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Adventures in Nicknaming

From Budgie Magoo to Audrasaurus Rex

By Mark Peters |

Along with stuffed animals, dirty diapers and cooing admirers, babies acquire a mountain of creative nicknames.

Though there are some trends in parental nicknaming – and the lists I accumulated from friends and message boards are dominated by dinosaur-y, food-ish and poop-propelled pet names – the full gamut of parental nicknaming would require a column the length of 1.7 Russian novels. Though I only have room for a Russian haiku, that’ll be enough to show that parents rival mobsters in the Prolific Nicknamers Department.

As with all nicknaming, baby-name-mangling is common. Neil Cunningham’s daughter Luna has a lengthy resume of rhyming aliases: “Luna Beguna,” “Luna the Goon,” “Gooney Boon,” “Gooney Boons,” “Luna Goons,” “The Goon,” “Gooner” and “Miss Goons.” Similarly, Dan Weinstein’s son Koey has been redubbed “The Koaster” and “Koaney Guy,” which was part of another genre of parental creativity, the made-up song: “He’s a Koaney Guy, He’s a Koaney Guy, He’s got nice eyes, He’s a Koaney guy.”

But it’s not always the baby’s name that gets altered. For some reason, the fearsome Tyrannosaurus Rex – a meat-ripping beast with foot-long teeth and a 600-hundred-pound skull – has proven indispensable in baby-nicknaming. Some variations play on the child’s name (Audrasaurus Rex, Oliviasaurus Rex, Tarynosaurus Rex), while others refer to one of the child’s less laudable qualities (Crankasaurus Rex, Grumpasaurus Rex, Slobbersaurus Rex). In all these cases, the X-saurus Rex formula allows for a silly way to express a natural feeling of any parent: This kid is doing to my life what Godzilla did to Tokyo.

When they’re not metaphorically destroying metropolitan areas, babies wage another not-so-subtle war – on their parents’ sense of smell. Accordingly, many nicknames are poo-or-stink-centric. I’ve seen “Stinker Butt,” “Stinky Boy,” “Stinky Shorts” and the short, sweet, apt “Stink.” “Pooper,” “Little Poopie,” “Pooter Pants,” “Thunder-butt” and the Star Wars-inspired “Count Dookie” continue the theme.

Poop’s proud descendent, food, also inspires many nicknames. Dictionary-maker and word-lover Erin McKean reveals, “Oh, we had tons of nicknames for Henry up to and including the present day. I often call him ‘pickle’ or even ‘picklebutt’ for reasons lost to history; he usually tolerates it except within earshot of his friends.” Others parents use “Fig,” “Peaches,” “Peanut,” “Pork Chop,” “Pumpkin Butt,” “Silly Muffin,” and “Sweet Pea” – not to mention an umtpy-bazillion versions of “Bean.” Even fictional characters look to the kitchen when nicknaming their kids: Lost‘s baby Aaron is known as “Turniphead.”

But no pattern can explain all the names a kid accumulates. Carole Chabries and Shannon Smith’s daughter Mairin has had dozens of nicknames, but none so notable as “Budgie Magoo.”

Here’s the scoop from Dad: “The first part of the name was originally an abbreviation of ‘fussbudget.’ When she was two or three months old, she also looked very much like a little bird, and so Budgie became a secondary abbreviation of ‘budgerigar,’ an Australian parrot (or parakeet, or something like). The Magoo part was just fun, and gave it a good rhythm.”

This name has stuck, and Carole recalls it spawning “every imaginable derivation thereof – including Budgie Mac and Budgie Mac Heart-Attack. [Mairin's] grandparents (and, quite honestly, her mother) still regularly call her ‘Budge’ or ‘Budgie.’” One version is already on the way out, as Shannon sheepishly admitted: “Sometimes I call her the Pudgie Magoo, but I’m told that must stop relatively soon if I want to avoid a daughter with eating disorders.”

Does anyone in the world still think parenthood is a creativity-killer? I trust that viewpoint has been thoroughly pecked, pooped and pillaged by the Budgies, the Stinker Butts and the Dino-baby-saurs who roam the earth.

What nicknames have you given your children? Let us know in comments.

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About Mark Peters

bcmarkpeters

Mark Peters

Mark Peters has written about language for Bark, Esquire, The Funny Times, Mental Floss, Nerve, and Psychology Today. He is a Contributing Editor for Verbatim: The Language Quarterly and writes the blog Wordlustitude. His book Yada Yada Doh! 111 Television Words That Made the Leap From the Screen to Society is forthcoming from Marion Street Press in September.

