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15 Weird, Wacky President Nicknames

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It may seem like political name-calling is worse today than ever before. But history is riddled with examples of funny, insulting and even outrageous monikers doled out by political allies and opponents. Here are 15 president nicknames from the history of the United States that honor, chide and insult.

Also, be sure and check out the full list of all U. S. president nicknames below!

Unusual (and sometimes irreverent) president nicknames

These are some of our favorite and lesser-known president nicknames.

1. “Sword of the Revolution” – George Washington

Washington gained this nickname for leading the Revolutionary War victory.

President Nicknames – George Washington


2. “His Rotundity, the Duke of Braintree” – John Adams

The short, heavy-set Adams was given this nickname by members of Congress as a way of having fun at his sense of importance; Adams was born in Braintree, MA.

John Adams


3. “The Last Cocked Hat” – James Monroe

Monroe was the last president to wear the tricorne hat—made famous during the Revolutionary War.

James Monroe


4. “Jack Ass” – Andrew Jackson

Critics called Jackson this derogatory nickname, but he embraced it; eventually a jackass (donkey), became the unofficial symbol of the Democratic Party.

Andrew Jackson


5. “Old Granny” – William Henry Harrison

Critics gave William Henry Harrison this name to highlight Harrison’s age and so-called old fashioned thinking.

William Henry Harrison


6. “Ten-Cent Jimmy” – James Buchanan

Opponents dubbed Buchanan Ten-Cent Jimmy after his comment that ten cents a day was fair pay for a day’s work.

James Buchanan


7. “Spotty Lincoln” – Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln gained this moniker because of his proclivity to push “spot resolutions” through Congress.

Abraham Lincoln


8. “Great Hammerer” – Ulysses S. Grant

Grant was given this name after his accomplishments in the Civil War.

Ulysses S. Grant


9. “Rutherfraud” – Rutherford B. Hayes

This derogatory nickname reflected the disputed 1876 presidential election results which led to Hayes’ presidency.

Rutherford B. Hayes


10. “Uncle Jumbo” – Grover Cleveland

Cleveland was a large man, weighing over 250 pounds at a height of 5’11”.

Grover Cleveland


11. “The Human Iceberg” – Benjamin Harrison

Harrison had a cold demeanor when speaking to people one-on-one.

Benjamin Harrison


12. “Wobbly Willie” – William McKinley

McKinley was reluctant to go to war with Spain in 1898. His critics were ready to pounce.

William McKinley


13. “Duckpin” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

Eisenhower loved to play duckpin bowling—a smaller version of regular bowling.

Dwight D. Eisenhower


14. “Tricky Dick” – Richard Nixon

Nixon’s critics called him “Tricky Dick” for his questionable campaign tactics.

Richard Nixon


15. “Slick Willie” – Bill Clinton

Opponents used this name to describe Clinton’s slipperiness in eluding political consequences.

Bill Clinton


List of all U.S. presidents and their nicknames

The list of president nicknames is a long one. The tradition began with the first American president, George Washington, and continues to this day. Let’s take a look at some of the more noteworthy nicknames given to our nation’s leaders.

1. George Washington

  • The Sage of Mount Vernon – named after his plantation home on the Potomac River in Virginia
  • The American Cincinnatus – after the famous Roman warrior
  • The American Fabius – for using a Fabian military strategy to fight the British in the Revolutionary War
  • The Father of His Country – for being the first president of the United States of America

2. John Adams

  • The Colossus of Independence – for being an advocate and leader for independence
  • Bonny Johnny – an ironic reference to Adams’ looks (bonny means beautiful)
  • Old Sink or Swim – from Adams’ famous speech favoring independence: “Sink or swim, survive or perish with my country, is my unalterable determination.”

3. Thomas Jefferson

  • Long Tom – Jefferson stood 6’ 2.5” tall
  • The Man of the People and The Apostle of Democracy – for being an early proponent of democracy
  • The Pen of the Revolution – for authoring the Declaration of Independence
  • The Sage of Monticello – named after his plantation home in Virginia

4. James Madison

  • His Little Majesty and Little Jemmy – Madison was the shortest US president at only 5’ 4” tall
  • Father of the Constitution – for playing a crucial role in drafting and ratifying the U.S. Constitution

5. James Monroe

  • The Era of Good Feelings President – for the period of relative political harmony after the War of 1812

6. John Quincy Adams

  • Old Man Eloquent – for his passionate speechmaking
  • The Abolitionist – for his campaigning against slavery

7. Andrew Jackson

  • The Hero of New Orleans – from the Battle of New Orleans 
  • Old Hickory – the name given to him by his soldiers because of his toughness during battle
  • King Mob – for opening the doors to the White House to the public for his inaugural ball; the crowd was so large and unruly it resembled a mob
  • Sharp Knife (Pointed Arrow) – the name(s) given to Jackson by Native Americans for his fighting prowess
  • King Andrew the First – for his excessive use of veto power

