What is the origin of the name you use on Stack Overflow or if you use your Real Name on Stack Overflow, what's the origin of any online handle you use?

Most Popular Reasons

  • Uncontrollable Circumstances (birth)

(Adding reasons as they come in...)

  • Etymology == wrong word? Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 19:23
  • This question shouldn't be closed. It was a wiki to begin with, it's a part of Stack Overflow, and I can write pages on why it's at least as relevant as 'Facts about Jon Skeet'. Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 19:27
  • Etymology is the wrong word. I had to change it, or else the investment in my linguistics education would be all for naught.
    – Robert S.
    Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 19:28
  • Thank you. I sometimes use big words without knowing what they mean. Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 19:28
  • Also, reopening. It's not downvoted and it's Wiki'd and tagged.
    – Robert S.
    Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 19:28
  • @Gortok, I'm flabbergasted at the audacity of your shenanigans apropos this gregarious epistolary notice about cognomens.
    – Robert S.
    Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 19:29
  • What's funny is that I know all except one word (cognomens). Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 19:31
  • 1
    Cognomen == name. BTW, Etymology is the study of the history of words and how they enter language. So your usage wasn't completely incorrect, just not completely correct either. And origin is a better word anyway.
    – Robert S.
    Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 19:33
  • It is a better word, you're right. It's as Mark Twain said, The difference between the right word and the almost right word is like the difference between "Lightning" and "Lightning Bug" Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 19:35
  • I'm amazed that this question has been downvoted a net amount of three times. It started as a wiki, has stayed a wiki, and is in the same vein as many other questions. I don't think I'll ever understand some people's motivations. Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 20:34
  • 1
    My motivation is pure profit. Or boredom. Whichever comes first.
    – Robert S.
    Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 21:18
  • 3
    Usually, boredom comes first. Even on dictionary. =)
    – Seiti
    Commented Dec 11, 2008 at 0:41
  • 1
    We are Digg. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated. Commented Dec 11, 2008 at 21:31
  • Can't tell whether I'm on this topics comments or on an IRC channel
    – Shahin
    Commented Jan 13, 2009 at 0:04
  • How is this related to programming?
    – Seventh Element
    Commented Feb 13, 2009 at 22:03

102 Answers 102


Years ago my sister introduced me to one of her co-workers, who thought my sister was creepy, because she had dressed at Halloween as Wednesday (of the Addams Family)

When she went to introduce me, I said I was Thursday, Wednesday's little sister. He thought I was creepy too! Plus, I'm a geek. Oh, and I was born on a Thursday.

  • Why the downvote? Isn't our name a purely subjective choice? I can see upvotes for great names and circumstances, but downvotes? Commented May 19, 2010 at 23:04

I am Bon Jovi. Yes, that Bon Jovi. I was going to use "Bon J" as a username, but that sounded weird. So I took a little creative license and changed it to "Jon B". Isn't that neat? It makes it look like I'm just some guy named "Jon B" and not a famous rock star.


I don't remember the exact reason, but I know I wanted a meta-ish name for my Meta SO account. And besides, changing your Meta name was the fashionable thing to do at the time. People have asked me if I picked my name just so I could make pages say "Closed by Popular Demand," but that's not it; I changed my name long before I was a 3k user.

Now that I think about it some more, I'm pretty sure it was so that any successful feature requests I made would be "by popular demand." You know, since "We don't run [site name here]. The community does."


Justin John Nelson, and i'm a GUY

  • All I knew from the picture is that you're ugly. :-P
    – The Wicked Flea
    Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 19:14
  • Ha, thanks. But, I think you are just jealous.
    – jjnguy
    Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 19:16
  • as opposed to jjngirl, she's out there somewhere!
    – TravisO
    Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 19:24
  • 4
    Wait, you're a human too. Shouldn't it be jjnguyhuman?
    – fenomas
    Commented Jan 9, 2009 at 16:41

GameCat is just a name I use on message boards and some IRC channels. (There is at least one other person using that name.)

It just combines a hobby with a favorite animal.


I would've used my full name, but got into a habit of abbreviating it years ago since the first thing I tried to use it in had a 7 character limit.


I started to use this name several years ago. Although I don't remember how it was created, I can clearly remember the reason - I needed to call my Rougue for a modem multiplayer game of Diablo (1) with a friend of mine.

What great days we had then!!!


Its a twist of my RL nick, which is always taken since its so short. Lately I haven't even bothered trying if its accepted anymore.


My initials and an 'X' to give it a hackerish ring. See Unix/Linux.


Back in the day, I used to use "gustav" as my online name. It was the "German" name I was given in my high school German class, and when I made my first online email account (hotmail, ew!), I needed a name to go by, because back then it was a Bad Thing to put your real name on the internet.

Now that I'm all growed up, Gustav_25 isn't very professional, so I just go with my real name.


I've been using 'madlep' about 15 years now for various things. Mainly gaming.

Started off as 'mad leprechaun' as I'm slightly... unusual in some thought patterns, and I'm of Irish descent (I was born and grew up in New Zealand though). Problem was in some older games, that was too long, and some wouldn't allow spaces. So it got abreviated.

It's a good handle, as I have never come across another madlep, and I always manage to get it as a login whenever I sign up for some new service or whatnot online.


My dad wanted to name me Harpo, after the Marx brother. The real Harpo would have kept his mouth shut instead of answering this question.

I was seen around here as votenader.org for a while.


I used to deliver pizzas for Dominos back in the day when it was 30 minutes or $3 off - they called me the Nevster - I guess it has a flavour of fast cars or something...

