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"Given in scorn, adopted in pride."

When a person (often a superhero, villain or more grounded criminal) takes his name from a nickname, an insult, or a botched pronunciation, spoken or spread in print by someone else.

In real life, this could extend to criminals who adopt the moniker given them in the press. A subversion could be a criminal corresponding with the press to "correct" the error like Son of Sam or Jack the Ripper.


Can be a form of Insult Backfire when the name was meant to be derogatory. Arguably a form of in-universe Ascended Fanon.

Compare: Line-of-Sight Name, Namedar, Title Drop, Ascended Meme. Compare and contrast Named by Democracy where someone is often forced to accept the name others use instead of willfully adopting it, possibly even lacking the ability to appropriate or protest the name. When a whole group of people does this it's N-Word Privileges.



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    Anime and Manga 

  • The little pink pig avatar Haruyuki Arita uses in Accel World for day-to-day virtual interaction was originally forced on him by the bullies who tormented him as a comment on his girth. When they were removed, he did have the option to switch his avatar over to the badass knight he'd originally wanted to use, but has chosen not to. Why? Because Kuroyukihime commented that she thought the pig was cute, and now Haru has no intention of ridding himself of it. That the avatar is also small enough for Kuroyukihime's avatar to carry him around like a pocket pet while in the virtual world is probably also a big plus in his book.
  • Akudama Drive: The main character came up with her "Swindler" alias by flashing back to the police and takoyaki stand owner accusing her of being a swindler.
  • Osaka from Azumanga Daioh is named this by her classmates in lieu of her real name, Ayumu. Osaka (the place) has a reputation for being backwards.
  • Back Arrow: The main character is an Amnesiac Hero and doesn't remember his name. Bit calls him "Bakayarou", which means "idiot", but he mishears it as "Back Arrow" and decides to make it his name. In the English dub, Bit instead calls him a "blunt arrow" to signify he thinks the man is useless, but he again mishears it as "Back Arrow" and makes it his name.
  • "Chad" of Bleach got his name when Ichigo met him, and mispronounced his real name "Sado" (the Japanese version uses "Chado").
  • Jeremiah Gottwald of Code Geass lands the nickname Orange in association with the scandal to which he was linked by Zero. Eventually he takes it as a symbol of loyalty once he learns of Zero's identity and motives.
  • In Death Note, Light is quickly dubbed Kira ("killer" approximated in Japanese) by the media, and decides to use that name in his dealings with others. He dislikes how it's obviously derived from "killer", but it's what the world already knows him as, so he might as well go along with it.
  • Fairy Tail: Princess Hisui commented that the dragon Zirconis' hide was colored jade, and that her own name also meant jade. Zirconis decided "The Jade Dragon" had a nice ring to it, and it became his Red Baron.
  • Gon, the main character of Hunter × Hunter, names his Rock-Paper-Scissor (Janken) move Jajanken after he stutters on the first syllable and his opponent thinks he called it Jajanken on purpose (Jajan! as a surprise, and Janken for the rock-paper-scissors).
  • Played straight in Mobile Suit Gundam 00 with Patrick Colasour. He survives getting his ass kicked by the Gundams enough that he earns the nickname "Colasour The Indestructible". He seems oblivious they're disparaging him. Kati Mannequin tries to explain it to him once; apparently, he doesn't know what "disparage" means.
  • Izuku Midoriya of My Hero Academia spent his life being insulted with the nickname "Deku" (an Alternate Character Reading of his name) by childhood friend-turned-bully Bakugo. Bakugo meant "Deku" to mean "weakling," but Ochaco, Izuku's crush, initially interpreted it with another meaning, "never gives up"note  This causes Izuku to not only like it, but even adopt "Deku" as his Hero Name.
  • In One Piece, Zoro was frequently called the Pirate Hunter, as he was a bounty hunter, and pirates were the most likely people to hold bounties. But the reality was that Zoro needed their bounty money to pay for food and to repair his swords. Also, this could have easily been the epithet for any other bounty hunter.
    • Now that he's one of the most wanted pirates in the world, he's STILL called "Pirate Hunter Zoro", which doesn't really make sense considering he's, well, a pirate. Unless you consider that plenty of the people's he's fought have been other pirates. It's only been in his more recent incidents where he's attacked the government.
  • In Rave Master, the name of the Demon Card organization was originally supposed to be Demon Guard instead (as they were an anti-demon security force before their Start of Darkness), but the original founder painted the sign the wrong way in the middle of the night and failed to notice it in time. However, the name stuck.
  • Rebuild World: Viola being called a "bad girl" often is adopted like this, with Viola and Carol each calling each other it and taking a sort of pride in it. Sheryl is less happy about being grouped in with the two as such.
  • In Record of Grancrest War, Theo refers to Siluca affectionately as "my witch", although witch in that setting refers to a mage that's criminal or serving Chaos. This is for two reasons; first, having grown up where he did, Theo doesn't know much about mages outside of fairytales, and secondly, mage magic is quite common and lacks mystique. Witches are what do impossible feats, villainous though they are.
  • Sailor Moon S: The Movie: The main villainess runs into Kakeru Ohzora, a guy who is completely obsessed with Princess Kaguya from the story The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. He mistakes her for Princess Kaguya. She is confused, but decides she likes that name and uses it. Her real name is never mentioned.
  • Slam Dunk: Protagonist Hanamichi Sakuragi begins using the title "Rebound King" on himself after Haruko calls him this way. A rare instance where the nickname is genuinely meant to be motivational, rather than insulting or demeaning.
  • In the backstory of The Story of Saiunkoku, Ko Houju was called "kijin (weirdo)" as an insult. After he was rejected by a woman for being much more beautiful than herself, he began wearing masks constantly and calling himself Ko Kijin, which is the name that most of the other characters of the series know him by.
  • In Tokyo Ghoul, it's standard practice for the CCG to assign an alias to unknown Ghouls. Many embrace them and start using these nicknames as their alias among their own kind as well. Perhaps the most famous example is the One-Eyed Owl, who gleefully embraced this title as their own.
  • The titular heroes of Tokyo Mew Mew got their name from reporters mishearing Ichigo's introduction of "Uh, we're from Cafe Mew Mew in Tokyo...", partially thanks to Minto, who, having some sense, muffled her to protect their secret identities.
  • Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs: In the Alternate Timeline known as the Marie Route, a Girl Posse calling him "an upstart" is adopted with pride by Leon, who is surrounded by entitled nobles who did nothing to earn their power or wealth while he suffered and still suffers.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS: In Ai’s final moments, he admits that despite the fact Yusaku gave him his name in a moment of laziness, he came to genuinely like it, to the point that all of the Spell and Trap Cards he uses contain puns on it.

  • Louis Vauxcelles, a turn-of-the-20th-century French art critic, had one of the worst track records for insults in history. The Edwardian Era featured the birth of a new art movement in painting, spearheaded by Henri Matisse and Georges Braque, and characterized by "wild brush work and strident colors". In 1905, upon seeing an exhibit of the works of Matisse's circle next to a statue of Donatello, Vauxcelles declared that it was "Donatello chez les fauves" ("Donatello amidst the wild beasts"). He accidentally baptized the nameless movement as "Fauvism", when the press started using it as a formal name. Several of the artists he was insulting started using the name in reference to themselves and went on to become household names. Three years later, Vauxcelles described the experimental works of Picasso and Braque as "bizarreries cubiques". Today, we call their movement cubism.
  • The Impressionists got their name from a satirical journalist, who derived it from Monet's Impression, Sunrise.
  • Pointillism, the technique of painting with small dots of color, was given this name by art critics to mock it. Once Neo-Impressionism came into full swing, which used this technique, the name lost its mocking connotation.

    Comic Books 
  • Astro City:
    • The Samaritan got his name when he first arrived in the twenty-first century. After saving a crashing plane, he was swarmed by reporters and people thanking him, at which point he claimed he wasn't a hero, "just a good samaritan".
    • The Samaritan's Arch-Enemy Infidel took his name from the insult his enemies had hurled at him countless times across the centuries.
  • Justice Society of America's The Atom got this name for his short stature. He kept it after he became a vigilante.
  • Atomic Robo: Doctor Dinosaur got his name during his first encounter with Robo, when Jenkins burst in on him about to cut Robo to pieces over an insult, and declared it "some kind of doctor dinosaur?" Dinosaur had just moments ago been told by Robo his "given" name was utterly unpronounceable, and would just make people think he had something stuck in his throat.
  • Avengers: The Initiative: Butterball, one of the most pathetic heroes of the Marvel setting got his name from a rather surly Taskmaster taunting him about his weight. Evidently it stuck and became his official name.
  • Bamse: Corrupt Corporate Executive Krösus Sork ("Croesus Vole") apparently adopted "Krösus" as his given name based on an ironic derogatory nickname in school (as The Un-Favourite, he never had any money). AFAIK, we have never seen his real name - but an earlier version of him was called "Sigge", so presumably he was Sigmund Sork or something.
  • Batman:
    • Bane got his name after a warden called him one after he killed while still a child, in prison:
      "He is a bane to everything holy!"
    • During his college days, Jonathan Crane would spend all his money on Psychology Books and thus dress shabbily, so his class mates would call him "scarecrow".
    • The Joker himself, according to The Man Who Laughs. This is initially what the media calls him, since they don't know anything about him except for his clown-like appearance — he loves the name and decides to embrace it.
    • In some versions of his origin, The Penguin took his alias from an insult the bullies at school used to taunt him with.
    • Batgirl Year One retcons Batgirl's origin by stating Barbara Gordon got her name during her first encounter with Killer Moth. When the villain ranted over killing "Batman, Robin and Batgirl", she knew that she would always be "Batgirl" and not "Batwoman".
      Killer Moth: This just gets better and better! I get to kill Batman, Robin and Batgirl, all in the same night!
      Barbara Gordon: (thinking) And so it became official. Now I am "Batgirl"... forevermore.
  • Big Bang Comics: Reid Randall created his blue and grey costume and equipped himself with a pair of nightsticks to defend his family's garment factory against mobsters who threatened to burn it down. Confronting them in the warehouse, one of thugs said "It's some kind of night watchman". Reid immediately decided to adopt that as his superhero name. Recalling how he and his brother used to play knights as kids, he announced "That's Knight Watchman...with a 'K'!"
  • In DC Comics, Booster Gold got his strange name when he flubbed his own intended name, "Gold Star", along with his college football nickname "Booster", when asked by Ronald Reagan. He also gave Doomsday his name in The Death of Superman when, after Superman caught an airborne Booster, he mentioned that "It was like Doomsday is here!" When Superman confronts him, he says "What did you call him? Oh, yeah: Doomsday."
  • Captain Mar-Vell made his debut when he stopped a killer robot sent by his own superiors in the Kree army that was sent to Kill All Humans. During the battle the robot kept addressing him by his rank and name "Captain Mar-Vell". Bystanders misheard and assumed that Mar-Vell was a new superhero named "Captain Marvel". Mar-Vell decided to go along with it. Used again with his Ultimate Marvel incarnation, Marh-Vell. When interrogating him, Carol Danvers hears his name as "Marvel", and thinks he's a new superhero (and a Native America to boot). In fairness, with his armour, he does look like a superhero.
  • Daredevil was a mocking name Matt Murdock received back in school for not playing sports. Later parodied in a Mini Marvels comic.
  • Marvel D-list superhero Darkhawk got his name from a crazy old hobo. Before that, he'd seriously been considering calling himself "Edge-Man".
  • The Ur-Example with the DCU was the entire, original Doom Patrol. The press gave them superhero handles, which they initially rejected as "freak names," but eventually embraced. (Though they never called each other by those names.)
  • Fables: Bigby was nicknamed The Big Bad Wolf by his bullying brothers as an insult because he was tiny as a cub. He grew up to be big and powerful and took that name for his own.
  • Fantastic Four:
  • The Silver Age Flash gained his name when a reporter interviewing him noted Central City's mysterious new hero "sure caught that guy in a flash...what did you say your name was?" Barry responds, "you just said it—the Flash!" It helps that Barry also idolized the Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick. Earth 2 paid homage to this, when that world's version of Jay Garrick uses his newly-gained super speed to save a young couple from some Rodents of Unusual Size, saying he'll do it "in a flash". Since he's moving at super-speed, they don't properly hear him, but they do pick up on the word "flash", which they recount to a news crew. Ergo, Jay calls himself The Flash.
  • According to The Further Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix, X-Men enemy Mister Sinister got his name from the curses of his dying wife. Appropriately enough for a guy who became a supervillain in the 1800s, you don't get more gothic than that.
  • In The Goon, the Street Urchin gang The Little Unholy Bastards take their name from an insult that the Evil Orphanage Lady called them once.
  • Great Lakes Avengers: In her debut, Good Boy got her alias when a couple of villains started attacking her neighborhood. She confronted one of them, who, upon watching her transformation into a werewolf, realized he had stepped in it and could only reply, "Uh—g-g-good boy?"
  • Green Arrow:
    • In The Wonder Year, Oliver Queen gets dubbed Green Arrow when a stoner drug dealer he busted on his first outing gives a TV interview in which he refers to "this big, green arrow dude" who came out of nowhere.
    • In his Golden Age Of Comic Books origin, "Birth of the Battling Bowmen" in More Fun Comics #89, when Ollie and Roy Harper first meet and use their archery skills to stop a gang of criminals, one of the crooks says "Golly, that kid's speedy" and another says "Watch out for the big guy, he shoots a mean, green arrow". The two start using these as nicknames for each other, and adopt them as heroic identities at the end of the adventure.
      Ollie: And we've been fighting ever since, Roy, under the names those thugs unconsciously gave us.
  • Hunter's Hellcats get their nickname from a comment made by a guard as Lt. Hunter is leading his new recruits out of the stockade:
    Guard: Don't turn your back on 'em, sir! Those hellcats are the dirtiest lot we've ever had!
    Hunter: Hellcats, huh? Maybe the Japs will find that out, too!
  • Hawkman villain Ira Quimby was called IQ by his criminal associates not only because of his initials, but as an ironic statement about how stupid he was. When he discovered a trinket that gave him incredible intelligence, he decided to keep the name.
  • It's often said that Batman gave Bart Allen the codename "Impulse" as a warning. This is actually a retcon; he created it himself during Zero Hour: Crisis in Time! (though all-but-confirmed in his second appearance a month before and reinforced a few issues later in the main Flash ongoing), a fact even his creator forgot.
  • The Incredible Hulk:
    • When Bruce Banner first turned into the Hulk, nobody else realized, besides Rick Jones. And so, a superpowerful being of unknown name and origin destroyed the military base while leaving it. The soldiers deployed to locate and kill the creature, and one unnamed soldier said, "We've got to find that... that hulk!!"
    • Similarly, when Betty Ross first saw the Gamma-transformed Emil Blonsky, she described him as "some kind of... abomination!" Guess what his supervillain name became...
    • The Heroes Reborn Continuity Reboot attempt had the Hulk and Iron Man do this to each other when their origins were mashed up into a single storyline. (Tony used the H-word when he first saw the mutated Banner, and the Hulk liked the sound of it; the other side was just applied Hulk Speak.)
  • Invincible got his name from a conversation with the school counselor who told him "You're not invincible."
  • Judge Dredd: When the man once known as Judge Sidney shocked even his fellow Judges with his tendency towards executing every single offender brought before him, they called him "Judge Death" as an insult. The Judge subsequently took the name for his own, and lived up to it.
  • In Chapter 2 of The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, we see the Beagle Boys evolving from river pirates to who they are today, except they had a bit of trouble naming their group — throughout the comic they considered naming themselves "the Mardi Gras Gang" (their employer, Porker Hogg, got their masks from said event), "the Dirty Double-Crossing Dogs", and "the Masked Marauders". Eventually, when Scrooge tricked the gang and saved the day, he announced to the nearby government ship, who came to investigate, "These are the awful Beagle Boys!"
    Beagle Boy 1: "The Beagle Boys"! Catchy! Simple, yet elegant!
    Beagle Boy 2: Not bad! Rolls off the tongue!
  • MAD artist Don Martin created Captain Klutz, whose name derived from the insult ("You Klutz!") of a robber he captured by accident. (Young Ringo Fonebone had actually been attempting suicide when he landed on top of the fleeing crook.) When a police Captain asked for his name, the dazed Fonebone replied, "I'm a Klutz, Captain." Perhaps not a pure example, as Fonebone was briefly amnesiac, and actually thought it was his real name, at least at first.
  • The New Warriors got named when a random reporter referred to them that way, and Night Thrasher hurriedly announced they'd be sticking with that before any of his team could come up with anything more embarrassing.
  • Modern age Plastic Man got his name from flubbing "Elastic Man", also when asked by a reporter. This is actually a retcon; when the character was created in the 40s, "plastic" was more commonly used as an adjective, before it became more commonly associated with the material "plastic" (so called because it is, of course, plastic - able to be deformed into other shapes). There is a song by The Fall called, "How I wrote Elastic man"; in one verse it says "How I wrote elastic man" and ends with "How I wrote Plastic man" Coincidence?
  • Arseface from Preacher, after hearing Cassidy say he has "a face like an arse" and then seeing his father shoot himself. He takes up his new moniker in a straight send-up of many classic scenes:
    - "Uh wuh huh vuhhyuh uh Juhh Cuhh! Vuhhyuh fuh uh bluh uh muh fuhh! Uh uh uh huh uh fuh luh uh uhh — suh buh uh! Uh wuh becuhh Uhhfuhh!" (I will have vengeance on Jesse Custer! Vengeance for the blood of my father! And if I have a face like an arse — so be it! I will become Arseface!)
It's worth pointing out that Arseface doesn't actually know what the word "arse" means.
  • In PS238, the Most Common Superpower isn't big boobs, it's F.I.S.S.. Cute Bruiser Julie is the eighty-fourth of these documented and as such feels a little inferior until she gains some confidence. She then registers "84" as her official hero name, possibly because Moon Shadow was the first one to call her that.
  • In Punisher Noir, Detective Martin Soap nicknames the mysterious vigilante who's been wreaking havoc on the Manhattan underworld "The Punisher", after a popular radio drama he theorizes inspired the man. He's partially correct — our protagonist took a few pages from his favorite radio show when he started his Roaring Rampage of Revenge, but he never really had a name for himself before he heard the one Soap gave him.
  • A member of Sgt. Rock's Easy Company was mockingly called "Ice Cream Soldier" — he was inexperienced and notorious for both "melting down" (panicking) and "freezing up" in tense combat situations. He adopted the name proudly after he saved the whole company from two oncoming German tanks during a heavy snowstorm, and it came to refer to his new cool demeanor and comfort in cold weather.
  • Shazam!: Captain Marvel first got his nickname, Big Red Cheese, from his Arch-Enemy Dr. Sivana, but it was quickly adopted by both his friends and his fanbase.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW), Dr. Eggman creates a Metal Virus that roboticizes organic life. Sonic dubs them Zombots (zombie robots) due to their soulless behaviors, and Eggman starts calling them that himself, admitting it's catchy.
  • Subverted in Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade. A reporter asks Kara if she is some kind of Supergirl. Later she chooses to call herself Supergirl, but she gave no indication she got her name from that random reporter.
  • In The Transformers (IDW), the term "Autobot" originated as an insult directed at all Cybertronians. Orion Pax started a movement to reclaim it, and it ended up being used for Sentinel Prime's and Zeta Prime's security forces; when the Decepticon movement began Jumping Off the Slippery Slope, Orion Pax - now holding the Matrix of Leadership and calling himself Optimus Prime - formed the heart of his army from those security forces.
  • Transmetropolitan: The term "The New Scum" was coined by presidential candidate Gary "The Smiler" Callahan as an insulting reference to Spider Jerusalem's audience; the term was appropriated to a degree during the scandal that broke out after Spider leaked that outburst to the public.
  • Ultimate Marvel
    • Ultimate X-Men: The names that the mutants use, both on Xavier and Magneto's side, are a new naming system of their own design, that names them after their mutant abilities rather than after an ancestor.
    • Ultimate Spider-Man
      • Ultimate Mysterio explained it this way: "'But you can keep calling me Mysterio. I like that. I would have never come up with that name myself but it's out there now... and I like it.'" This may have been a ruse by Ultimate Mysterio, who was revealed to be an android controlled by the mainstream Mysterio.
      • Also Spider-Man himself. He needed a stage name in the wrestling arena, so he chose the name "The Spider". The announcer fixed it in the fly, and gave him the name "Spider-Man". Peter complained for a moment, but then he liked it.
  • Hollis Mason of Watchmen was given the sarcastic nickname "Nite Owl" by a co-worker irritated by Mason's early bedtime. At the same time, he was looking to become a "costumed adventurer," but was stuck for a name...
    "'Nite Owl.' I liked it. Now all I had to come up with was the costume."
  • X-Men has this via Retcon—originally the villains known as the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants were just supposed to be Card Carrying Villains, but the series' Graying Morality made this odd when they were reworked into Well Intentioned Extremists. The new explanation is that they've adopted that name as a form of Then Let Me Be Evil. Notably adaptations, including Ultimate X-Men, simplify things by renaming them as just the Brotherhood of Mutants.
  • Young Justice — somehow surfaced when team Cloudcuckoolander Impulse tried explaining to the press that he, Robin, and Superboy weren't the Teen Titans, but "just us".
  • This has become the default way of explaining why superheroes have their superhero names: somebody in the media giving it to them. The 80s reboots of both Superman and Wonder Woman have them get their names this way.

