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A nickname (also spelled "nick name") is a descriptive name given in place of or in addition to the official name of a person, place or thing. It can also be the familiar or truncated form of the proper name, 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. The distinction between the two is often blurred. It is a way to tell someone they are special and that you love them. 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 late as 1303. This word was derived from the Old English phrase eaca "an increase", related to eacian "to increase". By the fifteenth century, the misdivision of the syllables of the phrase "an ekename" led to its reanalysis as "a nekename". Though the spelling has changed, the pronunciation and meaning of the word have remained relatively stable ever since.
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.). 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 Totò), 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.
In Viking societies, many people had nicknames heiti, viðrnefni, 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.
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, Molière, George Sand, Lewis Carroll, Mark Twain, George Orwell, Dr. Seuss, and Lemony Snicket.
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 may be based on various attributes. These include:
They may refer to a person's job or title.
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. All of the above examples would be offensive in most contexts.
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.
A nickname can be a shortened or modified variation on a person's real name.
It may allude to a person's mental characteristics (though often used sarcastically):
They may refer to the relationship with the person. This is a term of endearment.
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:
It may relate to a specific incident or action.
It may compare the person with a famous or fictional character.
It may refer to a person's political affiliation.
A famous person's nickname may be unique to them:
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 Australian society, typical Australian men will give nicknames that may be ironic. For example, a man with red hair will get the nickname 'Bluey'.
Nicknames are usually awarded to, not chosen by the recipient. 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.
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. Nicknames and slogans that successfully create a new community "ideology or myth" are also believed to have economic value. Their economic value is difficult to measure, but there are anecdotal reports of cities that have achieved substantial economic benefits by "branding" themselves by adopting new slogans.
Besides or replacing the demonym, some cities and village 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".