Perhaps someone just dubbed you ‘Goose’ after you bungled a big presentation in front of the boss and chief executive.
Or, maybe you got caught having a meltdown on the basketball court, and the team refuses to call you by your old nickname and instead begins shouting ‘KOKO! KOKO! KOKO!’ every time you get the ball.
Like George in this video:
What gives? Are all nicknames and military callsigns negative? What about the guy down the hall who goes by ‘G-man’ or the gal at the gym known simply as ‘Killer’?
The short answer is – No, not all nicknames are bad, but the harder you fight one, well, the more likely it is to stick.
And while that might be a hard lesson to learn, after reading this comprehensive article on military nicknames, pilot nicknames, and the traditions that surround naming ceremonies in the Army, you will be able to not only navigate this treacherous (landmine-filled?) territory but dole out some cool military nicknames and monikers of your own!
But how do you find a cool military nickname, how do you get others to call you by the cool name, and not get laughed at or called KOKO?
How To Get A Military Nickname
Here are some common ways a soldier receives a nickname:
- Ask, and ye shall receive (which is to say, ‘NEVER ASK’)
Just like George Costanza in Seinfeld wanted to be called T-bone and ended up being named after a gorilla; the harder you fight a nickname, the more your buddies and pals will make you ‘wear’ it. This is all to say, just let it happen organically and if you get pinned with a poor nickname, just ride it out.
- Based on a funny, crazy, or otherwise *EPIC* event
Most badass military nicknames are born of certain actions portrayed by fliers under duress (albeit, and in this instance, actors playing pilots) and so build the traditions around military lore.
Of note, though, and as a precaution: do NOT do anything stupid as that, too, could result in an undesirable moniker!
- Based on a personality trait or physical characteristic
Some of these may be harder to escape, especially if you’re done growing or weigh 100 pounds soaking wet.
Still, they’re easy to explain and accept.
In keeping with these themes, we will provide the meaning and a short description for each nickname, but do remember that when it comes your time to assign someone a nickname (be it in the office or on the street), do try to remember how you felt when you got hit with one you didn’t like.
List of Military Nicknames
As promised, and before launching into a roll call of the military names, one must first understand that these seemingly silly nicknames play a much greater role within the greater context of military tradition.
Getting a nickname, no matter how horrible shows that not only has one made it through the rigors of joining a professional military unit but also that he or she has been deemed ‘good enough’ to stick around.
This may seem like a bit of overkill (no pun intended), but when lives are on the line the soldier, sailor, UN volunteer, or flier next to you needs to know that when the bullets start flying, you’re willing to risk it all to complete the mission.
That said, this tradition can be quite serious, and the naming ceremony can take several hours on a Friday night.
Also, you don’t have to be in the profession of arms to seek out or desire a military-themed nickname. It is perfectly acceptable to want a nickname that inspires fear from your opponent in the boardroom or one on the pitch.
And so, without further ado, here are 100+ military nicknames for you to consider:
- Snake – This is a nickname for the guy who is always able to wriggle his way out of trouble and is not a good thing when you leave your comrades in arms taking the blame.
- IRIS – It stands for “I Require Intense Supervision,” i.e. this person should never be left to their own devices, which is not a good thing in the fog and friction of war!
- ALF – An acronym that stands for “annoying little f***.” By the way, when you ask for a nickname repeatedly, well, you are being an ALF.
- Coma – This is a nickname for someone who talks way too slow or is just downright boring.
- Corny – A name for someone who loves his own jokes and fails to see that no one else appreciates his humor.
- COOTS – A nickname or abbreviation that stands for “Constantly Overemphasizing Own Tactical (or Technical) Significance,” which means you think a little too highly of yourself.
- Walter – As in your last name is White and you are the notorious methamphetamine drug king from the show Breaking Bad. Additionally, you may want to reconsider whether you come across as a little sketchy when you talk about your moonlighting gig—no one wants to be associated with someone doing an illegal job (or drugs!).