    Fan Works 
  • The All Guardsmen Party is assigned to an upper crust, noble officer they refer to only as "the Rupert". Despite this being an offensive term for incompetent blue blood officers, the Rupert wholeheartedly adopted the term and even insists the guardsmen refer to him as such.
  • Dial: During the discussion to eliminate the HYDRA moles within SHIELD, and the decision to dismantle SHIELD as well, Mahmoud proposes another solution, to rebuild it into something better, the organization that SHIELD was meant to be, "the bridge between what people consider normal, and all the weirdness out there", to not only protect the innocent the misuse of power, but to also assist those that gain powers. Afterwards, SHIELD is indeed disbanded and reformed into the Bureau of Reconnaissance, Intelligence, Development, and General Enhancement, a.k.a. BRIDGE.
  • Fallout: Equestria: Velvet is a staunch follower of Fluttershy, the Element of Kindness. She has a breakdown when she realizes that Fluttershy is the one who created the megaspells that destroyed the world, but eventually recovers and rededicates herself to the cause. Reggie points out that this basically means she's a follower of the apocalypse. Velvet accepts that name, and in the epilogue the Followers of the Apocalypse are one of the greatest forces of good in the reviving Wasteland, taking care of children and spreading knowledge.
  • A Girl and Her Bike:
    • Yang decides to name her new bike Bumblebee. B-127 decides that it's as good a name as any and takes it up as his new identity.
    • The Ascenticons were insultingly called Decepticons back on Cybertron. When Megatron's true nature surfaced, he took this as their cause's new name.
  • This is the story behind Glass Joe's stage name in Ma Fille: his daughter overheard a teacher at her school calling him that, and he took a liking to the name.
  • In the There Was Once an Avenger From Krypton series, Supergirl was a name Jameson called Kara in his newspapers as a condescending insult. After some thought, Kara decides to take it up as her superhero name.
  • Last Child of Krypton: After Shinji rescues a crashing airplane, dozens of newspapers publish headlines about the mysterious saviour of Toyko-2. However, a headline stuck out most of all: "Who is Superman?". People started calling Shinji's hero identity "Superman" and the name stuck.
  • Prehistoric Park Reimagined: As a result of a less then flattering initial impression he gets of Leon's competency and skills (or lack thereof) as a member of the rescue team, Jack takes to calling him 'Dolittle' as an insulting reference to how he views Leon as largely 'a walking textbook' containing knowledge of various animals. But while at first less then pleased with the nickname, Leon eventually ends up inspired to incorporate an audio recording device containing recordings of various animal vocalizations into his work when he remembers how Doctor Dolittle himself quite famously Speaks Fluent Animal.
  • The W.I.T.C.H. fanfic Ripples reveals that Miranda's real name is Mimira. It's just that Cedric couldn't be bothered to remember her actual name and called her Miranda instead; being young and impressionable at the time of this initial mistake, she convinced herself that he would only be doing this if Miranda was a better name. By the time of the sequel Stirred, the only person who still calls her Mimira is Van.
  • In Sex Note, a Death Note AU where Light Yagami picks up a Sex Note instead of a Death Note the media gives him the name Kougoukan (literally "anti-rape") instead of Kira because instead of using a Death Note to kill people Light is using his magic sex toy to prevent rapes from occurring.
  • Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton: When Asuka started out her super-heroine career, "Tokyo Tattle" -a tabloid- called her Power Girl. She liked that name. Later she resolved to change her costume and heroine identity, and she asked Shinji what they were calling the new superwoman. Shinji told "Tokyo Tattle" had baptized her Supergirl, and she chose that name for herself.
  • Unity (Finmonster): Upon first seeing the Legion of Doom organized by Enigma, Fred calls it a "secret supervillain syndicate". Enigma comments that "syndicate" is a pretty accurate name, and adopts it for the group.
  • Weasley Girl: Snape uses the term "Potter's Gang" as an insulting description of Harry and his friends. It catches on, first among the students, then among the newly-dubbed Gang themselves.
  • In Wonderful (Mazinja):
    • Taylor's fans came up with the “Wonder Red” name. She didn't like it, but she accepted it anyway.
    • Averted with “Crimson Fists”. Taylor found out about that name after she was stuck with “Wonder Red”.

    Film — Animated 
  • Early in Cars, Lightning McQueen tauntingly calls Chick Hicks "Thunder", because "thunder always comes after lightning". When Chick and McQueen meet a few days later, Chick has adopted the "Thunder" nickname as part of a new persona, much of which is stolen from McQueen.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Batman Returns, The Penguin gets called this initially by the press until he finds out his real name is Oswald. After his villainy is revealed, Penguin berates one of his goons for calling him Oswald.
    Penguin: "I am not a human being! I am an animal! Cold-blooded!"
  • Similar to the animated example below, Meredith Dimly accidentally gives the Bratz their name in the live movie.
  • In Reb Brown Captain America (1979), it's explained that "Captain America" was originally a derogatory nickname that the bad guys gave Steve's father. A friend of Steve's father urges Steve to use it to honor his dad's memory.
    Jam "Captain America" down their throats!
  • In Cinderella, Ella initially despises her stepsisters' awful nickname for her, but eventually comes to accept it and then embrace it, to the point that she even introduces herself to the prince as Cinderella.
  • Crazy, Stupid, Love has Hannah called Nana by her family because her little sister had trouble with her name.
  • DC Extended Universe:
    • Subverted in Man of Steel. Lois is about to suggest the name "Superman", but the military party watching their conversation interrupts her. Later in the film, after Clark in costume is on good terms with the military after protecting them during an engagement with the Kryptonians, a soldier is talking to General Swanwick and using the term "Superman" to describe him. Swanwick gives him a "that's the stupidest thing I've ever heard" look. By Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Superman is his acknowledged superhero name.
    • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice generally avoids using "Batman" directly as a name, instead suggesting he has multiple names given by the press, from the bat, to the Gotham Bat to The Bat-Man. This is rather appropriate, as in this setting Batman is not so much of an individual but a myth, an urban legend. By Justice League and Zack Snyder's Justice League, most of the names of the heroes are taken from the Lex Corp metahuman files seen in BvS.
  • The Dirty Dozen: Sergeant Bowren nicknames the twelve convicts 'the dirty dozen' after they refuse to bathe or shave as a protest regarding their poor living conditions. The name sticks.
  • In Dracula Untold, when he was initially reminded that he's the "son of the devil", Vlad corrected this: Dracula means "son of the dragon". However, at the climax of the movie he says "I'm Dracula, son of the devil".
  • The characters in Full Metal Jacket are only known by the insulting nicknames Sgt. Hartman gave them in boot camp.
  • In Girl House, the Spree Killer Loverboy takes his online handle (and the only name anyone knows him by) from a mocking insult thrown at him by girls when he was a child.
  • When a snobbish Caustic Critic in The Greatest Showman scathingly dismisses P.T. Barnum's Museum as a "circus of humbug" in his review, Barnum decides he likes the sound of it, renames the venue to P.T. Barnum's Circus and starts wearing a gilt-paper crown over his top hat with the text "King of Humbug". As he sees it, there's No Such Thing as Bad Publicity, and sure enough the crowds come flocking.
  • Idiocracy: Time-travelling Cpl. Joe Bauers is re-named Not Sure by the bar code machine as he tries to explain that he doesn't understand how it's supposed to work. That's President Not Sure to you, private!
  • Inglorious Basterds: Hans Landa as seen in the beginning, when he mentions having been given the title of "Jew Hunter", which he finds to be rather catchy. Subverted in the final act, several years later, when he has come to loathe the accolade. Both reactions may have just been a lie: he states that he enjoys the moniker to LaPadite, whom he is trying to intimidate, and expresses his distaste for it to Aldo and Utivich, who he is trying to broker a deal with and who are both well known for despising the Nazi's. Or his opinion may have simply changed over time.
  • Joker (2019):
    • The titular character adopts his moniker after watching his favorite talk show host mock his failed stand up set.
      Murray: And finally, in a world where everyone thinks they could do my job, here's a guy who thinks if you just keep laughing, it'll somehow make you funny. Check out this joker.
      Arthur: When you bring me out, can you introduce me as Joker?
    • Thomas Wayne insults the crowd of Gothamite protesters using "clowns", so what do they do? Well, they start wearing clown masks.
  • The Last Jedi: In their climatic showdown, Captain Phasma furiously tells Finn "You were always scum". He immediately corrects her: "Rebel Scum". It signals his pivot from only caring about Rey to fighting for the Resistance and what it stands for.
  • Lemonade Mouth: The titular band gets its name from an insult hurled at Stella by the resident alpha brat after she spits lemonade in his face in defense of her friends.
  • In Lord of War Arms dealer Yuri is called a "lord of war" by one of his clients. He thinks the man mispronounced "warlord". Later he realizes that is exactly what he is.
  • Major League: Initially, the Cleveland Indians fans call Rick Vaughn "Wild Thing" because he has control issues and can't pitch the ball over the plate. After he gets glasses and becomes an elite pitcher, they still use the name, now in reference to his bad boy personality.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Iron Man:
      • Iron Monger gets his name from a comment Stane makes about being "Iron Mongers" whose weapons help keep the world in balance.
      • Tony gets the name Iron Man from a news headline. Stark first comments on how his suit isn't even made of iron, but later grows to like and use the name himself. In the novelization, he mentions the Black Sabbath song of the same name and has the chords playing in his head during his announcement.
    • In The Incredible Hulk (2008), a student on the news says "It was like some kind of... Hulk!" Also, when Blonsky is forcing Sterns to give him Hulk powers, Sterns warns him that the combination of the Super Serum and Gamma Radiation might result in "An Abomination". Both of these are straight out of the comics.
    • In Iron Man 2, when Rhodey puts on the earlier suit and gets into a brawl with Tony, Tony asks him, "You wanna be the War Machine?" Rhodey grows to like it, even after his Pentagon backers rechristen him as Iron Patriot in Iron Man 3.
    • In Captain America: The First Avenger, the name "Captain America" was given to Steve during the USO tours, but he would use that name during his first military mission. The soldiers he rescued would also use that name without any sarcasm. And by the time he is an Avenger, he's still referred to as "Captain" (to the point some call him "Captain Rogers"). Given he uses this to pull rank early on, it seems that they actually made him an Army Captain even though he was mainly an entertainer at first.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): During the final battle, the main villain of the film, Ronan the Accuser, sarcastically refers to the main characters as the "Guardians of the Galaxy" after their initial attempts to stop him have failed. When they finally turn the tables on him, they accept the moniker with pride.
      Ronan: are mortal. HOW?!
      Quill: You said it yourself, bitch. We're the Guardians of the Galaxy.
    • Spider-Man: Far From Home: Mysterio's name comes from Peter's classmates mistaking an Italian news broadcast for naming him as such (the news was actually referring to him as "l'uomo di misterio" — the mysterious man, or literally "the man of mystery"). Peter later relays the name to Beck, and he decides to adopt it as his official moniker.
    • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings downplays this with Xu Wenwu, who doesn't actually go by "The Mandarin" in the way that Trevor Slattery did while briefly appropriating his and the Ten Rings' identity. However, he is rather amused by it, if only because "a pretender named after an orange" was able to strike genuine fear in the U.S. government, so he does at least consider it one of the many names he's gone by in his very long lifetime.
  • Subverted in Mystery Men. The protagonists spend most of the film without having thought of a name for their team. After saving the day at the end:
    Reporter: Well, whatever you call them, Champion City will forever owe a debt of gratitude to these mystery men.
    The Sphinx: Wait! Wait, that's it! We are... The Super Squad!
  • Rain Man was named by his little brother, who couldn't pronounce "Raymond."
  • In She's Out of My League, the hero's best friend says that children taunted him with the name "stainer" after an accident, but the hero suggested he adopt it. Stainer's story is told near the end of the movie as an example of the hero's great qualities.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (2020): Not only does the film give a nod to the Eggman nickname, but throughout the film, Sonic refers to Tom as Donut Lord (partly due to not knowing Tom's actual name until after the first act), much to the latter's annoyance. Come Sonic's Disney Death, this exchange happens after using one of Sonic's rings to surprise Robotnik in his eggmobile:
    Robotnik: Who the hell do you think you are?
    Tom: I'm the Donut Lord, you son of a bi-
  • Spider-Man:
    • When Peter Parker tries out at an underground fight club just after he gained his super powers, he calls himself "The Human Spider". The fight announcer thinks that is a stupid name and instead introduces him as "The Amazing Spider-Man". Peter is annoyed at first but then embraces it after hearing the crowd triumphantly chanting "Spider-Man! Spider-Man!".
    • Green Goblin is also named by the press, as is Doctor Octopus in the sequel.
  • Played straight in Superman: The Movie, when Lois Lane decides to call the guy in a cape flying around "Superman".
  • They Call Me Bruce. The Korean protagonist works as the cook for a mob boss who calls him "Bruce" after Bruce Lee because Interchangeable Asian Cultures. So he starts calling himself Bruce, leading to a Running Gag of people assuming he knows Kung Fu if he's called by that name.
  • Unbreakable:
    Elijah Price: In a comic, you know how you can tell who the arch-villain's going to be? He's the exact opposite of the hero, and most time's they're friends, like you and me! I should've known way back when. You know why, David? Because of the kids! They called me Mr. Glass.

  • In Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony, the demon warlord Leon Abbott gives all the demons in his clan a name of his choosing when they metamorphose from imps into true demons, and refers to one of the imps as 'Number One' as an insult, because he is the only member of his brood who is reluctant to transform. By the end of the book, when it turns out that Number One is actually a warlock demon and will develop powerful magic and cerebral powers instead of transforming, he decides to take the name as his own.
  • In Codex Alera, it's a joke among veterans that new recruits are "fish," since their flailing around is more reminiscent of a landed fish than a legionnaire. The legion Tavi was assigned to happened to have an outsized regiment of Knights Aeris: namely, ones who were powerful enough to qualify but so short on practice that they couldn't fly (which is the entire point of Knights Aeris). Tavi dubbed them "Knights Pisces." It stuck. Then the battle of the Elinarch rolled around, when Tavi stopped the enemy army from sneaking across the river by having butchers and the like dump buckets of blood and offal in the river to attract sharks. Next time we see the Knights, they've chosen a certain fish as their new insignia. They keep the name for the rest of the series.
  • In The Culture novel Excession the Affront is a xenophobic Proud Warrior Race who were so named when they ate a delegation from an Involved civilisation, since they were an affront to civilised species. They adopted the name enthusiastically.
  • In one of Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, an older student tells Rowley to move away from his locker and calls him "Slick". Apparently, Rowley likes it as a cool nickname (despite Greg tells him otherwise) and starts to sign his messages and notes with the word "Slick".
  • Discworld:
    • In Jingo, 71-Hour Ahmed might qualify. His tribe called him 71-Hour Ahmed because he had killed a man one hour before it was acceptable (his tribe offers everyone hospitality for three days, i.e. 72 hours.) He explains to Vimes that the man was a mass-murderer, and that once all the evidence was in, why wait even a single hour? While clearly not meant to be complimentary, he lets people refer to him by that title because its meaning is known and frightening to Klatchians. He doesn't let custom get in the way of doing what's necessary.
    • Also applies to his tribe, the D'regs. The name is Klatchian for "enemy". It's "not the name they chose for themselves, but they adopted it out of pride".
    • Mad in The Last Continent might also count.
      Mad: Most people call me Mad.
      Rincewind: Just "Mad"? That's ... an unusual name.
      Mad: It ain't a name.
  • In the Doctor Who Expanded Universe novel Prisoner of the Daleks, the Dalek Inquisitor adopts the name Dalek X from Earth Empire reports.
  • In The Dresden Files:
    • There is a mysterious island in the middle of Lake Michigan. It is a Genius Loci and from it spawns a lot of magical power. It never had a name that was known, but titular hero Harry Dresden first calls it Demonreach, which is unknowingly appropriate because it imprisons many eldritch and evil gods, whose magical energy leaks from their cells resulting in the magical power. Later on in Skin Game Harry is living on the island and names the 9ft tall hooded spirit of the island "Alfred" in a snarky fashion after it helps Harry. The spirit asks if "Alfred" is to be its new designation as while it is part of the island itself, what Harry sees is also a separate entity as well. Harry permits it and now the spirit is called Alfred.
    • The Archive is the repository of all human knowledge. Anything ever written, typed, or printed becomes part of her perfect memory. From an everyday shopping list to the current nuclear launch codes. The power is typically past from mother-to-daughter when the daughter is an adult and has a lifetime of experiences to help handle the burden of all the knowledge and past memories of the previous bearers. The current incarnation isn't like that. Her mother died soon after giving birth to the girl, not even giving her a name, out of jealousy and spite she would be able to enjoy life for a while, while the mother has to endure this power she never wanted. So, the Archive is all this girl is, until at the age of five she met Harry, who nicknamed her Ivy, and this helped her develop a small fraction of personality that would continue to grow.
    • For a long time inside Harry was host to the Shadow of the Fallen Angel Lasciel. It was the Shadow's duty and sole mission to convince Harry to fully accept the full Fallen into his body, but Harry resists the temptation for years. As the Shadow later admits, most don't succeed in resisting for weeks. No one has ever lasted for as long as Harry has. This has left an interesting change to the Shadow who has developed into a slightly different being than the carbon copy of the True Lasciel she started as. As Harry notes, the Shadow has the same problem as Harry: his malleable human mind. She exists inside it and is just as malleable as he is. So while she could turn him evil, he could change her as well. The realization that should Harry take up the offer would mean the Shadow's demise as Lasciel would just erase the Shadow from existence. After one conversation, when discussing all the above, Harry calls her Lash. Inadvertently, this also gifted some of his own soul into the Shadow, transforming her slowing into her own unique being. When she realizes that Harry would truly rather die from a powerful mental attack rather than embrace Lasciel, Lash rebels against her master, will offer Harry any aide, any help she can without the pressure to accept Lasciel. Lash dies soon after, sacrificing her existence while shielding Harry from the mental attack.
  • In Ender's Game, Ender gains his nickname because his older sister couldn't pronounce "Andrew".
  • In Ender's Shadow, Bean gets his name when some other street children are taunting him that he isn't worth a bean. He then immediately lampshades that the name sucks, but the mere fact that he has a name at all is enough of a sign of status that he'll take it.
  • In Everworld, Senna's name is actually "Senda", which means "Pathway". She didn't meet her father until she was about eight, at which point her mother left her with him and literally disappeared; he mistook her name for "Senna", and eventually she came to hate the correct pronunciation.
  • Several villains (and tragic heroes) from the GONE series seem to take pride in all the nasty things the Perdido Beach kids say about them;
    • "Whip Hand" was originally a terrifying code word for Drake Merwin who has a tentacle for an arm (It Makes Sense in Context , we swear!) He seems to like this analogy a awful lot, even elaborating on it and calling himself "Uncle Whip Hand".
    • An Orc is a type of troll. Before the FAYZ, Charles Merrimans nickname was this and he loved it. When he actually becomes a stone monster, for once all he wants is for people to call him Charles and grows to hate the name, making it subverted. Lana remarks that when he was a boy he relished in being known as a monster, but when he was a monster all he wanted was to be recognised as a human being...
    • The talking coyotes in the series (Makes Just as Much Sense in Context), refer to Brianna as Swift Girl. The coyotes hate Brianna and have tried to kill her a multitude of times. Which makes her take all the more pride in the nickname.
    • Diana Ladris had no qualms with her reputation as a "Bitch", "Slut", "Mean-spirited", "bad girl" and seemed to refer to herself as it even more than the heroes who hold her in so much contempt for it. This is later deconstructed as Diana is slowly humanized and Rescued from the Scrappy Heap , eventually leading to the fandom feeling sorry for her and yes, it did get her fangirls.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix:
      • The Slytherins compose "Weasley Is Our King" thanking Ron for his terrible goalkeeping skills helping them win a match. Later the Gryffindors use the song themselves after Ron's first successful turn as Keeper, much the same way the Americans adopted "Yankee Doodle," though the Gryffindors changed the lyrics to praise Ron and his Quidditch skills rather than keeping the insulting ones.
      • The Ministry attempts to restrict the amount of defensive magic students can learn out of fear Dumbledore wants to turn them into his own private army. Since the Big Bad is out there building up his power base, the students form a secret Defense group and name it "Dumbledore's Army". When they're discovered, Dumbledore goes along with the idea in order to prevent any blame falling on the students. He notes it's "Dumbledore's Army", not "Potter's Army."
    • In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Minister Scrimgeour tries to convince Harry to support the Ministry; Harry, however, has zero trust in the Ministry due to their questionable policies and refusal to help him when Fudge was smearing him and Dumbledore. As a result, Harry decides to follow Dumbledore's lead in distancing himself from the Ministry, when Scrimgeour angrily calls him "Dumbledore's man through and through", Harry accepts it. Later, after once again refusing to help Scrimgeour and the Ministry, Harry calls himself "Dumbledore's man through and through".
    • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Hermione is the first known character to utilize this trope in the series for the term "mudblood."
      Hermione: I’m hunted quite as much as any goblin or elf, Griphook! I’m a Mudblood!
      Ron: Don't call yourself—
      Hermione: Why shouldn’t I? Mudblood, and proud of it!
  • Arthur C. Clarke's Imperial Earth: When Malcolm MacKenzie moved to Titan a computer error changed his surname to Makenzie. He spent two years trying to correct the misspelling before accepting it. Two generations later the Makenzie family view their unique surname as a source of pride and a symbol of their success.
  • The eponymous character in the Jack Blank trilogy never had a last name, so he'd leave a blank after his first on all his school papers. The name Jack _____ morphed into Jack Blank, and it stuck.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, Aragorn's alias Strider is initially a derogatory nickname given to him by the people of Bree, who see the Rangers as mysterious, dangerous ruffians. When he becomes king of Gondor, he translates the name into Quenya and uses it as his family name.
    • In a minor but humorous moment with Gollum, Sam calls him a "sneak", causing Gollum to go on a sarcastic rant about Sam's rudeness, causing Sam to apologize. Then Frodo wakes up:
      Frodo: Hullo, Smeagol! Found any food? Have you had any rest?
      Gollum: No food, no rest, nothing for Smeagol. He's a sneak.
      Frodo: Don't take names to yourself, Smeagol. It's unwise, whether they be true or false.
      Gollum: Smeagol has to take what's given him. He was given that name by kind Master Samwise, the hobbit that knows so much.
  • In Robert Asprin's Phule's Company series, the Legionaire who had chosen the name "Rose" for herself was usually called "Violet" (from "Shrinking Violet") by the others due to her crippling shyness in face-to-face contact. But when it's discovered that over the radio, she's phenomenally good as a Communications Officer (If she can't see the person she's talking to, she's fine) and very motherly to everyone in the company, everyone starts calling her "Mother" and she adopts it herself.
  • Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain:
    • Bad Penny adopted her name when a superhero called her that. Completely coincidental, in fact, that her real name is Penny.
    • Penny calls Ray Viles "Reviled" in the heat of battle; afterwards, he decides that he likes it and adopts it as his name.
  • In the Chris Wooding young adult novel Poison, the village children of Gull choose their own names when they turn sixteen. The eponymous character chooses hers as a jibe against her much disliked stepmother after she called her "a poison to their family". Also a bit of a Stealth Pun as her original name, Foxglove, is the name of a poisonous plant.
  • To go with several other sibling mispronunciations, Beezus, who got her name when Ramona Quimby couldn't pronounce Beatrice.
  • Subverted in Relativity. The supervillain who can talk to bugs? The heroes always call him "Cricket". Even the narrative calls him that. However, he only refers to himself by his real name.
    Cricket (I mean Matthew Morton): Seriously, who the hell came up with that name? Do I look like a cricket? I don’t even have wings!
  • The Reynard Cycle: In Defender of the Crown, Rukenaw is called The Fairlimb, a name she shares with the morningstar she wields in battle. The origin of the nickname? A bad pick-up line. The guy was referring to her legs.
  • In Shadow of the Conqueror, after Daylen slaughtered the aristocracy of Hamahra, the leaders of the other nations began calling him "Dayless" to defame him. Daylen responded by making it the most feared name in the history of Tellos.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire is full of nicknames, some of them falling into this trope:
    • Jon Snow is dubbed "Lord Snow" by Ser Alliser Thorne to cast him as a spoiled noble's bastard and estrange him from the other recruits. It quickly loses its negative connotations as the recruits start looking to him for leadership, and ultimately he becomes the Lord Commander, making the name official.
    • Tyrion Lannister ("The Imp") actually tells Jon Snow to use this trope.
      Tyrion: Let them see that their words can cut you, and you'll never be free of the mockery. If they want to give you a name, take it, make it your own. Then they can't hurt you with it anymore.
    • Sandor Clegane is known as the Hound due to the hounds on his coat of arms and his perceived total lack of ethical concerns interfering with his loyalty to his master. The self-loathing Sandor wears a helm crafted into a horrible dog-face.
    • The ex-smuggler Davos Seaworth was knighted for delivering food to a besieged city. The other nobility look at him as a common thug who bought his knighthood with onions, dubbing him the Onion Knight, but Davos proudly put the onion on his coat of arms.
    • Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish is lord of a tiny tract of worthless land on a group of peninsulas called the Fingers, and is also physically short. He goes by the name as part of his scheme to get people to underestimate him.
    • Jaime "Kingslayer" Lannister got his name for murdering Aerys Targaryen, who he had previously sworn to protect. He hates the title, but uses the name and the reputation that comes with it to get away with a lot.
    • Brynden "The Blackfish" Tully was labelled the Black Sheep of the family after he refused to enter an Arranged Marriage set up by his elder brother and leige lord. Because the sigil of House Tully is a fish, Brynden said a "black fish" would be more appropriate, and adopted it as his own personal coat of arms.
    • The warrior-slaves The Unsullied are given a different (and demeaning) name each day, to remind them they are so worthless they don't even deserve a real name. After the Unsullied are freed and allowed to choose their own names, their leader chooses to keep his current name, "Grey Worm," believing it to be lucky because it was the name he had on the day he was freed, whereas his original name was the name he had on the day he was enslaved.
  • Bane from the Star Wars Expanded Universe. To put this in perspective: the first person to call him this was his father, who was physically and emotionally abusive, calling his son the "bane of his existence." When he joined the Sith, he became Darth Bane.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • In Dark Disciple, after taking up bounty-hunting, Asajj Ventress becomes known as the "bald banshee". She takes the name Banshee for her personal starship.
    • Darth Bane: Young Dessel's abusive father Hurst blamed him for most of his problems, calling Dessel "the bane of my existence". So when he later joined the Sith and was given the chance to reinvent himself, Dessel took the name of Bane.
  • The Stormlight Archive: When Szeth-son-son-Vallano was sent to assassinate the Alethi King Gavilar, his Parshendi masters made him wear white; they believe that if you are going to assassinate someone, you at least owe him the courtesy to let him see you coming. Szeth soon becomes known as "the Assassin in White," and when he gets a new monster who uses him for even worse slaughters, he is ordered to wear white so that people properly identify him as the one who killed Gavilar. It's an odd case where someone is forced to take on a nickname.
  • In Super Minion, super-powered minions from Hellion's Henchmen gained the nickname "Boneheads" for their white, skull-like masks. They kept the name after they became powerful enough nobody could use it to make fun of them.
  • In Tales of the Magic Land, the wooden soldiers are called Deadwood Oaks, after their creator's constant insults about their learning abilities. In the end, one of the soldiers called himself that, and Urfin Jus decided this is the perfect name.
  • The Thinking Machine: Professor Van Dusen acquired the nickname 'The Thinking Machine' when an angry Russian chess grandmaster hurled it at him after Van Dusen had beaten him at chess despite never having played the game before by using Awesomeness by Analysis. The Russian says "You are not man; you're a brain - a machine - a thinking machine". Journalist Hutchinson Hatch picks it up and starts using it in his stories about Van Dusen. Van Dusen himself does not seem to care one way or the other about the nickname.
  • In Villains by Necessity, the silent "Blackmail" accepts the nickname he is given.
  • Vorkosigan Saga: The Barrayaran Vor were an aristocratic military caste. They received the name (Russian for thief) from commoners, who thought they were being stolen from. The aristocrats adopted the name, and will steal everything from any who oppose them.
  • The Iberian Orcs in The Weakness of Beatrice the Level Cap Holy Swordswoman originally received the name from a human (the Sage). It was meant as a Black Comedy joke - the Iberian Orcs are pig-like (like many examples in Japanese media) and Iberian ham (or jamón ibérico) is an expensive type of ham. Much to the Sage's shock, they liked the name so much they took it as the official name of their race.
  • The Forsaken in The Wheel of Time were mostly given nicknames by people in the Age of Legends to reflect their deeds, such as Ishamael (The Betrayer of Hope), Sammael (The Destroyer of Hope), Moghedian (The Spider) and so on, and by the time of the series have embraces their names to the point of almost forgetting their original names, and certainly the names of most of their fellows. The exception would be Lanfear (the Daughter of the night), who coined her new name herself.
  • Galinda in Wicked (both the musical and the book) is called "Glinda" (notice the lack of an A) by her talking Goat teacher. When he is killed, she changes her name to Glinda in his memory.
  • The Young Ancients: The protagonist, Tor, becomes the subject of a play in Galasia after making them water filters that saved the city, after their sewers ruptured into the drinking water. Tor includes a warning that the new magic system will last only twenty years and if they haven't fixed the sewers in that time not to bother him. With this curt note (and the young girl who wrote the play wishing to star in it) Tor becomes a troll the heroine must beg the filters from, much to the amusement of Tor's friends. Later, after a misunderstanding results in Tor's being turned away at the palace gates, Rolph adds every possible nickname, appellation and title Tor might be known as to the list of guests who are always welcome at the palace, including "The Troll of Galasia." This title sticks with everyone who copies Tor's appellations from the list, though he is still mostly known as the Wizard Tor.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Much like the movie and animated TV show, in The Adventures of Superman (from the 1950s), Superman gets his name from the Daily Planet. His first public heroic was rescuing a man who had fallen off of an airship, and the man later described him as "some sort of... Super-guy...", and shortly afterwards Lois calls him Superman.
  • This is also a Real Life example. Seattle-based sketch show Almost Live! had aerospace-engineer-turned-comedian Bill Nye as a cast member. He kept correcting host Ross Shafer's pronunciation of "gigawatt". Shafer's reply was "Who do you think you are, Bill Nye the Science Guy?" Needless to say the name stuck, and the rest is history.
  • Arrested Development had an episode where Tobias goes to prison and the inmates call him Dorothy. This changes when he accidentally convinces the biggest baddest con to commit suicide. Soon Tobias is running the prison and "Dorothy" becomes a name to be feared.
  • Arrowverse:
    • Arrow:
      • A bitter ex-vigilante tells Roy Harper that the Arrow only sees him as "a weapon in his arsenal". Oliver Queen decides that "Arsenal" is a good Code Name for Roy.
      • Averted with Oliver who doesn't like being called "The Hood" and so starts calling himself the Arrow instead, which eventually filters through to the public via his Friend on the Force.
      • Thea Queen would prefer to be called "Red Arrow", but her brother tells Team Arrow to call her by his Affectionate Nickname of "Speedy" instead. She gradually takes a liking to the name, and refuses an invitation by Cisco from Team Flash to think up a better one.
      • China White's real name is Chien Na-Wei, implying that she decided to use the Western mispronunciation as a Code Name.
    • The Flash (2014):
      • When Cisco calls Leonard Snart "Captain Cold" in a confrontation, Snart's expression clearly indicates his approval of the name. In later appearances, he insists on the name.
      • Later in the season, some of the other super-villains get a bit jealous of the Cisco-named bad guys running around Central City and outright ask him for an equally cool nickname. Two notable examples include the Golden Glider and even the Big Bad, The Reverse-Flash.
      • In the comics, Cold's team is known as "the Rogues." After Barry flippantly refers to them as Snart's "rogues gallery," Snart practically giggles.
      Cold: The Rogues. Cute.
      • Caitlin suggests calling Hannibal Bates, a metahuman shapeshifter, "Everyman" to Barry. She doesn't realize that it's Bates himself disguised as Barry, who admits that he likes it.
      • Rosa Dillion takes the name Top after Jesse Quick commented that her dress makes her look like a top.
      • When they’re stuck in the speed force during Crisis on Infinite Earths Hour 4, Movie-Barry Allen (who has gone without his famous code name during the events of Justice League (2017)) takes a liking to "The Flash" after encountering his Earth-1 counterpart.
  • Babylon 5:
    • A minor version when the Centauri Republic reconquers Narn with Shadow backing, they imprison all government officials and appoint a puppet regime, including a new ambassador to Babylon 5. G'Kar is replaced and no longer able to call himself "Ambassador G'Kar", and Londo makes a point of calling him "Citizen G'Kar", intended to demean him and mock his being stripped of his position. Nonetheless, G'Kar actually begins to regard the title as something of an honorific, and continues to use it when he becomes a rallying point for Narn resistance.
    • Averted with Sebastian, a man who was captured by Vorlons in the late 1800s from London, who mentions to Captain Sheridan that Sebastian's attempt at a crusade on Earth many years ago left his name and original intent obscured by the evil of his actions and now he is only known as "Jack".
  • Subverted on The Big Bang Theory. Howard knew that the other astronauts would give him a nickname; he planned to influence their decision by having his phone ring during a videoconference: the ringtone would be Elton John's song "Rocket Man". Unfortunately, his mother butted in and asked him if he wanted some Froot Loops for breakfast, and the other astronauts called him "Froot Loops" from then on.
  • Baldrick in Blackadder the Third suspects his first name might be "Sodoff", because when he was playing in the gutter with the other snipes, he'd say "Hello, my name's Baldrick" and they'd reply "Yes, we know. Sod off, Baldrick." His descendent in Blackadder Goes Forth is Private S. Baldrick.
  • In Black Lightning (2018), Technocrat decides to keep the name the ASA gave him when he was their lab rat, although he usually goes by TC.
  • Buffyverse:
    • Spike was known as "William the Bloody" during life, because his poetry was bloody awful, and one critic said that he'd rather have a railroad spike driven through his head than listen to it. Upon becoming a vampire, he took up those insults and "granted the critic's wish".
    • Angel. Liam took his vampire name from his sister, who mistook her resurrected older brother for an angel.
  • In an episode of The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert jokingly claims that white people need to stop feeling ashamed of being called "slavers". Instead, they need to own the name. They're not "slavers"; they're "slavas".
    Stephen Colbert: All the slavas in the house say "Hey!" Slava, please!
  • Daredevil (2015):
    • The titular character is called "The Devil of Hell's Kitchen" by the newspapers, until he apprehends Wilson Fisk at the end of the first season.
    • In Season 2, The Punisher is similarly nicknamed by the papers. By the last episode, he also has appropriated his logo from the picture on the newspaper headline proclaiming his death.
  • Doctor Who
    • In "The Time of Angels"/"Flesh and Stone", the Doctor dubs one of the Weeping Angels in the area "Angel Bob", after the man it killed and whose voice it stole to communicate with. Said Weeping Angel is quick to adopt that nickname for itself and both responds to it and refers to itself by it in conversation with the Doctor.
    • In "Spyfall", the secret agent known as "O" took the Code Name because the head of British intelligence would say, "Oh god!" every time he walked into the room. After The Reveal that O is actually The Master he enjoys the Doctor's Oh, Crap! response, implying that's really why he chose that name.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • The Unsullied, highly conditioned slave soldiers, are given names like Red Flea or Black Rat by their masters in order to remind them that they are nothing but vermin. When Daenerys frees them and allows them to take whatever names they wish, Unsullied commander Grey Worm decides to keep his own, considering it lucky: it was the name he had when he was freed from slavery.
    • Played with with Tyrion. He is known by several derogatory nicknames ("imp", "dwarf", "half-man") and he dislikes them all. While it appears that he continues to dislike it, "imp" has been used in affectionate tones as well (by Bronn for instance). As for "half-man", after Tyrion led a sortie against enemy troops, his troops used "half man" as a war cry. Tyrion recommends this to Jon Snow: "Let me give you some advice, bastard: never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you."
    • Davos was knighted for his services smuggling food (onions among it) and was disparagingly called "the Onion Knight" by other nobles, who disliked him for being lowborn. Davos doesn't mind this at all and his response was to put an onion on his personal arms.
    • The Blackfish's name is derived from a snarky retort to his brother Hoster calling him a Black Sheep. Now he freely admits, "People have been calling me 'Blackfish' for so long they don't remember my real name." Indeed, his real name Brynden is only All There in the Manual.
    • Inverted in "Kissed By Fire" when Jaime specifically rejects his sobriquet in his delirium:
      Brienne: Guards, help! The Kingslayer!
      Jaime: Jaime... my name is Jaime.
    • Discussed by the "High Sparrow", who's aware the name is generally derogatory but takes it in stride, noting there are far worse burdens to bear.
  • Garrison's Gorillas: Lt. Hanley from Combat! referred to Lt. Garrison's team as "Gorillas" in the pilot episode. The team adopts this as their unofficial title.
  • There's a song featured in Glee called "Loser like me", which is written by the Glee clubbers saying to their bullies that they may be losers, but that's hardly a set back and is actually an advantage for their future ambitions.
  • In Gotham, it's apparent that "The Penguin" will eventually be one of these; Cobblepot hates the name, treating it as his Berserk Button, but the series is a prequel and that is what he's called in other works. Half way through the first season, Sal Maroni tells him he needs to own the name so that people can't use it as an insult.
  • A flashback in Have Gun – Will Travel shows that the hero, Paladin, got the name in this manner. A villainous employer falsely made him believe that a gunfighter calling himself Smoke was a villain terrorizing a town. The dying Smoke revealed the truth and sarcastically referred to his killer as a "paladin". His killer adopted that name and to atone, becoming a hero while wearing Smoke's costume.
  • Holby City: Percival Durant, a wildly anti-authoritarian surgeon working in a Ghanaian clinic at the time of his introduction on the show, earned the nickname "Abra" from his colleagues and patients, which he wears with pride. It roughly translates to "troublemaker".
  • Shotaro Hidari and Philip received the name "Kamen Rider" from the citizens of Fuuto, which they use with pride. Interestingly, it's the villains that refer to them as Kamen Rider Double.
    • Most of the "Neo-Heisei" Kamen Rider shows have the main character adopt the Rider name in this fashion. Fourze learns about his predecessors from his school's Perky Goth and closet Rider fangirl, and himself becomes a Rider fanboy, eagerly looking for any opportunity to meet his Sempai. In The Movie, Fourze explains the name to Wizard, who decides it sounds pretty cool. And then in his Post-Script Episodes, Wizard turns around and introduces Gaim to the term (though in his own show, he's referred to as Armored Rider Gaim, which is still an example of this trope).
      • Gaim has another example: When dealing with DJ Sagara, Ryoma Sengoku asks what his real name is, and he responds "Why don't we go with the name that you gave me: Helheim", which is the name of the Alien Kudzu currently trying to take over the planet, revealing that Sagara is its avatar. However, he still goes by his old name when dealing with others.
  • Beaver from Leave It to Beaver got his nickname from his brother, Wally, not being able to pronounce "Theodore" [his given name].
  • In Lois & Clark, Lois names him after the "S" insignia, which is supposed to be in an alien language.
  • Once Upon a Time: In flashbacks shown in "The Evil Queen", Regina is at first offended at being called evil by her subjects, but by the end of the episode, embraces it after finding out pretty much everyone in the kingdom hates her.
    • Zelena's adoptive father insulted her as "wicked", and she made it her own.
  • In QI, Stephen manages to "reclaim" the word 'charioteer' about 2 minutes after the panel suggest it should be a euphemism for gay. That's got to be some kind of record.
    Stephen: I'm a Charioteer of FIRE!
  • Played for Laughs in Roger and the Rottentrolls. 1000 years ago, Merlin was attempting to create a ski resort for King Arthur, but his spell was ruined by some Norwegian trolls, causing the wizard to curse angrily, "Oh, those rotten trolls have messed it all up!" The trolls, too stupid to realise that Merlin was insulting them, assumed he was calling them by their name, and their descendants still refer to themselves as 'The Rottentrolls' to this day.
  • On the self-titled sitcom Roseanne, one episode has her mother explaining that Jackie's name isn't really Jackie, but Marjorie. Roseanne couldn't properly pronounce her name as a child and it always sounded like she was calling her "My Jackie", and after a while, the name stuck.
  • This is briefly inverted in one episode of Selfie, as Henry says to his assistant 'just call me Henry Potter' because he's a workplace wizard. He regrets this almost instantly, saying he'd dislike it immensely if people called him that. In another scene, Charmonique calls him Henry Potter to Eliza, saying that it spread like wildfire that morning.
  • Several times on Smallville , as a Mythology Gag. When Clark Kent joins an underground fight club, the manager calls him "The Man Of Steel" because he earlier demonstrated he was bullet proof. Green Arrow called him "Boy Scout" because of his simple-minded idealism. When he becomes an active superhero, the media calls him "The Good Samaritan" (because he helps people in trouble for no reason), "The Red-Blue Blur" (named for the only thing visible when he uses Super Speed), and finally, "The Blur". Also, when he reveals his secret to Jimmy Olsen, Jimmy goes, "Wow! You're some kind of Super... Super... Guy."
    • There was also "Clark Kent, the Man of Tomorrow" when he was running for high school president, though it was the other guy who photoshopped his face into what is basically superman's suit. There was also a time when Lana found him reading something by Friedrich Nietzsche and asked him if he was "Man, or Superman?", though he said he hadn't really decided. Also, he sometimes calls himself "Naman" in the early seasons, when interacting with people who know the local ancient legends about Kryptonians.
    • In the fandom, there is the "Unholy Cult of Chlois".
  • While everybody on the other side in Stargate SG-1 initially calls him "shol'va" (traitor) as an insult (practically spitting out the curse), Teal'c pretty quickly warms up to the "title" and a few times even smiles proudly when being called that. Later on, the other rebel Jaffa treat the term the same way.
    • Happens in a season 8 episode "Affinity" where Teal'c moves into his own off-base apartment. A neighborhood teen puts Teal'c's forehead tattoo for being Apophis' first prime on his skateboard due to the teen admiring how great of an impact Teal'c had on him and the neighborhood.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Applies to Odo twice. Firstly, when he was discovered, he was a gelatinous blob that was not clearly a lifeform. He was kept in a flask with the label "unknown sample"; a loose Cardassian translation of this was Odo'ital, meaning "nothing". He eventually took on the shortened "Odo" as a form of identity. Secondly, he adopted the nickname "Constable" that was given to him by Kira as an appropriate if unusual title (for the time) for someone now working in station security.
    • His people are called "Changelings", originally used as a slur against them until they took it as their own.
  • In Supernatural Castiel adopts Meg's nickname for him, "Clarence", as his alias when he becomes a human, but he does not understand the significance of the name.
  • When Survivor contestant Rudy Boesch was in Navy basic training, his instructor kept mispronouncing his name (BOSH instead of BESH). Rudy wasn't foolish enough to dare correct him; he went along with it, and it eventually became the accepted pronounciation.
  • In the 2016 iteration of The Tick, "Ms. Lint", was originally an Embarrassing Nickname given to the Terror's number one by his other henchmen. A side effect of her electricity based power causes dust particles to become stuck to her clothing through static cling. The Terror himself counseled her to not let them get to her, and instead take it for herself and turn it into a name to be feared.
  • Richard Hammond of Top Gear was nicknamed "Hamster" by Jeremy Clarkson and eventually came to like the name. He even refers to it with his production company, "Hamster's Wheel".
  • WKRP in Cincinnati: Radio DJ Gordon Sims initially wanted his Stage Name to be Venus Rising, but due to a slip-up when he first came on the air, he was introduced as Venus Flytrap, and the name stuck.
  • Wonder Woman: From the pilot episode, "The New, Original Wonder Woman":
    Queen Hippolyte: Go in peace my daughter. And remember that, in a world of ordinary mortals, you are a Wonder Woman.
    Princess Diana: I will make you proud of me... and of Wonder Woman.

  • Daft Punk named themselves after a review of their first musical attempt (a punk rock band, Darlin'), that a British music magazine dismissed as "a daft punky thrash".
  • According to the Diablo Swing Orchestra's "backstory", the band's first incarnation lived in the 16th century, where they were hated by the church because of how they turned people against them. Because of this, priests labelled them "the Devil's orchestra", among other things, a name which caught on. Eventually, the orchestra was captured and executed, but 500 years later, their reincarnations met up and also used a variant of that name for their own band.
  • Dismember was filed a lawsuit over the Gorn lyrics of "Skin Her Alive", calling the band "pornographic, obscene or indecent". After it was settled (in their favor), they released their next album, titled Indecent and Obscene.
  • When Butch Vig showed some new songs, someone reacted saying it was garbage. Guess how he named the band who played said songs?
  • The name of hip hop group Jurassic 5 was originally jokingly proposed by a friend of the group, who meant to mock their old school style.
  • When the Yardbirds collapsed, leaving Jimmy Page as sole remaining member, he recruited three unknown musicians (they knew each other through session work) and carried on. Legal uncertainties caused them to become the New Yardbirds. Then The Who's Keith Moon and John Entwistle made a remark about them going down "like a lead zeppelin". They adopted this name, changing the spelling to the familiar Led Zeppelin at the suggestion of their US distributor, who thought people might mispronounce (and misconstrue) "Lead" as if it were "lead a horse to water".
  • Speaking of the Yardbirds, they were named after the legendary jazz musician Charlie Parker, who earned the nickname "Yardbird" (slang for "Chicken") early in his career: when his band's van ran over a chicken in the road, he insisted they stop so he could pick it up and cook it for dinner that night. The band called him Yardbird to make fun of him for eating roadkill, and the name stuck, although it was soon shortened to just "Bird". Eventually Parker became the greatest musician of his era, and people called him "Bird" out of reverence and admiration, associating his music with soaring heights and the beauty of songbirds.
  • Lil B was originally called "based" as an insult, but he adopted it into his nickname, Basedgod.
  • In Argentina, a "grasa" is a derogatory term for someone with customs of poor people, and a "negro" is someone with a dark skin (usually from northern Argentine provinces or other South American nations). The audience of the "Malón" band organized a crowd chorus: "Baila la hinchada baila, baila de corazón, somos los negros, somos los grasas, pero conchetos no" ("dances, the crowd dances, it dances with a passion, we are the negros, we are the grasas, but socialites we are not"). The band itself liked the song so much that they follow it with their instruments.
  • According to Josh Homme, "When we were making a record in 1992, under the band Kyuss, our producer Chris Goss, he would joke and say 'You guys are like the queens of the stone age.'" And after Kyuss folded, Homme made good use of that joke.
  • The Residents got their name from a rejection letter they received after sending a demo tape to Warner (Bros.) Records: because they didn't include a name in the return address, the letter was simply addressed to "Residents".
  • Shortly after deciding to form a band together, Al Jourgensen, Richard 23 and Luc Van Acker went out to a bar and eventually found themselves kicked out for starting a brawl. The bartender called them "a bunch of revolting cocks", and sure enough, the band was newly christened The Revolting Cocks.
    • Jourgensen is particularly fond of this trope. Jourgensen's project 1,000 Homo DJs was similarly named after a comment from Wax Trax! owner Jim Nash, who said of the group's demo, "No one's gonna play this. It's gonna take a thousand homo DJs to play this for anyone to buy it." The title of Ministry's album Filth Pig is also lifted from a derogatory reference to Jourgensen, this time from a speech by a British MP.
  • The Righteous Brothers were named as such after playing a gig and a fan tells them their set was "righteous, brother".
  • There's an all-Asian-American rock band called the Slants, who have been embroiled in litigation for years with the US Patent & Trademark Office, who refuse to register the name as a trademark because it's an ethnic slur.
  • The Spice Girls' individual nicknames (Sporty, Scary, Baby etc.) were invented by the press – or in some versions by Simon Cowell who couldn't remember their names – and only retroactively adopted by the singers themselves.
  • When Noise Rock band Steel Pole Bath Tub submitted demos for what was to be their second album for Slash Records, the label rejected the material, calling it "unlistenable". The band would eventually release these same demos on their own label, giving it the title of Unlistenable.
  • When Stan Ridgway played a friend some music he and Mark Moreland were working on for a film soundtrack, he jokingly compared the layered production to Phil Spector's "Wall Of Sound". Because of how unnerving the music was, said friend quipped that it was more like a "Wall of Voodoo".
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic adopted the moniker as his late-night DJ handle after his classmates at California Polytechnical called him "Weird Al" for his looks.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • The term "Christian" was originally an insult. Christians originally called themselves "followers of the way", but beginning in Antioch, they were derisively called Christianoi ("belonging to Christ"/"slaves of Christ"), which they ended up adopting during the New Testament era.
  • Members of the Churches of Christ have consistently refused the appellation "Campbellites", but frequently accept other epithets thrown at them. One author's tract semi-famously declared "I Have A Closed Mind".
  • Mormons, originally derogatory nickname for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, has passed into common usage, including among church members.
  • Ditto for Quakers (the Society of Friends, who were given that name by a magistrate when their founder's response to a charge of blasphemy was that the magistrate should "quake at the word of the Lord") and Santeria (Lukumi).
  • A bit obscure, but the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing were 1) an offshoot of a Quaker group and 2) known for their use of dance during worship. They were given the nickname "Shaking Quakers", which then got abbreviated again into "Shakers".
  • Likewise Methodism, which started as a Bible study/spiritual formation group led by John and Charles Wesley at Oxford and were called "Methodists" and "The Holy Club" by their fellow students.
  • "Puritans" was an Elizabethan-era insult for that group; at the time they called themselves "Professors" (as in someone who 'professes' the Word).
  • Adherents of Germanic reconstructionist Neo-Paganism often identify as "Heathens", while adherents of some neo-pagan traditions such as Wicca and Stregheria self-identify as "Witches".
  • Far older than all of these is one of the original names for the Israelites: Hebrews. The word for "a Hebrew" in Hebrew is "Ivri", and one of the first times this word appears in the The Bible is when the Pharaoh's wine steward is telling the Pharaoh about this boy Joseph that can interpret dreams. He's concerned that Pharaoh might raise him too highly, so he calls him a "na'ar eved ivri" - a boy, a slave, and an "ivri", which means a descendant of Eber, but in this case is used in the context of "across", as in "across the border", as in "foreigner". The intended insult would become one of the common names for the Israelites.
    • A few later places in the Bible imply the word to have the meaning "people living beyond the borders of society".
  • Not an insult, but the Persians called the Hebrew people in their empire (who were all originally from the Kingdom of Judah)note  "Jews". Today Jew has completely displaced "Hebrew".
  • Jesus Freaks, originally applied to Christian hippies.
  • Non-religious and anti-religious types occasionally (and more commonly since 9/11) adopt the title Infidels. It's also been appropriated by other non-Muslims; shirts that say "infidel" on them in both English and Arabic are a common sight in some parts.
  • The term "fisheaters" was used as a derogatory term for Catholic immigrants (since they abstained from meat on Wednesdays and Fridays). However, a popular traditionalist Catholic site bears that very name.
  • "Naṣrānī" is an Arabic term that has been historically used by for Christians (and Westerners in general). It wasn't necessarily considered an insult since it translates to "Nazarene" (as in, followers of Jesus of Nazareth), but it became widely known after the fall of Mosul when Islamic State terrorists used it as a slur against Assyrian Christians by marking their homes with the word "N" in Arabic. The term was adopted by Christians worldwide to raise awareness of the persecution of their fellow co-regionalists.

  • In The Fallen Gods, Tuatha's horse is named Haku'Yethin, which is goblin for "Pain in my Ass". Hak's a sweetheart though, it was just the goblins that found him a pain.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Tully Blanchard, the Anderson Brothers and Ric Flair were thrown together at the last minute to fill up the NWA's tv time. The segment was well received and compared to the Four Horsemen in the Bible, so the fans began calling them The Four Horsemen of Wrestling, which the group then adopted themselves. Being a carbon copy, Evolution tried to invoke the same thing but it was only in story; the fans didn't jump on the name that time.
  • Cometa Azules III was nicked named "Apache" by the trainers and students of Blue Demon's Lucha Libre school after they saw him without his mask. Seeing an opportunity to give people a more accurate image of Apaches rather than "cowboys and Indians", III shed his mask and made "Gran Apache" his gimmick.
  • When Hulk Hogan made his famous Face–Heel Turn and joined Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, the group didn't have a name at the time (Nash and Hall were called "The Outsiders"). However, when Hogan got on the mic to explain the turn, he said, "You can think of us as the New World Order of wrestling!" To say the name stuck would be an understatement.
  • Phil Mushnick, longtime sports writer for TV Guide, has written a number of blistering rants against Professional Wrestling. One of them in the '90s was aimed at wrestling fans in particular; Mushnick dubbed wrestling's mostly-18-to-24 fanbase "Degeneration X", lamenting the mental and moral degeneracy they must have to enjoy the product WWF was putting out at the time. Fast forward a few months, and Shawn Michaels and Triple H formed a tag team known for lewd and sophomoric antics — and, after Bret Hart called them and their fans "degenerates", they decided to label themselves D-Generation X. Thus making their team name an example both in-Kayfabe (Michaels and HHH appropriating the label Hart gave them) and outside of it (WWF appropriating the label Mushnick gave their fans).
  • Being the unintelligible rambler of Gateway Championship Wrestling with friends almost as antisocial, all of Delirious's signatures and finishers were named by his enemies, Operation Shamrock. Names such as Panic attack, chemical imbalance, shadows over hell and banana phone and the fact he doesn't seem to protest them paints a pretty good picture of his psyche.
  • Athena spent two years in Booker T's PWA promotion with the ring name "Trouble" based on the fact she was labeled as such by most Texas wrestling enterprises early into her career. Eventually Athena's reputation improved enough, or perhaps her fan base grew large enough, for this to be dropped.

  • From Australian Rules Football: In their early days, Richmond Football Club didn't have an official nickname. However, their colors of yellow and black inspired fan cries of "Eat 'em alive, Tigers!", and eventually the club adopted "Tigers" as their nickname.
    • The "Yellow and black!" interjection in Richmond's theme song was also created by the fans.
    • Geelong's nickname of the Cats comes from a story about a black cat crossing the ground and Geelong winning the match.
  • The history of the Brooklyn Dodgers has two examples of this:
    • In the late 1800s, fans of the Brooklyn Bridegrooms (seriously), were derisively referred to as Trolley Dodgers by the pre-dominantly more well-to-do fans of the archrival New York Giants, because in order to reach Bridegrooms' ballpark, it was necessary to cross a series of perilous trolley tracks. The Brooklyn fans took it as a badge of honor in a way, as did the team, adopting it as an unofficial nickname until they officially changed it to the Trolley Dodgers in 1911, then shortened it just to the Dodgers.
    • Even with the new name, the Dodgers were consistently awful, and so Brooklynites eventually came to call them "the Bums," as in "Dem Bums lose again?" Starting around the 1940s, though, the Dodgers actually started to get good (albeit only ever winning a World Series once), but Brooklyn fans kept calling them "Dem Bums."
  • The Pittsburgh baseball team in the National League was commonly called the Alleghenys, until they signed away a player from the cross-state Philadelphia Athletics of the American Association. An A.A. official denounced their actions as "piratical", so the club decided that being known as the "Pirates" was a good way of tweaking the other league.
  • Originally, the Iowa State University teams were known as the Cardinals. After the football team scored a decisive victory over Northwestern, the Chicago Tribune reported the outcome with the headline "Struck by a Cyclone." Iowa State teams have been the Cyclones ever since.
    • The mascot is still a cardinal (named "Cy").
  • North Carolina State University football players were once derisively described in a newspaper, following a rowdy after-game party, as having all the manners of a "pack of wolves." Fast forward a couple decades, and the official nickname of the NC State athletic program is the Wolfpack.
  • The mascot of the Brazilian Association Football club Flamengo is a vulture, which is what rivals called their mostly poor and black fans. One fan brought a buzzard to a championship final in 1969 and the team won a title, leading Flamengo's direction to embrace it.
    • Similarly, the official mascot of Palmeiras is a parakeet, but fans prefer a pig as their mascot and they like to call themselves pigs. This dates back to when "pig" was a common derogatory term for the Italians that created the team, and popularized even further in 1969, when fans of rival Corinthians did not take well that after an incident where two of their players died in a car crash, Palmeiras' president voted to not allow the players to be replaced, an attitude deemed as "pig spirit" (a local expression for being nasty and mean-spirited). Eventually the club started to use both animals as mascots, even though supporters of other teams still use the pig as an insult.
    • The team Coritiba is usually referred as "Coxa" ("Thigh"), the team was founded by German immigrants and a common insult (especially during World War 2, where Brazil fought against Nazi Germany) was to call the players "Coxa-Branca" ("White thigh"). It's very common to the team just be called "Coxa" by supporters, rivals and neutrals alike (although the official name is still "Coritiba Foot Ball Club").
  • The 1972 Miami Dolphins got the "No-Name Defense" name given to them by Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry, who couldn't name anyone on the defensive side of the ball. The defense was number-one ranked in the league and helped the Dolphins achieve the only perfect season in the Super Bowl era.
  • While in Japan, Hideki Matsui got the nickname "Godzilla" from the Japanese media because of his skin problems. His powerful bat soon took over and made it a point of pride, something which stuck around when he moved across the Pacific and joined the New York Yankees in 2003.
  • Mixed Martial Arts nicknames sometimes are these:
    • Nick "the Goat" Thompson was once called "The Fainting Goat" because he was so easily knocked out in practice. Once he toughened up, it got shortened to "the Goat" and became an Artifact Title.
    • Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon "Bones" Jones received his nickname from his high school football coach because the lanky Jones was too skinny for his defensive linesman position.
  • The Tottenham Hotspur Football Club has a rather large Jewish fanbase, leading to rivals referring to their Jewish fans as "Yids". In a show of solidarity, Tottenham fans decided to take that name for all their fans, Jewish and non-Jewish. In spite of some controversy, they still refer to each other as "Yid", "Yiddo", and "Yidette", and the fanbase itself as the "Yid Army".
  • The Mexican soccer club C.D. Guadalajara are often referred to as "Las Chivas del Guadalajara" (The Goats of Guadalajara) and other times as "Las Chivas Locas" (the crazy goats), to the point that a goat has become their mascot. This was started when a commentarist in a game described the playstyle of the team as "Running around like a bunch of crazy goats".
    • The name in turn was adopted by the now-defunct Major League Soccer team Chivas USA, which originally shared ownership with C.D. Guadalajara.
  • Spain's Club Atlético de Madrid adopted the moniker of "Los Indios" ("The Indians") derisively handed to them by fans of rival squad Real Madrid due to the number of South American players in Atlético's roster at the time. Further driving the point home, the team's current mascot is Indi, a raccoon with a red and white (the team's colors) Indian-like headdress.
  • In American Football, Ed "Too Tall" Jones was a defensive end drafted #1 overall by the Dallas Cowboys and he would go on to become a franchise cornerstone during the team's 1970s dynasty. Standing at 6'9" (2.06m), Jones was initially considered "too tall" to play football and originally went to college on a basketball scholarship. The football coach gave him a chance, however, and Jones would move to football full time after two seasons.
  • The Carolina Hurricanes of the NHL are known for having on-ice celebrations following victories, which would eventually lead to commentator Don Cherry referring to the team as a “bunch of jerks”. Official merchandise for the team featuring that phrase and the team logo appeared the very next day.
  • Extremely common among Argentine association football teams, with many insulting or mocking nicknames for a team or their fans becoming an affectionate nickname used by themselves. Notably, River Plate are "chickens", Boca Juniors are "manure-men", Rosario Central are "scoundrels" and Newell's Old Boys are "lepers"

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech. Clan Sea Fox changed its name to Clan Diamond Shark after a rival Clan introduced the Shark into the Sea Fox habitat and killed 75% of the population.
    • Subverted: The Clan made sure to preserve and relocate the Sea Foxes that remained, and by the turn of the 32nd century, enough Sea Foxes had re-emerged that Diamond Shark changed their name back to Sea Fox.
  • Eclipse Phase: the faction known as the scum got their name when a group of survivors deserted by a corporation were denied the chance to return to civilisation by the boss of another habitat with a phrase along the lines of "get these scum off my station". His subordinates looked at him, then looked at the others, then gave their boss the chance to attain oneness with the universe, specifically the part just outside the airlock, and that's how the faction started.
  • Magic: The Gathering: The Planeswalker Sarkhan Vol is an interesting example. On the plane Tarkir, "Sar-khan" is a word that mean "Great-Khan," "Sky-Khan," "Khan-Of-Khans," basically ruler of the world. It was given to Vol sarcastically by his own Khan sarcastically, mocking what he saw as Vol's delusions of grandeur, but Vol took the name for himself anyway, even when traveling to other worlds, and eventually started to think of himself by that name alone. Though it does cause a few misunderstandings when he returns to Tarkir for the first time in years.
    Ugin: "Sarkhan"? They bow to you?
    Sarkhan Vol: No, but I bow to no one.

  • Beast Wars: Uprising: Wanna-be gangleader Gnashteeth is given a beatdown by Thunderhoof and Terrorsaur, who responds to a dramatic threat Gnash gives that he must think he's Megatron. A few weeks later, after Gnashteeth has ruined and murdered Thunderhoof, he decides the name Megatron suits him, yes.
  • BIONICLE: After being called a "Piraka" (an in-universe obscenity meaning "thief and murderer"), Vezok decides he likes the term, and he and the other Skakdi trying to steal the Mask of Life start calling themselves the Piraka.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown: Members of the 444th penal squadron have their tail art painted over with "scratches" or "sin lines" indicating the severity of their crime. Trigger is the only one to have three. Once he's served his sentence, he has the iconography incorporated into his new tail art, since friend and foe alike already recognize it. By the end of the war, takeoff sequences show the Nom de Guerre Three Strikes with his actual TAC name in parentheses.
  • Cute Bite: The origin of Buttercup's name, since Saule, who names her, gets it from the Old Master calling pre-Buttercup as "my little buttercup".
  • Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening:
  • Dragon Age:
    • Anders, who is first introduced in Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening, refused to speak when he was initially brought to the Circle as a child. Not knowing his true name, other apprentices started to call him "the Ander" because of his Anders heritage. This became the only name he later uses.
    • In Dragon Age II, many residents of Kirkwall use "Dog Lord" as a slur against refugees from Ferelden, a reference to Fereldan culture's deep-seated love of Mabari hounds. In Act II, Hawke encounters a Fereldan expat street gang called the Dog Lords. (Incidentally, the Dog Lords are probably the toughest of the gangs encountered in Act II...because they're backed up by Mabari.)
    • During Mask of the Assassin, after Hawke asks Varric why they never got a nickname, depending on their personality, he suggests "Waffles" and "Killer" for paragon Hawke and renegade Hawke. Snarky!Hawke on the other hand, admits to genuinely liking "Chuckles".
    • The Trespasser DLC in Dragon Age: Inquisition reveals that Solas's true name actually is Solas. Fen'Harel was an insult used by his enemies, and he took up the name as a badge of pride.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Mannimarco, known as "the King of Worms", is a legendary Lich/Necromancer who makes several appearances in the series. The term was originally meant as an insult by his Arch-Enemy, Galerion, but was adopted by Mannimarco with pride. (As a result of the Warp in the West, he sort of ascends to godhood, and is known as the "God of Worms".)
    • The Renrijra Krin, a quasi-legal nationalist faction of Khajiit introduced in Oblivion. The name translates as something like 'Mercenary's Grin', 'Laugh of the Landless' or 'Smiling Scum', and was first applied to them by their enemies, but it amused them enough for them to make it their own.
    • The Stormcloak faction in Skyrim was derisively referred to as such for following Ulfric Stormcloak's beliefs. They took that name in pride.
    • Nords, as a race, take titles in lieu of surnames. Many of them aren't complimentary and are presumably examples of this trope. Some examples: Halfhand, the Braggart, the Mumbling, God-Hater, the Contemptible, the Ugly, the Worm.
  • In Fable II you get to meet a woman named Hannah who is nicknamed "Sister Hammer" by the monks of the Temple of Light because of her Brawn Hilda aspect and strength. After her father, the abott, is killed and she joins the main character as the hero of strength, she takes the name in stride.
    Monk: Sister Hannah...
    Hammer: Call me HAMMER.
  • Fallout: New Vegas has Novac's resident Cloudcuckoolander and Conspiracy Theorist No-Bark Noonan. He was given that name because "not all of his dogs are barking" after being stung in the head by Radscorpions, but he uses it himself because he thinks it's a compliment on how he's "no bark, all bite". There may be some truth to that given that he's often the only one in town who more or less knows what's going on.
  • Final Fantasy XV Episode Gladiolus reveals that Cor "The Immortal" Leonis is a case of this. Thirty years prior to the events of the game, Cor was a brash, hotheaded Crownsguard recruit with a nodachi and the belief that he could handle anything. The Crownsguard discovered the "Trial of Gilgamesh", a test given by the Blademaster to judge the Shield of the King. Nobody had come out of the trial alive before Cor went in, thinking he was tough enough to handle it. He came out ass-first, sans nodachi.
Cor: I was cast out in defeat, my hubris laid bare for all to see. "You really are immortal", they said - and it stuck.
  • The title character of Ghostrunner was nicknamed Jack by the resistance because when they found him, one of them, Diego, remarked that he was "all jacked up". As the game progresses, Jack grows more and more attached to this name, to the point where when the Architect loses it in the final level and raves about how he won't beaten by a "mere tool", the Ghostrunner responds, "My name is Jack" before killing him.
  • The title protagonist of Mad Rat Dead initially has No Name Given. Heart eventually starts calling him Mad Rat due to his one-track mind driven on revenge, which leads to Mad Rat adopting it as his actual name.
  • The Illusive Man in Mass Effect 2. He derives his name from a vitriolic response from an Alliance official to his anti-alien manifesto ("survivalist rhetoric written by an illusive man"). The version of Illusive he uses means deceptive. It also sounds like Elusive, which might be the point, or not.
    • Legion also has an Appropriated Appellation, given to him by EDI.
      Shepard: So what should I call you?
      Geth Construct: Geth.
      Shepard: No, I mean you. Specifically.
      Geth Construct: We are all geth.
      Shepard: What is the individual in front of me called?
      Geth Construct: There is no individual. We are all geth. There are currently 1,183 programs active within this platform.
      EDI: "My name is Legion, for we are many."
      Legion: Christian Bible, the Gospel of Mark, chapter five, verse nine. We acknowledge this as an appropriate metaphor. We are Legion, a terminal of the geth.
    • Not scorn per se, but "EDI" stands for Enhanced Defense Intelligence, simply a label of her function. As EDI's character developed, it just sorta... become her name.
    • Partial example: when Tali gets tried for treason during her loyalty mission, the Admiralty Board legally has her ship name changed to "vas Normandy," believing that being associated with a human ship (and having a human captain represent her instead of a quarian) would hurt her chances of avoiding exile. Whether it works, backfires, or leads in an unexpected direction is up to the player. Later on, if you earn Tali's loyalty, she lets the name stick.
    • The term Reapers was originally bestowed by the Protheans, since they never learned the true name of their enemy. Notably, the Reapers never actually refer to themselves as Reapers. Harbinger occasionally uses the phrase "that which you know as 'Reapers'" to refer to their race, but this phrasing still makes it clear he doesn't consider the name valid. The Catalyst, controller and creator of the Reapers, does use the term, probably simply out of convenience, using terms that Shepard will understand.
    Sovereign: "Reaper". A label created by the Protheans to give voice to their destruction. In the end, what they chose to call us is irrelevant. We simply... are.
    • In the second game, Legion explains that "Sovereign" was just a title used by Saren. When it communicated with the Geth, the millions of programs that comprised the Reaper instead referred to themself as "Nazara". Though, when Shepard talks to the Reaper itself, it explicitly refers to itself as Sovereign. So Legion is either lying, or it uses different names for different groups, or it's a continuity error, or Nazara simply liked the name and took it for itself.
    Sovereign:: There is a realm of existence so far beyond your own you cannot even imagine it. I am beyond your comprehension. I am Sovereign.
    • The first example ever used in Mass Effect? Your helmsman, Jeff 'Joker' Moreau. He got the nickname in flight school for his habit of never smiling (he suffers from Osteogenesis imperfecta, which probably didn't help). He adopted the nickname after graduating, and now everyone apart from EDI (until the latter end of Mass Effect 3) and Dr Chakwas (who knows him well enough/is professional enough to stick to his real first name) uses the nickname when talking to or about him. One would think a 'morose' joke would have been too intelligent, given he becomes a wonderful barrel of snark and incidental humour.
  • A variant occurs in Overwatch with a character's Catchphrase as opposed to their name. In the tie-in comic for the Uprising event when Tracer first joins the team being sent in, Torbjörn dryly remarks, "Looks like the cavalry's here." Lena liked the way it sounded so much, she adopted it for herself.
  • In RuneScape, Arrav originally lacked a name, having been found abandoned as a small child by the tribe that would soon found Varrock. He took the name Arrav from a goblin curse word that goblins yelled at him after constantly losing battles against him.
    • Later on in the questlines, players find that Zaros, the ancient dark god of fate and control, is called the "Empty Lord" by both his loyal followers and his enemies. His followers admire him for being "empty" of the petty grudges and agendas that drive the younger gods. His enemies call him out for his "empty" promises.
  • This is the story behind the nickname of the title character of Sally Face. His actual name is Sal, but the bullies started calling him "Sally Face". Sal, in turn, decided to own the nickname so that it couldn't be used against him anymore, and actually tells people to call him Sally Face if they want to.
  • Gaichû from Shadowrun Returns: Hong Kong. His name means "vermin" in Japanese, reflecting that, having been transformed into a ghoul he's considered subhuman vermin by the Japanese Imperial State.
  • The English-language localizations of the Sonic the Hedgehog introduced the name "Eggman" for Dr. Robotnik this way; in Sonic Adventure, it was an insult used against him by the heroes, but in all later games he used it himself. That's actually because his name in Japan is Eggman; early games, feeling the name wasn't imposing enough, named him Dr. Robotnik and kept Eggman as an insult. Later games stated "Robotnik" was his family name and Eggman being the nick-name he normally uses, making his full name Dr. Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik. Curiously, the name Robotnik was used as the surname of his grandfather and cousin even in Japan, but official Japanese bios list Eggman's real name as "unknown".
  • Super Robot Wars: Original Generation refers to the assault on the White Star as "Operation SRW". While an official meaning for the acronym is never given, Ascended Fanboy Ryusei announces that it must mean - you guessed it - "Super Robot Wars!"
    • There's also Ibis Douglas, whose partner/rival dubbed her "Shooting Star" because of her tendency to get shot down during training exercises. When her boss finds out, he mentions that it's a great name for someone who dreams of exploring space. She finally accepts the nickname during her "No More Holding Back" Speech, which is accompanied by a theme song of the same name.
    • The Alteisen's name. For those of you who are unaware it translates as old/pig iron which is a low quality metal. In-universe the Alteisen is considered old-fashioned for not using Extra Over Technology (some very advanced technology that has been reversed engineered). The name stuck.
  • Tyranny: The Disfavored got their name from various jeers because they were a traitor clan that defected to Kyros after they were defeated. They took the name because they see their disfavor as a challenge to be overcome with badass fighting skills and elite squad teamwork. Unfortunately, the name describes them stronger than they realize as they tend to "disfavor" southerners with racism, rape, and genocide. Players that choose other factions over them tend to disfavor their Bronze-Age Nazis shtick.
  • In the Warcraft universe, the orphaned son of Orc chieftan Durotan was raised as a gladiator by a sadistic human who only called him "Thrall" (slave). He kept his name even after gaining his freedom, rising to the position of Warchief of the entire Orcish Horde, and learning his birthname (Go'el) from his grandmother.

