Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Street Gang Nicknames ( Answered,   2 Comments )
Subject: Street Gang Nicknames
Category: Relationships and Society > Cultures
Asked by: snoopdog-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 22 Apr 2002 17:11 PDT
Expires: 29 Apr 2002 17:11 PDT
Question ID: 3002
How do you earn a street gang moniker?   What are the most common nicknames?
Subject: Re: Street Gang Nicknames
Answered By: cindy-ga on 23 Apr 2002 15:20 PDT

It seems like there are two different ways a person can earn a nickname in the 
context of a gang.  First, as elizabeth-ga mentioned, other members may create 
a name for the individual based on some significant physical or personal 

“Gang members pride themselves in being given nicknames, or monikers, by the 
gang. The moniker may highlight a physical characteristic, or some personal 

“The nicknames of gang members are frequently included within the graffiti, 
often in a roll-call list or ‘placa’.  These names may be simple, and typically 
are descriptions of the appearance or personality of individual gang members:  
Green Eyes, Casper, Smiley, Goofy, or other similar names.”

In the second case, a person who wants to become a gang member may adopt a 
nickname of his or her own creation and endeavor to make that name as publicly 
known as possible by spreading the “tag” through methods such as graffiti.  It 
is also very common to have a nickname as part of a tattoo on the person’s body.

“(…) most taggers hope to join gangs and use tagging as a way to gain the 
attention of gang members. (…) The more often their monikers appear in 
different locations, the more publicity they receive.”

“The majority of youth gang members after initiation, or acceptance into the 
gang, are tattooed, indicating their allegiance and affiliation. These tattoos 
could be crude or elaborate. Most likely, the gang members’ monikers and/or the 
gang’s name will be involved in the tattoo.”

For more information about “tagging,” see:

“The word "tag" is short for "Turf Art Graffiti." A "tagger" is a graffiti 
artist who takes a unique nickname and then puts the nickname on objects. 
Sometimes taggers compete to place their names or slogans in visible locations.”


“The motivation behind tagging involves fame, artistic expression, power, and 
rebellion--all integral parts of what has been referred to as the hip-hop 
culture. Tagging may fill an even deeper void for youths without a strong sense 
of personal identity. Interviews with taggers reveal a deep desire simply to be 
known, to create an identity for themselves, and to communicate it to others. 
(…) The thrill of risktaking also appears to be an underlying motivation for 
many taggers.”

I was not able to find a list of common gang nicknames.  Again, as elizabeth-ga 
states, the fact that so many of these monikers are based on a personal 
characteristic may make them more or less unique.  I did find an indication 
that nicknames for female gang members may have a more easily recognizable 

“Female gang members also use nicknames or "handles", as they are often called 
on the street. Prefixes such as "baby," "little," and "tiny" often accompany a 
street name.”

I also found some information about the possible purpose of monikers to a gang-
members and the gang structure itself:

“In the world of gangs, you are not a true member until you have earned a 
nickname.  Most times, youth do not know the real names of members, just their 
street names or nicknames. Life also tends to become very difficult for 
involved youth without their fellow gang members. They tend to forget what 
things were like before joining the gang.

Gang members use tattoos and graffiti to demonstrate what gang they belong to.  
Younger members may use a pen or magic marker to draw the gang's name, their 
nickname, or other gang slogans on themselves. Older individuals may "carve" 
or "brand" gang related symbols or words into their skin. Symbols and words may 
also be written on building walls, notebooks, backpacks, clothing, furniture, 
and other personal possessions.”

Some relevant URLs:
Street Gang Dynamics

National Youth Gang Center

San Luis Obispo County Gang Task Force

Google Directory: Society > Issues > Crime and Justice > Gangs > Gang Research

Search terms used:
gang identification nickname OR moniker
nickname OR moniker placa tag

Subject: Re: Street Gang Nicknames
From: elizabeth-ga on 22 Apr 2002 18:57 PDT
Hello There!

This web site give the dynamics of street gangs and a very nice little
synopsis of "individual names"  " Names are usually given based
on a particular trait of the member."

and that is the case on most of the web sites I looked at, including
this one:  "Monikers - Individual gang members
usually have a nickname or moniker that fits the individual’s
  personal or psychological traits. A gang member called "Shorty," for
example, gets his name from  his height."

I could not find anything stating the "most common," which would be
understandable since each member's "moniker" is individual to the

Hope this helps.
Subject: Re: Street Gang Nicknames
From: gschmidl-ga on 24 Apr 2002 14:21 PDT
I can recommend Harlan Ellison's books "Web of the City" and "Spider Kiss" for 
more information about gangs in the 70s.

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy