3 Things To Do When You’ve Got A Shitty Nickname

3 Things To Do When You’ve Got A Shitty Nickname
Carly Jacobs
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’ve got mate called Penis. Hand on heart. Penis. We call him ‘Peni’ or ‘Penoir’ these days but his full nickname really is Penis. How’s that for a shitty nickname? It took me ages to find out where it came from, and it turns out its origins aren’t as exciting as I’d hoped.

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And that’s often the way.

If you’re unlucky enough to be saddled with a shitty nickname, here are a few things you can do to cope with the unfortunate situation.

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1. Wait it out

I have another friend who we used to call ‘Chump’ at school. He’s not particularly chump-like… well, maybe a bit… but in truth his name came about because he looked like a cartoon character on the back of a cereal box called Chump.

And that’s the problem, isn’t it? It doesn’t matter where it comes from, and it doesn’t matter if you don’t like it either; however unglamorous or embarrassing, once a nickname’s there, it’s there.

Eventually, Chump’s name went away, which can happen. He grew out of it – or we did.

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2. Ignore it

Another way to deal with a nickname you’re not happy with: ignore it. A bit like that strange noise your car makes, it might just go away after a while.

I had a nickname briefly when I was at university. I didn’t like it much. I was spending quite a bit of time down the Student Union bar around the same time a character ‘Tosh Lines’ from the police show The Bill died from alcohol poisoning. My name changed to Tosh overnight.

I just pretended not to realize people were addressing me. To my relief, my friends lost interest in it and my name went back to normal.

Mind you, if people are determined, you might be stuck with it – like the guy from my footy team who, for no particular reason, had been named ‘Wart’. He just couldn’t shake that one!

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3. Embrace it

Your last – and probably most ‘grown-up’ option – is to just embrace your nickname. Own it. Even if it’s embarrassing, making it your own you’ll find your nickname can be kind of cool. Even Penis – he loves his name now. He’s made peace with his gods, has come to terms with his new name… and makes sure his friends never meet his parents!

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But by and large, even your folks will understand if you bring home a nickname. I think my dad was quietly pleased when he discovered I’d been re-christened ‘Nightmare’ after an infamous football hooligan! I don’t think my mum liked it much.

I gave my mum a nickname, by the way. I don’t call her ‘Mum’ anymore. I call her Jean. Her real name’s Edith. Go figure.

One thing’s for certain though: you can never give yourself a nickname. It just doesn’t work like that. Unless you’re a mo fo rapper or something. Even then, the artist formally known as You will never be truly accepted by your friends.

Oh, and Penis – his name’s from an unfortunate bowl haircut when he was in Year 9.

What was your nickname at school? Have you managed to shed an unfortunate moniker? How did you do it?

44 Comments

  1. Liz @ I Spy Plum Pie 8 years ago

    One of my best mates unfortunately picked up the nickname ‘Fat Alex’ on our first week of uni, as there were 3 Alex’s and he was the only one to eat dessert that night. It’s been 6 years and it has stuck to the point that even his school friends call him ‘Fat’ now. For a short time he was Falex, but he really hated that, so back to just Fat it was!
    My sister and I call each other Smelly & Ugly (she’s Smelly, I’m Ugly). It started when I was on exchange in France when I was 16, although we don’t really know why! My mum hates it, but it has most definitely stuck!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 8 years ago

      Smelly and Ugly is adorable! My old work mate Browny and I used to call each other Ugly. I know realise Browny was a nickname too… her real name is Bronwyn but we taught ESL students who didn’t quite get the concept of ‘y’ being a vowel so they called Bronwy and now I have for about 7 years.

    • Funny, Liz – I call my brother Ugly too! He calls me Big Nose and we both call each other Fat Git after that initial bespoke greeting!
      Love that Bronwy story, Carly. Reminds me of when a teacher called Laurie worked in my school. Her Japanese students really struggled with her name!

  2. Nadine 8 years ago

    A friend of mine had a not-very-flattering nickname as a kid. When she got to about 15 or 16 she asked her close friends to stop using it and to call her by her real first name, and we all did and it sort of rippled out from there. It was no big deal at the time, but now I look back I think it was pretty gutsy of her to speak up

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 8 years ago

      Oh come on! You have to tell us the nickname! You can’t leave me haning like that!

      • Nadine 8 years ago

        Oh sorry! It was ‘Chunky’. You know I don’t like talking about my friends on the internet!????

        • Yeah, probably a good thing she got her mates to stop with that one I reckon, Nadine! You’re right though. Definitely gutsy of her to stand up to her friends – it can be harder to do that than standing up to the people you don’t like sometimes, can’t it?

  3. Careeragogo 8 years ago

    I remember once calling a child by a shortened version of their name only to be informed by the parent of the acceptable and agreed designated nickname. I remember being quite taken a back by this (although I think it was more how it was said, than what was said). Well, the shoe is on the other foot now! My son Edward is often referred to as “Eddie” by friends and his teachers. I have to consciously remember to not twitch or grimace when I hear it. Oh, how I want to say “It’s Ed, not Eddie!”

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 8 years ago

      I totally get this! I used to babysit for two little girls called Gabrielle and Natalie. Not Gabby, not Nat, Gabrielle and Natalie. Then they had a son called Alexander and they all started calling him ‘Zander’. It was so weird. I’ve got a new little cousin called Edward and he’s Teddy. 🙂

    • It’s hard trying to enforce a nickname for someone else. It must be so frustrating when no one takes it on too. Mind you, some people make it hard for themselves; my friend was doing her high school teaching prac when the parents of one of her students asked to meet with her. They asked her to only refer to their daughter as ‘Dee’ and never to say her full name in class or let other students see the register where her full name was written.
      Her real name was ‘Dikshita’. Why would you do that to a child even if it’s not pronounced how I would say this name?!

  4. Oh Jim, I do love you so! You crack me up dude. I actually didn’t receive any nicknames that stuck until I met my now husband…and now I have an entire collection: Sonic, Sonitza, Snitzel, Snotzel, Sneezel…!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 8 years ago

      I like Sonic! My partner just calls me Shit Head. Seriously that’s what he calls me.

    • Heh heh! Glad to be of service, Sonia! Very funny your fella calls you Schnitzel – I’ve got a story about that you must remind me to tell you! I sometimes call Mrs Romance ‘Millie’ from her maiden name Milotich – but it’s only if I’m trying to wind her up!
      She calls me Shit Head too sometimes, Carly – but I’m not sure if it’s an endearment!

  5. Author
    Carly Jacobs 8 years ago

    I’ve never had a bad nickname but people tend to make my name longer rather than shorter. Carly Bear, Carly Bell. I get C-Jobs from one of my mates and C-Bomb from you. Smags is another. My bestie calls me Weertie, my dad calls Me-Arly. A lot of my proper, every day knick names are more like sounds than words. Mr Smags calls me Shit Face, Bug or Kitten. I think that’s about it. Most of them are pretty weird.

  6. Michelle... 8 years ago

    I am Midget (yes I’m short). It’s got to the point where many people (fortunately it’s limited to those that I ride bikes with) don’t actually know my real name.
    My partner is Slim. Cos he didn’t used to be slim :- But he’s had the nickname for 20 odd years and he’s in the same boat as me in that people don’t know who you’re talking about if you refer to him as Richard. I call him “Longfer” (cos Richard is long for Dick – yup, I’m so mature 😀 ). He calls me Monster (have never been able to get to the bottom of that one)

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 8 years ago

      Monster is adorable! I love that one. One of my friends calls his wife ‘bird’. It’s very cute.

    • Heh heh! I discovered a while back a friend of mine, Pippa, used to be called Plinky by one of her friends from South Africa. He’d often expand on that to Plonky or Planky or even Plunky. But it was Plonky that this all started. Seems she’d brought a really cheap bad bottle of wine round for dinner one night and instantly became Pippa Plonky.
      I agree with you though, C-Bomb: Monster’s awesome!

  7. Angie 8 years ago

    My husband’s nickname (around his friends) is Sheepdog. To this day (we’ve been together for 10 years), no one, including him, can explain to me the origins of this nickname. (And no he doesn’t look like one in the slightest!) Weird.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 8 years ago

      That’s bizarre! I imagine it was after a few beers and that’s why no one can remember!

  8. Jane 8 years ago

    Some of my darling high school friends call me Anus. It came about like this…Jane- Janus- Anus. It’s been 12 years. I am still affectionatly Anus.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 8 years ago

      I had a friend at school that I called Janus the Anus. So unfortunate.

      • Yeah, that’s bad! We started calling my mate Andy (who was playing for my footy team at the time) ‘Poo Manchu’. He’d gone missing just before the start of the game and had missed kick off. Someone found him in the toilets – seems pre-match nerves had got to him!
        Why Poo Manchu? No idea. He’s not Asian, doesn’t have a moustache and isn’t a master criminal. It just came to me in a moment of glorious inspiration!

