Ivan the Terrible
Nicknames are usually cute endearments we give to our best pals or cherished loved ones. But sometimes, history attributes way creepier nicknames to loathsome figures from the past. These are called epithets, which is a word or phrase applied to a person or thing to describe an actual or attributed quality, like Ivan the Terrible.
Take Ivan the Terrible for example. Said to suffer from violent, paranoid delusions, he earned a ghastly reputation for slaughtering his political opponents while suppressing free speech in Russia. Ivan’s armies once massacred an entire city, simply because the Tsar had a misinformed hunch they were plotting against him. Oh, and he is believed to have “accidentally” killed his own son with a giant walking stick in 1581.
Need we go on? The man sounds truly terrible! Terrible, in this epithet, means “inspiring terror, fear, or dread.”