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53 thoughts on “Adventures in Nicknaming

  1. honeybee says:

    Fuzzy BeezleBeezle BearApplesaucesky BananabelskyBelskyWee BombBeans

  2. Seriously says:

    GoobThe GoobGooberGoobensBeybeysMonster

  3. trygo says:

    It’s funny, the first two of the nicknames I call my son our names my grandma and mom used for me.Minibs (pronounced mi-nibs)HansawurstSquirt PickleHatch

  4. KMat says:

    My older son, Elijah: Pokey. Poke-a-Poke My second son, Gideon: Ghee, Gheebers, Exacto, Loki, The WreckerMy third son, Lukas (not yet born): Von Baron

  5. beardfamilyof5 says:

    I love this post – we call our kids several things: My daughter Kyla is called: Kyla-butts or lala-butts. I have NO idea why, but I can’t stop saying it – I’m addicted. Even when I try to stop I can’t. We call all 3 of them Monkey-butts, because my husband thinks their perfectly round little tiny butt’s look just like, well – monkey’s butts. My middle son is called Bubba by his dad – even though he is the size of a toothpick and to me looks nothing like a child you would call bubba. My husband calls them Monkey nuggets as well ???? Don’t ask me?My youngest is HUGE – so my husband calls him chubbs. I told him he needs to stop, and he’s working on it, but he’s just so stalky and strong that it’s cute at this point.

  6. jcockerham says:

    My 3 month old daughter’s name is Adelyn (middle name Birch) and here are her nicknames so far:Lil’ PootiniSweet PeaAddy BHoney BearMangie (pronounced Mon-gee, after mangia…eat)Sugar Britches

  7. MommyO says:

    AnimalTinker (variant of stinker) TinkTinkertonTinker McBinksPumpkin muffinPumpkin nugget Pumpkin butter

  8. Michedwa says:

    Spitty SpittersenFarty FartersenCranky Crankersen

  9. martinsgirl says:

    my 6 year old daugther’s name is Rubyladybugmiss bugbug buggieroorubster bubbas (when she was an infant, now her baby brother holds this nickname)

  10. teacher44 says:

    My daughter’s name is RachelR-dogChickenMissy MagooPrincess Pie

  11. KLTA says:

    MonkeyMonkey-dooMonkey-loveMonkey-bug Little bit Poopie-doopLina (her name is Caroline)Lina-beanLina-bearCutie McStinky PantsPrincess Running NoseWhen she was really little, we used (as appropriate)Squealer MonkeyHowler MoneyCranky MonkeyHungry MonkeySqueaky Monkey, etc. You get the picture.

  12. leelu92 says:

    Anna(27mos): Monkeydoodle, Annie, Anna Banana, Monkey, Bug, Pudding popAvery (27mos): Monkeydoodle, Monkey and Conan (she can be destructive), Bug, Pudding popsometime refer to the 2 of them as The Wondertwins or Pete and RepeteEverett(7.5mos) Mr. Man, little boy, monkey boy, Bubba, Ev, BoBo(this came from the girls attempt to say brother when was first born)

  13. heysway says:

    little fishChumleypride and joySpotty Chopspottychops

  14. kms7z says:

    My son Shekhar (sounds like shaker), 9.5 months: Shekhu, Shekharoo, Shakity Boo Boo, Shake n Bake, Shake-ya-booty, Bubba, Bubba Boo Boo, Monkey Boo, Pumpkin Boo Boo, Snuggle Boo, Snuggle Boo Boo, Snuggle Roo, etc…

  15. momof2dudes says:

    I love seeing everyone’s nicknames! For my first son his original nickname was Bups which evolved into Buppy, and then I guess I have a thing with the letter B because he is now 3 and I call him Bug, Bugaloo, Beegaloo and Beega – all of which have nothing to do with his name which is Sean. For my second who is now 9 months – his name is Grant and he is a big, chubby guy so I call him Grantioso Maximiso and I even have a ridiculous song to go with it. I’ve been trying to come up with an easier, shorter nickname but everytime I try something out my older one says “no, his nickname is Grantioso” and if I accidentally call him one of my first son’s nicknames I get a glare and a comment from him (from the older one, not from the baby :)

  16. JustLia says:

    My 9 month old Wilhelm is called Will of course but more often then not we call him bus (it’s Swedish and means that someone is playing in a naughty but cute fashion, it is pronounces so it rimes with juice) or any variation of that such as busbus bus-troll, buselito. He also goes by prinskorv (Swedish again and it means prince-sausage), troll and he has inherited his daddy’s nickname of Mr. Grumpy-pants.