    Visual Novels 
  • Nikolai Stirling in Queen of Thieves is known by both the press and the Paris underworld as "Thief Lord." In his first season he explains that it was originally a mocking nickname he was tagged with when he was still new to Paris, as the more seasoned criminals of the Underbelly felt he was far too arrogant and full of himself for a homeless teenage pickpocket. Once he formed the Gilded Poppy and began pulling off more and more audacious heists, he was regarded with more respect, until newcomers to the community didn't even realize it was supposed to have been a joke.

  • Subverted in Angels 2200 when the six girls of Icebreaker Squad in all receive scornful call signs that are either disparaging or ironic comments on their characters: "Hammer", (the vacillating leader), "Quetzalcoatl" (The Neidermeyer) "Whiskey" (the Hard-Drinking Party Girl), "Bubblegum" (as in: can't walk and chew it at the same time), "Loser" (self-explanatory), and "Kid" (The Ingenue). It does NOT help them bond as a team, and their attempts to "make these names their own" just makes it worse.
  • In Drowtales, "Tainted" was originally an insult towards Drow who failed to control a summoned demon and got infected/partially possessed by it. Then some started to do this deliberately to gain immunity against full possession. They were derided and persecuted to some degree, but eventually adopted "Tainted" as their designation.
  • In Earthsong, the villain takes his name from one of his first victims. He calls him "beluosis," or "full of monsters."
  • In El Goonish Shive, Elliot's female Superhero form is dubbed "Cheerleadra" by Internet users. This is learned mere seconds after Justin compares her skirt to a cheerleading outfit in a TV interview.
  • The FreakAngels have been called "sick freaks" and "angels of destruction," according to Luke.
  • The Oathbreakers from Modest Medusa rebelled against their new leadership (breaking their oath doing so) and took the name for themselves. They apply it to people they recruit, even when there's no oath involved.
  • Zebra Girl: When returning home at the end of the Subfusc arc, Sandra is talking with some kind of insectoid customs officer who can't say the name "Sandra" and keeps calling her "Zzzandra", so she says her name is "Zandra" to get by it. The news posts suggest she likes it and will be using "Zandra" from now on.

    Web Original 
  • Parodied in CollegeHumor's "We Are Douchebags."
  • Inverted in Dis Raps For Hire. In one video where he takes on some homophobes, Epic Lloyd tries to reclaim "faggot" as an insult'', using it against said homophobes.
  • Epic Tales has the villain Sponge who was given the name by the newspapers. It seems to have stuck, as the following story has her referred to as such.
  • Homestar Runner's The Cheat got his name when when Homestar pledged to "uncover that CHEAT!" in the original book.
  • Jimquisition ended up with a case of this. After the "epic meltdown of the Slaughtering Grounds developer", Jim started calling themself Jim Fucking Sterling, Son, which was an insult thrown at them in the developer's review of their review. ("I don't need to fix thatnote  because I'm Jim fucking Sterling, son!") They've since made it into a Catchphrase, and at one point their Twitter name was "JimFnSterlingSon".
  • Sailor Nothing
  • The SCP Foundation's SCP-1370 is an omnicidal but utterly harmless mini-robot that gives itself luridly grandiose titles like Robo Lord the Destructor. In a Not So Above It All moment, researchers found out that it will adopt almost any name that's spoken with enough feigned horror.
    Database Entry: ...Foundation staff have successfully introduced Patheticon the Garglemost and PesterBot to its lexicon.
  • Yelizaveta 'Bounce' Volkova of Survival of the Fittest version four. She picked up the nickname after somebody shared the sentiment that they'd 'Seen bouncier rocks'.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time:
    • In the Season 2 episode "Susan Strong", the eponymous character unwittingly names herself when Finn asks her what her name is, and she's still struggling with the word "Sun": "Suh... Sun." During the events of the "Islands" miniseries, she regains her memories of her life before coming to Ooo, including her real name, "Kara." She ultimately decides to keep her name as "Susan."
    • Princess Bubblegum's royal status is later revealed to have stemmed from a condescending nickname that she got from her uncle Gumbald.
  • Arcane has Jinx, whose birth name was Powder. As a kid, she was The Jinx, with her adopted brother Mylo never passing up the chance to reminder her that she's often the reason for something going wrong, with even Vi calling her a "jinx" after Powder gets the rest of their family killed. When she's adopted by Silco after that event, she adopts Jinx as her new name, though she treated it more as a nickname until she accidentally kills Silco at the end of the first season, at which point she refuses to be called anything other than Jinx.
  • Arthur:
    • The band "U Stink" got their name like this.
    • Arthur would sometimes state that the initials of his little sister D.W.'s name stood for "Disaster Warning." In "Sue Ellen Gets Her Goose Cooked," D.W. played Virtual Goose under the username DisasterWarning99.
  • Robin from The Batman took his alias from a nickname his mother gave him, which he initially resented. If you're wondering, the Golden Age origin of the name was Dick paying tribute to Robin Hood. Hence the green outfit, shirt lacing, and so forth.
  • Batman: The Animated Series
    • Harleen Quinzel is jokingly addressed as Harley Quinn before becoming a villain.
    • The Creeper gets the idea for his nickname from being called "creep", which he finds catchy but a little lacking. Before that he tried for "Yellow-skinned Wacky Man!", before switching.
    • Sid the Squid was given this nickname as a mocking joke by his buddies who thought he was worthless as a crook. It became a badge of honor after he almost killed Batman and made a fool of the Joker.
  • The Bratz get their name from Kirstee and Kaycee in Bratz: Rock Angelz.
  • In Codename: Kids Next Door, the tradition of numerical codenames dates back to the KND's original founder, Numbuh 0, when his brother told him he had zero chance of standing up to Grandfather.
  • Defied in Danny Phantom. The press calls Danny "Inviso-Bill" and Danny hates it. He does everything he can to get people to call him "Danny Phantom" instead, finally succeeding in the first movie.
  • When the army of Katolis prepares for war in The Dragon Prince, the newly-crowned King Viren allows those unwilling to fight to lay down their arms, but commands that they wear the sigil of a broken chain link to signify themselves as deserters. When those same "deserters" show up as part of the army of Duren's Big Damn Heroes moment against Viren's troops, they carry banners bearing that self-same broken chain.
  • In Dragons: Race to the Edge, although villain Viggo Grimborn claims that his ancestors created the Dragon Eye that inspired Hiccup to set up the titular outpost, when Hiccup reveals what he calls the device, Viggo decides that he likes the name and decides to use it in future.
  • Crash Nebula in the Show Within a Show on The Fairly OddParents. The students at his school insulted him by saying he "crashed the Nebula", the Nebula being an experimental weapon/spacesuit. Sprig Speevak decided to make this his superhero name, Crash Nebula.
  • Invisibo from the Freakazoid! episode of the same name was initially known as Ahmon Kor-Unch, but was named "Invisibo" by Freakazoid because they already had title cards made up and everything. The villain accepts his new name because he likes it and admits that it has a somewhat sinister ring to it.
  • In Gravity Falls, Dipper admits that beneath his hat is a birthmark he does not want anyone to see. This Distinguishing Mark on his forehead is a perfect likeness of a constellation: The Big Dipper. He explains that other kids teased him about this until he grew to accept the name Dipper. Now he is Only Known by His Nickname.
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2021):
    • After transforming for the first time, Adam is referred to as 'some kind of He-Man' by Krass.
    • In this series, Cringer is not a Lovable Coward, but a wise Team Dad and Technical Pacifist. He was given the name Cringer by Evil Poacher R'Qazz because of how he could intimidate the cat and because he wouldn't fight in his Beastly Bloodsports. When R'Qazz meets Cringer again, he wonders why Cringer kept the demeaning name.
    Cringer: There is no shame in refusing to fight. I'd rather be called Cringer over "Killer" any day.
    • Duncan is a variation; he gets his name from a title his enemy boasted of having. When his former mentor Kronis boasted of being the former Man-At-Arms for Eternos, Duncan declares himself Man-At-Arms for Castle Greyskull shortly before beating him.
  • In Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures, the Origins Episode "Mouse from Another House" establishes that Mighty Mouse got his name from a remark his adoptive father made about his powers.
  • King from The Owl House got his name this way, as revealed in "Echoes of the Past". After Eda took him home, he started making statues out of random things and marching around, causing Eda to jokingly call him "a king amongst his subjects".
  • In the Rick and Morty episode "Mortynight Run", Rick mocks the cloud alien that Morty saved by calling him a "mind-reading fart". The alien however likes the name Fart and then on prefers himself to be called that, despite Morty's protests and much to the amusement of Rick.
  • In a G.I. Joe skit on Robot Chicken, a new recruit is given the name Fumbles after slipping on his spilled soda. This leads him to defect to COBRA for the sake of revenge. Unfortunately for the Joes, "Fumbles" happens to be a Badass Bookworm Cold Sniper who is capable of single-handedly killing them all. Even better, at the end of the sketch, Cobra Commander is so impressed that he wants to give the sniper a much better nickname, only for him to coldly respond "It's Fumbles. It's always been Fumbles."
  • Samurai Jack: "Jack" is not his name, but rather a slang term like "man", "guy", or "dude" that he was called by the first people he encountered in the future.
    Jack: They call me... "Jack".
  • At least four villains from The Spectacular Spider-Man get their names in this manner.
    • Adrian Toomes points out to potential victim Norman Osborn, that he's "not Toomes now, I'm what you called me, the Vulture!" Osborn sneeringly replies that he called Toomes a buzzard, and that Toomes can't even get the name right.
    • Max Dillon, super-powered accident victim, is nicknamed Electro in the course of Spider-Man's battle banter. Later, Dillon rants that since there is no cure for his condition, he is no longer Max Dillon. "I'm... what'd you call me? I'm Electro!"
    • Meek, submissive Otto Octavius is bullied by his boss Norman Osborn, who adds insult to injury by calling him "Doctor Octopus", a name Otto considers demeaning. One radioactive Freak accident later, he is demanding to be called the same, after delivering a ranting smackdown to both his boss and Spider-Man. Likewise Doc Ock's team, the "Sinister Six," is named by The Daily Bugle.
    • "I have been called many names in my life. My favorite is Tombstone..." "Big Man" may or may not be one of them.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "Clone Cadets", the clone trooper CT-4040 has an argument with a drill sergeant during which he's called a cut-up. CT-4040 decides that he likes this name and calls himself Cutup from then on.
  • Superman: The Animated Series
    • As seen in other adaptations, Lois Lane also names Superman here. After discussing the new hero at the Daily Planet, Lois sums up with "A regular superman," referring to him metaphorically as being the embodiment of the Nietzschen ideal. Perry quickly agrees that this is what they should call him. Clark, who is in the room, is surprised at first, but likes the name by the time everyone leaves.
    • A degraded Superman clone gets his name when Lex Luthor's henchwoman describes him as being "Bizarro!"
  • "Titan?" "That's what the Earth people call us!" "I like it! Engage... Sym-Bionic Titan"
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012)
    • Mikey names almost all of the villains they go up against. Some of them like their names enough to start using them themselves, such as Pizza Face and Rocksteady (contrasting Bebop, who hates his new name).
    • Y'Gthgba is a name he has difficulty pronouncing, so Raphael suggests nicknaming his Love Interest after the most beautiful woman in art, Mona Lisa. She accepts it, mostly because of the flattering origin.
  • In Transformers: Animated, Nino Sexton adopted the name Nanosec after a throwaway comment from a bank teller after his first heist.
    • Slight subversion: Grimlock named himself after Megatron bemoans his "prospects are grim, locked in this prison of a lab."
    • Wreck-Gar gets his name from Angry Archer's abbreviating what he previously called himself, "worthless-wreck-walking-pile-of-garbage".
  • In the season 2 premiere of Transformers: Prime, Megatron claims to Orion Pax that the term "Decepticon" was meant as a demonizing insult by the Autobots, which they took for their own.
    Megatron: For if speaking the truth is deception, then we are gladly guilty.
  • In Ultimate Spider-Man, Miles Morales tries to decide a new codename for himself to not be confused with Peter Parker after he ends up stranded in Peter's dimension. After going through several bad names, Doctor Octopus mockingly calls him Spider-Man's "Kid Arachnid", and Miles takes a liking to it.
  • Young Justice:
    • The Cave's computer detects an "unknown energy impulse" that turns out to be Bart Allen's time machine arriving:
      Beast Boy: Well, I think we found our "unknown energy impulse".
      Impulse: "Impulse"? That’s so crash! Catchy, dramatic, and one word!
    • Arsenal got his name from Lex Luthor complimenting his "impressive arsenal".
    • Ma'alefa'ak is both the name of a vicious Martian predator and a Fantastic Slur for White Martians. White Martian M'comm M'orzz uses it as a new title to terrify the oppressive Green and Red Martians.

