All the crazy cool kids have nicknames, so you should have one too! But where do you start? What makes you distinctive? You're just too unique to choose one thing! That's where we can help with our nickname generator!
Nicknames come in all shapes and sizes, and have been around as an idea for centuries. They can act as both a sign of acceptance and of ridicule, while in terms of defining nicknames, there are different types – a hypocoristic is a name that's used affectionately between people with a strong emotional bond, while a diminutive is a nickname that's designed to evoke smallness, and can either be positive or negative.
The word actually comes from an Old English compound word 'ekename', which literally meant 'additional name' (coming from the Old English word 'eaca', meaning 'to increase'). The earliest recorded example of this is in 1303, but by the fifteenth century, the syllables in the word had been misdivided, and it was now rephrased and known better as a 'nekename'. The spelling may have evolved since then, but the meaning has remained relatively stable across the centuries.
Nicknames have been used frequently in a number of societies. Between the eighth and eleventh centuries, Viking raiders would often use nicknames (which they would call viðrnefni, kenningarnöfn or heiti in Old Norse), and these names would sometimes impart a special status, creating a relationship between the person with the nickname and the original name maker. The giving of the nickname would frequently be done through a formal ceremony and gift exchange known as nafnfestr (which literally means 'fastening a name' in Old Norse).
Affectionate diminutive names are frequently used in Indian societies, with popular choices being 'Babu', 'Raju', 'Gudiya' and 'Ritu', while Australians will often go for more ironic choices of nickname – for example, calling a very tall man 'Shorty' or an overweight man 'Slim'. In Chinese communities, nicknames are commonly used between friends and neighbours, while in a number of South-East Asian areas, nicknames can also be used as a sign of job or status (like a landlord being known as 'Towkay' or 'Boss').
Nicknames can be developed from a variety of characteristics or associations – there are the ones that key on physical characteristics ('Fatso', 'Beanpole', 'Shortie' or 'Chrome-Dome') and others that will focus in on specific details (like 'Four-eyes' for glasses, or 'metal mouth' for someone with braces). Nicknames can also deliberately highlight someone's personality – whether it's being talkative ('Motormouth'), boring ('Plain Jane'), pessimistic ('Sad Sack') or strong-willed ('The Iron Lady') – or they can focus on their occupation, whether it's a doctor ('Sawbones'), an electrician ('Sparky'), or a computer technician ('Geek'). Whatever name is ultimately chosen, a nickname can be vivid and memorable in a number of ways, and can often follow a person through their life, whether they want it to or not!
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