- Gilligan – A name given to a soldier or sailor that tends to get lost both figuratively and, well, literally!
- Liza – Do you have a flair for the dramatic? Hence, the reference to Ms. Minnelli herself.
- Tinky – As in the Teletubbies’ Tinky-Winky. It is given to the guy or gal busted watching this show without their kid present!
- Pagan – A nickname for someone who is a complete hippie and free spirit and all ‘Summer of Love’ and “DON’T EAT MEAT” and tree hugging. In other words, why did you join the military in the first place?
- Hyde – A nickname for someone who thinks they’re a Jekyll (i.e., sober) when, in fact, they’re an unpredictable drunk.
- CRAFT – This name is an acronym that stands for Can’t Remember A F***ing Thing and is, obviously, not a great moniker.
- DASH – Like the above, another acronym that indicates the military person to be Dumb As S***.
- Kwazi or Quasi – You wanted a nickname? Well, you got one! you, grumbling, complaining, all-around annoying hunchback!
- Pid – First name Stewart or Stuart? Get it? Let me spell it out for you: Stu…Pid.
- PITA – This name is an acronym for pain in the a**, which you may or may not be considered in or around the squadron.
- Snowden – A funny military Name given to the guy or gal who shares secrets a bit too freely and which can be of concern in an actual military setting. We recommend you play your cards close around this individual.
- Candle – This moniker stands for ‘Can’t Do Learning’ and means you may need to study a little more and stop riding your mate’s coattails.
- Albatross – Given to the individual who may or may not be a sort of bad luck charm in a unit or squadron. We recommend that you steer clear of this person!
- Angel – This is not a bad nickname unless you are trying to be a hard soldier or marine, in which case, right…best to ride this one out!
- Juggernaut – This nickname harks back to 2005 before memes were memes. It refers to someone who tends to break things and is a bit of a clumsy oaf, but refuses to slow down or take caution when in the bar with other fliers, military friends, and the like and who often causes a scene.
- Mumbles – A ground dweller’s nickname meaning someone who just can’t sound off and mutters and fumbles his words. In other, er, words, you mumble a lot!
- Brigham – A nickname seen more frequently in overseas units and divisions that alludes to the Mormon leader and his many wives. This one (name, not religion!) is certainly open to interpretation!
- Bambi – A name given to someone who tends to cry a great deal and is a little weepy. NOTE: you never want to be the cry-baby in a military unit (or corporate boardroom).
- Casper – A nickname for a ghost that’s not really too frightening; see also ‘Ghost.’
- Pathfinder – A nickname for the officer unable to read a map.
- Foggy – Right, you may not be too bright or intellectual, as they say in the military.
- Thrombo – You have been deemed a slow-moving clot—best to lay low for a while if you’re wearing this nickname!
- Mace – A nickname for the soldier or sailor likely to distract and then run away from danger.
- Delmonte – A nickname for the guy or gal always volunteering. NOTE: you never volunteer in the military.
- Leatherman – Sadly, everyone sees you as a tool since you’re always volunteering the unit for misadventures or sucking up to the colonel, general, or military advisor.
- Hurricane – The nickname for someone who is either a huge mess or in love with college football’s University of Miami team.
- MOTO – A nickname that is akin to ‘Captain Obvious’ without, er, being obvious as it stands for ‘Master Of The Obvious’ and can be surreptitiously slipped in once you have the recipient believing you meant Mojo or something else a bit ‘cooler.’
- LOTR – A moniker for the geek who just can’t stop talking about JRR Tolkien and his Lord of the Rings movies (get it?).
- Space cadet – A name reserved for the pilot, soldier, or marine who is just out there on his own and in his own little world. Stop living in your head and start speaking with others would be sound advice for this solo artist!
- Mogul – A nickname for the soldier or ground dweller that is, by their account, just in the military to get the benefits and start their burgeoning rap career (no, seriously).
