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A nickname (in the 17th century pointed , hurtful '), also nickname , Abname , Utzname , nickname , Ulkname , Neckname , Username , Ökelname , Scheltname , Sobriket / sobriquet or nickname called, is a substitute name for the real name of a person or thing . This epithet can also indicate an imperfection. Usually it surpasses the actual name in wit.

Creation of a nickname

Nicknames are often formed according to external characteristics, behavior, occupation, function or names that arise randomly and are popular. In addition, a nickname can also be formed as a corruption or alliteration of the name, role or other properties.

Essential features, demarcations, varieties

While the real or normal name is created through baptism, official decree (parents) or cultural-historical tradition, the nickname comes about with good or bad intentions by other people, the media or sometimes by the person concerned himself. The nickname has no official character because it is only passed on orally. In a personal environment, it is often limited to group membership (club, association, school, company) and not familiar outside the group, while nicknames of public figures can make it nationally or even worldwide known.

As far as the nickname concerns people, the boundaries between pseudonyms and stage names are fluid. In contrast to these, the nickname is seldom chosen, sometimes not even known to the bearer, as is often the case with teachers.

The nickname can have a negative character and reflect the derisive name such as the name of abuse as well as being close to or equal to the nickname in a positive sense . On the other hand, it has nothing to do with an alias . Occasionally high-ranking personalities of the First German Reich were given nicknames next to their origin ("from Bavaria") or dynastic count ("the third") , such as Friedrich the Little , Karl the Bald or Heinrich the Quarrel . Such names are not counted as nicknames.

Often nicknames arise due to certain political circumstances or the events of a time and their perception in the population. One example is the not exactly disinterested British Labor politician Hazel Blears (* 1956), who was named Chipmunk after the chipmunk of the same name in the course of a few scandals . Nicknames sometimes disappear again when the situation changes or the occasion fades in memory; very few achieve great popularity . Other nicknames have to be content with familial, local or regional distribution and meaning, especially if they use the regional language or belong to the dialect area . When nicknames are translated into other languages ​​or into another cultural area, it is often difficult to find equivalents because the meanings and allusions cannot be translated or translated.

Basically, nicknames are all the more impressive when they are not only appropriate but also unusual. Writers like to give their characters nicknames because it makes them more concise and recognizable. Examples are the non-smoker from Kästner's flying classroom or his book Pünktchen and Anton , but also imaginative epithets such as Alfonso the quarter-to-twelfth . Nicknames can refer to a normal name, but not necessarily that of the person concerned. Examples are Darwin's bulldog for the biologist Thomas Huxley , Darwin's Rottweiler for the biologist Richard Dawkins , Beckham of the Baize (Beckham of the green tablecloth) for the snooker player Paul Hunter .

"I-derivatives" are also popular, for example Steffi for Stefanie Graf or Schmitti for the family name Schmidt or Schmitt. On the other hand, it is "certainly the most elegant solution to reinvent [a nickname] in a tailor-made way". As prime examples, author Reitmeier cites Millimetternich for the short Austrian Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuß and Hessenfluch for the Hessian Prime Minister and supporter of the corporal punishment Ludwig Hassenpflug . These examples show the proximity to wordplay and puns . In the memories of the Hungarian playwright Julius Hay there is a reference that his contemporary and comrade-in-arms Johannes R. Becher was baptized Johannes Erbrecher by his Danish colleague Martin Andersen Nexø . As Dollfuss' nickname shows in several ways, nicknames of well-known personalities are often derived from their characteristics or achievements. The contemporaries referred to General Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus as a cunctator , i.e. procrastinator, because he used a tactic of fatigue against Hannibal . Russian soldiers are said to have given the Prussian General Blücher the nickname Marshal Forward . Brother Johannes for the former North Rhine-Westphalian Prime Minister and later German Federal President Johannes Rau shows that such a name can also express mockery .

Nicknames can become better known and remain in the public consciousness longer than the actual name of a person and thereby outlive the bearer for generations. The neighbor of a quail kept in a cage, Böckderöck Wau-Wau , who died in 1876, is only known to many Cologne residents by this name. Similar to a nickname, typifying names that do not relate to a specific person are used in the vernacular, in jokes and anecdotes, such as ABC shooters for school beginners or Fritzchen , Klein Erna and Mr. Müller-Lüdenscheidt . Occasionally, new words in regional languages that are difficult to explain, such as the high-level language, are interpreted as derivatives from previous names or nicknames, for example for Fressklötsch , my dear Scholli or Verballhorn . Since their beginnings can seldom be well documented, it usually remains speculative.

Nicknames for groups

A special case is the house name , which is used as a designation for all residents of a certain house or farm and can therefore be used as a nickname for a group.

Nicknames of things

Personal reference is not an essential feature of the nickname. This is underlined even by the hardly tangible phenomenon such as a war over the Bavarian succession, which was fought between the Prussians and Austrians in 1778/1779: it is known as the Potato War. What bothered German soldiers on campaigns against Moscow (around 1942) was the proverbial General Winter . A silver coin introduced in Geldern in 1509 was named Schnapphahn because the image on the obverse reminded the subjects of a robber baron: it shows Duke Karl, who died in 1538, on horseback. More recently, things like bicycles , boatmen's pianos or slipper cinema for television are known.

Nicknames of well-known structures

They are often derived from the shape of the structure. Well-known examples of this are Langer Lulatsch for the Berlin radio tower , Langer Eugen for the former skyscraper of the members of the Bundestag in Bonn or pregnant oyster for a congress hall in Berlin. Institutions such as prisons or asylums had and still have nicknames. Well-known examples are Santa Fu for the Am Hasenberge prison in Hamburg-Fuhlsbüttel , Bonnies Ranch for the Karl Bonhoeffer Psychiatric Clinic in Berlin-Wittenau or the Yellow Misery , the former Bautzen  I prison , in which political prisoners were held until 1989. Erich's lamp shop for the Palace of the Republic in Berlin , because of the lavish installation of the lighting, as well as the head of state and party leader Erich Honecker .

Nicknames for places, regions, bodies of water, mountains

For many geographical objects, nicknames exist for the most varied of motivations. Such names are, for example, Spree-Athen for Berlin , Swabian Sea or Germany's largest bathtub for Lake Constance or Florence on the Elbe for Dresden .

Nicknames for automobiles

Since the beginning of the automotive development, the vernacular has coined nicknames for certain car models. Flattering, affectionate, mocking or derogatory, those are created for vehicles that, due to their distinctive characteristics, arouse the special interest of the public. Some of the most successful models in automotive history are the German VW Beetle and the French duck . In the usage of the word, these are better known under their nickname than under the official name of the manufacturer.

Web links

Wiktionary: Nickname  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Nickname . In: Heinrich August Pierer , Julius Löbe (Hrsg.): Universal Lexicon of the Present and the Past . 4th edition. tape 16 . Altenburg 1863, p. 577 ( ).
  2. Die Brücke 160, p. 93.See also the English language Wikipedia , accessed on May 29, 2009.
  3. Spiegel Online of September 10, 2007 , see at the end of the interview, accessed on May 29, 2012
  4. Die Brücke  160, page 98
  5. Born 1900 , edition Heyne- Taschenbuch from 1980, pp. 175–177
  6. See also: [1] and [2] , accessed on May 29, 2012
  7. Brockhaus Enzyklopädie , 19th edition, Volume 19 from 1992, p. 455