Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Nicknames - good and bad

Nicknames can be a useful technique for remembering people's names but inappropriate nicknames can be embarrasing. This leads to the story of why there is a picture of Brad Pitt at the top of this article.

In my workplace there is an employee named Brook who looks a little bit like Brad Pitt. It didn't help that our office nickname fanatic decided to call this fellow "Brooke Shields". Soon after, the feminine nickname transformed into "Brad Pitt".

Now that Brook was being called Brad, and all knowledge of his real surname was lost, meeting "Brad" in the kitchen required several seconds of thinking to remember his name.

The moral of the story is that if you are going to give someone a nickname, use a variation of the real name. For example, Larry can be Leisure Suit Larry, and Bob can be Bob the Builder.


I was reading on Wikipedia how George W. Bush ("Dubya") used nicknames to refer to fellow politicians and White House staff. Vladimir Putin was "Pootie-Poot", and Condoleezza Rice was "Condi".


  1. There's a woman at work that calls one of our younger employees Grasshopper. I can't believe he doesn't find it offensive, but if he does, he's keeping it to himself.

    Nicknames can be fun, but it just depends on how the person whose receiving it feels about it. I have a post on this topic at: