Alan Spector

When we’re born, our parents provide us with a full name made up of first, ofttimes middle, and last names. The derivation of that name says a lot about who we are, our ancestry, our geography, our culture, and/or our religion. Our identity is inextricably linked to our name.

We’re born into a family, and depending on their proclivity for nicknames, we may also be called something other than our given name. Ethel may morph into “Tappy.” Marti may be “Matz.” Elliot may be dubbed “Shmoo.” Jeff may become “Turbo.” Robert may simply be called “Bob.”

We make friends, acquire classmates, play with teammates, and perhaps join military units—all who may also assign us nicknames. Many of these last a lifetime; some are short-lived. We may become “Baby,” “9-Ball,” “Radar,” “Roomie,” “Bling,” “Podo,” or “Dr. Bob.”

We are exposed to sports figures, celebrities, and political figures, many of whom are known by well-recognized nicknames. We don’t need to hear the full name to know who are “The Babe,” “The Duke,” “The Man,” “Satchmo,” “Ike,” “Flo-Jo,” or “Honest Abe.” How about “Spanky,” “Alfalfa,” “Stymie,” and “Froggy?” Depending on where we grew up, we may be familiar with “Ducky,” “Dizzy,” “Daffy,” “Dazzy,” “Red,” “The Wizard,” “The Fordham Flash,” and “The Mad Hungarian.”

We marry—our children marry—our children have children, making us grandparents. Each of these lifecycle events creates opportunities for us to be called something new. We respond to “Amoo,” “Guppa, “Wongi,” “G-Pa,” or even “Granddude” or “Grandpa Corvette.”

Author Alan Spector, who among other nicknames has been called "Monkey," "Butch," "Train," "Toots," "Specta," and "Pepaw," explores each of these nickname sources and more--All Things Nicknames.

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