by Shirley Cook & Judith Lewis
The original Anglo-Saxon word was “ekename” meaning “also or added”. This became slurred to “nekename” and finally “nickname”. Nicknames were common in Ancient Greece and Rome especially as terms of affection. English parents gave their children long names then abbreviated them e.g. “Harold” became “Hal” and “Elizabeth” became “Betsy”.
Nicknames are usually awarded to, not chosen, by the recipient and often are based on the person’s name, physical characteristics, personality or lifestyle. Some nicknames are obvious but some need an explanation.
Some years ago Shirley Cook (Woods) sent us a comprehensive list of “Rivo” nicknames. We have added to Shirley’s list and have endeavoured to match these names with each person’s real name and, where possible, to ascertain the origin of the nickname if it is not indicative of the above criteria.
|Bats||Johnston||Bruce||Bruce was told he had ears like a bat.|
|Battler||Woods||Jimmy||Jimmy was a very successful boxer.|
|Bear||Leach||John||John was Road Captain of the Motor Bike Club. Each year the club travelled in convoy to the Bathurst Bike Races. They slept overnight at Lithgow where some of them were confronted by a local gang. John, came charging to his mates’ rescue “like a Big Bear”.|
|Bluey||Parkes||Jack||Most Blueys were redheads|
|Bozo||Lane||Laurie||On the cricket field one of his mates said he was acting like a clown, a “Bozo”.|
|Butch||Drayton||Noel||Butch’s first job was as a delivery driver, with horse & cart, for a local butcher.|
|Diesel||Johnston||Kevin||Kevin began driving trucks as soon as he was old enough.|
|Dinky||Knight||Herbert||Eric Playing with another boy he was asked, “Do you play dinks?” “Yes.” was the reply. “Well I’ll call you Dinky.”|
|Dosser||Drayton||George Snr||Alan’s father. People often inherited their father’s nickname when they went to work at the Meatworks.
Doughy Wallace Norman He was a baker.
|Duck||Magennis||Eric||When Eric was small his grandmother had a duck which Eric used to carry around the yard. His Nan also had a Chook, called “Biddy”, which his sister Barbara used to carry around. Eric still calls Barbara “Biddy”.|
|Googa||Anderson||Reginald||As a boy Reggie had the best collection of birds’ eggs.|
|Harpo||Cook||Albert||He had curly blonde hair, not unlike Harpo Marx.|
|Jockey||Stephens||Rowland||He had been a jockey.|
|Monkey||Neal||Ronald||Ron was called “Monkey” at school, “Mouse” came later.|
|Pom||Alderton||Arthur||He always spoke very correctly, like a “Pom”!|
|Rowdy||Strachan||Barry||Barry was a very quiet person.|
|Snooksey||Cook||Albert||“Snooksey’s” nickname became “Harpo” later in life.|
|Splorfoot||Johnston||Matt||He had rather large feet.|
|Spot||Parkes||Robert||Lots of freckles.|
|Stumpy||Cartwright||Albert||His grandson, John (who is quite tall), is also known as Stumpy.|
|Thrippence||Britton||Graham||As a very small boy Graham lived in a terraced house near the Riverstone Royal Hotel. The licensee, Paddy Morgan said he was only as big as a threepence, our smallest coin at the time. The name stuck!|
|Tichey||Drayton||Arthur||Son Graham also known as Tichey.|
|Tinhare||Drayton||Noel Richard||Later known as Butch, he was “Tinhare” from schooldays as he was the fastest runner.|
|Twinny||Crouch||Barry &/or Eric|
If you can fill in, add to or correct any of the given names that we are missing, please contact us and we will update this list .
The cleverest nickname I recall was back in 1955 when I was practice teaching at Concord Public School on a Year 4 class. The boy’s surname was Bishop and his mates called him “Pub”, short for “beer shop”!
Some nicknames can be the result of a small child’s early effort to pronounce a relative’s given name. I had three close relatives on my father’s side. Auntie Ivy, Auntie Vera and Uncle Jessop. My older brother, Bill called them “Why”, “Booa” and “Sheck”. My younger brother Rob and I continued using the nicknames. Sheck was the only one to lose his name when Superman comics became popular and Rob decided he was “Superman”. Sheck told Rob that he could beat Superman because he was “Joe Palooka”, another comic book hero. Sheck from then on became “Joe”. My mother, Why and Joe all died whilst I was still at high school and Booa (now also known as “Boo”) took my mother’s place in the raising of we three children.
She remained “Boo” until her death in 1975, aged 76. My three sons, their friends and the neighbourhood folk all called her “Boo”. I doubt if some of them knew her real name. Boo was also a great one for using nicknames. Almost every week she had friends visit her home, on the corner of George and Park Streets, for a cuppa and a chat. They were “Lew”, our Nanna Lewis from Mill Street, “Orky”, Treacle Alcorn’s wife, Annie, from Market Street and “Greenie”, Mrs Green from Piccadilly Street. Boo’s dearest friend was “Chalk”, Hilda Chalker, our next-door neighbour in Park Street. Neither of them owned a TV so Chalk visited Boo each evening for a chat and Boo would walk her home each night. Boo always walked Chalk home and we were often in bed when we heard “Goodnight Boo” and “Ni-night Chalk” called out as they parted company for the night at our gateway.