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Creating The Perfect Nickname
Nicknames are endearing labels that allow us to light-heartedly poke fun and show we care about a person. The best nicknames are unique, individualized, and speak to the personality of the nicknamed. Creating that nickname for a friend, co-worker, boss, or family member can be part science and part accident. Sometimes the person does something that causes them to "earn" a nickname and sometimes you have to more creative. This article will discuss the two proven ways to find a person's perfect nickname.
We'll start with the easy way first - the accidental nickname.
This nickname is one a person gives to themselves through action or accident. Examples of sources for this type of nickname could be something they say at an inappropriate time, a consistently observed behavior, habit, or manerism, or a funny occurance or situation they found themselves in.
Some obvious examples could be:
You notice a guy at work always drinks big gulps. Nickname = Big Gulp
A person orders extra cheese. Nicknames = Chucky
Person walks in an overly confident way, swaggering. Nickname = Strut
Person who gets caught frequently napping at work. Nickname = Sleepy
Guy wears a big golden belt buckle when not in Texas or at a Brad Paisley concert. Nickname = Tex
My favorite way to create nicknames in this category is pick the obvious nickname and take it a step sideways. For example I was eating with some friends a few years ago and one of them said the crust of bread was "the best part." It was clear this individual had had that engrained into is brain from an early age and so I immediately seized on it and created for him the nickname, "Folgers."
The obvious name for him would have been "crusts," but that was too obvious and crust takes on a certain unpleasantness when you're using it to refer to a person. Folgers however was perfect because the phrase he repeated several times, "the best part" is a prominent part of the Folgers coffee jingle, "The best part of waking up...is folgers in your cup." Folgers is a nickname that you're guaranteed to never run across anywhere else and it will make people ask, "what's up with that nickname?" and you'll have an interesting story to tell.
Obvious nicknames are the easiest and if you take them a step sideways it ads to their, "very simple, very nice" quality. The more difficult nicknames are those where it isn't so obvious or the person just doesn't have one but needs one quickly.
This is where some skill and creative thought process comes in handy. Say the person doesn't do anything out of the ordinary that would warrant an obvious nickname or if you are in a situation, bowling or playing softball for example, where many comical names are called for and some people on the team don't have one. In situations like these there is a formula that I've found works really well to create nicknames that are unique, fit the person, and are very funny - in most cases because they aren't as overt as a "Tex" or "Strut." The formula is a series of steps that when followed, in order, will deliver you to a suitable nickname/s that aren't generic.
1. Answer this question: Who is the person? (Are they a ladiesman? Is he really quiet? Does she like live music? -- What is the essence that first comes to mind when you think of that person?)
2. Take what comes out and dig deeper. If music is important to them find out who their favorite musician is. If sports, find out the team or player they like most. If its video games, shopping, pets, gardening, cars, purses, movies, or whatever...find out what their favorite is and why. Figuring out a passion they have will get you in the ballpark of a fitting nickname.
In addition to their passions, their personality is a good place to go and often leads to more humorous nicknames.
3. Take the answer from number 2 and step it sideways, keeping humor and their actual name and personality in mind. Examples:
a. If they like rap music, take the first letter, or part, of their first or last name and combo it with a famous rapper, or rap groups name, creating: C Diddy, Master D, Z-Unit, Funk Master Greg.
b. If they like musical instruments you could call them by an instrument makers name (Fender) or a store name (Guitar Center).
c. If they have a favorite movie its great to go in and find a character that they are similar to in manerisms or has a similar name. Don = Donnie Darko. Bill = Kill Bill...or to step it sideways and Uma would be funny. One of my nicknames is Spackler. Not because I work in remodeling, but because I worked at a golf course growing up and one of the greatest golf movies, Caddy Shack, had a character named Carl Spackler played by Bill Murry. Spackler...perfect.
d. Regional characteristics are also something that works well. If the person is from the south, SoCo is a good nickname. If they're from Tennessee they could be Jack Daniels, because the brand is headquartered there. If they're from the east coast, Brooklyn or Yankee is obvious but stepping sideways Giuliani would be funny.
e. Personality is another key area for nicknaming purposes that can create some wacky outcomes. Angela = Banangela if the girl is goofy. John = John Juan if he is a ladies man, or if he's not its even funnier.
Clearly there are a lot of options for coming up with a nickname but hopefully these will show you the methods that i've found work best to create nickname gold.
When employing either method for nicknaming a person, accident/obvious method or the step by step method, the most important thing to keep in mind is light-heartedness and fun. Nicknaming a person is part art, part science, and part accident, and finding the right one can be work, but when you strike that perfect one it will lasts a lifetime and longer.