To most people a nickname might just be an alternative form of address to replace someone’s given name. It might refer to some aspect of either their character or their appearance – of course it could be connected with any number of things.
My favourite kind of nicknames is the one where the connection (or even the original connection) between the nickname and the human who answers to it isn’t obvious to the rest of the population.
The nickname I answer to the most (and my favourite of the publicly known ones – I do have a couple which are between me and the people who gave me them) is a perfect example. “Ink” happens to be three letters of my first name in the order they appear in “Ineke”. However, “Inky” matches me more – well – let’s just say that I have been known to get part of me covered in ink when reading or writing.
However, I use nicknames to file people in my brain as well. This is extremely useful when you know more than one person who answer to both the same name and extremely similar descriptions – or if you cannot remember exactly which of your Mum’s list of many and varied cousins are being talked about (due to surnames hardly being used – just the first names of their parents).
In fact, I suppose you could say that one of my Mum’s cousins made my life very easy by almost coming up with their own nickname. Sending my parents a photograph as a Christmas card every year resulted in them being filed permanently in my brain as “SuperSnaps” (please note – this is not a comment on the quality of the photographs. They could have been taken by a professional).
I love it when people almost make it too easy for me to come up with an individual (as in unique) nickname for them – it is even better when they appear to understand the connection between them and it. (I must admit that most of the nicknames I have given people are only known by me. They are all printable and suitable for family viewing – it’s just a case of the explanation sometimes being a bit complicated.)
Two of my friends have recently almost come up with their own nicknames – both of which are connected to old TV advertisements. One of them is now stuck in my brain as a brand of chocolates (the advertisement for which starts off appearing to involve someone behaving in the exact opposite way to what would be expected of someone in my friend’s profession/vocation) and the other one now has the misfortune of being stuck in my brain as a now defunct Credit Card company (well – if you start mentioning how you like working on your physical flexibility don’t be surprised if the slogan “Your Flexible Friend” gets attached to you – along with the name of the Credit Card company itself).
So – next time you hear someone answering to a nickname which doesn’t make immediate sense to you – try working out the possible connection in your brain. You could even come up with a story based on it.