Topic of the Week - What's in a name?

What names have you used throughout your life? Screen names, gamer names, named characters, rpg characters, real life nicknames?

As a bonus, what is the story or meaning behind those names (and/or your tekeli name)? That can be a bit more personal, so consider the latter half completely optional.


I’ve been Robbo, a shortening of my surname

I’ve been given Steve. A shortening of my forename. Not one I like as it’s the name my mum’s ex-husbands moniker.

Online I’m raged_norm as my teenaged friends called me norm after the man in the Twix advert at the time. I was angry about it so it became my Hotmail (now used for junk) account. I’m too old to change it.


“sexagesimalian” was a name I had to come up with on the spur of the moment when I lost my “” domain and I needed a gmail address. The meaning of name is left to the reader. I use “sexagesimalian” in many places. When I first signed into D&D Beyond, it required a Twitch account, but it wouldn’t accept that as a name; I had to change it to “s3xagesimalian” because (I assume) having “sex” in your user name was blocked.

“sinister things” is the (current) title of my A&E zine and it came from a brief campaign I ran called “small, sinister things,” in which I attempted (and mostly failed) to set up faeries as the main antagonists of the campaign. I used to also have a domain and email with that as well, but I gave it up.

“xenongames” is my handle on BGG. I created it when I thought I might publish some games I am within a year of publishng my Wildcard Roleplaying System to and I don’t know if I’ll change my account name to “xenongames” or stick with “sexagesimalian” as it is now. I also used to have a domain of that name.

When creating a user or avatar name in a computer game, I usually use “Brach” (if male) and “Braxy” (if female) with “Bracherson” as the surname, if needed. I have no idea how/why I came up with “Brach” (rhymes with the composer).

When I was kid–maybe 6–I made the decision that I was “Patrick” and not “Pat.” At the time, it was motivated because we lived across the street from a “Pat” and I didn’t like sharing her name (again, I was a child). Nowawdays I just find “Pat” too short and terse as a syllable. If it were longer-sounding syllable, like “John” or “Dave,” I might be okay with it. I joke with people saying I didn’t want to be confused with another Pat Riley. It annoys me when people jump to “Pat” when I introduce myself as “Patrick” and I feel like the jerk correcting them.


Rachael - Rach, Rae, Rachie, etc.

Turbo Tongue - I talked a lot and very fast as a kid (honestly, still do). I had an older cousin my family called the motor mouth so when I came along even worse, my grandpa came up with a new alliteration for me

Bratty - don’t remember how it started. I think I was late elementary or early middle school and a group of friends came up with slightly teasing names for each other but why or what the other names were I’ve long forgotten

BrattyJedi - I got online and massively into Star Wars at about the same time (middle school). Adopted BrattyJedi as my first online handle and it’s been that most places ever since


My given name Sonja was chosen after a character in Tolstoi‘s War and Peace which my mom read while pregnant. One important requirement was that it was a short name that was unlikely to be turned into a nickname. For me it worked, for my sister not.

I don‘t have a 2nd name for the same reason.

For many years, the only person who ever tried to turn my name into a nickname was a Latin teacher in 8th grade or so who tried to make me into „Sonne“ (Sun). Didn‘t stick.

The friends we‘re on vacation with right now have made me into „Sonna“. I must blame their son (now almost 20) who couldn‘t pronounce my name when he was small. It‘s nice enough though.

As previously told somewhere here, Yashima was chosen as a character for a fantasy RPG campaign in 2000. The campaign ran for almost 16 years. It was supposed to be a name for a desert tribe called „Tulamiden“ that were culturally modeled on Bedouins. Only when I started getting spam in Japanese on my gmail address, I realized that outside of this RPG setting the name had a Japanese origin.

When I cannot get Yashima because it is quite a common name, I try „Yashimii“ which started with my nick for the Wii console where the avatars were called Miis.


I have used several. I never seem to have stuck on one. LLV is just a hipster sounding name that I came up on the fly


Never really done nicknames in person but I’m Firedrake in several computery contexts (occasionally “Airdrake” if “Firedrake” is already taken) as well as my personal domain Some of the origin of that is personal reasons, and Demon had just extended the 8-character username limit when I started working there so it seemed particularly appropriate.

For computer games I often played as “Incarnadine” which was invented mostly (again!) to test the character name length limits on a MUD someone at school wrote. (Also because Shakespeare uses it as a verb and I thought it sounded good as an adjective.)

(Thanks to an array indexing bug, that MUD also produced “Null the Null”, which is my default name for an NPC who isn’t important to the plot.)


I’ve been captbnut on everything since 1999

Was briefly elthrombong before that

Irl it’s Evz, or Dad I suppose!


Christopher IRL, Chris for short. Not sure why it was chosen by my parents, but it’s fine.

I used jcensolo as an email address and some other accounts here and there, as I was (and remain) a Star Wars fan, and I enjoyed the character of Jacen Solo in the novels for a while (until they ruined him, but eh, what you gonna do?).

I started using Maestro as a gaming handle in college, based on the callsign of a character in Timothy Zahn’s Conqueror’s trilogy of novels. It expanded to COMaestro when I used it as my handle in an X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter league, since I was the CO of a squadron. Maestro was often already used in forums or other account names, but COMaestro never was, so it became my go-to handle online.

And I often use Torgon in D&D/Fantasy RPG’s, which I came up with in high school for a somewhat deranged fighter character. As his backstory, he was polymorphed into a red dragon at one point, but once he was changed back, the dragon personality stuck around and would come up now and then. This was represented in combat by a 1 in 6 chance to fight “tooth and claw” for a bonus to hit, but penalty to AC. Plus it made for fun character interactions when you suddenly start trying to incinerate someone who’s upset you with your “fire breath”. I had him eat raw garlic regularly so there would be some reaction. :slight_smile:


Sex = Sex
Age = Era
Sima = Simian
Lian = Lion

I’m running with that.


Benjemimah, as in Puddleduck, used by a couple of people at university, perversely because my name isn’t Benjamin.

Benkyo, as in study, when I needed to come up with kanji for my name for a bank seal, and also as a way to distinguish from “pen”, for people who couldn’t easily hear the difference. So, “ben as in benkyo”, or 勉.


Started as a gaming tag (bort), and for anyone who doesn’t get that, here you go…

And I added the monkey because sometimes I couldn’t use just bort on a web site, and monkeys are funny, and our old lan gaming group was called The Sick Little Monkeys, which I think we got from Ren and Stimpy.


I was known as Norm(an) throughout secondary school for similar reasons. So much so that some people I knew were shocked to find out it wasn’t my real name.

One of my mum’s friends is known as Squeeze because she couldn’t pronounce her own name (Suzanne) when she was younger. She’s now in her 50s.

I don’t think my “real name” came from anywhere interesting.

Online, I went by shen-an-doah for quite a while. Arrived at by the sophisticated method of grabbing a nearby CD (Pitchshifter - PSI) and looking at the track titles.

Then I went to sign up to and some bastard* had already taken my name! So, I did the same method again and this time The Shape of Punk to Come by Refused was nearby and I ended up with bruitist. Not sure why I ended up using it for everything else. Maybe I was sick of people asking if I was from Virginia.

I’ve made too many characters for RPGs to list. Most of them are puns and/or references that have gone through some sort of transformation to obfuscate it a bit. My proudest is probably naming one character’s adoptive mother a translation of the word for “hamster” because she’s a Russian dwarf.

*The bastard was me as I’d signed up for Audioscrobbler about a year earlier (before they’d merged) and never used the account.


Just my initials here and everywhere online (or with added 0). Which is a bit odd when you get random Dutch guys shouting something like ‘Day Yot Tze Tay’ in Battlefield games on the PlayStation. But stuck now.

Shaggy* to my best friends and my real name to everyone else these days, though I had a few different names with different friend groups growing up.

*This is why I just use my initials online …


I think I’m a bit like @lalunaverde. Being unable to grow a beard, unwilling to dye my hair, and not compatible with makeup or widely ranging fashion, my user names and wallpaper are some of the last outlets for the shifting winds of moods and eras.

I took a waterski to the eye (well, bone next to the eye) in 8th grade or so. This was at Summer Camp. A crew of 10th grade girls took me under their wing and named me Shiner, which I wore with pride for some time. When camp was over and the 10th grade girls were gone, though, it slowly lost its luster.

Email was this emerging thing when I started college, so I spent a lot of time thinking of my first email address (previously, Compuserve had just given my family a string of numbers as if an email address was the new phone number). The result was hobbes11 (for the tiger, of course). But after four years of explaining why I didn’t just use my name, I’ve pretty much stuck to basics there.

I also developed a distaste for numbers, as they were harder to remember. Prior to committing to my current email address (with a dreaded number, because there are a LOT of Daniels and Murphys out there), my hotmail address was ihavenewsocks. And my ebay handle remains dreadpiratetwosock. For the latter, no one talks to me outside of a transaction. For the former, it’s far enough out there that no one asks for an explanation. Problem solved.

I still have an affinity for things that are mildly - mildly - amusing but grow more amusing over time. Thinking here of Rowan Atkinson at a cocktail party, being introduced to the author of a dictionary, and proceeding to casually make up words during the conversation while watching said author grow increasingly uncomfortable. Naming myself after grocery stores has really hit the mark here. I was Foodlion for a long time, places such as BGG (still) and, back when that was the only BGA in town (pr-evolver.xls, anyone?). Foodlion always cracks me up, the balls to name a grocery store after Food (too obvious) and Lions (whaaa???) with a majestic Lion Rampant emblazoned on your awning…

My one foray into D&D was a Fighter named Harris Teeter. Another grocery chain. I still chuckle a little harder each time I remember that, but maybe it’s just me. If Harris ever died I planned to be an Old Paladin named Trader Joe.

Ah… the previous forum I was in, similar to this, anchored in Star Wars but mostly talking about life, I was Starboy. Oh, and in earlier lives (like Arena on AOL), Fangorn. I veered into the obscure for two reasons - first, to avoid any dreaded numbers, and second to flash my colors. Sort of, “if you get this reference, we can definitely be friends.” Fangorn qualified before Tolkien really hit mainstream at the turn of the millennium.

Let’s see - Kodiak for Hearthstone. A character from my book who I like.

The need for handles has decreased with age, and I’m really settling into Acacia. It hits a little closer to home and is more of a lifelong totem than a seasonal flair. I took it after a podcast covering the botany of the Bible (fascinating, despite what you might expect. Zero sarcasm.) So apparently the Acacia trees live in dry river beds (wadis, for the familiar). They just sit there, dry and for all appearances dead, for a decade or more at a time.

Until the rain.

But the life is still in them. And when the rain comes, the whole grove comes back to life. And then they’re called “the gift of the desert.” Good fruit, medicinal bark, expansive shade. The tree comes back to life and gives life to anyone who follows the rain to find the grove.

I started my tenure here with some heavier posts on the “How are you Doing” thread that put some context behind that. Calling myself Acacia is a bit grounding, like being seen. But also hope that, one day, the rain will come. And I’ll find I’m still alive after this decade in the dry bed.


I’ve just remembered that I once had “minisculeeddie@…” as an email address, which was a play on the name of a local punk band, Tiny Elvis.

And that’s why a letter I wrote to Metal Hammer was credited to Eddie Cochran.


I forgot in the prompt - pet names. Those are often fascinating! Got any great pet names?


JGD, because in the Dallman side of my immediate family, 8 out of 9 people can or could be validly addressed as “J Dallman.”


Okay. So.

My brother (older by 8 years) used to be part of a highly competitive Battlefield Vietnam guild. He went with his usual nickname, “Che,” because much like the historic Che Guevara, my brother was an immigrant from Argentina and said “che” a lot… sorta the Argentine version of “dude” or “eh” or “sssss” that other cultures do as generic vocalizations.

Anyway, so he was Che, and he invited me to join, so I decided to pick a nickname appropriate for his, and went with Cienfuegos (“Hundred Fires”) which I though sounded cool and was one of Che’s most trusted lieutenants.

Problem was twofold:

  1. Nobody could pronounce it properly. It’s said See-EN-fu-way-go, approximately, and most people would say Chen-waygo, which I didn’t recognize so I wouldn’t realize people were trying to talk to me, and
  2. My brother, not being the sharpest tool in the shed, kept calling me Marc anyway. So nobody else knew who he was talking to.

In frustration, I realized I could zoom out one step and kill two birds with one stone: by using Marx, people could pronounce it, AND when my brother said Marc, they would know it was me because it sounds very, very similar.

At the time I was a socialism-hedonist, so the moniker didn’t make a perfect fit, but I have swung further left and Marxist as I have aged, so I don’t mind sticking with it.


I think there are three appellations I’ve gone by over the years, besides my given name.

School: Bod. I inherited this from my brother, as he inherited it from our brother before him, presumably because it is a contraction of our surname. I think it comes from the 13 episode 1975 children’s TV show of the same name, although I would have thought it was a touch early for my oldest brother and his friends to have seen. In the case that we needed to be distinguished, a shortened form of our first names could be added before “bod”, except for my oldest brother who was always just “Bod”. The privilege of being the eldest.

Online (non-video games): Assussanni. I needed a name for a character in a game that would prominently feature mounts, especially horses. Turning to Google (other search engines are available), I came across the Wikipedia page for Kikkuli, who was apparently a master horse trainer in the mid-second millennium BC kingdom of Mitanni. Kikkuli wrote a treatise on training chariot horses in the Hittite language, and the word for “master horse trainer” in Hittite is, phonetically, approximately Assussanni. This assumes that the Wikipedia page is correct, it is entirely possible half of my online identity is based on a lie. I use this here, on BGG, on the now-defunct FFG forums and a few other places.

Online (video games): Silver Flame (or some variant thereof if unavailable). I needed a username when setting up my XBox Live account. I looked at my bookshelf, saw the Player’s Guide to Eberron*, flicked through it, stopped at the deities and pantheons section and, having always had a fondness for paladins, picked Silver Flame.

*This autocorrected to the Player’s Guide to Everton, which I suspect would be a much less interesting D&D supplement.