"The idea (...) was to give a kid a nickname appropriate to his appearance or eccentricity of behavior, the crueler the better. A kid with warts (...) might be known as 'Toad' or 'Frog' or simply 'Warty.' In the course of time, the warts might vanish, but the nickname would remain, continuing its work of warping the kid's personality and kicking holes in his psyche. Nicknames were fun."
It may be nickname with a horribly embarrassing story behind it, or something family members or lovers use only when they're alone (in which case it overlaps with Affectionate Nickname). Often describes a character's appearance, lack of ability in one area or another, though sexual prowess (or endowment) is a common one. Can be a Berserk Button.
Sub Trope of In-Series Nickname.
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Anime & Manga
Kei and Yuri are officially codenamed the Lovely Angels. However, due to their unfortunate and accidental tendency to leave a place MUCH worse then it was when they arrived, they've earned their infamous and much-better-known nickname: the Dirty Pair.
In Transformers Energon, the Alpha Quintesson is called "Alpha Q" for short. Say it out loud a few times...
Early in the first season of Code Geass, Lelouch uses his Geass on Knight Jeremiah Gottwald, making him do very dishonorable things and then calling him "Orange", just to throw the investigators off track. The nickname sticks, however, and nearly drives Jeremiah mad later but he learns to not give a damn by the second season, shortly before ascending to godhood of Undying Loyalty.
As for Lelouch, his friends at Ashford frequently call him "Loulou"... though he doesn't actually seem to be bothered by this.
Kyohei Kadota from Durarara!! was given the nickname Dotachin by Izaya, whom he despises as well as the nickname. His friend Erika will occassionaly reffer to him as Dotachin getting a mix of responses back.
Lina Inverse's closely guarded secret is that her official nickname is "Pink Sorceress". It was actually supposed to be a magical title akin to Red Baron but she is extremely embarrassed about the "pink" part.
And Rakan refers to her by the even more embarrassing "LoliGrandma". Her next spell comes close to 'accidentally' killing him.
Allen Walker in D. Gray-Man is, if you ask Kanda, named "Moyashi" ("Bean-sprout," in English). He does not appreciate this, and the nickname is one of the reasons Kanda is one of the only people in existence Allen can't get along with.
Not that he cannot hit it back to Kanda by calling him by the first name.
Hitsugaya hates being called "Shirou-chan" by Hinamori but has the grace not to retaliate with the nickname he used to give when they were younger, which was "Bedwetter Momo".
Mashiro calls Ichigo 'Berry-tan'.
Kyon hates it when people don't call him by his real name, but he can't be bothered to change that. And he never mentions his name in all the episodes either way (although it's implied that he said his name during his self-introduction on the first day of school in the first episode, but the audience doesn't hear that part on account of the narration). Refer to Literature for more info.
Dawn in Pokémon hates to be called "Dee Dee", a reference to an unfortunate childhood incident with a Plusle & Minun. Once we find this out, Kenny looks less playful and more cruel, both by the fact that he hung the Embarrassing Nickname on her in the first place, and that he keeps using it.
Under her original Japanese name, Hikari, the nickname was "Pikari" because of how the shock made her hair sparkle. But in the dub, she's called "Dee Dee" because the sparkles looked like "Diamond Dandruff".
The Handsome Lech Nakatsuka Kouta predictably earns the title "Mr. Sexual Harassment."
In Tenshi Ni Narumon Mikael totally hates when people misspell his name, calling him 'Kaeru-san' (Mr Frog) and he always tries to correct them. His teacher, Raphael on the other, doesn't seem to mind at all being called 'Haeru-san' (Mr Growing Out)
In Zoids/0 Bit Cloud starts calling the Tigers/Saberfangs Team "Fuzzy Pandas". Somehow, the nickname sticks whenever Bit and the Blitz Team run into them, and the team itself goes on an emotional roller coaster ride best described as comic relief for the rest of the series. In a Crowning Moment of Funny, towards the end, the Saberfangs face off one more time against two members of Blitz Team...and the Judge Bot refers to the Saberfangs as the "Fuzzy Pandas Team". All the Saberfang Zoids Face Fault as one and are KO'd as a result.
