If you know a Brazilian they probably have a nickname or just a fraction of their name will be used when talking about them. If you watch soccer(European football) you will surely have noticed phenomenon. If you see Brasil playing you will often see players with one name, examples include: Kaka, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and many more. Most of these players have longer names it wouldn’t be conventional to have it on their jersey and for the commentators. But it goes even deeper than just soccer, even their president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is only refereed by her nickname. Some say it is because of Brazil’s past illiteracy but not many agree with that anymore.
Some people don’t even know their best friends real name because of the nickname phenomena. Some are called by their traits, like an American friend of mine who studied there was called Americano, which is nothing disrespectful it’s just their way of being intimate and friendly. Some Asians have been known to be called Toshiba. If you look like someone famous you get his name, like this Brazilian player who looked like Maradonna(famous soccer player) is now called Maradonna.
Others have different roots such as their home state, Juninho Paulista which someone coming from Paulista would be called. It is the same as saying Bob California..Some cities have the telephone book names in their nicknames, that is how widespread the use of the nickname is in Brazilian society.
Why are some names ended with Ninho’? Well it does resemble to the Spanish word Nino which means small. There are many suffix, which also describe the person in some way. A Ronaldo smaller than the other one would be called Ronaldinho, one bigger than Ronaldo would be called Ronaldao.
So when you see Brazilian nickname know that it has some roots.