A sobriquet is a nickname or a fancy name, usually a familiar name given by others as distinct from a pseudonym assumed as a disguise, but a nickname which is familiar enough such that it can be used in place of a real name without the need of explanation. This characteristic, that is, of sufficient familiarity, is most easily noted in cases where the sobriquet becomes more familiar than the original name for which it was formed as an alternative. For example, Genghis Khan, who is rarely recognized now by his original name "Temüjin"; and the British Whig party, which acquired its sobriquet from the British Tory Party as an insult.

Two early variants of the term are found, "sotbriquet" and "soubriquet"; the latter form is still often used. The modern French spelling is "sobriquet". The first form suggests a derivation from "sot", foolish, and "briquet", a French adaptation of Ital. "brichetto", diminutive of "bricco", ass, knave, possibly connected with "briccone", rogue, which is supposed to be a derivative of Ger. "brechen", to break; but Skeat considers this spelling to be an example of popular etymology, and the real origin is to be sought in the form soubriquet.

Littré gives an early 14th century "soubsbriquet" as meaning a chuck under the chin, and this would be derived from "soubs", mod. "sous" (Lat. "sub"), under, and "briquet" or "bruchel", the brisket, or lower part of the throat.

Sobriquets are often found in politics. Candidates and political figures are often branded with sobriquets, either contemporarily or historically. For example, American President Abraham Lincoln came to be known as Honest Abe. Sobriquets are not always used to highlight virtuous qualities. A banking tycoon and politician from Knoxville, Tennessee named Jake Butcher was known as "Jake the Snake" after being indicted and subsequently convicted for bank fraud.

"Fowler's Modern English Usage" (1926) warned, "Now the sobriquet habit is not a thing to be acquired, but a thing to be avoided; & the selection that follows is compiled for the purpose not of assisting but of discouraging it." Fowler included the sobriquet among what he termed the "battered ornaments" of the language.

Well-known examples of sobriquets in the Anglosphere


* Albion - Great Britain

* Alma Mater - One's own university
* Angel of Death - Josef Mengele
* the Antipodes - Australia and New Zealand
* Auntie - either the Australian Broadcasting Corporation or the British Broadcasting Corporation
* the Bard - William Shakespeare
* Blighty - Great Britain (used by British servicemen abroad and expatriates)
* Bloody Mary - Mary I of England
* Bonnie Prince Charlie - Charles Edward Stuart
* Brillo Pad - Andrew Neil
* Brummie - a person from Birmingham
* Buddha - Siddhartha Gautama
* Caligula- Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus
* Canuck - a Canadian
* Chosin Few - US Marine survivers of Korean War Battle of Chosin Reservoir
* Cockney - an East Londoner
* Columbia - The United States or The Americas


* Digger - Australian soldier
* The Doctor - Valentino Rossi
* Dubya - George W. Bush
* The Duke - John Wayne
* Erin - Ireland
* The Federal City - Washington D.C.
* Foggy Bottom- the United States State Department
* The Fourth Estate - the press
* Garrincha - Manoel Francisco dos Santos
* The General - Irish Criminal Martin Cahill
* Genghis Khan - Temüjin
* Geordie - a person from Newcastle-upon-Tyne
* God's Own Country - Kerala, New Zealand, Rhodesia or Yorkshire
* Godfather of Soul - James Brown
* GOP (Grand Old Party)- Republican Party (United States)
* Gotham - New York City
* The Governator - 38th Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger
* Grits - a media term for the Liberal Party of Canada
* The Gray Lady - The New York Times
* The Great Commoner - William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham ("Pitt the Elder") or William Jennings Bryan


* Honest Abe - Abraham Lincoln
* John Bull - England, or an English person
* Kaká - Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite
* The King - actor Clark Gable; entertainer Graham Kennedy
* The King (of all Media) - Howard Stern
* The King (of Rock and Roll) - Elvis Presley
* The King of Pop - Michael Jackson
* Limey - a national epithet for the English, mainly applied by Americans.
* The Lion of the Round Top - Col. Joshua L. Chamberlain, commander of the 20th Maine Regiment, American Civil War
* The Lucky Country [ [ The Lucky Country ] ] - Australia
* Mackem - a person from Sunderland
* Madiba - Nelson Mandela
* Manitas de Plata - Flamenco guitarist Ricardo Baliardo
* The Material Girl - Madonna
* The Myth - Bodybuilding great Sergio Oliva
* Mahatma Gandhi - Mohandas K. Gandhi
* Murasaki Shikibu - author of The Tale of Genji, whose real name is unknown