  9. Cilla 8 years ago

    My Partner and I call each other Ploppy. I think it was a combination of Pumpkin and Puppy…. ?

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 8 years ago

      That’s adorable! That’s actually where the word Smaggle came from. Mr Smaggle said he was going to smash and snuggle me at the same time and it came ‘Smaggle’. We also call each other Chew or Chewy. No idea why.

    • Don’t know if you’ve seen any Blackadder shows, Cilla, but in Blackadder II Rowan Atkinson is in charge of the royal jails. The head jailer there is called Ploppy… and so is the woman who cooks the condemneds’ last meals. Then Baldrick starts working there as the executioner and he also becomes a Ploppy! Probably not related to your situation, but thought I’d mention it!

  10. My nickname to some is Stiff/Stiffy. Unfortunately I don’t have an exciting dirty story to tie to it (I can lie and make one up if you like)…it just came about when my Kiwi friends and old housemate would try to say Steph/Stephie (Stiff/Stiffy in kiwi). I kinda like it.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 8 years ago

      My besite is called Steph and she’s from NZ and I have her in my phone as Stiffy My Love. She calls Mr Smaggle Fuckface. We’re all so charming aren’t we?

  11. Natalie 8 years ago

    I most often get called Nat, but I’ve also had the nickname Natatree since early high school days. I used to go around hugging trees and my friend got tongue tied one day and ended up saying Natatree, it stuck. It also helped because my best friend was another Natalie with the same last name initial, so most of my teachers got on the Natatree band wagon.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 8 years ago

      I like that that’s using your name as verb, like you ‘nat’ the tree. So cute.

  12. Christine 8 years ago

    My friend and I gave each other nicknames many years ago. Her surname was Bartley and one day, inevitably and unimaginatively, I called her Bart the fart. She immediately responded with chris the piss. These names became a bit cumbersome and were shortened to btf and ctp. You’d be forgiven for thinking we were 10 years old when the christening occurred, given their juvenile appeal. But, no, we were workmates about 20 years of age. That was 35 years ago and we have long since lost touch – but I guarantee if I was to ring her and say it was ctp, she would know instantly who it was. Gotta love a good nickname.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 8 years ago

      There are few things in life better than a rhyming nickname. I worked with a women that I used to call Susan Poosen. Good times.

  13. Fifi 8 years ago

    I’ve enjoyed both Fenis Penis and Fifi the French Prostitute in the past – one of my HS mates will still bust out the former every now and then. My bestie and I call each other Bitchface… It’s a nickname we gave to our cat (who was a total bitchface) but somehow it ended up as a ubiquitous term of endearment.

    My sister and I used to call each other Snotface a la Rik Mayall in Drop Dead Fred… (sob!)

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 8 years ago

      So sad about Rik! I call my brother Baldren from Team America. Like ‘Herro Arec Baldren!’.

  14. Vanessa 8 years ago

    When I was 15 and working in my first after school job, I was called “Vanessa the Undresser” by my boss once. Ah, introduction to working life. Good thing I was stubborn as hell even then, I glared at him and he never did it again.

  15. Tine 8 years ago

    My last name is Wang. Thank all that’s mighty that kids didn’t get the other meaning to it back in school in Malaysia. On the other hand, it also means “money” in Malay so they seem to think my parents were made of it (we obviously weren’t).

  16. Lyralei 7 years ago

    A few people call me Elizameth because it just rhymes. What do I say to that?

  17. Shasta 6 years ago

    I was enrolled at an nice school but was one of the only two Asian girls at the school. I got the nickname predator because my hair has thick strands. I want revenge. Any advice for someone who can’t let go?

  18. Ben 6 years ago

    I have possibly the worst nickname on earth which is BJ f*nnywagon

  19. Just me 6 years ago

    Mine caused me some trouble in later life, unfortunately. They used to call me “Little Fart”. Some people still do. I still have a hard time accepting it and dealing with it. Went through depression because of it. I think I will never come to terms with it, to be honest.

    • hein 4 years ago

      Me too.

  20. hein 4 years ago

    My school friends call me dullard,dork.
    Even my college years, it still persists.
    everytime they call it, i feel like wierdo
    I trasfered to other town for the sake of disappearing.It still hunts me now.
    I lost many childhood squads.i gained mental issues
    from it.I really don’t know how to shake it off.
    But i know my nick is humiliating me and i really hate it.

  21. Amy 4 years ago

    My brother and i used to try and insult each other in the most loving way, my nickname for him was ‘poo bum willy face’ because 7 year old me thought that was really mean.The nickname he chose for me was alien so its kinda stuck.

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