People develop nicknames, both friendly and unfriendly, for all sorts of reasons. Often nicknames can be hurtful, sometimes you just don’t identify with the name, or maybe you think it makes you sound too childish. Nicknames, especially well-established ones, can be hard to get rid of. Correct people who use the nickname and reassert the name you want to be known by. Remember that a nickname is only a name, and it does not represent the person you are.

Part 1
Part 1 of 2:

Challenging the Nickname

  1. If someone has started calling you by a mean nickname, or something that you don’t like, the first step is not to respond. He might be calling you by this nickname to try and get a rise from you, so try to ignore it, or just raise an eyebrow and walk on.[1]
  2. If it’s your friends who are calling you by the nickname, they might not realise that you don’t like it. Calmly explain to them that it makes you feel bad, and you’d like it if they would stop calling you by the nickname. Good friends will understand and won’t want to hurt your feelings.[2]
    • You could say “Guys, I know you think it’s funny to call me "Zack Attack." But I really don’t like that nickname. Just call me Zachary, my real name, okay?”
  3. There may be occasions when a friend introduces you to somebody by your nickname. This is a good opportunity to challenge the nickname and assert what you want to be called. If your friend introduces you by saying “Hi, this is my friend Bobby.” You can calmly just say, “Hi! Actually, it’s just Bob.”
    • This will help ensure that the person you are meeting knows not to you use your nickname, while also showing your friend that you prefer to be called by your chosen name.
    • If you are in any group situation and somebody uses your nickname, you can correct him like this.
    • Over time, people will stop using your nickname if you correct them.[3]
  4. If the person calling you by a nickname is a bully, it will be harder to confront them. You should try to just ignore them, and not let them see that they have upset you or got to you. Try to look confident and give off the impression that the name-calling is too stupid to think about. Bullies want to take power away from you and make you scared. If you can demonstrate that it's not working, they might lose interest.[4]
    • If bullies call you a name, you can show that you're not intimidated or scared by looking them in the eyes, laughing, and then just walking away without looking back.
    • You could say something like "Here we go again. This is boring," or "Why are you talking to me?"
    • You could say "I don't know why you keep calling me that, but it's boring and I don't care."
    • Don’t get angry or upset. That could encourage a bully to just use their mean nickname more often.[5]
  5. Mean name-calling is bullying and you don’t have to put up with it. If you have tried ignoring and then challenging the name-calling, but it continues to happen, talk to an authority figure. Reporting the name-calling will alert your school to what’s going on, and they can keep an eye on the situation.
    • If it’s upsetting you, stick close to your friends for support.
    • A good network of friends can be really helpful if you are being bullied.
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Part 2
Part 2 of 2:

Reaffirming Your Chosen Name

  1. An important part of getting rid of a nickname, and making sure it doesn’t come back, is reaffirming your chosen name. One of the ways you can do this is by signing off messages with this name. For example, make the effort to sign off an email or text with your name.
    • Just writing, “Ok, see you later. Jill” at the end of an email will get your friends more used to seeing this name.
    • If you are leaving a voicemail message, use your name at the start. You could say “Hi, Jan, it’s Jill here.”
  2. Drop your chosen name into conversation to try and fix it in the minds of your friends. Soon they will associate you with your chosen name and not the nickname. You have to be a little bit subtle with this, and avoid referring to yourself in the third person. For instance, when telling a story about what you did at the weekend don’t say “Jill went shopping.”
    • You can drop your name into conversation by reporting a conversation, or what someone said to you.
    • For example, you could say “And then Jan said to me, Jill, what happened to the pizza?”[6]
  3. You can affirm your chosen name by being positive when you meet people or are in a group situation. If you show initiative, and introduce yourself before somebody else introduces you, you get to choose what name is used. Get in there first to fix your chosen name in people’s minds.
    • Just introduce yourself casually by saying “Hey, everyone. I’m Jill.”
  4. If you having a hard time getting people to stop calling you by a nickname, you can take some comfort in remembering that nicknames don’t last forever. As you get older, people will use nicknames less and less. As you meet new people and have new experiences, things like nicknames change too.[7]
    • If your friends continue to use a nickname you don’t like even after you have explained how it upsets you, consider if they are really your friends. If someone keeps making you angry on purpose and doesn't care about your feelings, they are not your friend. Stay away from them as much as you can.
    • Often people use nicknames as a sign of affection, and this changes as you get older and more mature.[8]
    • A nickname is only a name and does not always represent who you are.
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Community Q&A

  • Question
    A friend of a friend, who I met three times, calls me a nickname about my blonde hair. l believe he doesn't know it bothers me, but every time l see him, l can't tell him to stop. What can I do?
    Community Answer
    Community Answer
    The next time they use the nickname, just correct them by reminding them what your actual name is.
  • Question
    What can I do if my entire family, including grandparents and aunt/uncles, call me by the name that my cousin gave me when they were very small?
    Community Answer
    Community Answer
    Ask them to stop, and explain why it bothers you. Ask your parents to help by reminding the rest of the family not to use the nickname. Don't respond to the nickname when it's used, and try the other methods described in the article.



About This Article

wikiHow is a “wiki,” similar to Wikipedia, which means that many of our articles are co-written by multiple authors. To create this article, 19 people, some anonymous, worked to edit and improve it over time. This article has been viewed 75,250 times.
128 votes - 69%
Co-authors: 19
Updated: November 18, 2023
Views: 75,250
Categories: Youth