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October 2006[edit]

I disagree with several of the examples given on the list. * * * For example "Jock – (derog.) a Scotsman" and "Jack Tar – sailor in the British Royal Navy." I find evidence that sobriquets are individual rather than categorical, hence these are slang terms or colloquialisms rather than sobriquets. * * * I think several of the examples lack what someone has eloquently described in this articles as the "salient characteristic...of sufficient familiarity. * * * I agree with the comment below that "The Wicked Lord Byron" is really just "Lord Byron" with an epithet. I agree that "The City of Angels", being a mere translation of Los Angeles, disqualifies it for inclusion on this list. * * * I agree that "The City" is used by people in the NYC area to refer to Manhattan – and it is also used by people elsewhere talking ABOUT Manhattan as a sort of snobbery (maybe I’ll coin the neologism "snobriquet” for terms in this category). However, when the average person from a suburb of any American city says that they are going to "the city" they are referring to their own local urban center, not Manhattan. -- House of Scandal 09:36, 22 October 2006 (UTC)

Two early variants are found, sotbriquet and soubriquet

Is this right? One of those should be sobriquet surely? hypnox 00:53, 27 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I don't think that the example London - Londonistan qualifies as a sobriquet. It is rather mocking than paraphrase. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 17:03, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

I don't think 'non-mocking' is necessarily a requirement. I think though that "J.M." for John Meriwether is really just an abbreviation. I also think that "The Wicked Lord Byron" is really just "Lord Byron" with an epithet. -C 12:37, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

The Black Country is not the West Midlands per se, just an area within it. See the entry

old ironsides[edit]

it says oliver cromwell butit also refers to the USS Constuition. id edit it but i cant do links which it needs

The City[edit]

Surely most metropolises are known as "the City" to those in the general vicinity. I would keep London (because I understand the term distinguishes a particular geographical area within the patch of real estate willy-nilly designated "London" in informal contexts) but I don't see why San Francisco is any more "the City" to people in the Bay Area than Atlanta or Chicago are to people around there.

Boston is a conurbation that has, perhaps, a similar situation to London's (what's called "Boston" by people includes quite a bit of land that's not called "Boston" by the post office or the Commonwealth of Massachusetts), but I don't know how the term is used there. New York exhibits the opposite: "the City" means Manhattan, even though those of us in the outer boroughs live within the jurisdiction of New York's municipal government. But I'm hesitant to add Boston, because I could be wrong, or New York, because I live here and fear that may bias me in favor of the idea that it has any more claim than San Francisco. --♥ «Charles A. L.» 00:38, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

Surely most metropolises are known as "the City" to those in the general vicinity.
I thought so, too, until I moved from a suburb of San Francisco to a suburb of Seattle. The first time I said "We're going into the city for dinner," I was greeted with a sincerely raised eyebrow, and the person asked whether by "The City" I meant Seattle. To him, The City was not automatically synonymous with Seattle. I've found that the common "area" term for Seattle is "downtown". Even if you and your neighbor both work in Bellevue, saying "I will be downtown most of the day" means Seattle, even though Bellevue has its own vigorous and well-known downtown area. Petershank (talk) 21:12, 13 December 2010 (UTC)

Not sure this qualifies[edit]

The City of Angels – Los Angeles

That's just a translation of the Spanish name, can it really be called a Sobriquet?

Los Angeles translates to "the angels" in English so it could be a sobriquet.

sure are a lot of references to Oliver Cromwell[edit]

it almost seems like someone is playing a joke.

source for "Brian – Prince Charles"[edit]

can anyone provide a source for above? I love it but accuracy counts for something and verafiability just a little more. Which suggewsts that every entry needs a cited source.SmithBlue 03:28, 11 December 2006 (UTC)

Sobriquet list and Wikipedia:Verifiability[edit]

Wikipedia:Verifiability says in a nutshell:

  • 1. Articles should contain only material that has been published by reliable sources.
  • 2. Editors adding new material should cite a reliable source, or it may be challenged or removed by any editor.
  • 3. The obligation to provide a reliable source lies with the editors wishing to include the material, not on those seeking to remove it.