8. Martin Van Buren

  • The American Talleyrand – for his political skills and ability to stay in power 
  • The Careful Dutchman – Van Buren was raised in a Dutch community in New York and spoke Dutch as his first language
  • The Mistletoe Politician – a nickname given to Van Buren to belittle his accomplishments (in contrast to Jackson’s “Old Hickory”)
  • Old Kinderhook (OK) – Van Buren was from Kinderhook, NY
  • Red Fox of Kinderhook – for his red hair
  • The Little Magician – for his short height (he stood 5’6” tall) and political acumen
  • Machiavellian Belshazzar – a name that characterized Van Buren’s political insincerity

Among all presidents, Martin Van Buren may have had the most nicknames. Here are some other sobriquets attributed to him:

  • The Enchanter
  • The Great Manager
  • The American
  • The Master Spirit
  • Little Van
  • Martin Van Ruin
  • The Great Manager
  • Matty Van 
  • Little Matt

9. William Henry Harrison

  • General Mum – for his tendency to “keep mum” on controversial issues while campaigning
  • Tippecanoe (or Old Tippecanoe) – Harrison led American forces against Tecumseh’s Native American warriors in the Battle of Tippecanoe
  • Washington of the West – in honor of military victories at the Battle of Tippecanoe and Battle of the Thames

10. John Tyler

  • His Accidency – the derogatory nickname given by opponents because of Tyler’s succession to the presidency after the death of William Henry Harrison.

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11. James K. Polk

  • Napoleon of the Stump – Polk gave powerful speeches during his early political career
  • Young Hickory – for being an advocate of Jacksonian democracy

12. Zachary Taylor

  • Old Rough and Ready – for his willingness to fight under harsh conditions as a military leader

13. Millard Fillmore

  • The American Louis Philippe – Phillippe was a King of France; Fillmore had similar elegant tastes
  • Wool Carder President – for apprenticing to a wool carder as a young man

14. Franklin Pierce

  • Young Hickory of the Granite Hills – a supporter of Andrew Jackson (with a reference to his home state of New Hampshire)
  • Purse – possibly just an odd pronunciation of his last name
  • Handsome Frank – for his good looks

15. James Buchanan

  • Old Public Functionary – from Buchanan’s 1859 State of the Union speech
  • Old Buck – a shortening of his last name
  • The Do-Nothing President – for his inaction regarding slavery and encroaching Southern succession before the Civil War
  • Bachelor President – Buchanan was a life-long bachelor

16. Abraham Lincoln

  • Honest Abe – from his days as a store clerk; he would track down customers to return change that they over-payed
  • Illinois Rail Splitter (or The Rail Splitter) – from Lincoln’s early days in Illinois splitting logs for fence rails; the name was used to position him as a man of the people
  • Grand Wrestler – Abe was known as a wrestler from his early years 
  • The Great Emancipator and The Liberator – for his freeing of the slaves
  • The Ancient One – a name given to Lincoln by White House staffers because of his “ancient wisdom”
  • The Tycoon – a characterization of Lincoln and his administration’s ambitious goals 
  • Uncle Abe (or Uncle Abraham), Old Abe and Father Abraham – Lincoln was a good-natured, venerable leader 

17. Andrew Johnson

  • The Tennessee Tailor – for being a tailor in his home state of Tennessee before his political career
  • King Andy and Sir Veto – for his perceived abuse of veto power
  • Daddy of the Baby – source unknown

18. Ulysses S. Grant

  • Unconditional Surrender Grant – Grant was famous for capturing Fort Donelson, forcing the surrender of Confederate soldiers during the Civil War
  • American Ceasar – for his military leadership
  • The Galena Tanner – for his early years in Galena, IL, working in his father’s leather business

19. Rutherford B. Hayes

  • His Fraudulency – for allegedly stealing the campaign of 1876
  • Old 8 to 7 – in the contentious election of 1876, Hayes won by a slim margin of 8 to 7 special electoral votes

20. James Garfield

  • Boatman Jim and Canal Boy – Garfield worked as a boatman in his youth
  • Preacher President – from his early years as a preacher

21. Chester A. Arthur

  • Chet – short for Chester
  • Gentleman Boss – for being the leader of New York State’s Republican party
  • The Dude President – Arthur was known for wearing fancy attire
  • Prince Arthur – for his taste for luxury and the finer things

22. and 24. Grover Cleveland

  • His Obstinacy – for exercising veto power (more than his 21 predecessors combined)
  • Grover the Good – for being an honest and trustworthy steward of the public interest

23. Benjamin Harrison

  • The Front Porch Campaigner – for his front-porch speeches during the 1888 election
  • Grandfather’s Hat – for never quite escaping the shadow of his grandfather’s (William Henry Harrison) shadow
  • Little Ben – for his short stature

25. William McKinley

  • The Napoleon of Protection – McKinley enacted high tariffs while in office

26. Theodore Roosevelt

  • The Hero of San Juan Hill – he was famous for leading his Rough Riders up San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American war
  • The Lion – when Roosevelt died, his son Archibald telegraphed his siblings “the old lion is dead”
  • Teddy – short for Theodore; he was not fond of the name
  • Telescope Teddy – for his use of telescopes on his rifles while hunting
  • TR – Roosevelt was the first president to use and be known by his initials
  • The Trust Buster – Roosevelt favored an anti-trust and pro-public interest image