- McGruff – A nickname for the crimefighting dog and probably the squadron snitch!
- Badger – This name is given to the person who just keeps at it and keeps asking for a name.
- Biscuit – A nickname for a very, very flakey person.
- Vader – A nickname for someone who is pure evil (see Star Wars).
- Nomad – A nickname for someone without a home or who is seen as a bit of a bum.
- Teflon – This is another internationally renowned nickname and references the guy or gal who deflects any blame to somebody else. NOTE: this is not a moniker you want to wear when in the profession of arms.
- COAB – This is an Aussie term that means c**t of a bloke and refers to someone who is just a real big jerk.
- McFly – If you stop trying so hard, you might be able to get rid of this nickname, which harks back to annoying Marty from Back to the Future.
- Animal – A nickname either referring to the zany Sesame Street puppet or, better yet, someone not to be met in a back alley or when upset!
- Machete – We bet that this name for this person (usually used overseas), has nothing to do with gardening.
- Booger – This name has been given in an international context for those who shoot snot rockets (i.e., blow their nose in a foxhole or out on the flightline) with reckless abandon!
- Digger – A nickname for a gal (or guy) looking for gold by way of a sugar daddy (or momma). That said, be careful who you associate with on- and off-duty!
- Emu – It is based on an ugly ol’ bird that just can’t get off the ground. A nickname for the guy or gal who is a terrible pilot.
- Garbage – A moniker given to the guy or gal who can put a military chowhall buffet out of business and then go back for seconds.
- Caterpillar – The nickname given to the guy (hopefully) with the best-worst mustache during Mo-vember.
- G-man – A name given to a pilot who can withstand a lot of G-forces. This moniker is a good one to hold onto if at all possible!
- Landing Strip – A name given to the soldier, sailor, or marine that has a high-and-tight haircut with a bit too much off the top. If bestowed to a gal, well, then she may want to avoid, er, certain grooming habits.
- Scorpion – A name for the person who does the stinging and never gets stung! Keep him or her as a wingman for sure!
- Horseman – Er, as in one of the four. Regardless, a name used for someone who can ‘get things done’ in a military sense.
- POD – This is an abbreviation for the nickname Prince Of Darkness and, well, you might not even know what you did, but you are officially one bada** dude or dudette.
- Voodoo – The nickname of someone who has a way with words or actions and gets the team out of trouble in a pinch.
- Midas – Some folks just have the golden touch!
- Artic – Are you a little frosty? See also ‘Storm,’ though; this one is arguably better since it at least has an X-Men
- GANTT – This name was once given to a pilot who detailed his outlined his life on a napkin (yes, in a bar) by way of the project management tool known as a Gantt chart; needless to say, there are better ways of stating when one would like to get married and have kids.
- Lunchbox – A nickname for any international type that eats everything in the shared, communal kitchen or chowhall. Alternatively, this is also a reference to someone who has broken their arm on duty and is forced to wear a sling resembling, well, a lunchbox!
- Gunner – Definitely a cool nickname and one that can be earned on a baseball diamond or in the boardroom.
- Barbie – This nickname is usually for that tall, gorgeous Mattel-like pilot or soldier, but can also be used interchangeably for the guy who cares a little too much about the designer clothes he wears or who he has on his arm.
- Apollo – A name given to either an excellent boxer or someone whose last name is Creed.
- Leeroy – The designation given to either someone with the last name Jenkins or the rogue player in military simulations.
- Sweeney – An army nickname bestowed to the poor guy with a butchered haircut (see also ‘Landing Strip’).
- Marshmallow – You may want to hit the gym a bit more or avoid partaking in the military tradition of ‘Tiny T-Shirt Tuesday’ given your, er, gut is exposed (alternatively, ‘Muffin Top’).
- Pitbull – The name bestowed to the guy or gal who is loyal to the death and never gives up the fight!
- Tramp stamp – A nickname for the gal (hopefully) that just cannot help but show off her lower-back tattoo.