    Real Life 
  • In terms of minorities and such, it's called reclaiming; it's why a good handful of gay men will call themselves "faggots," lesbians use "dykes," both of the above call themselves "queer," transgender people call themselves "trannies" (though usually in jest, the term is definitely falling out of favor as of late otherwise), black people reserve N-Word Privileges, et cetera et cetera. In particular The N-word, which was (and still is) used as a racial slur against Black people, is now used by many within the Black community themselves. However, there are also plenty of Black people who strongly oppose the use of the word due to its extremely negative original (and sometimes current) meaning. For slurs in general, there is ongoing debate as to whether they can truly be robbed of negative power or not.
    • Similarly, a portion of Native American population has embraced the term "Indian" rather than discourage its use. In this case, part of the appeal is perceiving it as a subtle insult towards European settlers for making the mistake of thinking they were on a completely different continent.
  • This is also the reason why the Gay community uses the pink triangle. During the The Holocaust, homosexuals were forced to wear a pink triangle by the Nazis to indicate the "crime" they had committed. Years later, it was adopted as a symbol of gay pride.
  • The red triangle used by Nazis to distinguish anarchocommunists is used by the movement.
  • Gen Urobuchi's Twitter page (@Butch_Gen) is quite suspiciously reminiscent of his Fan Nickname.
  • Die Antwoord did this with the term "zef". The word is an insult, an Afrikaans analogue for "white trash". They turned it into a movement. In an interview Ninja said: "Zef is like dirt, it’s like scum, there was no zef movement before we came along. It was an insult, it’s like eurghh, talking shit about people. (...) It’s the blackest joke, Yo-landi just being like, ‘Let’s be zef.’ She started telling me all this zef slang and I’m like, ‘Jesus, they swear so bad.’ She started swearing and swearing and saying ‘we zef’, which is like saying ‘I’m a piece-of-shit scumbag, I’m that person you hate, I’m that thing you’re embarrassed about.’"
  • If media corporations wanted to prevent people from downloading their works for free, than perhaps they should have selected a different moniker than "pirate," since many downloaders readily declared themselves pirates in order to make themselves sound like badass, swashbuckling rebels against authority. The popular torrent site Pirate Bay uses a pirate motif.
  • The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was disparaged by Republicans as "Obamacare", which has since become its official nickname in mainstream news media. Even Barack Obama himself has stated that he's now fond of the name, and uses it in his own speeches. He pointed out that having his name attached to the word "care" in relation to the law is hardly a bad thing. In the midst of the disastrous rollout, however, he went back to calling it by its formal name. By the time the Trump administration tried and failed to get rid of it, some people loved the Affordable Care Act but hated Obamacare, not realizing the two were one and the same.
  • In Dutch, a name that has been 'appropriated' in this manner is called a geuzennaam, after the most famous example in Dutch history: the confederacy of Calvinist Dutch nobles and other malcontents, who from 1566 opposed Spanish rule in the Netherlands, called themselves Geuzen (singular Geus). This was derived from Gueux, French for 'beggars'. Berlaymont, one of the councilors of Margaret, Duchess of Parma, referred to the nobles as "N'ayez pas peur Madame, ce ne sont que des gueux" (Fear not madam, they are only beggars).
  • Come the American Revolution, the British Loyalists referred, condescendingly, to rebellious British-Americans as "Yankees." The term stuck as a catch-all name for Americans. Within America, it applies to a concentric series of ever-increasingly specific demographic, but outside of America it's applied to all Americans. Or to quote E. B. White:
    To foreigners, a Yankee is an American. To Americans, a Yankee is a Northerner. To Northerners, a Yankee is a Northeasterner. To Northeasterners, a Yankee is a New Englander. To New Englanders, a Yankee is a Vermonter. And in Vermont, a Yankee is somebody who eats pie for breakfast.
    • Former governer of Rhode Island and World War II pilot Bruce Sundlun christened his B-17F bomber "Damn Yankee" after a crewman from North Carolina gave him that nickname which was used by Southerners during and after the Civil war.
    • "Yankee Doodle" was originally a British ditty, meant to mock the Americans. (Yankee Doodle rides into town on a small pony instead of a proper horse, and then sticks a random feather into his hat and declares himself stylish when in fact he's a hick.) The Americans took the song right along with the nickname.
      • Further, being called a "Dandy" was an insult ridiculing American Colonials mocking one's clothing style. It also became a badge of honor and complement after the Revolution.
  • Once General Cornwallis was kicked out of Charlotte, North Carolina, he referred to the city as "a hornet's nest of rebellion". The city still has the nickname The Hornet's Nest, and their basketball team is named the Hornets.
  • Edwin Eugene Aldrin Jr. picked up his (nick)name from when his sister was a toddler and called him "buzzer" as a mispronunciation of "brother". This was shortened to "Buzz", which he later made his legal first name. He is known for walking on the Moon (then, in his seventies, he punched a guy in the face for saying he hadn't really been there) and being the source of the name Buzz Lightyear.
  • That's how the followers of popular Parody Sue LiveJournal Pottersues got their Fan Group Nickname: one troll with a grudge against Pottersues included the readers and fans among her insults, calling them "Lesbian Minions". They immediately reacted by calling themselves exactly that.
  • Musiu Lacavalerie, late Venezuelan TV and radio personality, was born as Marco Antonio Lacavalerie, but because of his obviously non-Hispanic last name he was jokingly called "musiú" an affectionate (and then popular) term toward immigrants and foreign-looking people. Lacavalerie decided that he liked how the combination sounded, so he took it as his professional name.
  • Back in the day, on our fine fora, someone dropped in on a thread and prefaced their remarks with the following. It got mentioned as an alternate name on Troper when it still had its own page.
    "I hoped I'd never create an account at this site and will probably never use it again. I have no love for vigilante taxonomists. It's a personal thing."
  • When Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition was newly announced, a number of angry gamers weren't just satisfied with expressing their unhappiness and spent a lot of time spreading unfounded rumors on the Wizards of the Coast boards. Other posters went out of their way to correct them and one frustrated rumormonger angrily denounced his being 'oppressed' by what he called the '4e Avengers'. Within a week, dozens of posters had that name in their sig with Super Hero names like '4e Batman'.
  • As a joke on his strained relationship with the press, then-Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura issued media credential badges to his press corps labeled something along the lines of "Press Jackal." The issue-ees were none too pleased, but the badges soon became collectors' items among the better-humored.
  • Fans of the erotic artist Julius Zimmerman are known as the Flaming Horde after an incident in 2003. An inker was discovered to be tracing Julius' art and auctioning it as his own and fans of Julius filled his inbox full of complaints. When Julius e-mailed his image host asking who it was, the response was something like: "No one you or your horde of flaming fans need to worry about any more" and he ceased hosting the tracings. Though Flaming Horde was intended as an insult, the group embraced the novel designation.
  • The astronomer Fred Hoyle, a proponent of the Steady State model of the Universe, coined the term "Big Bang" as a dismissive term for the rival model. The name was taken on by proponents of the theory, at first ironically but later in all seriousness.
  • When the idea of a number line at right angles to the reals, defined by the square root of -1, was first proposed, many mathematicians considered it to be ridiculous and called them "Imaginary Numbers".
  • The term "survival of the fittest" was originally used by a writer dismayed at the perceived coldness of the theory of evolution by natural selection. He meant "physically fittest", which is still a common misunderstanding today, but it was appropriated on the understanding of fittest meaning "best at its job".
  • The reason why members of the Something Awful forums are collectively referred to as "goons" by themselves and other Internet denizens.
  • The "Star Wars" missile defense system was originally called that in mockery of its implausibility.
  • As noted on the People's Republic of Tyranny page, a number of left-leaning localities have been given derisive nicknames of this type, but have ended up wearing them proudly - probably because, technically speaking, the nicknames are so inaccurate that the only possible way one can utter them is with irony.
  • During a 1948 UK Labour party rally one of the party speakers derided the opposition Conservative members as 'vermin'. The Conservatives, already riding high on a wave of changing political fortunes, promptly established the 'Vermin Club' among its members, complete with custom-made chrome badges with the word 'VERMIN' prominently displayed.
  • The term "Marxist" was invented by a French conservative in the late 1800s as an insult. The communists of the time quickly started referring to themselves as Marxists and their ideology as Marxism, despite Karl Marx himself detesting the term and going so far as to insist that he was not a Marxist. Admittedly, this last was more a reaction to what the ideology developed into.
  • The term "suffragette" was originally coined as an insult by the British tabloid, the Daily Mail. As well as adopting it as their own, the suffragettes then turned it around by hardening the "g", emphasising the word "get".
  • The Rats of Tobruk, the Allied defenders of the besieged World War II garrison who proudly took their name from Nazi propaganda. Likewise the Scrap Iron Flotilla that supplied them. Rats are intelligent, resourceful and endlessly hardy animals that will take a place over and never be removed. It was fate.
  • Subverted with the Nazis themselves. Well before Adolf Hitler came about, "Nazi," as a nickname for Ignaz (Ignatius) was a common epithet for the Bavarian equivalent of a Good Ol' Boy. So when a political party called the Nationalsozialistischenote  came to prominence, people were quick to seize on Nazi to describe it. For those unfamiliar with German culture, a Tumblr post that seems to have been lost in the void of the internet compared this to a hypothetical American white-supremacist party calling themselves the "Red-blooded Patriots for the Next America". The Nazis did briefly try reclaiming it but instead decided crushing their enemies was a better use of their energy upon taking over the German government, and so it was their enemies who made them permanently known to history as Nazis.
  • In The American Civil War, Northerners took to calling Southerners "Johnny Reb" and Southerners took to calling Northerners "Billy Yank". Each then took to calling themselves that in jest.
  • Eastern and Central European literature theorists who were developing theories set forth by Ferdinand de Saussure and Nikolai Trubietskoy were called 'structuralists' by their opponents who scorned their overly scientific methods. Later the name stuck and now the movement is officially known as structuralism.
  • The terms Whig (Liberal) and Tory (Conservative), used by various British and British-derived (American, Canadian etc) political parties through the ages, both started out as fairly insulting terms in Irish Gaelic (whiggamore 'horse thief' and toraidh 'outlaw'). "Whig" fell out of use in the UK in the early 1900s, but "Tory" is still current.
  • Chicago is well known as "The Windy City." The nickname was around before the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 (See the article at The Other Wiki), but it was pushed into popular culture when it was used as an insult by the New York Sun editors to refer to the hot air being created by Chicago politicians as they tried to get the World's Fair to come to Chicago. The name stuck.
  • Façade, Edith Sitwell's suite of poems set to music by William Walton, originally started out as a personal, technical exercise. She wanted to see if, by a careful arrangement of words, she could cause people to recite them in a particular rhythm (waltz, foxtrot, etc.). Then someone remarked that it was "very clever, but just a façade" - and she decided to let the name stick.
  • Doyle Brunson, poker player, got his nickname "Texas Dolly" by Jimmy Snyder misreading "Texas Doyle". It stuck, and got shortened to "Dolly."
  • Rush Limbaugh was once called "The Most Dangerous Man in America", which he adapted. Similarly, he and his fans referred to his fanbase as "Dittoheads", which was originally to disparage them as yes-men.
  • After reclaiming the title of World Chess Champion, Mikhail Botvinnik was being fawned upon by his fans. He tried to keep the celebration restrained by telling the well-wishers, "No, no, I am not a patriarch, you know." Guess what his nickname was after that?
  • Contrary to popular belief, Callsigns used by Air Force pilots (particularly combat units) are not a badge of honor. To quote former F-16 pilot Chris Kibble, "They are usually based on how badly you’ve screwed something up, a play on your name, your personality, or just the whims of the drunken mob of pilots." A few examples:
    SHAG - Social Hand Grenade
    SPIN - Shortest Pilot In NATO
    Magnet - Always flying too far from the formation.
    Krod - Read it backwards
    FUNGUS - F**k you new guy, you suck.
  • During World War I, Kaiser Wilhelm II referred to the British Expeditionary Force as a "contemptible little army." Immediately British army regulars started referring to themselves as the Old Contemptibles... But the quote from which the appellation was taken was fabricated by British propaganda.
  • The US Marines call themselves "Devil Dogs", supposedly in reference to a German report referring to them as Teufel Hunden. The only problem is, the only sources for this claim are from the American media, and that the word would more properly be Teufelshunde.
  • Indo-Caribbean people (Caribbean nationals who are descended from indentured servants brought from India to the Caribbean), particularly those from Guyana or Trinidad & Tobago, are known as "Coolies." This started out as an insult by their former masters (the British plantation owners), as the original meaning was that a person being called a Coolie was a low-class worker. However, in recent decades, Indo-Caribbean people adopted it as an affectionate nickname for themselves. An Indo-Caribbean politician in Trinidad famously made a speech declaring himself to be "Coolie to the bone" to emphasize his heritage. Also, New York City's sizable Indo-Caribbean community also generally uses the word Coolie to describe themselves.
  • Members of the online celebrity news community Oh No They Didn't! proudly call themselves "jackals" after being referred to as such by an online columnist.
  • In the same vein, the word "Stan", once used on the site as a derogatory term for overly-obsessed fans of any given subject, has now been adopted by said fans (partially due to South Park) and is even used as a verb ("Who do you/I stan for _____"). This is mostly in female fanbases, popular shows, and mainstream American culture (though given how off the rails the original Stan went, this appropriation might count as Misaimed Fandom).
  • Some Britney Spears fans who actually like her and support her accept being called a "Britard".
  • Lady Gaga calling her fans "Monsters" is a double subversion. They had this name before, but due to the more questionable things they have said and done (like all fan bases), they are called "Real Monsters" to those who really don't like or get them and how they deal.
  • The Crystal Palace was the purpose-built venue for London’s Great Exhibition of 1851 and a wonder of the Victorian Age, being the product of a brilliant and innovative design. Its iconic name, however, was originally coined by a writer for Punch magazine, as a backhanded euphemism for the proposed structure in one of their typically flippant comment pieces.
  • The Chamber of Horrors in Madame Tussaud's Waxwork Museum in London acquired its name in the same manner. A Punch writer coined the term while commenting on the newly opened "separate room" (as it was originally referred to) in 1846.
  • A large number of US state nicknames are derived from this:
    • The term "badger" for a Wisconsin resident originated as a derogatory name for the copper and iron miners in the western part of the state who, due to poverty, would sleep in holes they dug in the ground. Today, Wisconsin is officially nicknamed "The Badger State" and the athletic teams at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are known as the Badgers.
    • Minnesota got the nickname "The Gopher State" when a political cartoon called Minnesotan legislators a bunch of gophers, and for some reason it stuck; to this day, the athletic teams at the flagship University of Minnesota-Twin Cities are called the Golden Gophers.
    • "Michigander" started as a pejorative. Today, it's the only acceptable term for a person from Michigan, at least as far as Michiganders are concerned. The nickname "Wolverine State" for Michigan also began as an insult, when Ohioans called the Michiganders "vicious as wolverines" (or something to that effect) during the Toledo War.
    • The term "Masshole" is used mainly to describe the perceived tendency for residents of Massachusetts to be overly aggressive about driving, sports, or things in general, but it's not uncommon to see cars with Mass plates proudly sporting bumper stickers with the word on it.
    • "Sooner" was the name given to settlers who entered what is now the state of Oklahoma before the official start of the Land Rush of 1889. The name derived from the "sooner clause" of the proclamation that opened the territory, which stated that anyone who occupied the land prior to the opening time would be denied the right to their claim. While the term initially had a negative connotation, many Oklahomas proudly call themselves "Sooners" today.
  • Jack Thompson came up with the term "pixelante," a mix of pixel and (for some reason) vigilante, to describe video game players. The GamePolitics forum wasted no time in appropriating the name for themselves, much to Thompson's annoyance.
  • "Pixel-stained technopeasant" was coined by Howard Hendrix as an insult to his fellow science-fiction writers who were demeaning "the noble calling of Writer" by posting their work on the net for free (*gasp*). They now have their own holiday.
  • The Space Opera genre was originally called that as an insult — the term "opera" was used along the same lines as Soap Opera and Horse Opera to connote that a work was filled with unbelievable characters, plots, and settings. Now, the term Space Opera is value-neutral, and just means a work with "grand themes".
  • Fans of Atlus games, particularly the Shin Megami Tensei series, like using the term Fatlus to refer to themselves, despite its origins as a derogatory term.
  • Lately there's been a trend of militant vegans on Tumblr referring to omnivores as "bloodmouths" in an attempt to guilt them about their dietary choices. The omnivores' reaction? To wholeheartedly embrace it, declare "bloodmouth pride" and sometimes change usernames to incorporate the word "bloodmouth." Let's face it, if the vegans wanted to make a point, they should've chosen a term whose connotations were far less badass. They have also taken to calling them "Carnists", with similar results.
  • "Stilyagi" was the insult in the Soviet Union for youth who rebelled by dressing in wild styles and listening to Rock & Roll. They later used this name as a point of pride.
  • Many people with the nickname "Bubba" got it because a sibling couldn't properly pronounce the word "brother."
  • The sports teams of The Ohio State University named themselves Buckeyes after many a comment made by visiting teams about the large number of buckeye trees on campus.
  • Danish show-host Bubber (real name Niels Christian Meyer) got the name from his mother mishearing her father-in-law calling him "bubbele" (doll) upon birth.
  • Margaret Thatcher was nicknamed "Iron Lady" accidentally, by the Soviet newspaper Red Star. They tried to use the already existing, less-than-complimentary moniker "Iron Maiden", but it was lost in two mistranslations, from and then to English. Thatcher's response: "They are right. I am an iron lady. Britain needs an iron lady."