Jiraiya from Naruto is at first annoyed when Naruto calls him Ero-sennin, but almost immediately thereafter, allows him to do it when they are alone. But he still gets annoyed when Naruto does it in front of others.
We have Itachi and Kabuto both now calling Sasuke "Dr. Snakes". He doesn't seem to care.
In Eyeshield 21, Agon's nickname for Unsui is "Unko-chan", which can mean "Little Shit" or "Girly Little Un".
It's part of the series title, but Barnaby really doesn't like being referred to as "Bunny"/"L'il Bunny"/"Bunny-chan" by his crime-fighting partner Kotetsu in Tiger & Bunny. He eventually chooses to give up on complaining about it but he never accepts it completely.
Its embarrassingness is so extreme it can apparently restore Barnaby's memories of Kotetsu after they'd been forcibly wiped by the series Big Bad via a NEXT power
Hilariously though it seems the name has caught on, enough for the mechanic who maintains Barnaby's hi-tech suit to add a rabbit-shaped logo onto it.
In Ano Hana The Flower We Saw That Day, a girl named Naruko is nicknamed "Anaru" as a child, a contraction and shuffling of her first and last names. As a teenager, she's incredibly embarrassed by it. Why, you ask? Remember, in Japanese, there's no difference between a "l" and a "r"...
In Heartcatch Pretty Cure, Tsubomi is given the derogatory title "The Weakest Precure in History", due to the fact that, when she first transforms, she spent the entire moment just running and flailing.
Yutaka Itazu in Eden of the East got his nickname of "Panties" due to him becoming a total recluse who walks around only in a shirt and underwear after losing his only pair of pants.
In one of the X-Wing Series comics, we see that Wedge Antilles' childhood nickname was Veggies. He doesn't seem to mind◊ when his childhood friend Mirax calls him that, although she tells him not to use her childhood nickname, Myra.
Deliberately invoked in Strikeforce: Morituri by Pilar "Scaredycat" Lisieux and William "Scatterbrain" Deguchi; they gave each other embarrassing code names as part of a dare.
In Nth Man: The Ultimate Ninja , Dr. Yagyu calls John "Peachy", after Momotaro the Peach Boy. John himself teases the Soviet Colonel Novikova by calling her "Novi-cakes."
A version of the McGregor story told in the "Folklore" section below occurs in an Issue #14 of Transmetropolitan. A rather sad-looking guide talks about all the things he helped to build inside a building...and then someone calls out, "Hey! Bill Chimpfucker!"
Sonic the Hedgehog plays with this one a bit: Sonic, Knuckles and the Chaotix are introduced to Knux's baby brother. However, once they realize that the kid's gonna be nicknamed "Kneecaps", it's Knuckles who flips out after Sonic and the Chaotix (including Knuckles' girlfriend) burst out laughing.
Matt Murdock intensely disliked being called "Daredevil" as a child, but through the logic of comicbooks chose to call himself just that after gaining superpowers...
The name "Doctor Octopus" was actually originally a derogatory name that Otto Octavius' co-workers called him behind his back, a pun on his actual name inspired by the four-armed apparatus; he knew about it, but barely cared. After the accident that bonded the invention to him and granted him mental control over it, he adapted the insult as his nom de guerre as a way of showing contempt towards them.
She-Hulk is usually flattered by people who call her The Jade Giantess or The Glorious Green Glamazon. However, calling her "Shulkie" is a good way to get a fat lip (or worse).
In the Harry Potter/Dragonriders of Pern crossover The Queen Who Fell to Earth the dragons liked to give non-riders descriptive nicknames. Until she became a rider, Hermione's nickname was "Fuzzy One," while Sirius' was "Smelly Dog."
In the short "Beyond the Impossible", Pilot Jorge Strauss got his nickname "Dropper" because he accidentally dropped his weapons shortly after take-off in a training flight in his A-10 Warthog, while trying to retract his landing gear.
In cut scenes of Star Wars: A New Hope, Luke is called "Wormy" by his friends on Tatooine. You can see why he dropped it later.
