Nickname for Richard

I’ve noticed that many Richards from my parent’s generation or earlier go by “Dick”: I have three professors that call themselves this, not to mention celebrities such as Dick van Dyke, Dick Clark, and Richard Nixon. What I’m wondering is, did the word not acquire its slang meaning until fairly recently? I know that few folks anymore would want to be known by a word referring to genitalia. Perhaps the slang meaning was around, but only came into common usage recently? Or maybe folks used to be more mature, and could distinguish between the meanings of the word?

“There are only two things that are infinite: The Universe, and human stupidity-- and I’m not sure about the Universe”
–A. Einstein

Dick comes from 19th century British military slang. It’s been around for a while, but I suspect it wasn’t common until relatively recent.

Work is the curse of the drinking classes. (Oscar Wilde)

Partridge’s says that dick became penis around 1880. My guess would be that through the late 1960’s any vulgar or obscene references were simply not heard in polite society, so the typical Richard had to put up with a few years of Dick/dick jokes around high school (and maybe college) and could then go on with his life with only minor incidents of catcalls or double entendres.

Dick as a man’s name goes way back, including a very popular Lord Mayor of London and a notorious/famous highwayman. I suspect Nixon was the first Dick that had to hear or see his name held up as humor before the public–“Lick Dick in '72!”


I know that if my name was Richard Trickle (Real name, a NASCAR driver) I’d keep it as that.

Teach your kids to bungee jump.
One them might have to cross a bridge someday.

Well, a few years ago we had a contractor who did mowing for a Corps of Engineers recreation area. His name was Richard Wewe, and he preferred to be called “Dick”. Why, I’ll never know.

There is/was a member of Congress from New England known as Dick Swett.

I’ve never met a Dick Skinner, but there must be some.

Remember Yuri Andropov? Wouldn’t it be funny if…?

In college we had a history professor named Richard Face. Usually on the first day of class he would say something to the effect of, “OK, let’s get it right out, I’m your professor, Dick Face,” and that would be the end of it for the most part.

If at first you don’t succeed - redefine success!

The groundskeeper at one of the major English Cricket grounds is called Michael Hunt. And yes, I have heard his name abbreviated on radio.


Oh lord, if this is going to mutate into a “Funny Names” thread, I say kill it now.

Tony Soprano: We’re the only country in the world where the pursuit of happiness is guaranteed in writing… Where’s my happiness then?
Dr. Melfi: It’s the pursuit that’s guaranteed.
Tony Soprano Yeah, always a fucking loophole.