American Nicknames: Their Origin and Significance

By George Earlie Shankle | Go to book overview

Beef.1 It is said to resemble beef in texture and appearance.

Albion College

The athletic teams of Albion College, at Albion, Mich., are called the Britons. Albion is a poetic name for England, the inhabitants of which are called Britons.

Alcatraz Federal Prison

The Rock1 and America's Devil's Island2 are the nicknames commonly applied to Alcatraz Federal Prison, on Alcatraz Island, a twelve-acre rock in San Francisco Bay four miles north of San Francisco, California. These sobriquets were applied to the prison because it is on a rock and because of the strict discipline and the vigilant guarding of those imprisoned there.

Alcatraz Island is comparable to Devil's Island, a small island in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of French Guiana, South America, used by the French as a penal settlement because of the difficulty of escape. Alcatraz Island rises one hundred and thirty feet above the level of the water. Upon it is situated one of the most powerful lighthouses on the Pacific Coast.

Alcott, Amos Bronson

Amos Bronson Alcott was nicknamed the Sage of Concord1 because he was a learned scholar who attained prominence as a philosopher and educator, and lived at Concord, Mass. He was born at Wolcott, Conn., on November 29, 1799, and died at Boston, Mass., on March 4, 1888.

Alden, Henry Mills

Henry Mills Alden, an editor and author, was nicknamed Metaphysics1 while he was a student at Williams College, at Williamstown, Mass., in 1857, because of his absorbing interest in philosophy, religion, and literature.

Henry Mills Alden was born at Mt. Tabor, Vt., on November 11, 1836, and died at New York City, on October 7, 1919.

Aldrich, Louis

Louis Aldrich, an actor, was nicknamed the Ohio Rosclus1 because, while he was still a boy, he played with great success the part of Richar III in Shakespeare's drama. He was compared to Roscius, a Roman slave who early in life took up the profession of acting, and was so successful that he made his master a wealthy man, and later accumulated money enough to purchase his own freedom. Roscius was born at Colonium, near Lanuvium, Rome, in 134 B.C., and died about 61 B.C.

Louis Aldrich was born at sea on October 1, 1843, while his mother was on her way from Germany to the United States. He was later adopted by a family living at Cincinnati, Ohio, and died in Kennebunkport, Me., on June 17, 1901.

Aldridge, Ira

Ira Aldridge, a Negro tragedian, was nicknamed the African Roscius1 because like Roscius, the Roman slave actor, his success on the stage was most extraordinary.

Others say that Aldridge was a mulatto who was born in Baltimore; that he was first apprenticed to a ship-carpenter and later accompanied the actor Edmund Kean to England as his servant. While there he developed a remarkable liking for the stage.

Others say that he was born in New York City and that his father was a native chieftain of Senegal in West Africa who came to the United States, was converted to Christianity and became the pastor of a Negro church in New York City. He wanted his son to follow the same profession and sent him to England to be educated for the ministry. After Aldridge had spent some time in training for this profession, his desire to become an actor caused him to abandon his ministerial training. After studying to become an actor, Aldridge appeared as Othello at the Covent Garden Theatre in London where he achieved immediate success. He proved to be one of the best interpreters of Shakespeare's plays.

____________________
1
A Dictionary of Americanisms, Fourth Edition, John Russell Bartlett ( Little, Brown and Company, Boston, 1877) p. 6.
1
Times-Herald, Washington D.C., June 8, 1939. p. 10.
1
A Woman of the Century: Fourteen Hundred Seventy Biographical Sketches Accompanied by Portraits Leading American Women in All Walks of Life, ed. by Frances E. Willard and Mary A. Livermore ( Charles Wells Moulton, New York and Chicago, 1893) p. 12.
1
Dictionary of American Biography, ed. by Allen Johnson ( Scribner's, New York, 1928) vol. 1 p. 144.
1
Dictionary of American Biography, ed. by Allen Johnson ( Scribner's, New York, 1928) vol. 1, p. 151.
2
Washington Herald, October 15, 1933. p. 9.

-6-

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American Nicknames: Their Origin and Significance
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface to the Second Edition v
  • Preface to the First Edition vi
  • American Nicknames 1
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