There's nothing you can do about a nickname, you don't get to decide how long it sticks either and yet it defines you.
No one nicknames themselves. And having no power over what you're called for possibly the rest of your life is not easy to take. Of course, it's pretty rad when someone gives you a cool nickname but, let's face it, most nicknames just poke fun at you or revolve around an incident you're associated with. Take "Burgers" for example. He enjoyed grilling burgers and he was nicknamed burgers. They didn't even see him grilling the burgers. They just heard him talk enthusiastically about it and named him Burgers. The name stuck for life. Author Erin Somers shared that anecdote, spurring many others to share stories of how people gained amusing nicknames. "Thinking about how my sister’s college friend was nicknamed 'Burgers' cause one time he talked about grilling burgers too enthusiastically. You have to be careful," she wrote. You really have to be.
Here are some of the best nickname backstories we came across:
My friend spelt circus as cercus and we've called him the cercus Cloon for 6 years— DRaw (@BigGinge61) May 16, 2022
My favourite Tweet from a similar thread was a guy who was called Spider for more than 30 years because on one teenage shopping trip he bought three pairs of jeans.— Joannah Barnard (@jarnabarnard) May 16, 2022
A friend of a friend was known by everyone as Clean Paul. He didn't do anything to get the nickname, except to live in the same dorm as a guy nicknamed Dirty Paul.— Chris Ball (@chrisballygk) May 16, 2022
I was called "Mercedes" for a summer during high school because I ran into a Mercedes-Benz.— Penny Sterling ⚧ (@sterling_penny) May 16, 2022
I wasn't driving. I was chasing a frisbee.
I knocked the emblem off, dented the hood and cracked the windshield.
And bruised my thigh.
The UK comedian Greg Davies has a bit about one of his friends from high school who was called “Baghdad” for 5 years after coming to school with a bag that was given to him by his dad. No one is safe.— David McIntosh (@bingomister) May 16, 2022
...motioned with his hands as though he'd parted the water. So someone started calling him Moses and it stuck all through high school. When he went to college he was looking forward to losing the nickname, but then he ended up in a dorm with someone from high school...2/— MZ (@mzeiner) May 16, 2022
...so the nickname Moses returned. He ended up legally changing his name to Moses. And to be honest, it suited him much better than the name Mike.— MZ (@mzeiner) May 16, 2022
One of my coworkers has been called Cotton since the first week of his employment, because someone remarked that his hair looked like a ball of yarn.— Sylvester S. Poulsen (@PoulsenS) May 16, 2022
He has now worked there for like 7 years and most of the other coworkers do not actually know his real name.
My best friend from grammar school told me about a guy who worked with her on Block Island who had a hot shrimp land on his chest so they named him “sizzle chest.”— Dawn K. (@JulyJane) May 17, 2022
Once I was at a BBQ at some photographer’s place in Brooklyn & he asked me if I wanted my hamburger buns toasted & I said sure & then he called me Toasted Buns all night & I randomly ran into him the next day & he introduced me to his friend Gisele (yes, that one) as Toasted Buns— vin brue (@VincentBrue) May 16, 2022
Saw a thread a long time ago about nicknames and the best one was about an apparent work colleague called Wayne Bruce so everyone called him “Manbat”.— pavanwar (@pavanwar) May 16, 2022
the essential fault of every military fiction is that dudes always pick badass nicknames for themselves like Reapyr or Blooddeath.— Del is painting (@shrecknet) September 3, 2021
Every real military guy I know has a nickname they got in training that's like, "Toot" because they farted too loud once.
One of my 8th graders called me “Ankles” because I wore no-show socks. That continued until I recently showed up in a pair of ankle-length socks. Now he calls me “Socks.” Sometimes you can’t win.— Adam Soffrin (@AdamSoffrin) May 16, 2022
My daughter's nickname is Rambo. When she was little, she used to play with spiders. Her dad said something like, "okay, Rambo" bc she wasn't scared. Now my 17 yr old daughter is stuck with Rambo and there's no going back.— Jen Keaton (@JenKeaton4) May 16, 2022
When my sister in law was a freshman in college, there were two Katies on her floor. The boys distinguished between them by hair styles, and by the end on the semester, she was just being called bangs.— John Grace (@jjgrace1969) May 16, 2022
This is 100% the reason I am called Cheeseburger at my job. Even have a name plate. First conversation I chimed in on at my job, one of the managers was discussing a local burger spot, I simply mentioned that I'd been there. And he told everyone to call me cheeseburger— Rob (@rcornellious) May 16, 2022
My sister is known as Quesadilla to most everyone we grew up with because we gave her that nickname as a baby (her real name is Cassidy). She even went so far as to tell an elementary school teacher that her name actually was Quesadilla, bc we called her that nearly all the time.— 30-50 buttered jorts (@shivshiveshakes) May 16, 2022
A kid at my high school showed up the first day with a Mountain Dew t-shirt on and he was strictly known as Dewey for 4 more years. I honestly don’t remember his real name.— aimee (@drinkfallhealy) May 16, 2022
My nickname was Kevin all through college cause I cut my hair short and i wore it in a ponytail and it looked like the bird Kevin from Up pic.twitter.com/dEo6ZwOO8R— Magic🧛🏻♀️ (@MagiColbi) May 16, 2022
Met a guy who everyone called "cook" or "cookie". Knew him for like 2 years thinking his last name was Cook, but actually it turns out that one day he was eating cookies while wearing a blue shirt.— Chris_in_MA (@Chris_in_MA) May 15, 2022
A man I worked with was nicknamed “Corned Beef”. He was in his 50s. I once asked how he got that name.— Gganbu (@TheBenBrennan) May 16, 2022
He’d once stolen a tin of corned beef.
When he was 9!
My 10th grade boyfriend made the mistake of wearing a yellow fleece jacket to school while simultaneously sporting bleached, yellowy blonde hair. He was called "sunshine" by literally everyone well beyond the time we graduated a few years later.— B (@morningfindsyou) May 16, 2022
Kid in my high school was called “c-pap” because he ate the cheese off of the paper his fast food burger came in one time. C-pap, cheese paper. It stuck.— Justin Cox (@routinelayup) May 15, 2022
I called one of my best friends Tuna as freshman in high school back in ‘97. Everyone calls him Tuna and most new people don’t even know his real name. Even his family calls him Tuna now.— El Padre 🇲🇽♿️ (@MrCee760) May 16, 2022
I was tall and lanky so my teammates in high school decided I was “Tree” and would get mad if I would “hit them with my branches” at practices. Sometimes careful is simply not enough— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) May 16, 2022
We had a guy we called Burgers at Home because he once said he had burgers at home.— Holly Birkett (@HJBirkett) May 16, 2022
You can follow Erin Somers' work here.