what’s in a good nickname?

Who am I?

By which name do you go by? We are all given one at birth that is meant to define us in some way. As a child, I absolutely hated my name. Why did my parents give me the unusual “weirdly unpronounceable” moniker while bestowing the normal one to my younger sister Laura?

Throughout life I have been mistaken for a Muriel, Marianne, Marilyn, Miranda, and the worst I can remember was pronounced something like My-Rim. If anyone knows a Miriam, she is usually an old crazy aunt who had a lot of cats.

True, I could have been called by my middle name, Helen, but was it much better? There had to be some way to amend the name without changing the essence. What do you get when you take your given name and shorten it for convenience or cutsey purposes? A nickname is defined as:

a familiar or humorous name given to a person or thing instead of or as well as the real name.  OED


In high school, I had enough and opted for a family nickname instead. I would forever be known as Mim (OK, not really forever but at least until someone came up with something better). Mim gave way to Mimmy, Mimi, and Mimsy all of which I answer to.


Term of endearment or just plain mean?

My friend Andy likes to make up nicknames for his friends. Sherree became Shez (pronounced like fez with a SH in front). Shez is irreverent, funny and cute. All in all, a good name. Another friend Sandy has become Saz (do you see a pattern here?).

When it was my turn to get the special nickname treatma, rather than sticking to his system with the obvious Mimz or Mirz, I was stuck with Mimbo. Is it me or does it sound like Dumbo? Barf! Do I resemble an elephant with giant ears? My whole life has been spent suffering with an oddball old lady name and now I had turned pachyderm. Oy!

Do we choose our own nickname, or does it choose us?

What I want to know is if we choose our own nicknames based on likes/dislikes, job description, physical attributes, etc?  One summer when I was about 8 or 9, I wanted to be called Bubbles. Didn’t work out for me (thank goodness) as there was no meaning to it.

In reality, a nickname is just like any other name in that it is either earned or given to us. In professional circles, I always use my full name. Business and nicknames don’t always work well together. Besides, I have grown to like the name. It is unique and I get a sense of strength from it.

So, if you prefer to call me Miriam, Mim, or Mimbo, as of now, these are all accepted nicknames. What nicknames do you have? Do you like them, or do they make you cringe? Please share them and any fun stories that are derived from your nickname.


10 thoughts on “what’s in a good nickname?

  1. MarlaGottschalk says:

    I also was given one of those unusual names that many people confused. I’m pretty sure that every yearbook picture listed me as “Maria”. (No nickname ever assigned.) Funny, because when Donald Trump married Marla Maples – all my names issues seemed to disappear. I think Miriam is a beautiful and elegant biblical name – linked to an extraordinary woman – and I don’t think of a crazy aunt when I hear it. So – no nickname required.

    TY for sharing, Miriam – (aka, Mimsy).


    1. miriamgomberg says:

      Marla, I forgot that people called me that too. My friend Andy might have called you either Marlz or Maz (he will have to be the judge of that one). Thanks for the complement on my name. So glad you don’t have a crazy aunt who shares it. I don’t think nicknames are ever really required but it is a nice touch from someone who cares, or can’t pronounce your name. Thanks for commenting. Mimmy


  2. Rogier Noort (@RogierNoort) says:

    My family name was always cause for ‘fun’. It’s ‘Prikkel’, and in The Netherlands that is a good one. It translates to Prickle (like from a cactus or something, or a maybe a (nerve) stimulation).
    Anyway, every single time I would introduce myself the name would get some sort of response, like every single time. In the army everybody had a nickname, except me, they just used Prikkel. At a certain job somebody thought it was a nickname until after a few years he figured out it was my real name…
    I love(d) my Dad, but as soon as I got married I took my wife’s name (Noort). Lovely neutral, no responses whatsoever…
    Sadly, when we moved to Belgium, it wasn’t allowed, different country, different rules. But, I carry the name on the Net and will never change that back.

    Friends just call me Dude…

    Miriam is a perfectly normal and acceptable (and pronounceable) name in Holland by the way. I like it… I like Mimsy too…

    That was an interesting post…


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