* The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street - the Bank of England
* Old Nick - Satan
* Old St. Nick - Santa
* The Old Pretender - James Francis Edward Stuart
* Pelé - Edson Arantes do Nascimento
* Perfidious Albion - Great Britain
* Peripatetics - Aristotelian philosophers
* Pom - An English Person (used in Australia and New Zealand)
* Ponton - Mercedes-Benz models made between 1953 and 1962
* Prince of the Humanists - Desiderius Erasmus
* The Queen of the Arabian Sea - Cochin
* Rats of Tobruk - the garrison of Tobruk during the Siege of Tobruk in World War II
* Rivaldo - Vítor Borba Ferreira
* Ronaldinho - Ronaldo de Assis Moreira
* Sassenach - a Lowland Scot (used by Highland Scots)
* Satchmo - Louis Armstrong
* Scouser - a Liverpudlian
* Slick Willy - U.S. President Bill Clinton
* Slowhand - Eric Clapton
* Soapy Sam - Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford


* Tommy Atkins - a British soldier
* Tory - a member or supporter of the British or Canadian Conservative Party
* Teflon Don - mobster John Gotti
* Tricky Dick - President Richard Nixon
* Turd Blossom - George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove
* Uncle Sam - the U.S.A. or sometimes the government
* Weegie - a person from Glasgow
* Westminster - the British Parliament
* Westminster Abbey - The Collegiate Church of St Peter, Westminster
* Whig - a member of the late 17th to mid 19th Century British "Country Party"
* Whitehall - the British government including Parliament but excluding the monarchy
* X-22 - backgammon champion Paul Magriel.
* Yardbird - jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker
* Yankee - (derogatory in some contexts) a person from the United States (usual usage outside the U.S.) or from the Northeast or New England (in American usage).
*Yank (a short form of "Yankee") - a person from the United States
* The Young Pretender - Charles Edward Stuart

ee also

* List of monarchs by nickname
* List of nicknames of European Royalty and Nobility
* List of United States Presidential nicknames
* Lists of nicknames in football (soccer)
* List of basketball nicknames
* List of North American football nicknames
* List of sportspeople by nickname
* Metonymy
* Moniker
* Nickname
* Nicknames of jazz musicians
* Offensive terms per nationality
* Pop icon




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  • sobriquet — [ sɔbrikɛ ] n. m. • soubriquet XVe; « coup sous le menton » 1355; o. i. ♦ Surnom familier, souvent moqueur. « Jadis les gens du peuple n étaient connus que par un sobriquet tiré de leur profession, de leur pays » (Balzac). ● sobriquet nom… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • sobriquet — SOBRIQUET. s. m. Sorte de surnom, qui le plus souvent se donne à une personne par derision, & qui est fondé sur quelque défaut personnel, ou sur quelque singularité. Sobriquet offensant, injurieux, plaisant, ridicule. donner un sobriquet. le… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • Sobriquet — So bri quet (s[ o] br[ e] k[asl] ), n.[F. sobriquet, OF. soubzbriquet, soubriquet, a chuck under the chin, hence, an affront, a nickname; of uncertain origin; cf. It. sottobecco a chuck under the chin.] An assumed name; a fanciful epithet or… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • sobriquet — 1640s, from Fr. sobriquet nickname, from M.Fr. soubriquet, lit. a chuck under the chin, of unknown origin (first element probably from L. sub under ) …   Etymology dictionary

  • Sobriquet — (franz., spr. Sobrikeh), ein Spitz , Spott od. Schimpfname …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Sobriquet — (franz., spr. ßŏbrikä), Spitz , Spottname …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • sobriquet — I noun byname, cognomen, fanciful name, fictitious, nickname, nom de plume, pseudonym II index call (title), cognomen Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • sobriquet — [n] nickname AKA*, alias, anonym, appellation, assumed name, byname, handle*, label, moniker, nom de guerre, nom de plume, nomenclature, pen name, pet name*, professional name, pseudonym, tag*; concept 268 …   New thesaurus

  • sobriquet — Sobriquet, voyez Sotbriquet en Sot …   Thresor de la langue françoyse

  • sobriquet — (also soubriquet) ► NOUN ▪ a person s nickname. ORIGIN French, originally in the sense a tap under the chin …   English terms dictionary

  • sobriquet — [sō′brə kā΄, sō′brəket΄; sō΄brə kā′, sō΄brəket′] n. [Fr < MFr soubriquet, chuck under the chin < ?] 1. a nickname 2. an assumed name …   English World dictionary

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