- Caboose – Are you a little slow moving or do you have, er, junk in the trunk? Might be worth having a look!
- Mustang – This nickname is right up there with ‘Maverick’—you are a rebel without a cause!
- Peanuts – Do you lift heavy weights, or do you lift heavy weights? A funny military name given to the guy or gal who claims to be a world-class CrossFit fiend, but does not always look the part.
- Curly – This is a nickname for a stooge and probably someone you need around when getting dressed-down by the commander (i.e., he or she will keep it light).
- Hitman – The cool soldier nickname is reserved for the person who you bring all your practical jokes for flawless execution.
- Merlin – This is a person who can work his or her magic on the general, boss, or coach!
- Legs – For a gal, this is a great nickname, but for a guy, well, maybe you should hit the gym and avoid walking around on those ‘pins’!
- BDU – This nickname stands for Big Dumb Unit. Do we need to unpack this? Right, didn’t think so!
- Ghost – The name for someone who is there one moment and then, POOF!, gone! Think along the lines of an ‘Irish Goodbye’ and don’t be ‘that guy’!
- Albert – This moniker usually follows the soldier, sailor, or marine with a piercing bearing the same name. Right. We recommend you stop going to Las Vegas and waking up with Tyson-esque tattoos and piercings that resemble princely crowns!
- Angry – Just like Snow White’s dwarves, you may come across as a little less than mellow.
- BAMF – An internationally known acronym that designates the owner as one bad-a** mother****er (see Pulp Fiction)
- HotDog – A nickname used in the German Luftwaffe indicating someone of unrivaled
- Maverick – A name that, while not entirely original, at least means you’re a rebel without a cause.
- Chappie or Chaplain – The nickname for someone who sermonizes or preaches a bit too much.
- Paco – This moniker will usually go to the poor kid from south of the border or the chap who loves tacos, quesadillas, and nachos!
- MBA – A nickname for someone who, whether they look the part or eat the part (see above reference to Paco and Mexico), ‘Might Be Asian.’
- Happy – As in Gilmore, or: did you have a bad last round of golf and play through nine holes like you were playing ice hockey?
- Grim reaper – A nickname for someone who is, well, likely to bring death to those in need of a little reckoning.
- Igor – See also Gorbachev; a name for someone of Russian-ish descent and who may still carry the ascent and own it like a boss.
- MiG – In line with the above nickname, some folks of Eastern European descent will get this nickname from their ignoramus coalition buddies since this is the only aircraft, they are likely to know or associate with the former Soviet Union.
- Boss – Because you often take care of bid-ness!
- Beaker – This is another Muppets character who never shuts up and has a high-pitched (read: annoying) voice.
- FNG – This is a nickname for all those f***ing new guys, who, right, no one likes.
- NAG – This name for gals who, er, aren’t guys. Get it? Not. A. Guy.
- Bones – A nickname for the super-skinny guy or gal, someone who has broken a bone, or, perhaps, a person with a few skeletons in the closet—eek!
- Brains – A name reserved for the smartest guy in the room.
- Elvo or Elvis – A moniker for someone with a 1950’s-esque
- Nitro – A nickname for someone who has a flatulence issue (pee yew!)
- Raven – Did you recently dye your hair black? Like blue-black-purple? Hm, maybe reconsider your dye-job.
- Harry – A nickname for someone who talks dirty all the time.
- Love handles – A nickname for someone who might need to go to the gym on a more frequent basis.
- Hef – Whether you realize it or not, you come across as a creepy older man.
- Alphabet – This nickname is often handed out to coalition partners when the soldier or airman is unable to pronounce his counterpart’s name (e.g., Varsonofy Krestovozdvizhensky)
- Twiggy – Maybe you are on the slim side, but there are worse things to be in the military!
- Marx – First name Carl or Karl.
- Inya – Last name Hass.
- Leaky – Last name Fawcett.
