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Are Nicknames Capitalized?

The Car Talk guys (aka Click and Clack) are retiring. Here’s how you tell the difference between a nickname and a term of endearment.

By
Mignon Fogarty

Tom and Ray Magliozzi just announced that in September they’ll stop producing new episodes for their popular NPR show Car Talk. Tom and Ray also go by Click and Clack.

Capitalize Nicknames

"Click" and "Clack" are capitalized because they’re nicknames—they take the place of a real name. You might say to your brother, “Boy, I’d sure like to meet Tom and Ray,” or you might say, “I’d sure like to meet Click and Clack.” The nicknames are essentially interchangeable with the real names.

Don’t Capitalize Terms of Endearment

Nicknames are different from terms of endearment, however. Terms of endearment aren’t capitalized. For example, let’s say you call your husband "honey." You might walk in the door and say “Honey, I’m home,” but you wouldn’t call your sister and say, “When I got home, honey was already making dinner. What a guy!”

A term of endearment isn’t interchangeable with a name the same way a nickname is, and terms of endearment aren’t capitalized.

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About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of the Quick and Dirty Tips network and creator of Grammar Girl, which has been named one of Writer's Digest's 101 best websites for writers multiple times. The Grammar Girl podcast has also won Best Education Podcast multiple times in the Podcast Awards, and Mignon is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame. Mignon is the author of the New York Times best-seller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing" and six other books on writing. She has appeared as a guest on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and the "Today Show" and has been featured in the New York Times, Business Week, the Washington Post, USA Today, CNN.com, and more. She was previously the chair of media entrepreneurship in the Reynolds School of Journalism in Reno, NV. She hates the phrase "grammar nazi" and loves the word "kerfuffle." She has a B.A. in English from the University of Washington in Seattle and an M.S. in biology from Stanford University. Mignon believes that learning is fun, and the vast rules of grammar are wonderful fodder for lifelong study. 

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