27. William Howard Taft

  • Big Chief and Big Bill – Taft was a large man; he stood 6 feet tall and weighed more than 240 pounds
  • Big Lub – a nickname from childhood

28. Woodrow Wilson

  • The Phrasemaker – Wilson was able to draw on his vast historical knowledge to craft his speeches
  • Coiner of Weasel Words – a criticism waged by Teddy Roosevelt
  • The Schoolmaster or the Professor – he fit the image of a educational task-master

29. Warren G. Harding

  • Wobbly Warren – for his equivocating personality and appearing to change sides on issues

30. Calvin Coolidge

  • Cautious Cal – Coolidge was known to pause and think things through before speaking
  • Cool Cal – from his campaign slogan “Keep It Cool With Coolidge”
  • Silent Cal – reflecting the fact that Coolidge rarely spoke

31. Herbert Hoover

  • The Great Engineer – for his knowledge of civil engineering
  • The Great Humanitarian – for his work with the American Relief Administration in fighting famine
  • The Chief – a name he picked up in Australia working as a geologist as a young man
  • Grand Old Man – for his leadership of the Grand Old Party (GOP)

32. Franklin D. Roosevelt

  • FDR – he became known by his initials, as was his family tradition
  • Houdini in the White House – FDR had a magical touch in the White House
  • That Man in the White House – opponents used this term instead of saying his name
  • King Franklin – he was given this name when Queen Elizabeth’s and King George VI visited America in 1939
  • The Sphinx – for his penchant for secrecy about running for a third presidential term
  • The Boss – for his leadership in the White House

33. Harry S. Truman

  • Give ‘Em Hell Harry – from his campaign slogan
  • Haberdasher Harry – as a young man, Truman co-owned a clothing store
  • King Harry – a derogatory term by his critics

34. Dwight D. Eisenhower

  • Ike – a childhood name; also used as his campaign slogan (“I Like Ike”)
  • Kansas Cyclone – Ike got this nickname for being a skilled football player

35. John F. Kennedy

  • Jack – men named John are commonly called “Jack”; his family nickname growing up
  • JFK – like FDR, Kennedy became known by his initials

36. Lyndon B. Johnson

  • Bullshit Johnson (or Bull Johnson) – for his boastful reputation
  • Landslide Lyndon – a sarcastic reference to his narrow Senate win in 1949
  • Light-Bulb Lyndon – to save electricity he would march about the White House turning off unnecessary lights
  • LBJ – used in his campaign slogan “All the way with LBJ”

37. Richard Nixon

  • Sir Richard the Chicken Hearted – Hubert Humphrey used this name to bait Nixon into participating in the presidential debates of 1968

38. Gerald Ford

  • Jerry – a shortening of his name
  • Mr. Nice Guy – for his non-partisan and non-offensive demeanor
Did You Know?

Gerald Ford was born with a different name in 1913—he was originally called Leslie Lynch King, Jr. Two weeks after his birth, his parents separated. Ford took his stepfather’s name—Gerald R. Ford Jr.— when his mother remarried.

39. Jimmy Carter

  • The Peanut Farmer – Carter was a peanut farmer and used the image to convey himself as a Washington outsider

40. Ronald Reagan

  • Dutch – his father said he looked like a fat Dutchman as a baby; as a child he wore his hair in a Dutch-boy style
  • The Great Communicator – Reagan was lauded for his communication ability
  • The Gipper – Reagan played the role of George Gipp (“The Gipper”) in the film “Knute Rockne, All American”
  • The Teflon President – for his ability to escape blame or criticism; his hair was always perfect

41. George H. W. Bush

  • Poppy – from his childhood
  • 41 – most of the senior Bush’s nicknames came to be after his son became president, in order to distinguish the two; similar nicknames include: Papa BushBush 41Bush Senior and Senior

42. Bill Clinton

  • Bubba – a common nickname for southern men
  • The Comeback Kid – reflecting his ability to reinvigorate his political life
  • The First Black President – Toni Morrison coined the nickname, reflecting Clinton’s popularity with African Americans
  • The Big Dog – Clinton rode a wave of popularity after his presidency
  • Billary – a combination of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s first names; used in reference to the political power couple

43. George W. Bush

  • Dubya – a Texas drawl pronunciation of his middle initial “W”
  • 43 – like his father, most of George W. Bush’s nicknames illuminated the distinction between the father and son presidents; similar nicknames include: Bush Jr.Junior and Bush 43

44. Barack Obama

  • No Drama Obama – for his meticulous campaign organization and his reputation for calmness and confidence as a leader

45. Donald Trump

  • The Donald – given to him by his first wife Ivana Trump
  • 45 – a self-reference to his presidency monogrammed on his clothing
  • Conspiracy Theorist-in-Chief – for his willingness to embrace wild conspiracies

As you can see, the United States has a rich history of political insult-slinging and name calling. This list of president nicknames highlights some of the best and most vicious. As Winston Churchill once said of political mud-slinging: “In war, you can only be killed once, but in politics, many times.”

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