When my kids were young, I made up silly names for them. It was a playful way of adding extra affection and fun to our relationship. The handles were cute and harmless and never said outside of our home. They were just between us.
I soon discovered that my children had shared them with their friends. When my oldest son got married, he asked me to tell his new wife a few of them because he couldn’t say them the way I did. They wore those nicknames like a badge of honor which said: “My mother loves me.”
Some names can also be a form of bullying. They go from the playful into teasing and taunting. One of my daughters was called “fat Pat” by her brothers because they knew it irritated her. She was far from fat, but over time she began to believe them. She fretted over her weight and it became a negative focus into her teen years.
My youngest son was dressed up in a girl’s dress by his sister when he was only three years old. She even burdened him with a feminine name. When his siblings teased him and chanted this name, he grew angry, especially as he got older. Calling him this after knowing it made him angry was really a form of bullying. To this day he hates this name and cringes whenever he hears it.
Another daughter had a severe case of chicken pox. They were so bad that even the bottoms of her feet were covered and her tongue. Afterward she was left with a large scar on her cheek.
Before that time she had been full of spunk and self-confidence. But one day a boy at school called her “crater face” and she shriveled into a door mouse. The scar and the teasing made her feel inferior and ugly; not a good way to enter the teenage years. Eventually she outgrew this hurt as the scar grew smaller and she became a beautiful young woman.
I know how she felt. When I got my first pair of glasses as a child, I was called “four-eyes” and learned the negative quip: “Boys seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses.” Even when a young admirer told me I had beautiful eyes, I didn’t believe him. “How could he see my eyes,” I wondered. “I’m wearing glasses?”
We all have battle scars and memories of being picked on or made to feel different. For some it’s a disability. For others, it’s a behavior, a personality quirk or an actual physical characteristic that others may find odd or funny. “Freckle face,” Carrot Top,” “Cowboy” (for bowed legs), “gimpy,” “hunch back,” and “sissy” are stings that you never outgrow. They stick in your mind and may hurt for a lifetime.
Childhood is filled with pain until we finally grow up and discover who we really are. But for some, the burden of pain stays hidden beneath a wall of self-protection making relationships and friendships hard to come by and difficult, perhaps even dangerous if it pushes someone over the edge.
Wild Bill Hickok was one of those people. That’s right: The “Bill” part of his name was just as much a nickname as “Wild” — his full name wasn’t William, but James Butler Hickok. Bill was actually a wisecrack about his appearance, and specifically on his giant slope of a nose and protruding upper lip. The first version of Hickok’s nickname was actually “Duck Bill.” He changed it to Wild Bill to divert people’s attention from his nose to his skills.
Wild Bill Hickok became one of the most famous figures to emerge from the American Old West, his legend reaching mythical proportions. Hickok fought with the North in the Civil War. He was best known as a gunfighter, a scout, a professional gambler and a lawman. But for his contemporaries, and his sub-conscious, he would always be known as Wild Bill – the guy with the big schnozola.
Positive nicknames can actually enhance someone’s image. Here is a partial list of famous people and their monikers. If you want to see more, go to this site: http://www.pubquizreference.co.uk/trivref/nicknames-of-famous-people.htm
|FAMOUS PERSON||NICKNAME||EXTRA INFORMATION|
|Jim Corbett||GENTLEMAN JIM||Boxer|
|Jack Dempsey||MANASSA MAULER, NONPAREIL||Boxer US|
|Muhammad Ali||LOUISVILLE LIP||Boxer, US greatest ever arguably, now in his 50’s sadly suffers from Parkinson’s Disease|
|Nigel Benn||DARK DESTROYER||Boxer Eng|
|Georges Carpentier||ORCHID KID||Boxer Fra|
|Thomas Hearns||HITMAN||Boxer US|
|Ricky Hatton||HITMAN||Boxer Eng|
|Primo Carnera||AMBLING ALP||Boxer|
|Rocky Marciano||BROCKTON BOMBER||Boxer|
|Joe Louis||BROWN BOMBER||Boxer|
|Barry McGuigan||CLONES CYCLONE||Boxer|
|Eddie Edwards||THE EAGLE||Ski-Jumper, famous for his poor performance|
|Sergio Garcia||EL NINO||Spanish golfer|
|Florence Griffith-Joiner||FLO JO||Athlete, US 100m died aged just 38 after heavy drug use|
|Paavo Nurmi||THE FLYING FINN||Finnish Ski-Jumper|
|Ference Puskas||THE GALLOPING MAJOR||Hungarian Footballer, peaked around mid 50’s early 60’s|
|Jimmy Hill||RABII||Footballer UK, and later TV presenter and Football pundit|
|David Beckham||GOLDENBALLS||Footballer, Eng World Superstar off the pitch|
|Stanley Matthews||WIZARD OF DRIBBLE||Footballer Eng, one of the greats of the 50’s, played league football at 50 yrs of age.|
|Duncan Ferguson||DUNCAN DISORDERLY||Footballer for Everton|
|Lev Yashin||THE BLACK PANTHER||Football Rus Goalkeeper|
|Norman Hunter||BITES YOUR LEGS||Footballer for Leeds|
|Dennis Law||THE LAWMAN||Football Sco prolific striker Man Utd & Scotland|
|Stuart Pearce||PSYCHO||Footballer Eng, England International left back, moved on to management|
|Paul Gascoigne||GAZZA||England Footballer, career blighted by addictions but still reached superstar status as much for his character as his skills.|
|Eddy Mercyx||THE CANNIBAL||Cycling Bel, winner of Tour De France 5 times|
|Martin Offiah||CHARIOTS||Rugby League and Union Eng Winger, one of fastest most elusive wingers in the game|
Professional nicknames are fun, but they prevent us from remembering a person’s name which is more personal. Here are a few you’ve probably used yourself (note that most of them are disrespectful).
- Bones for a surgeon or mortician
- Sawbones for an orthopedic surgeon
- Doc for a doctor or dentist
- Sparky for an electrician or radio operator
- Geek for a computer technician, a brainy person or nerd
- Sarge for a military sergeant
- Chief for a police or fire chief
- Teach for a teacher
- Prof for a Professor
- Brains for someone who is clever or a genius
- Moneybags for a wealthy person
You may enjoy creating your own nicknames and handles that describe someone in a positive way. Heaven knows we have enough sadness caused from bullying and name calling. Handles may lift someone’s self-esteem or tear it down.
I was never a good athlete. I’d be the last chosen for a team because in those days I was the shortest kid in my class. To this day I cringe when I hear someone called a sissy or the cat calls “Bet she throws like a girl.”
Revenge is sweet. Some of these girl’s (and boys) grow into powerhouses! One day this gangly uncoordinated girl will look down on you when she’s the CEO of Yahoo, or Hewlett Packard, or GM. You better look out! “What goes around, comes around.”