Does the nickname Dutch have any significance? I know it was Reagan's, and I'm sure I've come across it in other books/films.

Also T-Bone, as in T-Bone Walker, T-Bone Burnett: what does that mean? (I realise T-bone is a steak, but why would people be named after a meat cut, and why this one?)

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    The only thing I can think of is a T-bone steak. Who knows? That might be where it's from. :) – kitukwfyer Aug 16 '10 at 20:06
  • Nicknames have very little significance unless you know the inside story. Maybe he just likes steak? – marcellothearcane Dec 27 '17 at 17:54

Dutch, not an uncommon nickname, seems to be used for a variety of reasons. It could be because a person is connected to Holland, or because a person is of German descent. Here, "Dutch" is from "Deutsch," the German-language word for "German." Other reasons are more idiosyncratic. Here are some examples:

Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States As a boy, Reagan's father nicknamed his son "Dutch", due to his "fat little Dutchman"-like appearance, and his "Dutchboy" haircut; the nickname stuck with him throughout his youth.

Dutch Schultz, notorious gangster His old associates dubbed him "Dutch" Schultz in honor of a deceased strong-arm thug who was notorious for dirty fighting at the turn of the century.

Dutch Ruppersberger, U.S. congressman Dutch is legally part of his name: Charles Albert Dutch Ruppersberger III, but it wasn't always. When Rep. Charles Albert Ruppersberger III (D-Md.) first ran for Congress in 2002, he decided that his 13-letter last name was too long to put on a bumper sticker.

Besides, he says, he needed something catchier, something that would stick in people’s heads. So he opted for his lifelong nickname: Dutch. But there was one hitch: It wasn’t his real name, so he couldn’t put "Dutch" on the ballot.

"When you market yourself, you have to make sure that you have the same name on the ballot, so I needed ‘Dutch’ on the ballot," he said in an interview. "So what I did is I legally -- I’m a lawyer -- I legally added Dutch to my name. So I would go by C -- period -- A -- period -- Dutch, and all of the bumper stickers would say, ‘Go Dutch.’ So legally I added Dutch to my name."

But why did he choose "Dutch"? The Maryland Democrat’s nickname has been --Dutch-- since the moment of his birth.

--When I was born ... the doctor came out and said to my father, ‘You have a big blond Dutchman,’ -- he said. --So they started calling me ‘Dutch,’ and when my mother and he would write letters, he’d ask, ‘How’s the Dutchman doing?’ I’ve been called Dutch all of my life.--

Dutch Fehring, Stanford's winningest baseball coach. It was during his freshman year in high school that he earned the nickname --Dutch,-- because he was of German descent. After Fehring returned a kickoff 60 yards for a touchdown, a local sportswriter tabbed him --The Flying Dutchman-- and the nickname stuck.

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    ``Here, "Dutch" is from "Deutsch," the German-language word for "German."'' - sorry, you have lost me - here is where? The only example I know of Deutsch -> Dutch is "Pennsylvania Dutch" which is a name of a group of people, not a nickname. – delete Aug 28 '10 at 23:56
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    Sorry, I guess I was not clear. People of German origin sometimes are given the nickname 'Dutch' because the word for German in German is 'Deutsch'. Dutch Fehring got his nickname this way. The Pennsylvania Dutch are also of German descent and are called Dutch for the same reason. – Daniel Aug 29 '10 at 15:53

Arnold Schwarznegger's character's (nick)name in the film "Predator" was "Dutch". I once read a review which claimed this was a way to explain his accent away.

As for T-Bone Walker, Wikipedia tells me

Aaron Thibeaux Walker[4] .... In 1929, Walker made his recording debut with a single for Columbia, "Wichita Falls Blues"/"Trinity River Blues," billed as Oak Cliff T-Bone.[1] Oak Cliff was the community he lived in at the time and T-Bone a corruption of his middle name.

  • At least Tom "T-Bone" Wolk was named after Walker. – Hugo Oct 28 '11 at 13:01

We have answers for T-Bone Walker, but not for T Bone Burnett. An article by the Newark Star Ledger (posted on his own site) says:

Christened Joseph Henry Burnett, T Bone came by his nickname "honestly," around the age of 5, he says. The fact that he shared a moniker with famous Texas guitarist T-Bone Walker caused some wincing when he first started to perform, but he stuck with it.

So his name doesn't begin with a T and he didn't copy it from Walker, he just picked it somehow.

Some other T-Bones:

  • T-Bone Slim (1890-1942), pen name for American poet, songwriter, and labour activist Matti Valentine Huhta: Apparently Slim was a common name for hoboes, perhaps because they tended to be skinny from lack of food. And maybe the T-Bone was for ironic contrast, and for the T sound from the end of Matti. His "Lumberjack's Prayer" begins: "I pray dear Lord for Jesus' sake, / Give us this day a T-Bone Steak".

  • T-Bone (rapper), a Christian rapper: "His name came from being called 'Bones' as a youngster because he was very skinny. The 'T' was "added to give the name a little slang edge, hence the name 'T-Bone' was born.""

And these three all have names beginning with T:

  • Tony "T-Bone" Bellamy, lead guitarist, pianist and vocalist of the 1970s band Redbone.
  • Tom "T-Bone" Wolk, an American bassist: "guitarist G.E. Smith ... gave him the nickname T-Bone — for blues guitarist T-Bone Walker — after Wolk played his bass behind his head during a solo".
  • Tom "T-Bone" Stankus, an American musician.

I have no doubt that "T-Bone" comes from the steak. I think that a cut of steak is something considered fairly rugged and manly, so for this reason it might be attractive as a nickname. Of course that is just speculation. Also, I notice (from Wikipedia) that T-Bone Walker got his nickname because his middle name starts with a T. I suspect that a name like T-Bone could easily arise from this sort of connection.


Having played in the brass section of a marching band in grade school, I know that trombones are frequently referred to as "t-bones". In the context of musicians, I have often assumed that those bearing the moniker "T-Bone" were, among other things, notorious trombonists (or "tromboners" per band director Dewey Largo on The Simpsons) but clearly this is not a reference that translates into popular culture with any frequency.


A T-Bone steak is a hearty cut, so a person whose name is Tom or Terry etc may like the name "T-Bone" because it has a "Beefy" or "Strong" connotation.

I have a friend whose last name is "Holland" so some people call him "Dutch".


My grandfather, named Richard, was given the nickname Dutch by his high school football coach and stuck with it his entire life and he was of German descent. Good thing too, at least he wasn't called Dick!

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