Has anyone got reasons why this policy is better not applied to the list of sobriquets? SmithBlue 23:22, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

With no demonstration to date of why Verifiability should not be applied to this list I will commence removing all uncited sobriquets. SmithBlue 03:03, 9 January 2007 (UTC)
A 'sobriquet' is not a fact but a part of our language. As with all words, phrases, proverbs, idioms, etc. what you must verify, if verification is what you want, is not that one person has used a particular 'sobriquet' but that it has 'entered the language'. The way dictionaries do this is by analysing hundreds or even thousands of sources: television, newspapers, books etc. to examine the way words are used. Is this what you propose? 15:24, 27 January 2007 (UTC)
p.s. If you care so much about citations, why don't you add them all yourself? And in any case, if you are going to remove everything uncited, you had better remove the whole lot, because there aren't any citations at all. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 15:31, 27 January 2007 (UTC).

I think that WP:Verifiability is important in this case as in the rest of an encyclopedia. What mechanism do you propose to ensure that only bona fide sobriquets are included? SmithBlue 12:45, 28 January 2007 (UTC)

In absence of discusion over Verifiability of sobriquets list I will begin removign uncited Sobriquets on 3 Feb 2007. SmithBlue 03:13, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

The Fifth Beatle[edit]

That's rather George Best than Pete Best, no?

pete best was a beatle, george best was an irish footballer —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 15:13, 2 May 2007 (UTC).

I've usually understood Murray the K to be the Fifth Beatle; at least he's the only one I know of to have actively promoted himself with that title, apparently jokingly given to him by band member George Harrison. In any case, I don't see that honorific on the current version of the list, although it does have its own article. B7T (talk) 20:22, 29 January 2015 (UTC)

what's an encyclopedia?[edit]

I'm having a hard time distinguishing this `article' from a definition, aka a topic for a dictionary. 02:04, 23 February 2007 (UTC)

Hear, hear. As it stands, this article is a definition, some loose etymology and a list of examples. Not hugely encyclopædic, in my view. (talk) 01:24, 19 April 2008 (UTC)
Rite a letter to Brittanica then, see the tag at the top of the page. MickMacNee (talk) 02:36, 19 April 2008 (UTC)


Can we add a pronunciation guide to this? How do you say Sobriquet anyway? Bounton 03:19, 4 August 2007 (UTC)

Citations for Sobriquets[edit]

At present the standard for inclusion is a WP:RS showing use of the sobriquet. I plan to remove the

tag unless other editors demostrate its usefulness/currency. SmithBlue (talk) 06:59, 19 April 2008 (UTC)

Redirect to nickname ?[edit]

Dictionaries are simply calling sobriquet a synonym for nickname, for which we have a well-developed and decidedly encyclopedic entry. I did find one dictionary (can't remember which) which defines sobriquet as a humorous nickname.

Unless somebody can come up with a source for the claim that a sobriquet is a particular kind of nickname in which the nickname is more familiar than the real name, I would assert that sobriquet should simply be a redirect to nickname.

If we agree and find sources that a sobriquet is by definition more familiar than the original name, we still need to trim the list dramatically. "Genghis Khan" is not to "Temujin" as "Big Smokey" is to "Toronto" Petershank (talk) 22:09, 13 December 2010 (UTC)

My interpretation is that the sobriquet is at least as familiar as the original name, whereby the proverbial Man In The Street would know instantly what/who you are referring to without the use of the "real" name. This will obviously vary regionally - Scots may all know that Auld Reekie is Edinburgh, whereas a Malaysian (or even many English) might not. Conversely, I had no idea that Kolkata is the City of Joy (and it reeks of Tourist Board Nickname to me) but for all I know it's common currency in India.
I would suggest an aggressive trim of examples under that definition, and I see no reason they shouldn't be cited. After all, if "Dubya" is a true example according to the familiarity rule there must be citable material out there that uses the nickname with no further context. Brickie (talk) 13:28, 3 March 2011 (UTC)

Battle of the Begums[edit]

User you've added "Battle of the Begums" but the link doesn't explain it. Can you add an explanation? --Wikiain (talk) 04:17, 21 January 2011 (UTC)

Overlap with Metonymy?[edit]

Several of the examples are Metonyms - saying "Foggy Bottom" to refer to the US Intelligence services, for instance. Can something be a metonym and a sobriquet, or do these examples want removing? Brickie (talk) 13:10, 3 March 2011 (UTC)


Taiwan is listed as an example for the Republic of China. I do not think this fits into the definition listed in the article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:48, 29 March 2011 (UTC)

Apodo [Spanish][edit]

This word seems more in line with the Spanish word "Apodo," which is often translated as nickname. But nicknames are often diminutives or endearing epithets for someone. Whereas, even when a person embraces it, an apodo can have a pejorative origin. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:21, 9 October 2011 (UTC)

