The Name Game: 35 Engaging Nicknames and the Intriguing Stories They Tell

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1Old Ironsides

Old Ironsides

Southern live oak was a secret weapon of the USS Constitution, one of America's first naval vessels, that was nicknamed "Old Ironsides" after so many cannonballs bounced off her hull because live oak wood is a super dense wood.

2. More high-ranking Nazi officers died in the Czechoslovakian car Tatra 77a and 87 than in active combat, prompting Hitler to ban his officers from driving them. It was nicknamed the "Czech secret weapon" by the Allied forces.

3. In 1963, a Volkswagen Beetle donated by the manufacturer became the first car in the Antarctic. It was so good for Antarctic use, being able to withstand temperatures below -50°C and winds above 150 km/h, that it was nicknamed "Red Terror" by the users.

4. Legendary football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant earned his nickname by agreeing to wrestle a bear for $1 at a carnival when he was 13 years old. The bear bit his ear, and the carnival never paid him $1.

5. Arthur John Priest (1887 - 1937) was an English stoker in the 1900s - 1910s. He became famous because he survived at least five shipwrecks (including the Titanic) and several other ship collisions. He gained the nickname "The Unsinkable Stoker". He died on the mainland in 1937.

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Ancient Greek mathematician, Eratosthenes, was nicknamed "Beta" because he was skilled in many things, but never the best.

7. The Beechcraft Bonanza airplane is nicknamed “the doctor killer” due to the number of wealthy professionals who take up flying as a hobby and end up crashing in it.

8. There was a famous 18th-century racehorse named Potoooooooo. His original name was Potatoes. Potatoes acquired the strange spelling of his nickname, Pot-8-Os, when a stable lad was asked to write it on a feed bin. The lad's version, Potoooooooo, was said to amuse his lordship so he kept it.

9. Jelly Roll Morton, at the age of 14 tricked his great-grandmother into believing he was a night watchman at a barrelhouse when in fact he was working as a piano player in a brothel. In that atmosphere, he often sang smutty lyrics and there he took the nickname “Jelly Roll”, which was slang for vagina.

10. Scottie Pippen, of Chicago Bulls Fame, was given the nickname “No Tippin Pippen” for his lack of tipping waiters and once tried to haggle with strippers on the amount they were charging.

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11Grande Dame of the Everglades

Grande Dame of the Everglades

Marjory Stoneman Douglas fought against efforts to drain the Florida Everglades and reclaim land for development when she was 79 years old. Her tireless efforts earned her several variations of the nickname "Grande Dame of the Everglades.” She also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

12. There is an area in the middle of the Pacific Ocean where scientists have discovered Great White Sharks congregate every year. They have nicknamed this stretch of the ocean “The White Shark Cafe.”

13. Sausage sizzles are public sausage barbecues generally held either as free community events or as fundraisers that have become a recognized and expected addition to polling booths at Australian elections. The sausages at these events have been nicknamed "Democracy Sausages."

14. Don LaFontaine, who was nicknamed "Thunder Throat" and "The Voice of God", voiced over 5,000 movie trailers. His final voice-over role was for an episode of Phineas and Ferb, in which he said in his final line: "In a world ... There, I said it. Happy?"

15. The infamous RMS Titanic had a near-identical sister ship called Olympic, nicknamed "Old Reliable", that was re-commissioned in World War 1 as a troop transport ship and was notable for having carried over 200,000 troops during the war and sinking a German u-boat by ramming into it head-on.

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16Iceberg homes

Iceberg homes

Rather than building up, millionaires in central London are building down, creating mega-basements. Nicknamed "iceberg homes" because there's more square footage under the ground than above.

17. The Australian Mk 3 Centurion 169041 was nicknamed "The Atomic Tank" due to it surviving a 9.1kt blast from 460 meters away. The tank was simply driven off after the test and went on to spend another 23 years in service, including time in the Vietnam war.

18. Similar to the fact that the American South may be referred to as "The Bible Belt", or the Great Lakes Region is referred to as "The Rust Belt", the Mormon Corridor (in the Midwest of the US) is nicknamed "The Jello Belt" because they consume twice the amount of Jello as the average American.

19. Roman Emperor Caligula was actually called Gaius. The nickname Caligula meant ‘little boots’ and came from the fact that his father liked to dress him up in child-sized armor. He hated it.

20. When filming the movie "Space Jam", Warner Brothers built an indoor gym nicknamed the "Jordan Dome". Michael Jordan used it to get back into playing shape for his return by playing pickup games against other NBA players and celebrities.



To protect themselves from police and male vigilantes during protests, groups of suffragettes began practicing ju-jitsu and armed themselves with clubs hidden in their dresses. They were nicknamed "Amazons" by the press.

22. Singer Drake's nickname among his fans in China is "gōng yā", which literally translates to “male duck”, while Kanye West’s nickname in China is “kǎn yé”, which in Beijing dialect means “someone who brags a lot with no actions to follow it up.”

23. Lyndon B. Johnson was known for wandering the White House turning off lights in rooms he thought were empty, sometimes to the surprise of people working in those rooms. This earned him the nickname “Light Bulb Johnson.”

24. Theodore Roosevelt openly despised the nickname "Teddy", and was quick to correct anyone who called him it. He preferred those working closely with him to refer to him as Colonel or Theodore.

25. The city of Vernon, Florida has been nicknamed "nub city" because so many residents have intentionally amputated limbs, disguising the injury as an accident, as a means of insurance fraud. One man had more than 25 open insurance policies and collected over $1,000,000 after amputating his left foot.

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