Pizza delivery and hacking computer code - yes I'm a Neal Stephenson fan.


There are English speakers who would be able to decode my ID readily, but I doubt there are many of them on SO. Perhaps I am wrong - would be interesting to find out.


I'm an alien interpreter and I crash landed on this planet many years ago. I've been secretly pushing your technology towards faster than light travel so I can return home. One of the first people I met was a guy called Alan. Turns out he used my situation to write a short story. I never saw a penny in royalties.


  • If you actually know Alan Moore, respect+=1
    – bananakata
    Commented Dec 11, 2008 at 12:29

My favorite part in the Buffy musical was Anya's song about bunnies.. and so I have started to use this nick everywhere, itsbunnies. Creative, eh?


My comes from my nickname of Ironsides because of my wheelchair


Back in the college days I was (still am) the weird guy and had the habit of just kind of making up my own words as I went along (somewhat like Don King) or trying to add emphasize things with jibberish.

The normal thing I'd do when seeing some friends is say "Sup-a-Dillie-O!!!" or "Peace out homeskillets!!!" or "Hey, we going to hit Taco Bell for some grub-a-dillie-o or something?". One of my friends was an art major and was doing a comic series and using a bunch of us in the apartment complex for a project and I made it into the cartoon with the name of "Dillie-O".

It kind of stuck ever since. 8^D


Mine is derived from Sourcecode. In dutch it is pronounced the same. It originated about 13 years ago when we had a small "demo crew" at school, nothing fancy. I was the main programmer and musician, so they called me sourcecode, thus Sorskoot was born.


I used to be a lab manager at a synthetic DNA manufacturing facility. We made DNA primers - mostly for the Human Genome Project. One of the ends of a piece of the DNA we made was called the 3' (three prime) end and the other end was the 5' (five prime) end.

I had this job in the early/mid 90's and I worked 2nd shift. We had a lot of down time while the DNA was being made - so the company was nice enough to provide us with cable TV, a stereo, and full Internet access in the lab. Generally we would watch TV or goof around on the Internet while we waited on the DNA.

One night one of my co-workers and I signed up for some online text-based game. He chose the username 'threeprime' and I chose the username 'fiveprime'. I've used 'fiveprime' ever since.


I was always called a "genius" growing up, even though I basically did nothing to prove that I was. Everyone always saw "such potential" in me, but I never lived up to their standards of where they thought I should be. I never bought into the "gifted and talented" label.

So, Worthless Genius it is. In a way self deprecating, but it's realistic.


My mother :)


My mom and dad gave it to me. I try to stay away from the anon tags if I can.

  • I'm with you. I have grown more and more fond of my actual name, rather than nicknames, over the years.
    – Sampson
    Commented Jul 24, 2009 at 14:02

Short for 'Frederiek'.

'fretje' has always been my nickname, even before the days of the internets.
I am especially fond of the 't' in there. Most people spell it with a 'd' as in 'fredje', but I just don't like it that way (It doesn't look good IMHO), and also the pronunciation in dutch (I'm from Belgium) is better with a 't'.
I also like it to be all lowercase.

  • What is the correct pronunciation of it?
    – Jon Seigel
    Commented Jun 25, 2010 at 17:48

whY SHoUlD I TELl yoU

I've been using it since I was like 12, and it's been available just about everywhere, so it works out nicely.


I like Twin Peaks, so I record people saying "Nosredna," then play it backward to hear my last name.


Malach means messenger or angel. I for sure do not think that I am an angel. But going to my profile you will find out that I'm something like a programming pastor. My calling into pastoral ministry is based on Malachi 2:5-7, where Malachi, the last prophet in the Old Testament, talks about Levi or the priest in general and calls him a messenger of God - see below. This makes for a nice little recursion, as Malachi (Hebrew for my messenger) calls the priest malach.

My covenant with Levi was to give life and peace. I kept my covenant with him, and he honored me. He stood in reverent awe before me. He taught the truth and did not lie. He walked with me in peace and uprightness. He kept many out of the ditch, kept them on the road. "It's the job of priests to teach the truth. People are supposed to look to them for guidance. The priest is the messenger of GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies. (Mal 2:5-7 MSG)

I decided to use my own name to make myself a little more visible on the net, though.

What I wanted to do using this nickname is to speak the word. I do believe that our words have power. God spoke a word, and spoke the world into existence doing this. Jesus spoke to the fig tree and it withered, spoke to sick people and they were healed. Peter spoke to the begar at the beautiful gate and he was healed. I can speak as well, speak healing, wellbeing, but also build my future through speaking truth over my life.

God called me to be a teacher in the body of Christ, a modern equivalent of the old testament priest, using the scripture above. So I speak it over me using the word malach, I am your messenger.

  • Awesome back-story. Good to see other involved in ministry on SO.
    – Sampson
    Commented Jul 24, 2009 at 14:01
  • 1
    Aww, I thought you were actually named Malachi. I only know one person named Malachi.
    – mmyers
    Commented Jul 24, 2009 at 15:20
  • I think I knew somebody named Malachi too. Sounds like they belong in a group of 300 Spartans. "I AM Malachi!"
    – Sampson
    Commented Jul 24, 2009 at 16:06
  • This Malachi has a brother named after another minor prophet, actually.
    – mmyers
    Commented Jul 24, 2009 at 16:07
  • Sorry I did not make this clear enough.
    – malach
    Commented Jul 25, 2009 at 10:54

Initials of my Quake2 online name: "GutsButNuts"


I stole it from a Ukranian Yak hearder.

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