mags, Meg, Peggy for Margaret
  • Matt, Mattie for Matthew
  • Meg, Mog, Gog for Megan
  • Mo for Mohammed, Maurice, Morris, or Maureen
  • Moll, Molly Dolly, Good Golly Miss Molly for Molly
  • Nate, Nat for Nathan, Nathaniel, Natalie
  • Ned, Ted for Edward
  • Nick for Nicholas
  • Pat, Patsy, Patty, Trish, Tricia for Patricia
  • Pat, Paddy for Patrick
  • Pete for Peter
  • Rick, Rich, Dick for Richard
  • Bob, Rob, Robbie, Bobby, Rab for Robert
  • Ron, Ronnie for Ronald
  • Rosie, Rose for Rosemary
  • Rube for Reuben
  • Rusty for Russell
  • Ry for Ryan
  • Sally, Sadie for Sarah
  • Sam for Samuel or Samantha
  • Sandy, Al, Alex for Alexander
  • Sandra, Sandy, Al, Alex for Alexandra
  • Sophie, Sophia for Sophronia
  • Steph, Stephie for Stephanie
  • Steve for Stephen (or Steven)
  • Sue, Susie, Suzie for Susan/Suzanne (most often Sue or Susie for Susan and Suzie for Suzanne)
  • Ted, Teddy, Theo for Theodore (or Edward)
  • Teddie, Thea, Theo for Theodora
  • Tom, Thom, Tommy for Thomas
  • Terrie for Teresa
  • Vicky, Vicki, Vickie, Tori for Victoria
  • Vince, Vin, Vinnie for Vincent
  • Vivi for Vivian
  • Wen, Wendel for Wendy
  • Will, Willy, Bill, Billy, Liam for William
  • Zach, Zack, Zac for Zachary

Many of these names are also registered as formal birth names.

2. A nickname may relate directly to a person's surname. Examples:

  • Fletch for someone with the surname Fletcher
  • Mitch for someone with the surname Mitchell
  • Murph for someone with the surname Murphy
  • Sully for someone with the surname Sullivan
  • Smitty for someone with the surname Smith
  • Churchy for Winston Churchill

3. It may also relate indirectly to a surname. Examples:

  • Chalky for someone with the surname White
  • Sandy for someone with the surname Brown
  • Dicky for someone with the surname Bird
  • Dinger for someone with the surname Bell
  • Chook for someone with the surname Fowler (only in Australia, where 'chook' is slang for chicken)

4. A nickname may reflect a national or cultural style. In the United States, for instance, rhyming contractions or plays on a person's name are common, as in:

Calling a person by their initials is also common.

5. Nicknames, whatever their original basis, may become cultural norms. 'Sis', (slang for 'sister') for example, is often picked up and used by all the members of a family, their friends and society at large. Similarly, 'Chip' (off the old block) and 'Junior' can be used for any youngster and the nickname may follow the person into adulthood.

Relating to culture/nationality

6. It may relate (offensively or otherwise) to a person's nationality or place of origin. Examples:

Relating to personal characteristics

7. A nickname may relate to the person's occupation. Examples:

8. It may reference a person's physical characteristics. Examples:

  • Baldy or Curly (ironic) for a bald person
  • Tubby or Chubby for a fat person
  • Lofty or Stretch for a tall person
  • Four-eyes for a person with glasses (offensive)
  • Specs for a person who wears glasses
  • Red, Rusty or Firecrotch for a person with red hair
  • Blondie for a person with blond hair
  • Grey for a person who has a very Light Blue eye color, also called called the Grey eye color.

It may be a sarcastic, or simply ironic, reference, e.g., Curly for someone with straight hair (or no hair at all) - this form is very typical in Australian English, e.g:

  • Blue for a person with blonde hair
  • Tiny for a very large person
  • Dulz for a cross eyed person (offensive)
  • Shorty for a very tall person
  • Slick for a clumsy, awkward or shy person
  • Slim for a fat person

9. It may relate to a person's character, imagined or real. Examples:

  • Grumpy
  • Swotty
  • Romeo

10. It may relate to a specific incident or action. Example: Capability Brown was so called because he used the word "capability" instead of "possibility". Other examples include: Chemical Ali and Comical Ali. Many fictional characters have nicknames relating to events: Examples include the Red Comet, White Tiger, Desert Tiger and Hawk of Endymion.

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

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

  • Gloucester, Paul from Gloucester or PFG for someone named Paul who comes from a town called Gloucester.
  • Robin Hood (Robin of Hood), a famous fictional character.


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

13. A person's nickname may have no traceable origin. For example, a person named "Harold" may be nicknamed "Fred" for no apparent reason, or a man who was named after a relative may ask his friends to call him "Chip" to avoid confusion.

Nicknames of geographical places


See also: list of city nicknames for a more comprehensive list.


  • The Great White North - Canada
  • The Land Down Under - Australia
  • The Fine Country - Singapore - Often in a sarcastic or satirical manner, as to playfully describe the law enforcement of Singapore as corruption-free and highly efficient; however, the island nation is also widely accepted has been imposing high fines to minor offences such as littering with such high effienciency that granted such nick name to the nation.
  • The Land of the Rising Sun - Japan
  • Da Lu (mainland - lit. 'Big Land') - mainland China


  • The Wet Coast - British Columbia, Canada; a play on "The West Coast" because that area of the country rains a lot
  • The Left Coast - Washington, Oregon, and California, United States; due to their location in the country and general support of "the left" (liberal political ideology).
  • Bridge of the World, Heart of the Universe (Spanish: Puente del Mundo, Corazón del Universo) - Republic of Panama; due to the convergence of the principal trade routes through its Panama Canal

Nicknames for political terms

Nicknames for some common items

Nicknames for professions

Nicknames for companies

  • "Big Blue" - IBM, computer hardware/software manufacturer
  • "Bloblaws" or "Blah-Blahs" - Loblaws, Canadian supermarket chain
  • "Burger Thing" - Burger King, global fast-food chain
  • "K-Fry" or "K-Fried" - KFC, American fried chicken restaurant chain
  • "The Little Thief" - Little Chef, UK roadside restaurant
  • "Lose-It" - Loomis, Canadian courier company
  • "Mickey D's" or "MacDo" mainly in France - McDonald's, global fast-food chain
  • "M$" or "Micro$loth" - Microsoft, American software company
  • "Mothercorp" - Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Canadian national broadcaster
  • "OOPS" - UPS, American courier service
  • "Rotten Ron's" - McDonald's, global fast-food chain
  • "Sooner-or-Later" - Purolator, Canadian courier company
  • "Tar-Get" ("Get" pronounced "zhay")- Target retail store chain.
  • "Timmy's" or "Tim's" - Tim Hortons, Canadian coffee and doughnut chain
  • "Wally World" - Wal-Mart, global chain of retail stores.

Military nicknames

See also: List of nicknames of British Army regiments; Regimental nicknames of the Canadian Forces

Sports clubs and their nicknames

Sporting clubs are often given nicknames. These may or may not be incorporated into official names or be used by the club. The names of animals or colours are popular. Examples:

Football (soccer)

Rugby Union




Main article: List of nicknames used in cricket

American Football

Canadian Football


See also

External links

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