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Uncommon Knowledge: How powerful is a name?

Personalized Family Portrait | $75 | UncommonGoodsSticks and stones may break your bones, but an embarrassing nickname can haunt you for centuries. King Alfonso IX of Leon, for example, is still recorded in the history books as “The Slobberer” because of his tendency to foam at the mouth when angry. Sometimes, however, the nicknames stick so well that we don’t even realize they are nicknames. Ernesto “Che” Guevara was given his nickname because he used the word “che” so often—it’s the Argentine equivalent of saying “dude” or “bro.” The ancient Greek philosopher Plato was actually named Aristocles. The name Plato was supposedly given to him by his wrestling coach, and means “broad”—perhaps the ancient Greek version of “tubby.” But when a nickname sticks, sometimes the best defense is to run with it. When James Hickock couldn’t shake the nickname “Duck Bill”—a reference to his large nose and protruding upper lip—he instead altered it just a bit, and became known as Wild Bill Hickok, one of the most famous gunslingers of the American West.

Personalized Family Portrait, $75-125

Written by Nathan

Nathan is a copywriter, who helps create our product descriptions as well as our weekly emails. He is also a nationally award-winning musical theater writer, whose work includes an adaptation of Lois Lowry’s novel The Giver. Nathan has also been a classical violinist, tutored Kazakhstani jewelers in entrepreneurship, created large-scale games played across entire city blocks, served as a missionary in South Korea, conducted experiments in sonoluminescence, co-founded an exotic fruit-growing business, was a theater critic for Tucson Weekly, and as a teenager composed a women’s jazz quartet that is currently performed around the world.

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