Four in ten Brits go by a nickname – and see it as ‘core part’ of their identity

Four in ten Brits go by a nickname – and see it as ‘core part’ of their identity


Four in ten Brits (39%) have been given a nickname by a loved one – with nearly half of those (47%) considering this moniker to be a “core part” of their identity, research has found.

Big Man and Ginge are the most common aliases bestowed on Brits – while food-based nicknames also prove popular, such as Spud, Nugget, and Pickles.

The key factors to making up a good nickname that sticks include one that is easy to remember (41%), has a funny story behind it (37%) – and is just a few syllables long (14%).

And 53% of those who go by an alternative name say this is based on their real name – but 38% are called something entirely unrelated.

Shorty, Wee Man, Kiddo, and Sparky rank among the top 10 nicknames people go by, according to the survey of 2,000 adults. And animal-based names, like Chicken, Foxy, Donkey, and Ferret, also appeared on the top 40 list.

The research was commissioned by luxury chocolatier, Lily O'Brien's, whose spokesman said: “Just like gifting a special box of chocolates, we give nicknames to the special people in our lives – the ones we really know.

“Giving nicknames is a very human thing to do. People will give nicknames to their friends, family, pets, cars, even their kettles. There were some unexpected and ingenious results from our research, like Spud, and our personal favourite, Giggles.

“Nicknames can be a great shorthand for showing affection – and when you’re given a nickname that sticks, and it’s one you’re happy with, it can really help make you feel loved.

“As with the nickname we give to our loved ones, chocolate is part of the human language of love for so many of us. They both bring us closer together and give us a feel-good boost.”

The study also found 42% only give nicknames to the most important people in their lives. And 38% of people who have known someone with a nickname only knew them by that moniker – and never even learned their real name.

In fact, almost half of those (46%) who do have a nickname go by more than one – however, one in ten admit they don't necessarily like some of the monikers that have been bestowed on them.

Just over half (51%) think the most appropriate situation to use a nickname is at home with family members – followed by in the pub, playing sports, or on a stag or hen party.

But 39% wouldn't dare give their boss a nickname, while 29% would shy away from giving one to an in-law. Despite this, 53% of all respondents reckon making up nicknames is a particularly British trait, according to the figures.

Behavioural psychologist and relationship coach, Jo Hemmings, said: “There are all sorts of reasons people give others nicknames – ranging from them having a catchy, amusing, or memorable first name or surname, or a play on their name related to some banter or craic. But they are all usually given with a sense of affection and endearment.

“They can express friendship, love, or closeness. It creates both a sense of identity and belonging in relation to those that know them by that name, as well as a sense of emotional bonding.

“What they all have in common is affection, fondness, and a nurturing quality about them, and they often tend to stick through life if you move in the same circle of friends and loved ones.”


  1. Big Man
  2. Ginge
  3. Spud
  4. Shorty
  5. Wee Man
  6. Kiddo
  7. Sparky
  8. Chicken
  9. Sunshine/Sunny
  10. Rocky
  11. Tank
  12. Smarty
  13. Foxy
  14. Nugget
  15. Spider
  16. Beardy
  17. Donkey
  18. Ace
  19. Jesus
  20. Toots
  21. Big Foot
  22. Bobby Dazzler
  23. Mardy Bum
  24. Pickles
  25. Gizmo
  26. Boomer
  27. Chuckles
  28. Captain Obvious
  29. Giggles
  30. Gremlin
  31. Teapot
  32. Ferret
  33. Moustache Man
  34. Binman
  35. Guinness
  36. Scout
  37. Turtle
  38. Bibs
  39. Teacup
  40. Megatron

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