The Name Game Part 2: 40 Curious Nicknames and the Surprising Origins Behind Them

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1The Boss

The Boss

Before fame, Bruce Springsteen acquired his nickname "The Boss" because he took on the task of collecting the band's nightly pay from their club gigs and distributing it amongst his bandmates. Springsteen is not fond of this nickname, due to his dislike of bosses, but has tacitly accepted it.

2. A California prison inmate once smuggled 2 boxes of staples, a pencil sharpener, sharpener blades, and 3 jumbo binder rings in his rectum, earning him the nickname “O.D.” or “Office Depot.”

3. McDonald's is called Macca's in Australia. The nickname became so popular, they have registered it and in 2013, they even changed the signage.

4. Formula 1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen who has been nicknamed “The Ice Man”, was so calm before his debut race in 2001 that he was asleep 30 minutes before the start.

5. After World War 2, a Jewish assassin group nicknamed "nokmim" sought out those who terrorized jews and/or their families during the war and meticulously executed them.

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6Cowboy killers

Cowboy killers

Three Marlboro Men died of lung cancer earning Marlboro Red cigarettes the nickname “Cowboy killers.”

7. There is mysterious radio station in USA which has been nicknamed, “Yosemite Sam.” It only broadcasts a data burst lasting 0.8 seconds, followed by the voice of Yosemite Sam exclaiming: “Varmint, I'm a-gonna b-b-b-bloooow ya ta'smithereenies!”

8. During an English peasant revolt, a rebel leader nicknamed Captain Pouch promised to protect the rebels with the contents of his pouch. When the rebellion failed and he was captured, all that was found in his pouch was a piece of green cheese.

9. A medical condition called Trigeminal Neuralgia causes severe facial pain. It is one of the most painful conditions known to medicine and has thus been nicknamed “the suicide disease.”

10. In 1575, a German mass murderer nicknamed Puschpeter is reported to have kept his wits after being impaled. The stake hit his spine and he berated the executioner. Puschpeter commanded the executioner to draw the stake out of him and gave instructions for how to make the impalement properly.

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Phil Mickelson, the most famous left-handed golfer of all time (his nickname is "Lefty") is actually right-handed. The reason he golfs left-handed is that he learned to swing by facing his father, a right-handed golfer, and mirroring his movements.

12. There is a statue of a blue horse with glowing laser eyes in front of the Denver International Airport which has been nicknamed Blucifer. This statue killed his creator Luis Jiménez when a section fell on him.

13. U.S Route 666, nicknamed “The Devil’s Highway” was renamed to Route 491 in 2003, and within days of the announcement, all the old signs containing the number 666 were stolen as souvenirs.

14. Shirley Babashoff is an American Olympic swimmer who acquired the nickname ‘Surly Shirley’ for her constant accusations that East German athletes were doping. Turns out she was right.

15. Kathryn Johnston became the first girl to play Little League baseball in 1950, when she tucked her hair under her hat, adopted the nickname "Tubby", and joined the Kings Dairy team, posing as a boy. When she told her coach she was a girl, he said "That's O.K., you're a darned good player."

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16The Chocolate Uncle

The Chocolate Uncle

The United States Air Force command pilot Gail Halvorsen dropped candy to the children of Berlin via parachutes during the Berlin Airlift. He was nicknamed “Uncle Wiggly Wings” and “The chocolate uncle” by those children who wrote him letters.

17. As a child, Joseph Stalin was nicknamed "Pocky" by his peers because of the scars leftover from contracting smallpox.

18. The harmonious coexistence of the various religions along Pitt Street in the city of George Town in Penang, Malaysia has earned the street its nickname - the Street of Harmony. Places of worship of Islam, Taoism, Hinduism, and Christianity are located within meters of one another along this street.

19. Hegesias, an Ancient Greek philosopher, was banned from teaching in Alexandria after writing a book called Death By Starvation, which argued that death is superior to living. It inspired many suicides, leading to his nickname: "The Death-Persuader."

20. Len Waters was the only Australian Aboriginal pilot in World War 2. He was nicknamed “The Black Magic.” After his military service, he lived the rest of his days in housing projects as a sheep shearer.



Apollo 17 astronaut Jack Schmitt earned the nickname "Twinkletoes" for his not so nimble moonwalks.

22. In the 1940s, William Heirens a.k.a. “The Lipstick Killer” was convicted of killing 6-year-old Suzanne Degnan, Frances Brown, and Josephine Ross. Heirens got his nickname because he wrote, “For heaven’s sake, catch me before I kill more. I cannot control myself,” on Brown’s wall in lipstick.

23. In 1891, a stallion nicknamed "Clever Hans" wowed Germany by tapping out correct answers to simple math problems, including basic square roots. It was later discovered that he was deducing answers by reading the subtle, unintentional body language cues of the asker (the "Clever Hans Effect").

24. Kolyma Highway is a more than 1200-mile-long modern road in Russia which an estimated quarter of a million people died building. Because of permafrost, internment into the fabric of the road was deemed more practical than burying the bodies in new holes, resulting in the nickname “The Road of Bones.”

25. Astronaut groupies in Florida were nicknamed "Cape Cookies". Infidelity was rife; wives had to maintain a perfect facade. Only 7/30 Astro-marriages in the 60s survived. Alan Shepherd (first American in space), Pete Conrad (3rd man on the moon), and Dick Gordon (Apollo 12) formed the Go-Go crew.

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