  • In British politics, the Conservative Party are popularly known as the "Tories", a term that originally was an insult against Irish cattle thieves and which was the name of the modern party's forebear.
  • After a Rhode Island teenager named Jessica Ahlquist got a prayer banner removed from her school, one of the many negative reactions she suffered was a Rhode Island representative dubbing her "an evil little thing" during a radio interview. Her YouTube channel is named "An Evil Little Thing".
  • Outlaw motorcycle clubs have appropriated the "1%er" appellation from an apocryphal story about how the American Motorcyclist Association said that 99% of bikers were law-abiding citizens and that only 1% of them were criminals. They take it as a badge of honor, as in they are the most hard-case 1% and everyone else on two wheels is really just a Rule-Abiding Rebel or a wuss. These are the guys who put the grain of Truth in Television in All Bikers Are Hells Angels.
  • During The Gilded Age, political cartoonist Thomas Nast started to caricature the Republican Party as an elephant — for being bloated but unstoppable (in Nast's day, the GOP ran everything that wasn't the South or New York City) — and popularized the use of the donkey to represent the Democratic Party (Andrew Jackson had been called a "jackass" in the 1830s, and as the Democrats were seen as being rather obstinate in the late 19th century, the symbol was extremely fitting). The Republicans and Democrats adopted the animals as mascots, and use them to this day.
  • In the early days of baseball's American League, manager John McGraw of the Baltimore Orioles called the Philadelphia franchise a "white elephant". Manager and part-owner Connie Mack immediately had a white elephant patch sewn on the uniforms of his team, and over a century and two city changes later, the Oakland Athletics still have an elephant mascot.
  • The "Crocoduck" was originally a Photoshopped Mix-and-Match Critter used by creationists Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort to mock the theory of evolution. Since then, prominent atheists like PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins have taken to wearing ties with crocoducks on them. Also, several fossilized animals with both crocodile and duck-like features have been found, earning them the nickname "crocoduck."
  • Richard Nixon's Vice President, Spiro Agnew, once called opponents of The Vietnam War "an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals". After this, some of them started wearing "Effete Snobs for Peace" buttons.
  • The tiny nation of Singapore was dismissed by Indonesian President B.J. Habibie as merely a "little red dot" on the map. The Singaporean government and people almost immediately pounced on it a proud reminder that the nation has managed to prosper out of all proportion to its size.
  • "Tree huggers" for environmentalists.
  • Sioux City, Iowa has a problem with its airport. The FAA gave it the identifier "SUX", so every plane ticket and baggage tag would have "SUX" printed on it for anyone going there. After trying unsuccessfully to change it, sort of , the city now embraces it and sells T-shirts saying "Fly SUX".
  • Seattle features a trolley known as the South Lake Union Train. There are t-shirts for sale saying you "took a ride on the slut."
  • At one point, a member of the North Carolina legislature called the famously liberal town of Asheville "a cesspool of sin." Not long after, many Asheville-based organizations, including the local NPR affiliate, began turning out "Cesspool of Sin" t-shirts. They remain quite popular among natives.
  • After the 2013 protests in Turkey were described as the work of a bunch of looters ("çapulcu") and drunkards ("ayyaş") by Prime Minister Erdoğan, many supporters of the movement appropriated the terms to mock the ridiculousness of the charges. In addition to people on Facebook changing their nicknames or occupations to "çapulcu" or "ayyaş", there was also a meme involving photos showing the protesters doing harmless or constructive things (like cleaning up the streets after a clash with the police) with a caption underneath reading "Look at what those damn looters are doing". It also helps that both "ayyaş" and "çapulcu" are considered mild examples of Inherently Funny Words in Turkish.
  • The name of the Crips street gang was originally the "Cribs," reflecting the members' young age, but after members began appearing in public with pimp canes, people began calling them "cripples" or "crips." The nickname stuck.
  • Some inhabitants of the Isle of Sheppey in Kent will call themselves "Swampies," a word formerly used as a term of abuse for them. Some on the Isle still consider it an insult, so tread carefully here.
  • "Parasite Singles" was a term used to describe single Japanese people (especially single women) in their late 20s and up who still live with their parents to live a more relaxing life even if said individuals are actively working to spend said earned money on themselves, which is a big cultural no-no in Japan/Asian societies in general. Instead, the term became so beloved that it's even printed on business cards saying, "Hi, I'm a Parasite Single!"
  • A young James Butler Hickok was nicknamed "Duck Bill" to make fun of his nose. After a while, he modified it to "Wild Bill" and occasionally went by William.
  • The antifeminist Internet forum the Slymepit was named for a feminist nickname of the blog ERV, from which the forum was spun off.
  • The creationist Michael Egnor's blog is named Egnorance, referring to a word used to mock him for his ignorance.
  • The ancient Cynics were constantly called kynikos, or dog-like, for their asceticism and shamelessness. Eventually they took the name for their own.
  • The online term "Social Justice Warrior", or "SJW", was created as an ironic pejorative term for people who often spoke negatively about sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, or anything of that ilk, before expanding to become a general invective that could be yelled at anyone - possibly by people who didn't quite grasp that calling your opponents warriors for justice is basically calling them superheroes. Eventually, it was adopted as a self-descriptive term by geeky online folks with strong opinions about inclusivity and social equality. Its use as a pejorative does seem to have seen a resurgence as of late, as some of the aforementioned people took it increasingly far.
  • Another name given by the Nazis; a regiment of female Russian pilots who flew nighttime missions against them were referred to as "Nachthexen" or "Night Witches" due to the whooshing sound that their biplanes made that the Nazis compared to the sound of flying broomsticks. The women proudly adopted the nickname.
  • "Otaku" is not a very flattering term in Japan, but Western anime and manga fans have mostly adopted the term to refer to themselves. This can sometimes be ironic when Western Otaku sometimes use the term "Otaku" negatively when referring to Japanese Otaku (usually when complaining about light novel tropes or Moe), while still embracing the same word towards themselves.
    • Japanese otaku prefer to spell it as 'wotaku' (still pronounced the same) as a way to distance themselves from the negative term.
  • "Furfag" was originally an insult towards people who were a part of the Furry Fandom due to the strong belief of the stereotype that anyone that was a furry would always have sex with other furries in the most weird and kinky way as possible. Furry fans found the term hilarious and take it as a compliment while calling each other furfags in the same way one would greet each other with the N word.
  • L’Osstidcho was a groundbreaking French Canadian theater revue created in 1968 by four young performers who would each later become well known artists. The name of the revue, which is an alteration of "l’hostie d’show" (loosely translated as "the damned show"), comes from an incident during the production stage, when the theater director got exasperated and shouted: "Arrangez-vous avec votre hostie d'show!" (= "I don't want to have anymore to do with your damned show!").
  • Environmental Narrative Games have frequently been derisively referred to by their detractors as "walking simulators", although some have since come to use that term neutrally as a purely descriptive term for the genre. It even got a shortened alternative in the phrase "walksim".
  • In the early days of Two-Way Radio, Amateur Radio operators were referred to as "Hams" by professional radio operators and telegraphers, in reference to the ham-fisted and clumsy way they were perceived to operate on the radio waves. Over the years, the term was embraced by amateur radio operators so now "Ham Radio" is perceived as a perfectly acceptable and widely used name, leading to many to mistakenly assume instead that it is an acronym, spelled "HAM".
  • Fans of Undertale often call themselves "Undertale Trash" for the same reasons as the "PC Master Race".
  • One reason that a number of younger Americans positively identify with the term "socialism" is that they've heard conservatives deride their liberal opponents as "socialists." Most of these people, on the other hand, are social liberals, to the irritation of many Marxist-Leninists and anarchists.
  • Brazilian football player Paulo Henrique "Ganso" takes his nickname from how some employees in Santos F.C. called him when he was a teenager. In Brazilian football slang, "Ganso" (goose) was used to describe young players who wouldn't become professionals because they lacked skill.
  • The word "nerd": originally used as an insult towards science and technology oriented people, the rise of Internet culture and computers becoming an omnipresent part of life has seen the word used by those formally targeted with it as a derogative turned into a badge of honor for knowledge and skill in those areas.
  • Bayformers was originally a nickname that the detractors of the Transformers Film Series used to describe them. More recently it has been used by fans because it's not that bad of a nickname.
  • The "Trixie" in "Trixie Mattel" was an insulting nickname given to her by her stepfather early in life. She later took that and made it a part of her drag identity.
  • King George III of England was nicknamed "Farmer George" by the English newspapers due to his passion for agriculture (he even wrote a few pamphlets on the subject using a pseudonym, though no one was fooled). He didn't seem to mind, and the joke was never meant to be malicious. The papers changed their tone after George IV's disastrous reign: the nickname became a way of complimenting George III's frugality in comparison to his son's ridiculous extravagance.
  • Originally, "Pinoy" was used as a slur against Filipinos during the 1920s. Over the decades, Filipinos adopted and adored it as a symbol of their Patriotic Fervor.
  • During the 2016 U.S. Presidential campaign, Hillary Rodham Clinton referred to some of her opponent Donald Trump's supporters as belonging in a "basket of deplorables" for their open statements of racism and sexism. In response, many Trump supporters started calling themselves "Deplorables," and the Trump campaign eventually offered official merchandise branded with the word "Deplorable." In her book published after the election, Clinton admitted this may have been a factor in her loss.
  • When Trump referred to Clinton in a debate as a "Nasty Woman" and to immigrants as "Bad Hombres," it inspired similarly branded merchandise from Clinton supporters who adopted those as slogans. Suffice to say, it was a contentious election.
  • In the 2015 Portuguese legislative election, the pro-austerity right-wing "Portugal à Frente" (PAF) coalition managed to win reelection but without securing a supermajority. Just after they managed to get the Prime Minister appointed, Socialist Party (PS) leader António Costa managed to rally the two left most parties in the Parliament, the Communist Party (PCP) and the Left Bloc (BE), into a coalition with the PS and successfully challenged the new government and seized power. Critics looked at the apparent ramshackle and unprecedented alliance with two rather radical parties and dubbed it the "geringonça" (roughly "contraption" or "thing-a-ma-bob" in English), expecting it to collapse in less than a year. As of 2018 it's still going strong, with the Portuguese economy showing signs of recovery and the term "geringonça/contraption" has been embraced by critics, supporters, political commentators and even the government itself as a nickname for the coalition.
  • Certain surnames come about like this. One example is Nimitz/Nemec and its variants. It originally came from the Polish 'ne metz' meaning 'doesn't speak,' a reference to Germans who didn't speak Polish.
  • The term "glorious PC master race" was originally used sarcastically to poke fun at PC gaming elitists (thought up by someone who hated PCs and consoles equally). PC gaming elitists took it and ran with it, now proudly using the term as they berate "console gaming peasants".
    So bollocks to Kingdom Come, but I reserve the biggest and most suffocating bollocks for those twats I saw on the Steam discussion forums praising its obnoxious qualities and asking the devs not to change the save system because if they did, then "plebs" might get into it. Fuck you, toffee-nosed PC Master Race shitheads! I wish I'd named you something else now, like the "PC Gaming Dick-Slurp All-Stars"!
  • Manchester, New Hampshire gained the mocking title of "Manchvegas" after the city began aggressively cracking down on video poker and keno machines that did cash payouts in bars and pizza shops in the mid-1990s. Even after the city saw a major renaissance in the early 2000s following the construction of the Verizon Wireless Arenanote  (as the label was also a dig at Manchester's significant lack of quality nightlife options), the name stuck and is still a widespread colloquialism used to refer to the city.
  • On 4chan, the term "30 year old boomer" was created as a jab at people in this age group who still consume media from their child/teenage years. After a while, this group started to proudly call themselves boomers, making memes in which boomers show their dominance over "zoomers" AKA Generation Z, and one game on Steam even calls itself "boomercore" for using the Doom engine and being inspired by it and other 90s FPSs.
    • Likewise, other "-oomer" appellations such as "doomer"note  and "coomer"note  came to be adopted by the exact people they were intended to mock, leading to such things as the creation of "doomer" playlists centered around dark and depressing music and the use of the "coomer" character as a PFP by individuals who "fail" No Nut November (an increasingly popular online challenge, spawned from No Fap September, in which participants attempt to abstain from masturbating for the entirety of the month of November). "Coomer", however, is still a bit of an indecisive case in that, while it has been appropriated by sexually expressive individuals seeking to make fun of the label's neopuritan background (having originally been created by far-right 4chan users attempting to label sexual expression as "degenerate"), it still sees more negative reception in other areas of the internet where people spam it unironically.
  • Fans of Techno (which is just one of many genres under the overall Electronic Music umbrella and fans don't take kindly to anyone using the terms as if they were interchangeable) have gained a reputation for being snobbish and elitist due to the genre's darker tone and more minimalistic style compared to other genres like House Music or Trance, leading to the term "Techno Snobs". Techno fans happily embraced the term in good humor.
  • French president François Hollande (from 2012 to 2017) once joked in private about impoverished French people, calling them "les sans-dents" ("the no-teeth people"). That private conversation was reported in a book then in the media, and such contempt from him fuelled demonstrations against his government's austerity policies, with many protesters starting to call themselves "les sans-dents" to fire back at him.
  • After Taylor Swift got embroiled in controversies with Calvin Harris over their breakup and her claiming songwriting credit for "This Is What You Came For", and Kanye West and Kim Kardashian over Kanye's song "Famous", many of their fans took to calling Taylor a snake and spamming the comments on her Instagram account with snake emojis. Come the reputation era, Taylor turned this around and started abundantly using snake imagery in her music videos and concerts.
  • In the culture clash of post-fugitive-crisis Germany, the left-wing used to call the right-wing "Pack" ("scum", or something like that), to imply they aren't exactly Übermensch-compliant (poor, stupid, can't even speak German correctly etc., think of all Redneck cliches). The prompt answer was the addressees, for example, began shouting "Wir sind das Pack" on demonstrations (in parodying "Wir sind das Volk").
  • During the late 1980s in the U.S. the slang term “tighty-whiteys” (and variants of it such as simply “tighties”) appeared just as colorful boxer shorts were becoming popular among males. It was used tauntingly by boxer-wearers to the men and boys who wore jockey-style briefs that were common throughout the 80s (often white in color during that time), especially in locker rooms. The nickname snowballed in popularity in America and spread to other English-speakers also, and now many people - including a number of brief-wearers themselves - use it as a neutral term. As boxer shorts waned in popularity from the mid-2000s onward in favor of boxer brief-type underpants, it would seem that the “tighty-whitey” moniker is useful from distinguishing the original briefs from the newer extended-leg underpant types with “briefs” in their names; as at present the full-cut legless briefs (not to be confused with bikini briefs) have no similar official descriptor, nor has any official retronymic adjective appeared.
  • COVID-19 Pandemic:
    • One of the many inappropriate comments Jair Bolsonaro made about the COVID-19 vaccine was "In the Pfizer contract, it's very clear: 'we're not responsible for any side effects.' If you turn into a alligator, it's your problem". The Brazilian people that did want to get rid of the disease wound up adopting the alligator as a symbol of their support for the vaccine, down to dressing as the reptile while taking it.
    • Some conspiracy theorists advise against getting the vaccine by making claims that the vaccine contains a tracking microchip with 5G cellular signal. Many people who get the vaccine jokingly refer to it as getting a 5G microchip, knowing full well that the claim has no known basis. When booster shots started rolling out, people who got it would refer to it as getting a "signal boost" for their "5G coverage".
  • Andreas Haukeland's school bullies called him "tics" because of his Tourette syndrome. He went on to give it the Xtreme Kool Letterz treatment and take TIX as his stage name.
  • 2022 Russian Invasion of Ukraine:
    • Several racially charged insults Russians have made on imageboards comparing Ukrainians to pigs, got appropriated in the form of Ukraine-flag colored pigs dancing to Ukrainian music in meme videos, often with the pigs dancing right next to demolished Russian war machines.
    • In Russian recruitment propaganda and pro-russian memes, the "decadent" west is made fun of for their tolerance of homosexuality and for using pronouns, mocking western forces as a Sissy Villain "they/them army" and with pictures of military equipment in gay pride colors. This got appropriated and compared side-by-side to the "was/were army" Russian forces in Ukraine.
    • The words "khokhol"/"hohol" are both Russian ethnic slurs aimed at Ukrainians, in reference to a type of haircut popular with cossacks back in the day and the Ukranian army in the present day. It didn't take very long for Ukranians to start using it to self-describe, since it wasn't very insulting to begin with anyway.
  • A rare example of a term created from a botch being appropriated by both sides of a debate is "Brandon" as a nickname for Joe Biden, and for completely different reasons:
    • The term originates from a trend for conservative sports fans to chant "Fuck Joe Biden" at events. At the NASCAR Sparks 300, CBS' Kelli Stavast interviewed race winner Brandon Brown while that chant was audible in the background, to which Savant commented that the fans were chanting "Let's go, Brandon!". Whether an amusing mishearing or not, the phrase took off as a conservative shibboleth and slogan because it played into accusations of media bias and censorship.
    • In 2022, "Brandon" suddenly found its way into pro-Biden circles as part of the "Dark Brandon" meme. In this version, Brandon is a Memetic Badass who highlights Biden's accomplishments while also looking like an Evil Overlord. This narrative took off primarily because Biden is inherently milquetoast and difficult to positively meme without making it boring or insincere; "Brandon" turned out to be a handy way of flipping those negatives around.

Alternative Title(s): Ascended Epithet, Appropriated Appelation