Do you have a nickname? Nicknames are familiar and sometimes funny replacements for the proper names of persons and places.

For example, if your name is Margaret, you might be called by a nickname instead, such as Maggie, Mags or even Peg. These are more familiar forms of the common proper name Margaret. A boy named Robert might similarly be called Bob, Bobby or Rob.

People sometimes give places nicknames, too. New York City is often called The Big Apple, and New Orleans is sometimes referred to as The Big Easy.

Sometimes a nickname is a descriptive term used in a funny or loving way based upon your personality or something you’re good at. For example, if you’re a really fast runner, your friends might call you Speedy instead of using your proper name.

Animals are sometimes called by different names depending upon where you live. These different nicknames can often be funny and quirky, reflecting the particular region where they develop. Many of these have been collected — along with other unique regional terms — in the five-volume Dictionary of American Regional English.

Take the humble skunk, for example. As if it’s not bad enough that the skunk already has to put up with an odor problem, people in some areas of the country choose to use the term polecat instead of skunk.

The polecat is actually a separate animal — a member of the weasel family. People who call skunks polecats probably aren’t calling them weasels, but the use of the term probably came about as a result of the fact that some skunks resemble true polecats.

Likewise, if you’re in the waters off Cape Cod and spot a tadpole, you should know that the locals call them pinkwinks. And when is a porcupine not a porcupine? When you’re in areas of the country that call them quill pigs, of course!

The Dictionary of American Regional English contains more than just interesting animal nicknames. People around the country use unique terms for all sorts of things. Have you ever had a sip of water from a drinking fountain? Those are called bubblers in parts of Wisconsin.

If you want a lottery ticket in Nebraska, you might need to ask for a pickle. If you get caught in a heavy rain, it might be a toad-strangler in the south or a fence-lifter in the Ozarks! And, of course, there’s always the popular question of whether you’re drinking soda or pop

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    • Hey there Cool Man! Thanks for sharing your comment with us– we’re sorry to hear about your hamster but we’re glad you shared some fun times with Hammy! :)

  1. Today’s wonder was cool! I think those tadpoles are cute! Once, while my family was in Kansas visiting family, we went to a pond that had frogs, a lot of colorful koi, and turtles and tadpoles. We caught the tadpoles and examined them, then we let them go. Thank you for today’s wonder! :) ;)

    • WOW, that sounds like a very cool adventure with your family, Berkleigh! How much fun to go to the pond and examine all the cool creatures that live there! Thanks for sharing this with us today- what a great connection to our Wonder! :)

    • Hooray, we’re so happy that you liked our Wonder video, Kodi! Thanks for sharing your comment– and your guess, too! :)

  2. Hey wonderopolis I really liked today’s wonder. I have a pet named Tweet, she is a parakeet. And I made her nickname TT. I really love her she’s so confident, sneaky, beautiful, and is very funny!

  3. The video I watched was amazing. I think the next one will be about watermelon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Because I like watermelon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Every spring when we pull off the cover there are always tadples there!! They are so ccccccuuuuuttttteee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Once I almost fell in with them.

    • Hi there, Wonder Friend Alona! We are so glad this Wonder made you smile, and that you have a connection to tadpoles, too! We bet you enjoyed the video! :)

  5. I have 4 pets, 2 are dogs and 2 are hamsters.
    My pets names, age, and nicknames are zippy 3 yrs zippster, sabre 13 yrs sabe, trixie 2 yrs
    bitie, macy 2 yrs hammy and I have a nickname to it’s ninie.

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend Destiny! We are so happy that you shared your pets with us! Thanks for telling us about the animals in your family– Zippster, Sabe, Bitie and Hammy are lucky to have you, Ninie! :)

  6. Hi I have a nickname it’s Kezi and my pets do have nickname I have 5 pets 3 hamsters 1 dog 1 rabbit. Dog’s nickname is Tekiy. My rabbit’s nickname is Oreo1417. My hamster’s nickname is Shadowy, Patch, Luck. My dog’s real name is Teki. My rabbit’s real name is Oreo. My hamster’s real name is Shadow, Patches, Lucky. My real name is Kezia. By the way the dog is family pet, rabbit is my sister’s pet and the hamsters are mine! And the hamsters are dwarf hamsters! Is that awesome!? I think it is awesome!