The Blind Side: Both in the film and in Real Life, Michael Oher hates being called "Big Mike", because he originally wanted to be a basketball star and basketball stars aren't supposed to be that big.
In The Last Crusade, Indiana Jones, aka Henry Jones Jr., hates being called "Junior" by his father, Henry Jones Sr. His father, in turn, can't understand why his son likes being nicknamed after the family dog.
In Inglorious Basterds, Smithson Utivitch was rather disappointed to learn that the while the Nazis know his squadmates as Aldo the Apache and the Bear Jew, he is known as "The Little Man" amongst his enemies.
In Notting Hill, when William Thacker takes his new girlfriend, film mega-star Anna Scott, to a dinner party with some of his friends, the friends make sure that Scott knows that William's nickname in college was "Floppy", and that the situation was not pretty.
In Basic Instinct, Nick is called "Shooter" by a lot of people. It refers to a previous incident in which he accidentally shot and killed a bunch of tourists, which he is still haunted by.
In Alienł, Aaron is called "85" by the inmates. It refers to his IQ score, which they found out when they took a look at his personnel file.
A young man is walking through a small village one day and decides to stop by a bar and have a beer. He walks into a bar, and sees a grizzled old man, crying into his beer. Curious, the young man sits down and says, "Hey old timer, why the long face?" The old man looks at him and points out the window, "See that dock out there? I built that dock with my own two hands, plank by plank, nail by nail, but do they call me McGregor the dockbuilder? No, no." The old man continued, "And see that ship out there? I've been fishing these waters for my village for 35 years! But do they call me McGregor the fisherman? No, no." The old man continued, "And see all the crops in the farms out there? I planted and have been farming those crops for my village for nearly 45 years! But do they call me McGregor the farmer? No, no." The old man starts to cry again, "But you screw one goat..."
Milkman from Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon is called this his entire life after a neighbor caught his mother breastfeeding him long after he was too old to be breastfed.
In Anansi Boys, friends and family keep calling the main character "Fat Charlie," even after he's lost weight. But that can happen when your father is a Trickster god who sang the world into existence. His nicknames tend to stick.
In a later book, Wedge finds out that his screaming in battle is indeed distracting, and has his mind wiped.
Kyon hates it when people call him by his nickname, Kyon. He never does mention his real name though, throughout the 9 novels, and the preview of the 10th novel. And the anime, the songs, CD, games, etc. In the 9th novel, Sasaki points this out rather blatantly, and teases the readers with Kyon, by claiming it's a royal and imposing name.
In The Emigrants the reason why Arvid moves to America is to escape the rumors that he had sex with a cow, and the nickname the rumor earned him - the Bull at Nybacken.
Several characters in The Pale King have unusual nicknames, like ‘Irrelevant’ Chris Fogle, Ms. 'Iranian Crisis' Neti-Neti, David 'The Young Man Carbuncular' Wallace, and Diablo the Left-Handed Surrealist.
In The Dresden Files, Harry enjoys giving silly nicknames to powerful entities, some of them quite evil such as Lash the fragment of a fallen angel in his head. However, this habit nearly got him killed when he nicknamed Archangel Uriel Uri (since Uri is "The Light" without "of God"). However, Uriel was fine with Mr. Sunshine.
Lord Walder Frey is called the Late Lord Frey because of showing up to a battle when it was almost over, assuring the winning side that, of course, he had intended to help them the whole time. It's also appropriate in light of his refusal to die, his heir having died of old age waiting.
Conversed in Letters To His Son. Lord Chesterfield warned, well, his son never to do anything which mimicsnote as in, people who mimic you would use to give him one. That's why he regarded perfect manners, style etc. as so important.
In Bernard Glemser's The P.R. Girls, Sue, who is the head of the department of public relations for a major Hong Kong hotel, is woefully called upon by a Chinese girl who keeps saying, "Oh, Miss Sue!" This causes people to give her the nickname "Missue" which she hates.
The titular Artemis Fowl hates being called "Artie". He allows his mother and Juliet to call him that. And later on, Holly calls him by it, which causes him some confusion.
Live Action Television
In Smallville, Lois sometimes calls Clark "Clarky" when she is annoyed. It gets even funnier when Tess picked it up.
In Frasier, Niles begins to tease Daphne about her childhood nickname "Dappy" and is about to tell Martin when Martin responds "Is it worst than 'Piles'?"
Mose: Hey Coconut Head, would you kind not calling me Mose?
Coconut Head: Sure Jennifer. And hey, would you mind not calling me Coconut Head
Mose: Get a decent haircut and we'll talk.
In the pilot episode of Freaks and Geeks, Bill's mom writes a love note on the outside of his lunch bag in which she refers to him as "Little Man."
In one episode, Sam gets nicknamed "Dr. Love" after he's unable to identify any parts of the female reproductive system in health class.
Michael from Salute Your Shorts was forced to admit his grandparents called him Moosh-Moosh.
And the counselor, Mr. Lee, was called "Ugh", as in "Ugh Lee" ("Ugly"), but all the campers only call him "Ugh," probably to keep him from getting too mad.
On Cousin Skeeter, it was revealed that Skeeter's horrifically embarrassing elementary school nickname was "Sugar Booger."
In The Big Bang Theory, Howard's mother and eventually Bernadette call Howard "tushie-face," something which Leonard immediately posts to Twitter upon hearing.
When he was picked to fly to the International Space Station, Howard wanted a macho nickname among the astronaut group so he programmed Elton John's Rocket Man as his cellphone ringtone and had Raj call him while he was in a teleconference with real-life astronaut Mike Massimino. Unfortunately his mother chose that moment to tell him to come and eat his Fruit Loops. Guess what his nickname turned out to be?
Sheldon was mortified when Penny found out that his "Meemaw" (Grandma) called him "Moonpie."
In Charmed, after making out with a guy under the bleachers in high school, poor Phoebe ended up with the nickname "Freebie".
In Friends Chandler's old girlfriend calls him "skidmark".
Monica was also called "big fat goalie" when she played field hockey.
Skins: "Nips," Tony's less-than-flattering nickname for his girlfriend.
Michelle: Stop calling me 'Nips,' Tony.
Tony: It's a funny name! I've seen a few nipples, Nips, and yours are fucking hilarious.
Cassidy "Beaver" Casablancas from Veronica Mars. A nickname so loathed, protesting against it was one of the last things he did before killing himself.
Presumably nicknamed as such because his father and older brother were both nicknamed Dick and liked to torment him.
Major Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan, on M* A* S* H. The origin of the nickname is explained in the original novel and film: she gets it after a sexual tryst between her and Frank Burns (during which she implores Burns to "kiss my hot lips") is broadcast to the rest of the camp over the P.A. system.
Weirdly, in the series some of Margaret's old flames are familiar with this nickname, suggesting that she may have earned the same nickname independently of the 4077 in some unreferenced and unrelated Noodle Incident.
Burns himself is frequently referred to as "Ferret Face", a name that apparently originated with his own brother.
Also from the novel/film there is 'Spearchucker' Jones, whose nickname has a very embarrassing backstory (and its not the one he gives, either). Oddly enough he seems to accept it in good humour.
In the That '70s Show episode "Magic Bus", to Hyde's horror, the gang learns that Jackie (his girlfriend) calls him "Puddin' Pop".
Then, of course, there's Eric's "Dr. Pee Pee."
Eric also gets called "Foreskin" from time to time (his last name is Foreman). In one episode, it's revealed that Donna started that one, not knowing how much it would stick.
Also, "Tater Nuts"
Castle's ex-wife refers to him as "kitten". Then Beckett overheard.
Castle: I definitely saved your life. And you know what that means, don't you? It means you owe me.
Beckett: Owe you WHAT?
Castle: Whatever I want. And you know exactly what I want, don't you? You know what I really, really want you to do... never, EVER, call me kitten.
In another episode, Castle jokingly answers the phone by saying, "No-Hassle Castle." We only hear his side of the conversation, but apparently Beckett threatens to start calling him that.
