Getty Images
Getty Images

11 Classic Nicknames (And the People Who Hated Them)

Getty Images
Getty Images

We've all been given a nickname we weren't too fond of. These public figures can relate.

1. Muscle Hamster

Tampa Bay running back Doug Martin picked up his unique "Muscle Hamster" nickname while in college at Boise State. According to USA Today, a teammate called Martin's girlfriend, who was a gymnast, the name.

So I stood up for her, like, 'Hey, man, she's not a muscle hamster!' And he said, 'You're a muscle hamster, too.' So they called us the muscle hamsters."

The name stuck with him after someone mentioned it to ESPN. And despite proclaiming publicly that he doesn't want to use it, calling it the "worst nickname ever," Martin just can't shake it.

2. Fatty

It's not hard to understand where Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle's nickname came from. Weighing in at more than 300 pounds (although he lost 80 after a health scare), Arbuckle said that the nickname had dogged him since elementary school. He would insist that off-screen, everyone call him Roscoe and would brusquely respond to being called Fatty by saying "I got a name, you know." Other nicknames attributed to him included "The Prince of Whales" and "The Balloonatic."

3. Big Baby

In 2010, then-Boston Celtics player Glen Davis publicly said that he was looking to drop his "Big Baby" moniker and pick up something new. It's said that he got the nickname during pee-wee football when Davis, too big to play with his peers, started crying among his older teammates. Davis, however, has said that the nickname has been with him from day one, claiming to have been 14 pounds at birth. Either way, the nickname has stuck despite his efforts to change it and he's seemed to have embraced it. Davis' official website? IAmBigBaby.com.

4. Vanilla Ice

Robert Van Winkle only gained fame by rapping under the name Vanilla Ice, which contributed to his hit "Ice Ice Baby." But Winkle didn't actually like his nickname when his friends first pinned it on him. In an interview with Salon, he said the name came about when he was the only white person in a breakdancing group he danced in as a teen. Everyone else called him Vanilla and when he objected, they just said it more until he was stuck with it.

5. Betty Bebop

When singer Betty Carter first joined Lionel Hampton's band in 1948, she was using the stage name Lorraine Carter. Impressed with her scatting ability, Hampton nicknamed her "Betty Bebop." But Carter said that she was actually furious about the name, because she didn't want to be confined to bebop performance and she was worried bebop musicians had a reputation for being irresponsible. But the name stuck and Carter eventually gave in and took on the "Betty" part for good.

6. Caligula

Caligula may be famous as a tyrant, whose tenure as Roman emperor is defined more by his own extravagance than his accomplishments. But the origins of his name are far less intimidating. As a child, Gaius Caesar would accompany his father, Germanicus, on military expeditions. He was outfitted with small boots, "caligulae" in Latin, in the camps to match the rest of the soldiers. That led to his nickname, which he was said to have despised.

7. Baby Face

Standing at just 5 foot 4 and with a youthful face, George Nelson (real name: Lester Joseph Gillis) couldn't have argued much with his "Baby Face" alias. He was given the nickname by gang members during his teens and despite his best efforts was never able to lose it. His unhappiness with the name was played up to great effect in O Brother Where Art Thou, where he was portrayed as bipolar and slipped into depression at the mention of "Baby Face."

8. Pretty Boy

Another gangster who was unhappy with his nickname, Charles Arthur Floyd preferred to be called "Choc," because he was so fond of Oklahoma's Choctaw beer. But after a victim of one of Floyd's robberies described him as a "Pretty Boy," that name took hold with the media (another story says that a prostitute gave him his nickname).

9. El Nino

When Spanish soccer player Fernando Torres first started playing professionally for Atletico Madrid at age 16 (he had been in the club's youth system for years), he picked up the nickname "El Nino," or "The Kid." He later revealed that he disliked the nickname, because he thought it showed that nobody else in the clubhouse had bothered to learn his real name. In fact, in a later interview he said that he often felt alone in the locker room and thought he might have been threatening to the older players. He seems to have taken to the name—his 2009 autobiography was titled Torres: El Nino: My Story.