    Kezia/Monkey Geek

    • We LOVE nicknames, Monkey Geek! We know your real name is Kezia, but we think Monkey Geek is a totally cool nickname! Your house is full of cool pets, too! We think you are a very caring animal lover– your pets are lucky to live with you! :)

  7. Hi and the pets are wonderful and I am an animal lover and I really want a lizard because it’s so cute and my mom won’t allow me to have it but I really want for all animals in the world to be happy and I want to save the animals in the world but I can try by picking the litter and save the electricity by turning off the water when you don’t need it and lots of things to save the environment!

    • WOW, we think you’re doing a great job of doing your part to save the environment, Monkey Geek! Thanks for sharing your comment with us! :)

    • Great question, Hadley! We LOVE animals of all kinds here at Wonderopolis, and we have some furry friends of our own, too! We’ve got Taffy, our dog, but we call him Fluffernut sometimes, because he’s so fluffy and full of fur! Another Wonder Friend has a pet cat called Wiggles, but we call her Ms. Meow from time to time, because she always gets our attention! How about you? :)

    • We’ve learned that some animals have nicknames, but others probably like their actual names. People are sometimes the same way! Thanks for sharing your comment, Laila S! Say hi to Bella for us! :)

    • It’s fun to learn something new with a great Wonder Friend like you, Emmy! We Wonder if you have a pet? Do you have a nickname for it? :)

    • Hi there, Wonder Friend! We are so glad you shared Winnie’s nickname with us, we’re sorry to hear that she is no longer with you. We bet she was a SUPER dog! :)

  8. Well, this is very informational and I plan to keep this knowledge with me, and why would someone call a skunk a polecat if it is part of the weasel family? Maybe it looks like a weasel. I also think it’s kind of funny that in Nebraska you need to ask for a *pickle*.

    • Hey Chrissy!! Thanks for saying hello! We sure are glad you’re here today– we Wonder what your favorite part of our animal Wonder is? :)

  9. I HAVE A DOG HIS NAME IS apollo and I call him bubba, baby boy, sweetie pie and I have another dog her name is Dixie we call her dixie dog, baby girl, and girly.

    • Hi there, Wonder Friend Gothy Rocker! We are glad you shared your pets’ names and nicknames with us today– they sound AWESOME! We Wonder if you are the main dog walker in your family, or if you take turns? :)

  10. I think it is odd that you posted Why do some animals have nick names and you gave a video of a tadpole…… can you explain this?

    By the way, we love tacos. :)

    • Sure! Check out the ‘Did You Know?’ section and you can learn how tadpoles are one of the animals that have a funny nickname! Off the coast of Cape Cod, locals call them pink winks. Have you ever heard of a funny nickname for another animal? Thanks for visiting Wonderopolis today! :)

  11. I have a kitten named Dexter. He’s a little lover. I call him Dexty, and my dad calls him Deppy and Depp! Sort of like Johnny Depp!!! LOL!!! Thank you for this wonder! :)

    • Hello again, Elizabeth! We are so excited you have a bunch of nicknames for Dexter! He sounds really cool, just like you! :)

  12. Hi I’m Chelsea I have a dog name buster but sometimes I call him bust it’s cool I also have a cat named ziggy but sometimes I call him zigg.

    • Thanks for telling us all about your awesome pets, Chelsea! We bet they are so much fun… it’s a good thing Bust and Zigg get along! :)

  13. My parents gave me a nickname as a baby – it is Chubber Dubbs – I hate it! My dad said I was a very chubby baby. I wish I could change it.

    • Perhaps you can create a new nickname of your own, Wonder Friend Theresa? We bet your parents created that nickname out of love– we bet you were an awesome baby! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Why do some animals have nicknames?
  • What are pinkwinks?
  • Do you use any unique animal nicknames where you live?

Wonder Gallery

Animal NicknamesVimeo Video

Try It Out

Do you have some unique animal names in the area where you live? Talk with your teachers, friends and relatives to learn about some interesting names of animals that live in your state. You never know when you might learn about an animal you never knew existed…or at least always called by a different name!

What about other people, places and things? What other regional words are popular where you live? Do you drink soda or pop? Are there any other words that your area is known for using?

What about within your own family? Do certain family members have special names for things? You might even have a nickname! If you do, feel free to share it with your Wonder Friends on Facebook. You might share a nickname with someone hundreds or thousands of miles away!

Still Wondering

In ReadWriteThink’s Playing Name Bingo with Chrysanthemum lesson, children play bingo with a twist. The game boards feature children’s names and they answer questions designed to help them learn more about one another.

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