During the US election campaign, Donald Trump's various nicknames were posted all over the internet. By now, the politician has more than 300 'alternative names', almost ten times as many as Abraham Lincoln, one of the most popular presidents in the US history.
Trump's nicknames paint two contrasting images, but are mainly negative, according to Merkulova and Nenasheva's study ‘The role of nicknaming practices in creating the image of a politician'.
Political opponents, journalists and voters have come up with nicknames based on Trump's first and last names, appearance, behaviour, attitudes and beliefs.
Most nicknames derive from his name, of which Donald Duck is perhaps the easiest and most predictable one.
A few nicknames using his first name suggest a childish, immature nature (Donnybaby, Donnyboy) and a propensity towards loud, showy behaviour (Donnybrook). The researchers note that these nicknames have a clearly negative connotation, since childishness is not something most people expect from a politician.
Some nicknames were coined by combining Trump's surname with other words, often ironic and disapproving: Trumpinator (from 'terminator'), Trumpamaniac (from 'maniac'), Trumpastrophie (from 'catastrophie'), Trumpocalypse (from 'apocalypse'), Trumpenstein (from 'Frankenstein').
Trump's manner of insulting his opponents has earned him the nickname 'Trumpletoes' (from 'trample' and 'tread on someone's toes'), while the nickname 'Tricky Trump' describing him as a cunning trickster associates the 45th President Trump with the 37th President Richard Nixon, popularly nicknamed 'Tricky Dicky', the authors explain.
A lot of mocking and often insulting nicknames stem from Trump's appearance, especially his hair and hands.
Trump's yellow hair and his infamous bouffant comb-over have inspired quite a few photoshopped pictures, flash mobs, online games and jokes in the press and given rise to nicknames using the words 'orange', 'red', 'pumpkin', 'corn' and others, such as Orange Man, Slimy Orange Hair Ball, Orange Bozo, Captain Crunch and Butternut Squash.
Nicknames referring to Trump's hands began to multiply after his opponent Marco Rubio called his hands small.
"Have you seen his hands? And you know what they say about men with small hands –"
The crowd erupted.
"—You can't trust them," Rubio said.
(from The History Behind the Donald Trump "Small Hands' Insult, abcNEWS)
Very soon, more references to Trump's hands flashed in the media: Tiny Hands Trump, Babyfingers Trump, Stubby Fingers Trump and others.
Certain peculiarities of Trump's behaviour gave rise to a range of nicknames, some of which are fairly innocent and refer to his childish cockiness, such as Man-Baby, or 70-Year-Old Toddler. Yet some others, according to Nenasheva and Merkulova, look at Trump's childishness from a negative angle and use terms which "describe the politician's character traits as potentially dangerous to society," such as Sociopathic 70-Year-Old Toddler and Terroristic Man-Toddler.
Even Trump's neutral or positive habits have not necessarily produced favourable nicknames. Thus, his tweets, alongside a fairly positive 'Twitter King', have also earned him nicknames such as 'The Twitter Terror' and 'Dire Abby' – the latter because Trump sometimes gives relationship advice like Dear Abby. "Changing ‘Dear’ to ‘Dire’ reflects an opinion on the sort of advice he gives," the researchers explain.
Trump's communication and debating skills have prompted the ironic nicknames of Rabble-Rousing Demagogue and The Talking Yam. The installation of nude Trump statues in a few US cities produced the nickname ‘The Michelangelo of Ballyhoo’.
Donald Ducknuke, American Mussolini, Donald Doom, Captain Chaos, The Fomentalist – these nicknames have been triggered by Trump's bellicose style, such as his racist statements and calls to deport illegal migrants and to bar entry for Muslims to the US.
Trump's opponents have called him Lord Voldemort, an evil character from Harry Potter, depicting him as a power-hungry villain. As opposed to those comparing Trump to Hitler and Mussolini, some others have nicknamed him Caesar or American Caesar to stress, according to Merkulova and Nenasheva, "that Trump positions himself as a tribune of the people and fighter against lies and corruption." However, his 'Caesar' nickname has been transformed into ‘Two-Bit Caesar’, among others.
Since, according to the researchers, "the majority of voters lack critical thinking," nicknames spread by mass media tend to construct a politician's image and instil it in the public mind.
Donald Trump's nicknames born in the electoral battle depict a controversial personality of someone perceived either as a "lying, weak politician with an unattractive comical appearance, hatching Nazi ideas" or as a "strong leader concerned about people's wellbeing and striving to make America great again."
Time will tell which of Trump's nicknames will hold – or what kind of US President he is going to be.