The Gipper and More: U.S. President Nicknames

By: Nathan Chandler
Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Politicians are nickname magnets -- their prominence in society makes them targets for alternative monikers, sometimes respectful, sometimes ... not so much. Presidents are no exception. How much do you know about nicknames for U.S. Presidents?

Which president was sometimes called "Unconditional Surrender"?

Ulysses S. Grant was a Civil War general who took the enemy to task over and over again. His hardline mentality made him "Unconditional Surrender" Grant.

Why was Chester Arthur sometimes called "Dude President"?

That's right, Arther was the "Dude." He was a stylish man who reveled in fancy, high-class things.

Which president was "American Fabius"?

George Washington got the nickname American Fabius for his tendency to avoid front assaults. He preferred smaller, shorter engagements like the Roman dictator who gave the Fabian strategy its name.

Which president's nickname became a huge part of his campaign marketing?

Dwight Eisenhower, or "Ike," resulted in one of the most memorable campaign slogans in human history. "I Like Ike" is still ingrained in the American consciousness.

Who was "The Teflon President"?

Ronald Reagan's detractors did everything they could to stick him with a negative image -- but nothing stuck to "Teflon Ron." His squeaky-clean image still prevails in some quarters of the American mind.

Why was Abraham Lincoln sometimes called "The Ancient One"?

Lincoln earned great respect around the country for his insightful wisdom. Some people took to calling him "The Ancient One," a descriptive and respective nickname.

How did Theodore Roosevelt feel about the nickname "Teddy"?

Roosevelt despised the nickname Teddy. But once it caught hold in the media and the public mind, there was no going back -- he became Teddy for the ages.

Why was James Monroe called "Last of the Cocked Hats"?

Many soldiers in the Revolutionary War wore cocked hats, and Monroe was one of the last of these men around in politics.

Who was "Ten-Cent Jimmy"?

In the mid-19th century, James Buchanan made the mistake of saying that 10 cents per day was a good wage for workers. People ridiculed him by calling him "Ten-Cent Jimmy."

For being cold and impersonal, what was Benjamin Harrison's nickname?

Harrison was "The Human Iceberg" due to his aloof nature, particularly in one-on-one situations. He had zero patience for small talk.

What nickname did John Adams wind up with after offering this line during one of his speeches: "Sink or swim, survive or perish with my country, is my unalterable determination."

After this bold line, some people took to calling Adams "Old Sink or Swim." Adams served as the country's second president.

Who was "Sir Veto" because of his frequent use of presidential veto powers?

Andrew Johnson became president after Lincoln's assassination. Sir Veto then used his veto powers over and over again for the rest of his term.

Why was Grover Cleveland called "Uncle Jumbo"?

Cleveland is still the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms. He was also a large man who reportedly weighed more than 250 pounds.

Which president was called "The Phrasemaker" because he wrote his own well-crafted speeches?

Woodrow Wilson had no need for a speechwriter. The Phrasemaker used his keen mind and sharp vocabulary to communicate with his fellow countrymen.

Franklin Roosevelt was called "The Sphinx" for his silence on which issue?

Roosevelt at one point refused to reveal whether he'd be running for office. Frustrated members of the media took to calling him "Sphinx" for his unwillingness to discuss the matter.

Who was "Grand Wrestler," known for his feats on the mat?

Abraham Lincoln was no spindly weakling. In his younger days, he was a powerful wrestler with a huge (6-foot-4) frame willing to take on just about anyone.

Which of the following was NOT one of Andrew Jackson's nicknames?

He wasn't Scalper, but Jackson was sometimes called Indian Killer or Sharp Knife. He initiated some of the cruelest military campaigns against Native Americans.

Why was Thomas Jefferson called "Long Tom"?

Jefferson was extremely tall, especially for the 18th century. He was nearly 6 feet 3 inches in height.

Who was "Old Rough and Ready"?

Zachary Taylor was a general in the U.S. Army, and his performance there earned him the nickname "Old Rough and Ready." In 1850, he died suddenly in office from a stomach problem.

Lyndon Johnson frequently walked around the White House turning off the lights. This act earned him which nickname?

Johnson reportedly couldn’t stand to see energy being wasted to light unoccupied rooms. He was "Light-Bulb Lyndon."

Why was Rutherford Hays sometimes called "His Fraudulency"?

The 1876 election was hotly contested and some head-scratching decisions by the authorities made many observers wonder whether Hays had been legally elected. He became "His Fraudulency."

Teddy Roosevelt was also known as what?

Roosevelt was a real-life version of a superhero, constantly achieving amazing feats with his courage. He was known as "The Lion."

Why was Benjamin Harrison called "Grandfather's Hat"?

Harrison's grandfather (William Harrison) had been president before him, and the younger man couldn't escape his grandad's legacy. His opponents loved to call him "Grandfather's Hat."

Who was "Mr. Nice Guy"?

Gerald Ford became known as Mr. Nice Guy because he straddled the fence on so many issues and expressed willingness to work with both sides of the political aisle.

Which of the following was NOT one of Martin Van Buren's many nicknames?

OK, so he wasn't Martin Van Damme. Van Buren had all sorts of nicknames, from Martin Van Ruin to The Little Magician, a tribute to his political abilities and his short height.

Why was James Garfield called "Canal Boy"?

As a young man, Garfield worked on cargo boats that moved up and down Ohio canals. As the legend goes, he supposedly fell overboard repeatedly so he moved on to other things.

Herbert Hoover was called "The Great Engineer." He was actually an engineer.

Hoover really was a civil engineer who worked on major projects. Later, during his presidency, the nickname would be used derisively in reference to the man's apparent unwillingness to help build up certain populations in the country.

Who was "His Accidency," the vice president who became president due to the president's death?

John Tyler was "His Accidency," who became president after William Harrison died just a month into his term in 1841. Tyler didn't do much in office -- his legacy is bland, at best.

What issue earned William McKinley his "Wobbly Willie" nickname?

At the end of the 1800s, McKinley hemmed and hawed about entering the Spanish-American War. He did everything he could to avoid it, but eventually, the U.S. was drawn into combat.

Why was Calvin Coolidge called "Silent Cal"?

Coolidge earned a reputation for listening more than speaking. His quietness made him "Silent Cal."

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