Why the high-brow word?[edit]

Just out of curiosity, what is the deal with wikipedians feeling the need to use high-brow words such as this, instead of much simpler and much more broadly understood terms? " nominally rated with a minimum breaking strength of 550 pounds, thus the sobriquet "550 cord"." Why not just say "nickname"?? Seriously folks, there's no reason for this linguistic snobbery. Stop it. If a word you want to use would require the average person to use a dictionary, and a suitable substitute is available that would not, use the simpler word. (talk) 15:29, 25 October 2011 (UTC)

You stop it. Should we destroy the historical usage of a word just because you think it's not required in daily usage? The average person doesn't discuss cricket or rugby, should we get rid of those articles just because they're not in your daily vocabulary? This is an encyclopedia, a place of knowledge. The article doesn't go into sufficient detail, but not all nicknames are sobriquets. The list is getting out of hand though. --Walter Görlitz (talk) 15:45, 25 October 2011 (UTC)

reply: "sobriquet" carries a suggestion of approval and even adulation that is often missing in a mere "nickname." In fact a nickname can be, as often as not, quite unflattering or even derogatory. Orthotox (talk) 19:02, 8 March 2015 (UTC)

middle or low brow?[edit]

I'd say "sobriquet" is employed mainly by hack writers straining to impress. As such, it's a kine of specialized cliche bit of language that is virtually NEVER used in speech. Any thoughtful person knows this.

Perhaps linguists have a category for this sort of thing, although this particular example may be a phenomenon of what was formerly called "mass communication," rather than of language per se.

"Moniker" is in a similar category, which, if it can be defined, could be the subject of another Wikipedia "list article" so beloved of the "I memorized the phone book" crowd.

Also, many and perhaps even most of the so-called "sobriquets" listed here exist only through repetition, again, by hack writers, rather than because of "actual" use. Badiacrushed (talk) 10:47, 11 September 2017 (UTC)

Separate list?[edit]

It seems that the list given would be better presented as a separate List of Nicknames. I'd propose List of Sobriquets, but as has been observed even when citation is possible, definitively determination of whether a sobriquet or nickname will prove elusive for many of the examples herein. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:51, 23 July 2013 (UTC)

Father of "his" country?[edit]

I know this phrase as "father of our country". Is the variation in the article used widely outside of the United States, in reference to George Washington? B7T (talk) 20:44, 29 January 2015 (UTC)

Removed edit[edit]

Hi Walter Görlitz You removed my edit on the page because ostensibly I did not make references to a reliable source. However, the original entry itself did not have any citations either. I took it as an entirely subjective entry. (talk) 00:02, 27 February 2015 (UTC)

Yes I did remove it. I also warned you for not supplying a source. I agree, your edit was entirely subjective. You see the linked article, Eminem, as a reference to Rolling Stone where the term was used. Personally, I don't think that the term is synonymous with Eminem, but I'll let others decide to remove it entirely. Your edit, along with removing a heading, linked to Tupac Shakur. There is no supporting statement there for the sobriquet. You didn't provide one to supersede the one in article. Finally, if you google for "the king of hip hop", you don't get any hits for your preferred revision, but you do to Eminem. So instead of acting like I'm in the wrong, you can explain your edit. Walter Görlitz (talk) 03:33, 27 February 2015 (UTC)

Hi Walter and thanks for your reply.

1. You will notice that your referenced article is an analysis of Hip-Hop artists only from 2009. The magazine article itself admits this. That would be like surveying Pop music from 2009 and then concluding that Justin Bieber is the King of Pop or Miley Cyrus is the Queen of Pop-just to take some examples.

2. This Rolling Stone article is an entirely subjective interpretation by the magazine's writer. MTV named JayZ the greatest Hip-Hop artist, Tupac came second, Eminem came ninth Wikipedia itself calls Tupac the "Most influential Rapper in history" with several credible references. Why take the Rolling Stone's word over MTV or Wikipedia itself?

3. Has there been any credible recording industry organization e.g. Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States, the Hip-Hop Community, Hip-Hop industry etc that has produced a "King of Hip-Hop" competition / analysis and announced a winner? No. There is also no consensus from the media music critics as to who the "King" of Hip-Hop" is. There was wide consensus for Elvis Presley in Rock n Roll, Michael Jackson and Madonna in Pop, Bob Marley for Reggae, Aretha Franklin and James Brown for Soul, B.B. King for the Blues, Donna Summer for Disco, R Kelly and Ruth Brown for R&B and so on.

