Keeping up with Kincaid: what are my favorite nicknames?


Laken Kincaid

Editor-in-Chief, Laken Kincaid, reflects on their thoughts from the past week.

Laken Kincaid, Managing Editor

Dale Carnegie is quoted as saying that “a person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” It is a word we know regardless of the native language we speak; it piques interest as easily as someone shouting “fire” in a crowded building. While I would love to pretend I am not the typical, egotistical person that falls into the paradigm, I would be horribly wrong. 

Names have a strange hold on me. Like many young adults in our current generation, I have a list of baby names in my notes app, a multitude of which I find sonorous. Some of them have a deep rooted meaning, others I simply overheard from either media (like Clove from “The Hunger Games”) or through my miscellaneous life experiences (I once held a ski lesson and one of the students was named Shiloh). Yet, despite my wide ranging literature of varied monikers, no phrase will ever be as intoxicating to me as my own.

Unlike many of my peers, I never went through a phase where I disliked my own name. Of course I dabbled in an enjoyment of other spellings such as Lakyn or Laikyn (the “y” adds some southern flavor). Albeit I always thought my name and how it sounded fits who I am. While not a long epithet, it is relatively unique and seems to dance in the mind of others, especially when they cannot seem to grasp that I am not the 16th president of the United States despite the lies the phonetics tell you. 

However, anyone who sees my RA tag on my chest or my name on a roster with a conglomerate of others can pinpoint that I am Laken after a quick hand raise. Those who I have never interacted with, people who I would never guess would know the name Laken exists, have probably pondered my designation behind closed doors after brushing across it without a second thought. While my name still tastes pleasant on the tip of my tongue, it loses its valor when I realize that there are those who know the term Laken but not who it represents.

That is where nicknames come into play.

Honestly, I have always been fond of pet calls and sobriquets. Currently, my favorites are Lake from those who know me best, Lakenator which was originally piloted by Editor-in-Chief Nick Sack ‘23 in late 2021, Meatball which I forced Senior Resident Assistant Rory Erwin ‘23 to adopt and The Lake Show (and LinkedIn) which was lovingly bestowed upon me at my internship. Honorable mentions include Lakenshaft from Adam Brennan ‘23, The Media which was coined in my U.S. Elections course with Dr. Colin Swearingen and Lake-meerie which spawned from Opinion Editor Eric Fogle ‘23. 

Personally, I see colloquial monikers as a way of establishing a personal connection that can be difficult to uproot. After you move past a first name basis, you have the nickname basis which showcases that you have a special bond. You are no longer a two-dimensional presence on a piece of paper or a username on a social media platform. You are a friend, a coworker, a lover, someone who is much more than a fleeting reflection.

While government names are still guaranteed to assert your focus, they seldom hold it unless the person speaking it has a stake in your life. Someone calling for me in an assorted mob of people because I dropped my phone is much different from a friend calling to check in after a long day; a name on a certificate does not have the same warmth as one in a sincere text with strong emotions. While an engraved award may seem like the best option, being told by someone close that they are proud of me holds more weight. 

Undoubtedly, names have meaning and someone knowing who we are feels great. After all, who are we without our identity?

Yet, going beyond the surface and what we sign on legal documents is where a true person lies. While your name establishes that you do exist, something of the same caliber as a nickname explains the impact your existence has on others. It holds a mirror to your interactions and the character traits others observe. They serve as a time capsule, a glimpse into a moment in time where you embodied something to such an extent that someone felt it necessary to refer to you as said identifier. 

While, yes, your name will always be your favorite turn of phrase, it may never hold the depth that a nickname has. The word “Laken” is still always going to make my head turn whenever I hear it, but only terms like Lakenator and The Lake Show will make me naturally smile as my attention is grabbed.