- Giggles – A name given to a guy or gal who just can’t help but laugh. Often, it’s a nervous tick and one the person may not even be cognizant of when under duress.
- OG – This name is an acronym for original gangster or someone who is just that tough.
- Marilyn – A nickname reserved for a gal (or guy) whose last name is Monroe or some derivative sounding similar.
- Nugget – You are small but cute! Additionally, you may eat too frequently at McDonald’s!
- Lothar – This is a nickname reserved for Brits on assignment to US bases and starts for ‘losers of the American Revolution’—Ouch!
- Rajah – This name is seen throughout the British and Royal Navies and, yes, though not politically correct, refers to the guy or gal that calls the subcontinent home.
- FAG – This is a nickname that is, like the above, not politically correct as it stands for funny accent guy and is used behind closed doors in and around NATO.
- Tiny Tanks – If you are called this, then you may not realize it, but you probably go to the bathroom a few too many times during a mission.
- Skeeter – This nickname just so happened to rhyme with the airman’s last name, which is to say that sometimes you just cannot get away from your family name (well, unless you’re a gal and get hitched!).
- Big Red – Like Ginger, you are a redhead, but probably on the bigger side (not necessarily a bad thing)!
- Gramps – A name given to someone who is maybe a little bit older than they act or they look a certain way.
- Barracuda – Sadly, this nickname is reserved for the guy with a big, sharp nose.
- Guido – Are you from the Jersey Shore? Are you shore shore (pardon the play on words!)?
- Firecrotch – Just like Big Red and Ginger, sometimes you can’t help that you were born with red hair (everywhere).
- X – Is your last name Cross? Right, then you get it!
- Mini – Last name Cooper? Or perhaps you’re small in stature. Regardless, we recommend you just own it.
- Not so – Again, is your last name Smart? What about Bright? If so, then do you get it? Sorry if you don’t—just means it’s a good nickname!
- Battmann – A nickname for someone who has flown his or her aircraft at night without the appropriate goggles, which is to say ‘blind’. Alternatively, the person flew by the seat of his or her pants with little preparation. Still don’t get it? Bats use a sort of sonar to find their way as they have poor vision—you, however, do not and so should stop jeopardizing the mission and putting others’ lives at risk!
- Ginger – The name given to a soldier or airman with red hair.
- CHIMBO – A moniker that stands for Chick In a Man’s Body.
- Keebler – A name used to describe someone on the shorter side.
- Bunny – Right, maybe going as a Playboy, er, ‘rep’ to the last Halloween party was a bad idea.
- Pasty – Do you struggle to get a tan? It’s OK; only your nickname will give you away.
- Cilla – British military nickname given to someone whose last name corresponds with that of a famous person whereby the designated recipient gets the Christian name; here Black.
- Ronnie – British military nickname given to someone whose last name corresponds with that of a famous person whereby the designated recipient gets the Christian name; here Barker.
- Flash – British military nickname given to someone whose last name corresponds with that of a famous person whereby the designated recipient gets the Christian name; here Gordon.
- Buck – British military nickname given to someone whose last name corresponds with that of a famous person whereby the designated recipient gets the Christian name; here Rogers.
- Burt or Debbie – British military nickname given to someone whose last name corresponds with that of a famous person whereby the designated recipient gets the Christian name; here Reynolds.
- Boomer – Are you from Oklahoma or a die-hard college football fan? Right, then the name suits!
- Furball – A nickname for someone who just has a lot of hair (everywhere!).
- Bull – A name for those with the last name ‘Schmidt.’ Hey, it could be worse!
In summary, we hope that you found this list as well as some of the traditions, history, and naming conventions behind, er, the names, useful!
That said, remember to always take care when seeking a military moniker for yourself or for a pal. Sometimes it might be best to simply put up with a less-than
Finally, kindly let us know if we made any glaring errors or missed a totally rad, ridiculous, or reasonable military nickname.
We look forward to your report; ‘til next time… you are DISMISSED!