Detective Ryan on Castle is sometimes called "Honey Milk" after his revelation of the drink his girlfriend sometimes makes him at night.
"Tinkle Town", Jeff's nickname from when he was a boy.
Hornblower: Horatio's fellow midshipman of a bully calls him "Snotty" and his wife Maria "Horry". The first one is clearly meant to be offensive, but Maria genuinely doesn't know that he dislikes it.
Lord Flintshire, aka Shrimpie, from Downton Abbey. He's a perfectly dignified sixtyish British aristocrat. Apparently his siblings also had sealife-themed nicknames, but he got stuck with the really bad one.
According to Eric Bogle's "Introduction Song", the members of the band's nicknames are 'Wee Short-Arse' (Eric), 'Garbage Guts' (Brent) and 'Old Dogs Balls' (Andy).
Luka, as the personal Butt Monkey of Bayonetta, get the nickname "Cheshire" bequeathed upon him. It's better than most, but he still hates it.
In Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal, a smitten Courtney Gears gives Dr. Nefarious (yes, the one and only) the nickname of "Snookie Wookums." No, I'm not joking. Yes, he hates it.
Okamiden's main character, Chibiterasu, is a magnet for these. He gets one each time he meets a new partner. They are, in order: Mutt, Squiddy, Pooch, dude/boy and Pork Chop. His reaction to each one is priceless.
In BlazBlue, while she mostly doesn't mind, the nickname "Boobie Lady" does unsettle Litchi a bit..
In Modern Warfare, John MacTavish is nicknamed "Soap". Given how nicknames are given in Real Life, it must make people wonder how he got that nickname. Also, after being promoted into Captain in part 2, he never mentions his nickname, and thus after being addressed by Captain Price (his senior in part 1) as "Soap" after saving him from the gulag, MacTavish's subordinates could be heard asking "Who's Soap?" Captain Price even lampshades this trope by asking in the first game "What the hell kind of name is Soap anyway?"
It's a British nickname, meaning he was straightedge, never got in trouble. Squeaky Clean.
, in order to tell them apart. Dark Pit is obviously annoyed by this, especially when Pit starts doing it on a regular basis.
In Disgaea, Vyers has the "Mid-boss" nickname given to him by Laharl*
because he is "so weak that he could only be considered a mid boss"
, in yet another example of No Fourth Wall on that series. It doesn't help that, from that point on, everyone in the game start calling him by that name, and his name on the dialogue box changes as well.
In Tales Of Graces Hubert is granted the affectionate title of "Little Bro" by Pascal. Probably doubly sucks as Hubert has a raging crush on her.
Persona 4 Arena gives the Persona 4 characters a series of embarrassing taglines for the fighting tournament, like "Sister Complex Kingpin of Steel" for Yu, or "The Carnivore Who Discarded Womanhood" for Chie.
In Shikkoku No Sharnoth Charlotte calls Mary Kitty once or twice, resulting in this. Later, M starts calling her Kitty as well right before the minigames involving monsters chasing her start, prompting her to yell at him for calling her such a thing.
In Little Busters, Komari starts calling Kurugaya Yui-chan. Not only is she horrified with this nickname, she doesn't even realize she's been referred to at first because no one ever calls her by her first name.
Also, the combat system rests on the fact that winners are supposed to give embarrassing nicknames to the losers. As the only way to get rid of a nickname is to reach the top of the battle rankings, this gives the impetus to keep fighting.
In Katawa Shoujo, Hisao comments early on that he's never liked the nickname "Hicchan", which Misha typically uses when referring to him, and his parents once use on a note, but never objects to it after that.
In Something Positive, PeeJee's full name is Penelope Jennifer. Her father later reveals he chose this name just so he could call her Penny-Jenny. Needless to say she loathes it.
Subverted in The Cyantian Chronicles, in which one character goes by the nickname Twinky, which most sane people would consider embarrassing. The fact that his legal name is Clive S. Lewis may or may not have something to do with it.
