Definition: A person’s nickname.


I suppose when asked if I have a nickname, I could lugubriously point out that “I lack a sobriquet,” but I would feel like an idiot.

Sobriquet can also be occasionally used to mean a place, like “The Met” rather than The Metropolitan Opera or the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The problem becomes then which of these two items — both commonly called “the Met” do you mean?

Mostly, it means “nick-name.” Generally, for a person, not a place. I think airports may be the only things that get nicknames that stick. Logan is always Boston as LAX is Los Angeles.

After more than 30 years as a tech writer, I find fancy versions of simple words weirdly off-putting. I also taught technical writer for a few years and if there is one thing we carefully beat into our young writer’s heads was that using a complicated “look it up” word when a simple, easy-to-understand one is available will pretty much always annoy and confuse readers.

The more flowery and “complicated” the text, the worse the writing is. A lot of people use twenty-dollar words because they think it makes them sound smarter.

It really doesn’t work.

Use the five dollar word. Reading is not supposed to be a vocabulary test unless you are in fifth grade and it’s a reader and they are making you do it. That’s what makes “readers” so very popular and why kids are so eager to engage with them.

I don’t have a sobriquet. I also don’t have a nick-name.

25 thoughts on “SOBRIQUET MEANS “NICKNAME” – Marilyn Armstrong

  1. Hated my name, always have. I didn’t care about nicknames, I just wanted a cooler name that no one else had. Jenny, maybe. Or Jesse. But I got the 45’s big deal name, and it was so popular there were three of us in a classroom of 20 girls and 10 boys. The teachers learned to point at the one of us they wanted.
    And of course (sorry, Garry) JudyJudyJudy which no one ever said, but no one ever forgets. It follows me like a stray cat.
    I suspect we Judys were all named after Judy Garland, poor crazy Judy, or maybe even Judy Holiday.

    At one point in this small town there were four of us, same full name, used to drive them crazy at the dentist, the doctor’s, the hospital. One of us died. The rest of us rejoiced.

    To be fair, Marilyn is a killer for nicknames unless someone calls you ‘sluggo’. Magaret is easy, Eleanor has nicknames out the door….


    • Marilyn is nick-name-less. There’s absolutely nothing you can do with it. I’ve met several other Marilyns over the years and I got really close with another Marilyn here in town. Marilyn Baker. Since I am Marilyn Armstrong, She was Marilyn B to my Marilyn A. That was as close to a nickname as I ever got.

      I wanted to be called something cool. I think now I am just too old for a cool nickname.

      Also, you know the Monroe thing sticks just like Judy Judy Judy.


      Liked by 1 person

      • Oy, indeed. I get that, but frankly it never occurred to me. (and now it will live in my earworm package forever)

        It could be worse. I had a friend in college who called herself Patsy. I asked her why, and she said, There is no way in hell I am going to go through life being called “Pat McCann”…And boys named Leslie, or Geoffrey, or nose in the air names like “Brett” or “Hastings” which actually sounds more like the butler than a 12 year old kid…

        Trouble with nicknames is, you don’t always have a choice. Someone starts calling you “Boots” in college, and it trails after you forever, even though you are now an elegant well placed matron, when your old college gang meets, it’s Boots and Muffin and Tippy all around…


  2. I went around and around about whether or not to include that word in my multiple one-word post today. I did end up using it, but it was awkward because it’s just not a word that 99 out of 100 people would not use in everyday conversation. I think the next time one of the word prompts is an obscure one like sobriquet, I’ll not bother.


    • I remember fighting with my father about using fancy words in a sales letter. I kept telling him “KEEP IT SIMPLE” and make it sound like a normal person talking. He eventually got it, but what a battle!


  3. Someone, I think it may have been a writer that followed me a long time ago, once said that their golden rule of writing was to never use a word twice in the same paragraph… even the itty bitty words. That seems to lead to some people breaking out the thesaurus to find fifty more complicated ways to say something simple multiple times. As for technical writing though, I’d have to say that flowery prose would beat the horribly indecipherable and wordless pictograms that accompany so many products these days….


    • Just plain good clear accurate writing works fine. What you get these days is generated from developer’s notes. It isn’t written by a writer and that’s why it doesn’t make sense. Hire a writer and you get written words. Hire software and you get gibberish.


  4. I was tempted to answer this one in Schwyzertütsch (Swiss German), but the language belonging to a minority of about four-five million I decided it would not be a good idea “nit wahr”.


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