  17. Lindsey says:

    Our 1-year-old Charlotte Lucy is:CakeNoodleNoodle-cakeTasty CakeChar-botDer Char-bot ZweitausandBot-botEl Bot-bot GrandeTootTooto-BenutoBeanCakey BeanBean of Cakey DeliciousnessPunkin Headand many many more… Shockingly, she does know and respond to her actual name!

  18. shellywelly says:

    My son Nicholas’ name has evolved a few times:Nicholas.Pickle-us.Tickle-us.Pickle-Pop is the current favorite and this one may stick. (get it…popcicle-stick…oh well nevermind….)

  19. Lisaloo says:

    son number 1: Buggaboo, Buggy, Bubba, Bubbie, Bumblebee, Bee, Bubba Burpson number 2: Poopa-dee-doop, Poop, Poopy, Lukie, Dukie, Duke, Mr. Magoo

  20. Jennocide says:

    My daughter Avery (9 months):AvybooBoobahStinker StinksTurbo (Daddy’s nickname for her)BubbaMiss Boo

  21. AllisonWonder says:

    Simon (2 1/2):Boo, Boodle, Muffin, the Muffin Man, Fartin’ Martin, Tootin’ Newton, Monkey, Little Man…and his little friend who’s the same age calls him SlimonIsaac (8 weeks): Ike, Anger Ball,Mr. Fussy-Pants; Simon calls him “Uck”, and I keep slipping up and doing the same :)

  22. ah says:

    Greta Boo Fooshnickens or Fooshniketees, Greta boo-foo, Stinky, Monkey, Greta Bootsie (badabootsie tapatootsie), little sh*t, Stinklepuss, Gabbagoo (gabbawho gabbahey gabbaloo gabbalay), baby-boo, duck lips, clam hands, bubbles, bright eyes, happy girl, dolphin baby

  23. LauraLaura says:

    Actual name: FlannNicknames: Flannocerus, Flannimal, Bingle, Blue Bingle, Bingle Bear Boo, Lazy Late-Sleeping Babbling Blue Bed Bingle, King Pants, Afflannistan, Fabulous Flyin’ Flanny

  24. regandbabe says:

    I just wrote on my blog that i needed a nickname that would stick to my 11 month old son!Jospeh is now: babe, boy-o, scooter-pie, snickerdoodle, snotface, hobo-baby, pickle, bubba jr., small fry and beanwww.andababy.blogpot.com

  25. FearandParenting says:

    My 4-year old Caroline:Carrie-BeanBeanieBeanie BooBooBoo BooMy one year old Andrew:DoodleDoodle NoodleAndroolAndroidfearandparenting.wordpress.com

  26. gp4avie says:

    It was cute to read someone called their baby “bus” rhyming with “juice.”One of our nicknames for our baby is “boose” which doesn’t really mean anything, but also rhymes with “juice” and now I can pretend it means what the Swedish “bus” means (“playing in a naughty but cute fashion”) because that really fits our Boose!So other nicknamesBooseGooseMoosePrincess BooseAva June BeauvaisJunieGoonie JunieMonkeyWe wanted to call her little bird, but she is more like a monkey than a bird!

  27. steffmarcusky says:

    Our son Coltrane:Drippy McDrools-a-lot Mongo (when he tries to communicate) *sorry*’TraneC-Trane (we’re Marlins fans – named after (former Marlin) Dontrelle Willis’ “D-Train”)Sweet-patootie (from Mamo)Mr. Cranky-pantsFor his “aunt” Christine: Auntie Bean; I think it was Aunt Beanie (from Christini Beani) with her friend’s kids, but I mashed it into Auntie Bean

  28. ediegalore says:

    For our 4 month old son Adin:BoochaKamboochaKamboocha FrogSpeckled Frog Poopy-monMr. DiapersCarlFor our 9 yr old daughter Anjali:Booboo BearBoo BooJellyJuju BeeJujuAnjuJelly BellyKitten

  29. mommyof1 says:

    for cadence ophelia:cadecadiecadie-0caderscader from decaterophielil ophielil ophie annielovebuglovebugbunnypumpkinpumpkin pie

  30. writermom2012 says:

    Don’t even ask how many parents tell their crying babies that there’s no crying in baseball. I don’t know if it’s that you lose creativity or that you really weren’t all that creative to begin iwth.

  31. cutemisschris says:

    Greta at 7 months-HippoGreta bugSmileySweat peaSnuggleupagusSquirmy WormieBabyPretty Girl

  32. BabyBedu says:

    6 month old Dax is:Nano (in utero)Pigeon (thanks, Mo Willems)TomatoRudy DroolianiDaxi

  33. HBL says:

    Ainsley is most often called Poopsie Malone Boogie…Boog (as in dancing)Shoeless Jones…when she is barefoot or loses a shoe and our last name is not Jones:-)

  34. Rev LuLu says:

    Seamus at 7 weeks is already called:ShazzboShay-kayPickleEl Senor PicklebottomSkinny the PooChuckwagon (even though it could more appropriately be applied to me)BirdChief KickapooJimmySmiley Cyrus

  35. applejuice says:

    Mr.Sewage PantsMr. RooterPunkin ButtGuy GuyPetit GarçonPetit MonsieurGus

  36. griffinsmom says:

    Well, Griffin is 8 months old, so the nicknames shift from week to week. Here are the ones that have stuck:* Pterodactyl — because he sounds like a baby pterodactyl when excited* Punk — short for “punkin”* Gerber — because with his big rosey cheeks and blue eyes, people say he looks like the Gerber baby (see pix at http://www.theFarrows.com)* Sugar Lump — from one of his favorite Elizabeth Mitchell songs* Buddy or Bubba — those two are interchangeable* Any variation of Bear — Little Bear, Baby Bear, Sleepy Bear, etc. You get the idea* Crab Apple — of course this is only used when he’s crabby and we think it’s funny.When I blog about him though (www.GriffinsMom.typepad.com) I rarely use his nicknames. They are much more of a verbal thing than a written thing. Sometimes I think the silliness of nicknames makes it easier to get through the rough parts of parenting. In other words, the nicknames are more for us than they are for them.Ann

  37. Nicklemommy says:

    For a while at 2 or 3 my son Nicholas was *extremely* fond of sweet gherkin pickles. He therefore became Nicholas Pickleby, then Nickle & Pickle. He’s now grown and still answers to them all – but only from his family.

  38. jeanne says:

    I love the “no crying in baseball” comment. My daughter is now 2 and will actually stop crying just to tell me “it’s not baseball,” then return to wailing. By the way – Jillian does have a weird nickname. If anyone has seen Gilmore Girls, they might remember Sally Struthers’ character had gnomes which she named. Pregnant and cranky, I spent a lot of time lying around watching Gilmore DVDs – and my poor husband watched with us. When our daughter was born, wearing the little hat they put on in the hospital, he decided she resembled a gnome. So she’s Pierpont, just like one of Sally Struthers’ gnomes. Otherwise, we’re not that creative! Jillybean, Monkey, Monks, Monkey britches, Princess Pooty Pants . . .

  39. Franners says:

    Well, my name is Mandi, and my mother has come up with a legion of cute little names (that I pray my friends will never hear)FrannyButtonPumpkin PieManny-FrannyFrannersSurly TeenagerMy little sister, Ali, has her own set:LooLoo-Loo BellAli-LaliLaliFussbudget (She’s 11 and doesn’t like this one much)WaaaaaaambulanceMidge (As in “midget”; She’s very short for her age and this one occasionally ends in screaming)

  40. Nicknameless says:

    We call Megan “Rooster”, from her NICU days.We call Gavin “See-mook”, which is a mispronunciation of a Russian term of endearment for a little boy. The actual word sounds more like “See-noak”.My husband’s family loves nicknames. No one in his family actually uses their actual name. He is the oldest of 8, and their nicknames are Pard (Christopher), Rose (Laura), Mac (Shae), Kitty (Stacy), Buddha (Paige), Bones (Desirae), Bucky or Buddy (Brieanne), and Diamond (Ashley). It took me a while to learn all the names and nicknames, which I had to do before I met them all. :) We don’t have nicknames in my family. Seriously. I don’t think my parents have ever called me anything but Lauren.

