Vocabulary: Sobriquet

(Vocabulary postings are words or phrases I recently came across in reading, did not fully understand, looked up, and discovered something new.)

Sobriquet: It’s French, and we pronounce it sort of like SOBER-kay here in Delaware. We rarely use it. Sobriquet is a nickname, a pen name, a stage name, what everyone calls you, not your real, birth name. Examples are Billy the Kid, Buddha, and Christ. Our classmate Dave Hall once dated a girl he called Scarface. (She was not bad looking,  actually rather pretty. I remember her style as Gothic, and I think she liked the irony of the sobriquet. She is not the one he married.)

I know exactly what sobriquet means. Years before retirement, I talked many times on the phone with a man called “Pinky,” but I never met him and never knew his real name (still don’t). Finally, after years of talking on the phone, I was to attend a meeting, and he would be there.

As soon as I walked into the room, one man immediately caught my eye: His complexion was pink, very pink. I went up to him, introduced myself and said, “You must be Pinky.”

Of course, I was right. He didn’t ask how I knew it was him.

Scarface? I would have never recognized her.

(One of my favorite books, that I’ve had for a long time, is Miriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Synonyms. In their Introduction, they say English has no true synonyms. Words may superficially have the same meaning, but are used in different contexts and have different implications. I’ve written about the dictionary before. They may go on for pages discussing the different uses of words—such as bare, naked, and nude, all superficially meaning uncovered. It is the only dictionary I’ve found interesting enough to just open up and read passages at random.)


About Roger Walck

My reasons for writing this blog are spelled out in the posting of 10/1/2012, Montaigne's Essays. They are probably not what you think.
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