Nicknames of people living in Kazlų Rūda and its environs


Ona Aleknavičienė


The article deals with the nicknames recorded in the town of Kazlų Rūda and adjacent villages. The nicknames appeared mainly due to objective onomastic reasons. The use of binary appellative system–name+surname–is not sufficient for identification of a person, because there are people having the same surname.

Some surnames common in Kazlų Rūda and its environs have a long history reaching the end of the 19th c. and the beginning of the 20th c. and related to so-called book-smugglers, revolutionary upheaval in Russia, as well as Lithuanian volunteers. Numerous nicknames seem to have been formed during the period between WWI and WWII, as it is seen in the reflections of the elements of life (farmers and workers hired) and references that certain nickname had been given to a grandfather or great-grandfather. New nicknames reflect the modern-day life elements. 

Some nicknames are being inherited and attributed not only to the children but also to grandchildren. They can perform the function of a surname, since (1) the nickname names a person, (2) it is applicable for all family members, and (3) several generations inherit it. Such nicknames differ from surnames only by their informal character.

Family nicknames make up about 12% of all nicknames. Patronymic nicknames are, as a rule, made from the nickname of father, mother or grandfather, and more rarely of their name. Matrimonial nicknames of women are made of husband nicknames with the suffix -ienė. Matrimonial men nicknames are very rare.

Appearance nicknames make about 30% of all recorded nicknames, with those given mostly to dark-skinned, red-haired, sharp-nosed, fat or short persons. 

Nicknames related to person’s character were rare–making just about 6%. The nicknames stress vigour and cunning most often, while slowness and conceit are expressed rarely. Thus, the people should be notable for temperance and coolness.

Nicknames related to activities (about 20%) are given, as a rule, to craftsmen, officials and professionals, as they distinguish themselves in the agrarian country. The nicknames reflect also hobbies, likes and capabilities of people.

Nicknames related to speaking manner and content make about 12%. The nicknames outline the manner of speaking, quality of voice quality and content of speaking. Since many nicknames are given as related to the speaking content (with a byword, favourite word or phrase used), people living in Kazlų Rūda and its environs are strict for the speech content and are inclined to control the speaking of each other. 

Nicknames (5% cases) may relate to person’s place of residence; for instance, one living or having lived on a hill, at a hill, bog, lake or river. A nickname related to former owner of a homestead may be also given to a person. There are few nicknames referring to origin or nationality.

Associational nicknames make up 14% and related to similarity of a name or surname to the name of a thing, a plant, an animal or a characteristic. The associations are most often phonetic than semantic. There is an expressed tendency to shorten long surnames by rejecting a suffix.