I would understand if the nickname was around quotation marks if the full name was presented as well:

"His name is O'Shea 'Ice Cube' Jackson Sr."

But what if you referred to a person only by their nickname?

With quotation marks:

"Hey, 'Ice Cube,' how's it going?"

Without quotation marks:

"Hey, Ice Cube, how's it going?"

Would the quotation marks be necessary?

  • 2
    Without the full name, I would assume that the quotation marks indicate sarcasm or mockery. As in "Hey, 'Skinny'..." for someone overweight or "That's a great question, 'Einstein'..." when the question indicated a lack of understanding (or if the responder simply wanted to denigrate the asker by implying that they were stupid.) Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 20:11

2 Answers 2


Quotes around the nickname when it is used alone are not needed for exactly the same reason they are needed in a full-blown reference such as O'Shea 'Ice Cube' Jackson Sr.

A nickname is defined as an extra name; meaning one that is used instead of, ie in the same way as, the person's real name, not part of it. (eg https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=nickname&rlz=1C5CHFA_enGB718GB718&oq=nickname&aqs=chrome..69i57j69i60.2540j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8)

The full meaning of O'Shea 'Ice Cube' Jackson Sr is O'Shea Jackson Sr, often called Ice Cube instead, in rather the same way that a newspaper or magazine (possibly patronizingly) this is defined as a 'nickname'

Defining the nickname like that is a wholly different thing from actually using it, which is why Are you Ice Cube? needs no more quotes than does Are you O'Shea Jackson?


My English teacher's name was Frances Dingle. When she married Rutledge Dingle, she became Mrs. Rutledge Dingle. However, everyone referred to her as "Miss Fran" Dingle. She said that since that was not her real name, it should be set off in quotation marks.

  • Often, standard shortnames, like "Fran" for Frances or "Bob" for Robert, are used without quotes in informal usage. They're never optional with non-standard nicknames, like "Stretch", "Ice Cube", or "Mad Dog" (except in the kind of usage described in Robbie Goodwin's last paragraph). "Miss Fran" wouldn't be a standard shortname.
    – fixer1234
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 1:05

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