List of nicknames of presidents of the United States

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Presidents of the United States have often acquired nicknames, both flattering and unflattering. This list is intended to note those nicknames that were in common use at the time they were in office or shortly thereafter.

George Washington

  • The American Cincinnatus:[1] Like the famous Roman, he won a war, then became a private citizen instead of seeking power or riches as a reward. He became the first president general of the Society of the Cincinnati, formed by Revolutionary War officers who also "declined offers of power and position to return to his home and plough".[2]
  • The American Fabius[3] for his Fabian military strategy during the Revolutionary War.
  • The Father of His CountryA[4]

John Adams

  • The Colossus of Independence[5][6][7] for his leadership in Congress in 1776.
  • Old Sink or Swim, for the speech in which he vowed "sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish, I am with my country from this day on.".[8]
  • His Rotundity[9] for his girthy bodily figure.
  • The Duke of Braintree[10] due to residing in Braintree, Massachusetts and his strong opinions on the use of honorifics for important officers of the government.[11]

Thomas Jefferson

James Madison

  • Little Jemmy[15] or His Little Majesty:[15] at only 5 feet 4 inches (163 cm), the shortest U.S. president.[16]
  • Father of the Constitution[17][18]

James Monroe

John Quincy Adams

  • Old Man Eloquent or The Abolitionist: famed for routinely bringing up the slavery issue against Congressional rules, and for his role later on in the Amistad case. He is the only American president to be elected to the House of Representatives after his presidency. The nickname gained currency as a result of his campaign against slavery waged as a congressman, and as the attorney in the Amistad case.[22]

Andrew Jackson

  • The Hero of New Orleans[23] for his military victory in the Battle of New Orleans.
  • Old Hickory,[24] allegedly given to him by his soldiers for being as "tough as old hickory".
  • King Mob[25]
  • King Andrew[26] for his supposedly excessive use of the veto power.
  • Jackass: Andrew Jackson's critics disparaged him as a "Jackass"; however, Jackson embraced the animal, making it the unofficial symbol of the Democratic Party.[27]

Martin Van Buren

  • The American Talleyrand[28]
  • The Careful Dutchman:[29] Van Buren's first language was Dutch.
  • The Enchanter[29]
  • The Great Manager[29]
  • The Master Spirit[29]
  • Martin Van Ruin[29]
  • Matty Van from "Tippecanoe Songs of 1840"[30]
  • The Mistletoe Politician, so called by Joseph Peyton of Tennessee, a Whig opponent, who charged that "Martin Van Buren was a mere political parasite, a branch of mistletoe, that owed its elevation, its growth--nay, its very existence, to the tall trunk of an aged hickory" (i.e. Andrew Jackson).[31]
  • Old Kinderhook (OK), a reference to his home town.[32]
  • Red Fox of Kinderhook, a reference to his red hair and home town.[33]
  • The Little Magician, given to him during his time in the state of New York, because of his smooth politics and short stature.[34][35]
  • Blue Whiskey Van, a reference to his excessive drinking of whiskey.[36][37]

William Henry Harrison

  • General Mum,[38] as in the expression, "keep it mum," because of his avoidance of speaking out on controversial issues during his election campaign.
  • Tippecanoe or also Old Tippecanoe,[24] a reference to Harrison's victory at the 1811 Battle of Tippecanoe; used in the campaign song Tippecanoe and Tyler Too during the 1840 presidential election.
  • Washington of the West,[24] a reference to Harrison's victories at the 1811 Battle of Tippecanoe and 1813 Battle of the Thames.

John Tyler

  • His Accidency, a nickname given by his opponents; the first president to be elevated to the presidency by the death of his predecessor, William Henry Harrison.[39]

James K. Polk

  • Napoleon of the Stump for his short stature and potent oratory skills.[40]
  • Young Hickory[41] because he was a particular protégé of "Old Hickory", Andrew Jackson.

Zachary Taylor

  • Old Rough and Ready[42]

Millard Fillmore

Franklin Pierce

  • Young Hickory of the Granite Hills:[44] "Young Hickory" compared his military deeds (in the Mexican–American War) with those of Andrew Jackson. "The Granite Hills" were his home state of New Hampshire.
  • Handsome Frank[45]

James Buchanan

  • Old Public Functionary,[46] used by Buchanan in his December 1859 State of the Union address and adopted by newspapers.[47]
  • Old Buck, from a shortening of his last name, used later in life.[47]
  • Bachelor President,[47] per his unmarried status.
  • Ten-Cent Jimmy: derogatory, as a reaction to Buchanan's campaign statement that ten cents a day was decent pay for a worker.[48]

Abraham Lincoln

  • The Ancient One,[49] a nickname favored by White House insiders because of his "ancient wisdom".
  • The Great Emancipator[50] and The Liberator[51] for the emancipation of the slaves.
  • Honest Abe[52]
  • The Rail-Splitter[52]
  • The Tycoon,[53] for the energetic and ambitious conduct of his Civil War administration.
  • Uncle Abe[54] for his avuncularity in his later years.

Andrew Johnson

  • Sir Veto, because of the large number of legislative vetoes he issued during his presidency.[55]
  • The Tennessee Tailor for his career as a tailor before going into politics.[56]

Ulysses S. Grant

Rutherford B. Hayes

James Garfield

  • Boatman Jim, referencing his work on the Ohio canals in his youth.[63]
  • Preacher President[64]

Chester A. Arthur

  • Chet, shortened version of his name used by publications of that era.[65]
  • Gentleman Boss, as the dapper leader of New York State's Republican party.[65]
  • Prince Arthur and The Dude President for his fancy attire and indulgence in extravagant luxury.[66]

Grover Cleveland

  • His Obstinacy, he vetoed more bills than the first 21 presidents combined.[67]
  • Uncle Jumbo[68]
  • Grover the Good, for his honesty and public integrity.[69][70]

Benjamin Harrison

  • The Front Porch Campaigner;[71] during the 1888 election, he gave nearly ninety speeches from his front porch to crowds gathered in the yard of his Indianapolis home; this nickname has been widely but erroneously attributed to William McKinley.
  • The Human Iceberg,[72] although he could warmly engage a crowd with his speeches, he was cold and detached when speaking with people on an individual basis.
  • Little Ben,[73] given to him by Democrats of his era because of his stature; this could also be a reference to his being the grandson of former president William Henry Harrison, who had served fifty years before.

William McKinley

  • The Napoleon of Protection,[74] referring to high tariffs such as the one he wrote in 1890.

Theodore Roosevelt

William Howard Taft

  • Big Chief[83]
  • Big Lub,[84] boyhood nickname.

Woodrow Wilson

  • The Phrasemaker:[85] as an acclaimed historian, Wilson had no need of speech-writers to supply his oratorical eloquence.
  • The Schoolmaster:[85] a bespectacled academic who lectured his visitors.B

Warren G. Harding

Calvin Coolidge

  • Cautious Cal[87]
  • Cool Cal,[88] since his reelection campaign used the slogan, "Keep It Cool With Coolidge".
  • Silent Cal[89][90]

Herbert Hoover

  • The Great Engineer and The Great Humanitarian:[91] He was a civil engineer of some distinction and when the Mississippi burst its banks in 1927, engulfing thousands of acres of agricultural land, he volunteered his services and did extensive flood control work. The latter nickname would later be used facetiously in reference to his perceived indifference to the hardships faced by his constituents during the Great Depression. However, the nickname dates back to 1921, when the ARA under Hoover saved millions of Russians suffering from famine. "It was such considerations that Walter Lippmann took into account when he wrote of Hoover's Russian undertaking in the New York World in May 1922: 'probably no other living man could have done nearly so much.".[92]
  • The Chief,[93] a nickname picked up at 23 as a geologist surveying in the Australian Outback, that stuck for the rest of his life.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

  • FDR,[94] abbreviation of his full name.
  • That Man in the White House,[95] used by those who disliked Roosevelt so much that they outright avoided saying his name.
  • Sphinx,[96] in reference to his initial silence on whether or not he would run for a third term. Later visually depicted in a caricature sculpture commissioned by Secretary James D. Preston of the National Archives.

Harry S. Truman

  • Give 'Em Hell Harry (also a campaign slogan).[97][98]

Dwight D. Eisenhower

John F. Kennedy

Lyndon B. Johnson

Richard Nixon

Gerald Ford

Jimmy Carter

  • Jimmy, the first president to use his nickname in an official capacity, rather than his first name James.[112]
  • The Peanut Farmer,[113] he owned a peanut farm and fostered this image in his early campaigns, as a contrast to elite Washington insiders.

Ronald Reagan

George H. W. Bush

  • 41,[121] Papa Bush,[122] Bush 41, Bush Senior, Senior, and similar names that were used after his son George W. Bush became the 43rd president, to differentiate between the two
  • Poppy, a nickname used from childhood on.[123][124]

Bill Clinton

  • Bill is a nickname, since Clinton's proper name is William.
  • Bubba,[125] common nickname for males in the Southern U.S.
  • Slick Willie,[126] a term originally coined when he was Governor of Arkansas and popularized by newspaper Pine Bluff Commercial, whose staff disagreed with his political views.[127]
  • The Comeback Kid, coined by press after strong second place showing in 1992 New Hampshire primary, following polling slump.[128]
  • The Big Dog, used by several media outlets in regard to his post-presidential popularity.[129][130]

George W. Bush

Barack Obama

  • No Drama Obama,[133][134] for his cautious and meticulous presidential campaign in 2007–2008[135] and for his patient, relaxed demeanor.[136]
  • Nobama, primarily by Republicans and South African protestors.[137][138]

Donald Trump

Joe Biden

See also


1.^A He has gained fame around the world as a quintessential example of a benevolent national founder. Gordon Wood concludes that the greatest act in his life was his resignation as commander of the armies—an act that stunned aristocratic Europe.[160][161][162][163] The earliest known image in which Washington is identified as such is on the cover of the circa 1778 Pennsylvania German almanac (Lancaster: Gedruckt bey Francis Bailey).[164]
2.^B Compare to Italian Prime Minister (and former President of the European Commission) Romano Prodi's nickname Il Professore (the professor/schoolteacher).


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  2. ^ "Anderson House History". Archived from the original on September 29, 2008. Retrieved November 7, 2008.
  3. ^ Ford, Paul Leicester (1896). The True George Washington: Soldier: Strategy. J.B. Lippincott. "His great caution in respect to the enemy, acquired him the name of the American Fabius." (Timothy Pickering)
  4. ^ "Introduction". PBS: Rediscovering George Washington. 2002. Archived from the original on February 16, 2013.
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  7. ^ Freeman, A (1828). The Principles and Acts of Mr. Adams' Administration. Concord, New Hampshire: New Hampshire Journal Office. p. 5. Retrieved July 11, 2013. Yes, John Adams, whom Jefferson pronounced the 'Colossus of Independence,' and who died with the motto 'Independence forever!' on his lips, 'probably desired independence.' So say William Badger and Francis N. Fisk. Shall we believe them? We will — not withstanding the doubt which their expression implies.
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  9. ^ French, Daniel Chester. "Biography of John Adams". United States Senate. Archived from the original on December 12, 2020. Retrieved October 31, 2012. ... the folds of material at the bottom of the vest suggest the girth that led Adams to be dubbed 'His Rotundity.'
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  66. ^ "Chester A. Arthur Quick Facts". MSN Encarta. Archived from the original on April 25, 2009. Chester Arthur was fond of fine clothes and entertainment, earning him the nicknames 'Dude President,' 'Elegant Arthur,' and 'Prince Arthur'.
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