10. Madge

In a 2009 interview with David Letterman, pop star Madonna revealed that she actually doesn't like her alias of Madge—and she left England just so she wouldn't have to hear it again. Even though her ex-husband Guy Ritchie insisted that it was short for "Her Majesty," Madonna said the name could also mean "like a boring, middle-aged housewife."

11. Pele

Edison Arantes do Nascimento first picked up his legendary nickname "Pele" in grade school, although stories differ on how it came about. When classmates started using it, Pele thought it might be an insult—he was even suspended for two days for punching a classmate who used the name. He later found out that it had no real meaning (it does translate to "miracle" in Hebrew) and he adopted it for good.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
From Snoopy to Shark Bait: The Top Slang Word in Each State
iStock
iStock

There’s a minute, and then there’s a hot minute. Defined as “a longish amount of time,” this unit of time is familiar to Alabamians but may stir up confusion beyond the state’s borders.

It’s Louisianans, though, who feel the “most misunderstood,” according to the results of a survey regarding regional slang by PlayNJ. Of the Louisiana residents surveyed, 72 percent said their fellow Americans from other states—even neighboring ones—have a hard time grasping their lingo. Some learned the hard way that ordering a burger “dressed” (with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayo) isn’t universally understood, nor is the phrase “to pass a good time” (instead of “to have” a good time).

After surveying 2000 people (with proportional numbers from each state), PlayNJ created a map showing the top slang word in each state. Many are words that are unlikely to be understood beyond state lines, but others—like California’s bomb (something you really like) and New York’s deadass (to be completely serious)—have spread well beyond their respective borders thanks to memes and internet culture.

Hawaiians are also known for their distinctive slang words, with 71 percent reporting that words like shaka (hello) and poho (waste of time) are frequently misunderstood. Shark bait, one of the state’s more colorful terms, refers to tourists who are so pale that they attract sharks.

Check out the full list below and test your knowledge of regional slang words with PlayNJ’s online quiz.

A chart showing the top slang words in each state
PlayNJ
nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
20 States With the Highest Rates of Skin Cancer
iStock
iStock

They don’t call it the Sunshine State for nothing. Floridians get to soak up the sun year-round, but that exposure to harmful UV rays also comes with consequences. Prevention magazine reported that Florida has the highest rate of skin cancer in the U.S., according to a survey by Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS).

BCBS surveyed 9 million of its insured members who had been diagnosed with skin cancer between 2014 and 2016 and found that Florida had the highest rate of skin cancer at 7.1 percent. People living in eastern states tend to be more prone to skin cancer, and diagnoses are more common among women.

Here are the 20 states with the highest rates of skin cancer:

1. Florida: 7.1 percent
2. Washington, D.C.: 5.8 percent
3. Connecticut: 5.6 percent
4. Maryland: 5.3 percent
5. Rhode Island: 5.3 percent
6. Vermont: 5.3 percent
7. North Carolina: 5.2 percent
8. New York: 5 percent
9. Massachusetts: 5 percent
10. Colorado: 5 percent
11. Arizona: 5 percent
12. Virginia: 5 percent
13. Delaware: 4.8 percent
14. Kentucky: 4.7 percent
15. Alabama: 4.7 percent
16. New Jersey: 4.7 percent
17. Georgia: 4.7 percent
18. West Virginia: 4.5 percent
19. Tennessee: 4.5 percent
20. South Carolina: 4.4 percent

It may come as a surprise that sunny California doesn’t make the top 20, and Hawaii is the state with the lowest rate of skin cancer at 1.8 percent. Prevention magazine explains that this could be due to the large population of senior citizens in Florida and the fact that the risk of melanoma, a rare but deadly type of skin cancer, increases with age. People living in regions with higher altitudes also face a greater risk of skin cancer due to the thinner atmosphere and greater exposure to UV radiation, which explains why Colorado is in the top 10.

The good news is that the technology used to detect skin cancer is improving, and researchers hope that AI can soon be incorporated into more skin cancer screenings. To reduce your risk, be sure to wear SPF 30+ sunscreen when you know you’ll be spending time outside, and don’t forget to reapply it every two hours. 

[h/t Prevention]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios