What’s in a nickname?

When I grew up I always wanted a nickname. Back then they were always pretty much just attributed to the boys. My dad (David) was always Dave, or Davy, and my brother (Gary) was Gaz. Most lads at school were merely referred to by their surnames. When we moved back to England Gary was attributed the nickname ‘Bleige’ due to someone misspelling the word Belgium (where we’d moved from) as Bleigum and it stuck. Because lads are daft. And after all, who really cares what’s in a nickname?

I’d also always wished I was called a name that could be colloquially shortened. If I was Samantha or Rebecca I’d be happy to be Sam or Becky to my friends, then if I was annoyed at someone and they called me Becky I could be all ‘Um it’s Rebecca to you’. But that’s just my over inflated sense of importance.

What is funny, is that Dave’s nickname through school, and into adulthood, was just his surname (Newman). What’s even funnier is that I didn’t have a nickname at all until after I got married, when his nickname became my nickname. And now I’d say it’s what I get called 90% of the time. So much so when I signed a birthday card for Carrie as ‘Helen’ our mutual friend saw it and said ‘Who’s Helen?


We will all know someone who tried to rebrand themselves at school. I went to school with a lad who was always known as Stevie, and as we got older came back after the school holidays demanding that he be referred to as Steve forthwith. Yeah ok whatever Stevie, nice try. We also know that a nickname isn’t something that you can pick yourself and is something that must be bestowed upon you. So, in that sense I think I’ve gotten off quite lightly.

Apart from the time my boss at the time and I were talking about where to buy electrical goods and I accidentally (thinking I was still in the 90s) said Rumbelows. After he stopped laughing at my prehistoric reference, he proceeded to call me Rumbelow for the next couple of weeks. That was a nickname I was happy to shake off. Other nicknames which have been bestowed over time and have stuck to varying degrees are; Hel, Helly, H or, most recently Nelly (a common nickname for people called Helen apparently, presumably because Helen backwards is Neleh).


The point of be talking about all of this is that I although I knew I always wanted a name that could be shortened, I never realised how much I would love having a nickname until I actually had one, even if it is also someone else’s. I’m super proud that my husband’s surname has become my nickname and being part of a team at work, where everyone in the team has a nickname of sorts, it’s nice feeling part of a gang.


It warms my excitable blonde heart to know that people have terms of endearment for me or special nicknames that show they know me on a deeper level then just being plain old boring Helen. And, funnily enough, about a year ago, someone who was being a bit over familiar with me at work, called me Newman at the the tea point and ‘Er it’s Helen…’

It’s the small wins in life…

1 Comment

  1. January 16, 2020 / 7:02 am

    Oh Newman I LOVED this! Always find myself nodding along to your posts – they make such great reading with my breakfast in the mornings. I’ve always found myself the creator of nicknames – so I’ve given a load to my sisters and my husband – but no one ever returns the favour!

Leave a Reply