sobriquet n : a familiar name for a person (often a shortened version of a person's given name); "Joe's mother would not use his nickname and always called him Joseph"; "Henry's nickname was Slim" [syn: nickname, moniker, cognomen, soubriquet]
- Rhymes: -eɪ
EtymologyFrom sobriquet, from soubriquet.
- a familiar name for a person (typically a shortened version of a person’s given name).
- "The sobriquet of Johnny Appleseed attached to him, though his real name was Chapman, in consequence of his being ever engaged in gathering and planting appleseed and cultivating nurseries of apple trees." —A. Banning Norton (1862)
- Spanish: sobrenombre
A sobriquet is a nickname or a fancy name, usually a familiar name given by others as distinct from a pseudonym assumed as a disguise, but a nickname which is familiar enough such that it can be used in place of a real name without the need of explanation. This salient characteristic, that is, of sufficient familiarity, is most easily noted in cases where the sobriquet becomes more familiar than the original name for which it was formed as an alternative. For example, Genghis Khan, who is rarely recognized now by his original name "Temüjin"; and the British Whig party, which acquired its sobriquet from the British Tory Party as an insult.
Two early variants of the term are found, sotbriquet and soubriquet; the latter form is still often used, though the correct modern French spelling is sobriquet. The first form suggests a derivation from sot, foolish, and briquet, a French adaptation of Ital. brichetto, diminutive of bricco, ass, knave, possibly connected with briccone, rogue, which is supposed to be a derivative of Ger. brechen, to break; but Skeat considers this spelling to be due to popular etymology, and the real origin is to be sought in the form soubriquet.
Littré gives an early 14th century soubsbriquet as meaning a chuck under the chin, and this would be derived from soubs, mod. sous (Lat. sub), under, and briquet or bruchel, the brisket, or lower part of the throat.
Sobriquets are often found in politics. Candidates and political figures are often branded with sobriquets, either contemporarily or historically. For example, American President Abraham Lincoln came to be known as Honest Abe. Sobriquets are not always used to highlight virtuous qualities, either. A banking tycoon and politician from Knoxville, Tennessee named Jake Butcher was known as "Jake the Snake" after being indicted and subsequently convicted for bank fraud.
Fowler's Modern English Usage (1926) warned, "Now the sobriquet habit is not a thing to be acquired, but a thing to be avoided; & the selection that follows is compiled for the purpose not of assisting but of discouraging it." Fowler included the sobriquet among what he termed the "battered ornaments" of the language.
Well-known examples of sobriquets in the Anglosphere
- Albion – Great Britain
- Alma Mater – (One's own) University
- the Antipodes - Australia and New Zealand
- Auntie – either the Australian Broadcasting Corporation or the British Broadcasting Corporation
- the Bard - William Shakespeare
- Blighty – Great Britain (used by British servicemen abroad and expatriates)
- Bonnie Prince Charlie - Charles Edward Stuart
- Brillo Pad – Andrew Neil
- Brummie – a person from Birmingham
- Buddha – Siddhartha Gautama
- Caligula– Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus
- Canuck – a Canadian
- Cockney – an East Londoner
- Columbia – The United States or The Americas
- Digger - Australian soldier
- The Doctor Valentino Rossi
- Dubya – George W. Bush
- Erin - Ireland
- The Federal City - Washington D.C.
- Foggy Bottom– the United States State Department
- The Fourth Estate – the press
- Garrincha – Manoel Francisco dos Santos
- The General - Irish Criminal Martin Cahill
- Genghis Khan – Temüjin
- Geordie – a person from Newcastle-upon-Tyne
- God's Own Country – Kerala, New Zealand, Rhodesia or Yorkshire
- Godfather of Soul – James Brown
- GOP (Grand Old Party)– Republican Party (United States)
- Gotham – New York City
- Grits, – a media term for the Liberal Party of Canada
- The Gray Lady – The New York Times
- The Great Commoner - William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham ("Pitt the Elder") or William Jennings Bryan
- Honest Abe – Abraham Lincoln
- John Bull – England, or an English person
- Kaká – Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite
- The King of all Media – Howard Stern
- The King (i.e. of Rock and Roll) – Elvis Presley
- The King of Pop – Michael Jackson
- Limey; a national epithet for the English
- The Lucky Country – Australia
- Mackem – a person from Sunderland
- Madiba Nelson Mandela
- Manitas de Plata – Flamenco guitarist Ricardo Baliardo
- The Material Girl – Madonna
- The Myth – Bodybuilding great Sergio Oliva.
- Mahatma Gandhi – Mohandas K. Gandhi.
- Murasaki Shikibu – author of The Tale of Genji, whose real name is unknown.
- The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street – the Bank of England
- Old Nick - Satan
- Old St. Nick - Santa
- The Old Pretender - James Francis Edward Stuart
- Pelé – Edson Arantes do Nascimento
- Perfidious Albion – Great Britain
- Peripatetics - Aristotelian philosophers
- The Queen of the Arabian Sea – Cochin
- Rats of Tobruk - the garrison of Tobruk during the Siege of Tobruk in World War II
- Rivaldo – Vítor Borba Ferreira
- Ronaldinho – Ronaldo de Assis Moreira
- Sassenach – a Lowland Scot (used by Highland Scots)
- Satchmo – Louis Armstrong
- Scouser – a Liverpudlian
- Slick Willy – U.S. President Bill Clinton
- Slowhand – Eric Clapton
- Soapy Sam - Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford
- The Target chains of stores in both the U.S. and Australia are often intentionally mispronounced as [tʰa:ˈʒeɪ] to sound French.
- Tommy Atkins - a British soldier
- Tory – a member or supporter of the British or Canadian Conservative Party
- Teflon Don – mobster John Gotti
- Tricky Dick – President Richard Nixon
- Turd Blossom – George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove
- Uncle Sam – the U.S.A. or sometimes the government
- Dubya - from the Texan pronunciation of 'W', a nickname of U.S. President George W. Bush
- Weegie – a person from Glasgow
- Westminster – the British Parliament
- Westminster Abbey – The Collegiate Church of St Peter, Westminster
- Whig – a member of the late 17th to mid 19th Century British "Country Party"
- Whitehall – the British government including Parliament but excluding the monarchy
- X-22 – backgammon champion Paul Magriel.
- Yankee – (derogatory in some contexts, esp. the variation "yank") a person from the United States (usual usage outside the US) or from the Northeast or New England (in American usage).
- The Young Pretender - Charles Edward Stuart
- Offensive terms per nationality
- Pop icon
- List of monarchs by nickname
- List of nicknames of European Royalty and Nobility
- List of United States Presidential nicknames
- Lists of nicknames in football (soccer)
- List of basketball nicknames
- List of North American football nicknames
- List of sportspeople by nickname
sobriquet in German: Beiname