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Nicknames acter, Arthur Herbert Fonzarelli, got his nickname, “Fonzie” or “The Fonz,” from his last name. A few nicknames, like “Nerd” and “Geek,” began as pejorative terms but have gained some acceptance as being indicative of certain skills or traits in which owners take pride. The Be st Buy C or porat ion now proudly calls its computer service the “Geek Squad.” Nicknames can refer to people’s jobs or roles: “Boss,” “Chief,” “Sarge,” or “Doc.” Some derive directly from their work. For example, in olden days, “Dusty” was the usual name for a miller because millers tended to be covered with grain dust.

To me, a nickname is one that can substitute for the given name, not just a label that is stuck onto a person’s name. “Old Hickory” may have referred to Andrew Jackson, but did anyone ever call him that to his face? I also wonder about the AngloSaxon king Ethelred “The Unready.” He can’t have liked that. (Actually, it’s “unraed,” meaning ill-advised, a pun on his name Ethelred, which means “well advised.” But still.) Some famous nicknames have become so firmly attached to their subjects that their real names are rarely heard. Here are three from the world of sports. Did you know that “Dizzy” Dean was Jay Hannah Dean? Or that “Yogi” Berra’s real name is Lawrence? His friend Jack Maguire

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