A fairly early Nodwick story arc involved several people Yeagar had bullied as a kid forming an organization to seek revenge. The "injustice" suffered by the leader, Borthomew Mac Forte was being given the nickname "Fart-Foot Mc Poot" in reference to his embarrassing foot odor.
Air Force Blues follows Air Force tradition in saddling pilot characters with embarrassing callsigns, with the main character Capt. Ken Dahl being called "Barbie," which he thinks is just a joke about his name but actually comes from an incident where he sang "Barbie Girl" over the radio to an entire air base.
In Sunstone, Lisa is yet to enjoy any of her older brother Mike's names for her. The ones we hear are Betty, short for Elizabeth, which is not Lisa's name, and Lassie in reference to her BDSM collar (which, if it wasn't for Mike's ignorance to the collar's significance would be down right offensive).
Daphne Diller, the indestructible private eye in Metro City Chronicles, does not like it when people call her "Daffodil."
Tobuscus has a pal, Gabe, who shows up in several of his videos. Toby has dubbed him Gabebuscus, which unfortunately sounds a lot like Gaybuscus. The face Gabe makes when Toby calls him this indicates that he, unlike Toby, is not amused.
Ghost from True Capitalist Radio hates being called a "hambone". It's ironic since Ghost initially used the term to make fun of people who he deemed to be fat, lazy moochers who contributed nothing to society. He encouraged his listeners to use the term in public whenever they saw a "fat, jelly ass", but the trolls who call into his show during the Radio Graffiti segment began to use the insult against him.
Okay these are pretty terrible: Fenturd, Fentoad, Fentoenail, and the list goes on. Yep These are some of Danny's many very disturbing/embarrassing nicknames. And those are half as bad compared to the nicknames like Invis'o-Bill. The one he hates the most.
Bank robber George Nelson hated to be called "Baby Face." Bit of a Berserk Button, actually. He tried to get people to call him "Big George" Nelson, but, seeing as how he was only 5'4", that never really caught on.
"Bugsy" Siegel and "Bugs" Moran. Their nicknames referred to their tendency to "bug out."
Charles Arthur "Pretty Boy" Floyd
"Scarface" Al Capone. He liked to claim that his scars were war wounds, but he really got them in a street knife fight as a kid.
Caligula was the childhood nickname of Roman emperor Gaius Caesar, (it means something like "little boot") which he reportedly disliked.
Some time later, there was an emperor who had the nickname "Caracalla" after a type of cloak he was fond of wearing. Though he didn't care for the nickname it was probably for the best; if his nickname had reflected his personality in any more profound way, we'd be talking about the Edict of Paranoid Fratricidal Tyrant.
People with Italian last names that begin or end with "cucci" can end up being called that by people who aren't familiar with the slang term it sounds like. Embarrassing indeed.
Along the same vein, Yonah and Yonatan are common Jewish names (the Hebrew versions of Jonah and Jonathan respectively). Boys with these names often end up with the nickname Yoni.
Military pilot callsigns are usually this—either based on an embarrassing incidentfor the pilot or a pun on their name. If a nickname sounds great at first, there's usually a story behind it that will make the pilot blush. The more heroic or impressive callsigns people think of when they think of fighter pilots are reserved for people who have earned their fellows' respect.
In the Air Force, 'Slag' sounds like a pretty bad-ass name... until you realize why nobody wants it: It's an acronym that stands for Screams Like AGirl.
In Britain it also means dirty whore.
Sometimes inverted if the person has an embarrassing name. 'Pink Floyd' was Commander Pink; 'Big Man' was Commander Chubb, the CO, who did not get to choose his own name so chose to fit the name.
Brian Davidson, drummer from the proto-prog group The Nice, somehow required the nickname "Blinky", which he wasn't too fond of.
Silent film comedian Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle disliked his nickname and discouraged anyone from calling him as "Fatty" off-screen.
Fraternities are known to do this. It can vary from friendly ribbing to nigh-on hazing depending on the fraternity and chapter.
Much like in the Band of Brothers example, if someone has earned a derogative or embarrassing nickname while serving in the military, they probably have done something to deserve it. More prominent outside of the airforce where nicknames are less common and epithets are usually earned.