What’s in a [nick]name?

February 1, 2008

Nicknames are sometimes more revealing, or more descriptive, of a person than their given name.

I like nicknames (with the exception of unkind ones), because they’re exchanged by close friends & loved ones. They’re names of affection & friendship.

“. . . Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus . . .” (Acts 4:36)

Except here, Joseph is (from what I recall) always called Barnabas, son of encouragement, in the Bible.

He was a strengthener, a comforter, an exhorter, a consoler, a supporter. He was one who stirred the hearts of his brothers, heartening & emboldening them, as he was used by God. He was such an encourager that it became his title, his nickname.

What a sweet nickname. Barnabas.

Or Batnabas for the ladies? :]

. . .

Some nicknames I’ve had over the years (or still have):

Tomboy – Grandpa (dad’s dad) used to call me that when I was little. I used to run around with my brother all the time & get all kinds of scrapes & bruises. My grandpa would pick me up, kind of tousle my hair, & affectionately say, “Aigoo, Tomboy.”

Ding Dong Dang – I can’t remember when my mom started calling me this. She only laughs & calls me Ding Dong Dang when I’m being scatterbrained or slow (so, maybe half the time . . .)

Teesha – This was actually the one nice nickname my brother had for me while we were growing up. He had a repertoire of other name-mutilating nicknames for me, though. My brother still calls me “Teesha” . . . or “onlyfavorite sister” (haha).

Smiley – When I was in the 6th grade, I had a substitute teacher named Mr. Mock. He never called me by my name; he called me “Smiley”. He called me that even when I wasn’t smiling. Maybe it was half a nickname, half an exhortation; either way, it worked :]

Tia – This one started in 7th grade with my friend, Tu. She took the “Leti-” off of my name & wrote letters to me as “Tia”, the last three letters of my name. We called ourselves “Tia & Tu-mara” after the twins, Tia & Tamara, from the TV show, Sister Sister. This nickname followed me even beyond college. I hardly even think of it as a nickname now.

Trash Girl – In junior high, during a home basketball game, the cheerleaders were sitting on the stage. While I was laughing & talking with some of the girls on our squad, I lost my balance, fell off the stage, & fell into the trash can below me. I was Trash Girl for a couple weeks.

Leti – One of the ladies at my church, Mrs. Lindsay, started to call me “Leti” for short in high school. She pronounced it with a Spanish [t], where there’s no aspiration on the “t”. I didn’t like being called “Leti” by anyone but her. (She was the first person who ever told me, aside from my dad, that she was praying for my mom.)

Hyungyunee – My Korean name is Hyun-kyung. My “little” cousins, Nathan & Rachael, would have to call me “Hyun-kyung-ee Unni” (my Korean name + marker + the title for elder girls). I guess “Hyun-kyung-ee Unni” was just way too long, so they shortened it to “Hyungyunee”.

Mia – My college roommate, Kelly, had nicknames for all of us in the apartment. She called me “Mama Mia” after I bought her Pedialyte popsicles when she had the stomach flu once. She’d do a hilarious dance & say, “Mama Mia Mia!” But she just called me “Mia” for short after that.


8 Responses to “What’s in a [nick]name?”

  1. jennifer lee Says:

    i think my favorites are

    “ding dong dang” because your mom totally hit it on the nail.

    “trash girl” right when i read that name, i was drinking milk, and it almost came outa my nose.

    “mia” it’s just a sweet story =) i miss kelly

  2. jennifer lee Says:

    and i call you tisha, i haven’t called you that in a while

  3. nathaniel Says:

    My korean name is gyuhyun-nee.

  4. tia Says:

    We’re twins! . . . almost (haha).

    You have the same Korean name as my dad, except he spells it “Kyu Hyun”.

    Tell Tina you’re not her real brother. I knew I had a long lost little brother somewhere . . .


  5. Courtney Says:

    Super interesting! I love learning new things about you. 🙂

  6. jen Says:

    am i the only one shaking my head (yet secretly laughing inside) about batnabas?

  7. garnet Says:

    i love giving out nicknames for this very reason. : )
    i have yet to make you one. maybe i should wait until i see you. hahahah! it’ll come to be in a brilliant burst of inspiration.

  8. tia Says:

    hahaha, jen (closet fan)

    garnet, i haven’t given up yet. we will meet one day! :]

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