Totally Unrelated Nicknames

Lots of times, we come across people who go by nicknames that are totally unrelated to their given names. Now we’re not talking about meeting a guy who is tall and thin who goes by the nickname Slim or Stretch. You can see how he got that nickname and you’re not gonna ask him. Here we have a list of folks whose nicknames seem to be totally unrelated to their given name. In some instances, you might assume the person’s given name was something totally different, like with Chuck Connors — you might have thought his given name was Charles. Or Flip Wilson. Most people think of Flip as a nickname for Philip.

Rhythm and blues singer B.B. King, whose given name is Riley, was the subject of a 2014 Jeopardy! clue: “The thrill isn’t gone for this blues great born with the first name Riley in Itta Bena, Mississippi in 1925.” Even with the hint of his most famous song, “The Thrill is Gone,” the contestant couldn’t connect it to his stage name.

People get their nicknames in all sorts of ways. When a person goes by a nickname instead of their given name, it’s probably fine to ask them how they came by that handle. Nicknames make for fascinating conversations and most people would love to tell you, but take your cue from their reaction. If they don’t want to talk about it, don’t press it.

Here’s our list of folks who go by their totally unrelated nickname:

Bobby Jindal, 55th Governor of Louisiana
birth name: Piyush Jindal

Bucky Dent, American baseball pro
birth name: Russell Earl O’Dey

Buster Poindexter, American singer
birth name: David Johansen

Butch Cassidy, American outlaw
birth name: Robert Leroy Parker

Chip Davis, American musician
birth name: Louis F. Davis, Jr.

Chuck Connors, American actor
birth name: Kevin Joseph Connors

Duke Ellington, American bandleader
birth name: Edward Kennedy Ellington

Flip Wilson, American comedian
birth name: Clerow Wilson, Jr.

Gus Black, American singer, songwriter, producer
birth name: Anthony Penaloza

Jock Dodds, Scottish football pro
birth name: Ephraim Dodds

Ringo Starr, English drummer (Beatles)
birth name: Richard Starkey’

Shuggie Otis, American singer, songwriter
birth name: Johnny Alexander Veliotes, Jr.

Sonny Bono, American singer, songwriter, politician
birth name: Salvatore Phillip Bono

Toots Hibbert, Jamaican singer, songwriter
birth name: Frederick Nathaniel Hibbert

We will probably be adding to this list as we come across more examples. If you love your totally unrelated nickname, feel free to leave it in the comments.

Leave a comment below.

  1. mimsy says:

    that’s cool, Jenna. We had a joke nickname for a little while for a family member that came about by having the fingers on the wrong keys when typing “Nikki” — it came out “Mollo” lol!!

  2. Jenna Jardine says:

    My son is named Riley, his nickname is Ryker. Related in that it is a variation of a variation of a variation but there isn’t an obvious connection. (It came from organically combining his original nickname Ryder with an obscure coincidental nickname (my phone autocorrecting riley to “rikey”)

    Riley+ Ryder + Rikey= Ryker

  3. Sarah says:

    People Call me Onion, OR Taco

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