Despite an increasing international trend towards integrating linguistics into the mainstream English curriculum, many teachers struggle to find exciting and relevant ways to cover this material with their students. In this article, we describe how nicknames collected as part of a research study of Australian secondary students can be used as a pedagogical resource for Year 9 students. We argue that the linguistic analysis of nicknaming provides an ideal opportunity for teachers to introduce linguistic concepts to a teenage audience that is age appropriate, relevant and meaningful. Based on a survey of 642 Australian high school students, we present some common features of nicknames and provide suggestions for how teachers could use this as a platform for exploring language issues with their students. We also show how the study of the forms and functions of nicknames fits into the Australian national curriculum for English at the junior secondary school level.