4. I could also link to a thousand articles that say Tupac or Biggie or JayZ, Kanye West, Dr. Dre 50 Cent, Birdman, Master P.... etc are Kings of Hip-Hop. This is the point, this is entirely subjective. I frankly find it ridiculous that such a title can be decided only by the Rolling Stone magazine. There needs to be consensus. I suggest we all agree to disagree and rest any "King of Hip-Hop" titles for now. (talk) 10:24, 27 February 2015 (UTC)

It's not my reference. I agree with the rest of your argument the subjectivity about the term and it probably shouldn't apply to any individual in this article since it's not synonymous with that subject, but it is referenced and that is the threshold for inclusion on the subject's article on Wikipedia.
This does not deflect in any way from your behaviour. Your change was not in any way appropriate. Walter Görlitz (talk) 16:57, 27 February 2015 (UTC)

Thanks for your reply and for agreeing with the premise of my argument.

1. Now about my "behaviour" as you put it; the link in the article was to Eminem's Wikipedia page! How is that a reference? I assumed that since it appeared to be a subjective entry (which in retrospect it was) then I might as well change it to reflect an alternative reality. As you can see from my above link to the MTV article, I am vindicated. Still, we haven't sorted the issue, have we? I conceded that at this point there's no real "King" of Hip-Hop as such and this particular sobriquet should be left out of the article.

2. I assume you're some sort of Wikipedia editor. In that case, you might want to also have a look at this page The "King" of Hip-Hop sobriquet should be removed there as well. Still on that page, to be quite honest with you, I find it puzzling that the much maligned and ridiculed (by both critics and fans)Paul Whiteman can be considered "King of Jazz" in any way or form. We might as well put Kenny G in there. I suggest Miles Davis or Louis Armstrong as the "Kings of Jazz" for obvious reasons. (talk) 22:10, 3 March 2015 (UTC)

You still don't get it. You're not vindicated. You're a disruptive editor. Walter Görlitz (talk) 05:13, 4 March 2015 (UTC)

Hi Mr. Walter

1. I would kindly like to know how you've come to the conclusion that I am "disruptive". This is my first time ever since I started using the internet in the year 2000 to edit Wikipedia. My nephew and niece here in Nigeria (Africa) have been using Wikipedia to advance their knowledge for a while but were outraged by the audacity of this particular entry.

2. That concern prompted me to conduct further research on this issue. Despite presenting my arguments and evidence to you and sharing them with the kids-which they agreed with, it appears that Wikipedia is not interested in my facts but in straw-man arguments. The children feel that they do not trust Wikipedia anymore. This casts a pale shadow over the integrity of Wiki entries.

3. We thought Wikipedia is a public resource to be used by all citizens of this planet to advance knowledge. I have articulated my reasons why I feel that this particular entry is factually incorrect. I have given references and evidence. Yet the only thing you seem fixated on is my alleged being "disruptive" i.e. a straw man's argument.

4. I feel this is an unfair tag and I am beginning to doubt the veracity of Wikipedia's own Mission Statement "The Free Encyclopedia that anyone can edit" I strongly feel that the only reason this issue is not being resolved is because I had the temerity to question this particular subjective and biased entry. I find no other reason for this obfuscation and focus on my person.

I wish there was a way I could appeal to a higher authority in your organization or to the general public for support. (talk) 11:05, 13 March 2015 (UTC)

You may appeal. Start a requests for comment (WP:RFC). I have removed the original entry. It's clearly not a Sobriquet so I'm not sure what's to appeal.
Your disruptive behaviour is explained clearly above. Try to explain what I wrote on 03:33, 27 February 2015 in your own words and then explain what you don't understand. Walter Görlitz (talk) 05:26, 17 March 2015 (UTC)

Hi Walter. Thanks for your positive and constructive engagement even though we might not see eye-to-eye on some of the issues.

To be quite honest with you, this issue has moved on from this particular entry onto wider issues revolving around Wikipedia's integrity. For example, we have this entry with the absurd notion that Paul Whiteman is the "King of Jazz". Now, I am a Jazz aficionado and an amateur player (clarinet) and IMHO this is the most laughable and ridiculous "fact" in Wikipedia's history. Paul Whiteman is considered to be a bit of a joke in the Jazz world, and an object of ridicule by critics and fans alike-a bit like Kenny G is. Yes, he was immensely successful financially but "King of Jazz" he wasn't.

Which leads to the question; considering the earlier entry on this very page which I've discredited, many of us are now extremely skeptical over Wikipedia entries as a whole. Is this really a reservoir of knowledge or a tool of social conditioning? There are wider issues to be debated here. (talk) 19:57, 3 April 2015 (UTC)

Candidates for consideration: sobriquets for "America"[edit]

"Home of the Brave" and "Land of the Free" are, I would think, standard stand-ins for the USA, at least among Americans. See: Orthotox (talk) 19:26, 8 March 2015 (UTC)

Crooked Hillary[edit]

We have an editor who wished to see "Crooked Hillary" added. Does it qualify as a sobriquet or is it simply slanderous campaign statement? Walter Görlitz (talk) 01:42, 23 January 2017 (UTC)

Oxford Dictionary of Nicknames as a source of citations[edit]

I'm a new editor so I thought to practice adding citations to Sobriquet from the Oxford Dictionary of Nicknames by Andrew Delahunty. My adding the nickname for Oliver Cromwell was reverted. Is the standard that a reference book like this is not enough when the same nicknames are reused in history for more than one person? In the same reference book, both President Grant and General Macarthur are listed as The American Caesar. I was adding that nickname for both of them. Is this wrong? thank you. Garnetbibliophile (talk) 22:49, 25 October 2017 (UTC)

It's a great idea. But again, one reference does not mean it's a universal sobriquet. If it's not on the first page of a Google search, it's not sufficiently common to be considered here, even with a good reference. Walter Görlitz (talk) 00:06, 26 October 2017 (UTC)
Doesn't the first page of the Google search results test bias towards 20th and 21st century sources? I can see it for contemporary nicknames but I hesitate to adopt it for historic figures. If I find more book references would the first page of Google search results test still hold?Garnetbibliophile (talk) 00:59, 26 October 2017 (UTC)
Does it? If it's sometime more common that the original name, it shouldn't matter. If it is a sobriquet that could be equally applied to other subjects, it's not appropriate to state it only applies to one subject. Walter Görlitz (talk) 01:08, 26 October 2017 (UTC)
What about how the American Caesar was General Grant in the 19th century and General MacArthur (especially after the Manchester book) is the 20th century American Caesar. Should all the 19th century citations to American Caesar as Grant be ignored because the nickname was reused? Is uniqueness absolutely required when the use is separated by nearly a century? Go to Google Books (not regular Google) enter american caesar grant, then use the Tools to select free Google ebooks instead of any books. The results will be filled with 19th century usage of Grant's nickname as American Caesar. This is an example of how the first page of a regular Google search is biased towards recent usage. The Google Books with free Google ebooks gave me The Presidents of the United States 1789-1894 edited by James Grant Wilson. On p. 183 it has a list of Presidential nicknames as used when the book was published in 1894 that includes Grant as American Caesar. What's to be done? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Garnetbibliophile (talkcontribs) 05:18, 26 October 2017 (UTC)
Good thing we don't list it here. I'm not sure what you're asking about that though. Walter Görlitz (talk) 05:39, 26 October 2017 (UTC)
I tried to list American Caesar but in the editing conflict it was one of the edits that didn't get saved. So would it be proper to list The American Caesar - Ulysses Grant, Douglas MacArthur showing that the nickname has applied to both generals as long as there are specific citations individually applied to the two gentlemen? thank you for being patient with this. Garnetbibliophile (talk) 13:50, 26 October 2017 (UTC)
American Caesar. Has the term become more common than their actual names? Has the name become synonymous with either individual so that in general conversation you could use the term and most would understand it? That's what a sobriquet is. If that's not the case, it's a nickname. Walter Görlitz (talk) 13:58, 26 October 2017 (UTC)
That's a definition and distinction that makes sense to me. Of course, it implies that sobriquets fade into nicknames as time goes on and people become less familiar with the fame of particular individuals. So this article is for current sobriquets in the current popular knowledge more than I thought. The Velvet Fog was always Mel Torme, now maybe that doesn't mean the test? Thank you. Garnetbibliophile (talk) 19:56, 26 October 2017 (UTC)
Agreed. And I would argue that many of the items listed here are in fact nicknames (or less). Walter Görlitz (talk) 19:59, 26 October 2017 (UTC)