  41. Loona says:

    My daughter was Spitty, then Spitzer, then Eliot Spitzer. Needless to say, that one has been retired.

  42. Miss Lisa whos husband calls her says:

    So my poor 7-year-old named “Devlynn” went to daycare with a little girl who could NOT say her name and called her “Dolphant” (it sounds like a cross between Dolphin and elephant) and the nick name stuck. It has now taken on a life of it’s on and the poor child will come to: Dolph, Dolphy Dolphant, Doll Face, Doll, Dolphain (said with a french accent) and many other variations on the origional mispronounced name. Poor child.

  43. the collective says:

    My daughter Josephine goes by “Josie-o” she signs her school papers this way, teachers call her this, etc. I don’t know how it started. I usually call herJosieJoJojobut at this point she doesn’t even know that her name is really JosephineSister Adelaide goes by AddieAdelaidiebugDaisyJasper goes byJaspieJasperstiltskinand to his grandparents (who hated his name and said other people would make fun of him by calling him “Jazzy”Jazzy.Go figure.Amandalibrarycollective.blogspot.com

  44. cassandra says:

    The BeanBeans BeanieBeans MagooBeans WeensBeanzillaFuss McGussFussy McBaby

  45. rubys mama says:

    my little girl’s name is ruby and she has about 100 nicknames- some favorites:Ruby Roo (said like scooby doo)the RoosterRutabegaPeanut Peanut Butter

  46. Mommy2Alex says:

    Where to begin… there are so many nicknames! Here are a few:”Little Pea” “Smunchikins” “Baby Lex” “Funky Monkey Man” “Smoochy “”Scoot-a-ma-jack-a-rooter” (A favorite! This and all variations: Scoot, Scooter, Scoot-a-rooter evolved once he started to “scoot” around the house!)”Smoopy McPooperson”"The Infamous Booty Bomber” It seems as if there are new nicknames every time we turn around, although many are short-lived as they turn out to be too… well, frankly, BORING! Mommy2Alex

  47. tuckersmom says:

    13 month old Tucker is also known as:Sugar Booger BearMuffin ButtDr. Ponzone (Italian for “belly”)Pumpkin Pooper PantsMissile Britches (he might just win an olympic gold medal in speed crawling)And my most favorite nickname until yesterday was “Schmeckle” when my jewish friend looked at me in horror then told me what it meant in Yiddish. Oops.

  48. Starlite says:

    11 month old Sidhant is : monkey man, boo boo, boobushki, googli bear, superman, Sidhantika (when we thought he looked like a girl),

  49. Pascha says:

    My 9 month old daughter Adeline is also known as:Pudgy Wudgy CuddlinsP-DubPoodleBeeper ButtSmooshie faceDrooly BoolyBaby CakesThe PudgePretty GirlThe two used most often are Pudgy Wudgy Cuddlins and Pretty Girl. I will be very sad when we have to retire Pudgy Wudgy Cuddlins, as that was her first nickname.

  50. Isay says:

    Lily Rose, age 2-Her dad calls her “Liliputian”I call her “Lil-ers”We both call her:LilsSilly LilyIckle BickleGirlie-o

  51. poosemommy says:

    My youngest is about to be 2, and when I was pregnant we called him Papoose (from the Native American word for a baby on it’s mother’s back), which evolved into Lil’Poose and The Poose. We also have Punkins, Little Man, My Precious (think Lord of the Rings only not weird & creepy), Slick, Sport, Ace, The Baby, Baby Boy, Little Pooter, and a host of others I can’t think of at the moment.My middle one is about to be 7, and he is Bric-a-brac, Captain Underpants, Big’un, The Boy, and Son.My oldest is 12 1/2, and she is most commonly called Bay, Sweet-Pea, and my own invention (and favorite): Wolver-tween.

  52. LovePumpkin says:

    Nicolas, AKA:NicopotomusNick-a-mus (what he calls himself and we caught on)Nick (of course)Allister, AKA:AlistersaurusAlly (his Dad hates this one as it does sound kind of girlie)Both kiddos become “Tootsie Magee” when they…well…toot.

  53. VNess says:

    CrabbyBugLove BugSweet PeaBoogerBoogand the one I can’t stop saying, “Boobie”.I’m sure my son (now 3.5 months old) will really appreciate hismother calling him Boobie in front of his girlfriends.

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