What’s In A (Nick)Name?

June 11, 2007

This may come as a shock to many of you, but ‘WonderBaby’ is not WonderBaby’s real name.
It’s not even her nickname. Contrary to what you might expect, we do not run around the parks and playgroups of Toronto calling out WonderBaby! ‘WonderBaby is, like ‘Her Bad Mother’ (pick yourself back up off the floor!), a pseudonymic nickname (a pseudo-nick-nym?).
Her real nickname is – wait for it – Budge. As in, budgerigar. The bird. Don’t ask me how or why this nickname stuck. There’s nothing bird-like about Wonderbaby. Nothing at all. And yet, we call her Budge, or Budgie, or Budgerigar. More usually Budge. It’s not the most elegant of nicknames, but for some reason, it’s her.
Her Bad Father and I both call her this, as name and as proper descriptive noun. We say things to each other like, oh, the Budge. She’s such a Budge. Or, Budgie was so Budge today. Or, is she being a Budge? Such a Budge!
It has emerged, it seems, out of the babble of our love for her. Scrolling through the archives of my memory – and of this blog – I can note that sometime last year I was calling her Baboo and Bapchi, nicknames that are really gibberish, gobbledygook, nonsense. Words that mean nothing, but which are nonetheless utterances of affection, expressions of love in our own private language. Somehow, from Babchi came Budgie and Budgerigar and the name has stuck, perfect in its expression of the inexpressible essence of who she is, to us. Incomprehensible to anyone other than us.
No doubt absurd, to you. But I suspect that however absurd the name ‘Budge’ sounds to you, the idea of an inexpressibly nonsensical but nonetheless perfect name is something you know well. I suspect that you have such names for your children. I’m not going to ask you what those are.
I’ve told you our special name because its specialness is exclusive to our use of it. It is nonsensical, on the tongue of anyone other than us. It has no power, no meaning outside of our little world. For us, this silly, gibberishy word is full of meaning, inexpressible meaning, meaning that melts into air outside of the circle that is us. Meaning that is ours, and hers, alone. So you can know it, because having others know it doesn’t diminish its power. Its power belongs to us.
You can tell me yours, if you want. I’d love to hear your special names. But you don’t have to, if you don’t want to; you could just tell me how it came about, what it means to you. I’d love to hear about it.

Portrait of a Budge.


I was tagged by Jeremiah at ZRecommends to write a post about names; I decided to write about nicknames. Consider yourselves all tagged, too – respond on your blog or in the comments. As I said above, I’d love to hear about your nicknames – even just the stories behind them.


Hey! Have I harassed you lately about writing a post about how – or whether – blogging empowers women? Yes? Well here’s the harassment again – sometime before midnight this coming Friday, write a post about blogging and the empowerment of women and link to MBT. Not only will you feel really, really good about yourself, you’ll be eligible to win a two-day registration to BlogHer. Or candy. Your pick. And your post will be linked up here, and at MBT, and at BlogRhet, where the brightest minds in the blogosphere will immediately set about deconstructing it and identifying its greater meaning. An offer you can’t refuse, no?

And, in other corners of Her Bad World: talkin’ ’bout blueberries and BBQs here, and singing the praises of local bloggers here. And, always, gossipin’ here.

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    Animal June 12, 2007 at 3:20 pm

    Achingly well-writting, HBM. For now, we put all of our nicknaming onto our cat of 13 years, whose OFFICIAL name is Ramona Q. Somehow, the simple “kitten” nickname became “kitchen,” which then morphed into “chicken.” Yeah, that’s right: we call our cat “chicken,” as in: “You should see what the chicken did to the bathroom rug!” or, “She’s being SOOO chicken today!”

    When our daughter, Roslyn, shows up in 5 weeks or so, I have every expectation that such name-morphing will continue, resulting in “Rozzle” which of COURSE could become “Rozzle-Dozzle,” or even, heaven help us, “The Rozinator.”

    Momish June 12, 2007 at 3:44 pm

    I call my daughter “mommy”, it is an old ethnic thing around my parts. Dads call their babies “daddy”, grandmoms call them “grandmom” etc. So, she is “mommy”. But, at times she is also “sydney”. That was my father’s catch-all name for anyone he needed to get the attention of and couldn’t get the right now out (two daughter, four grand daughters – he mixed them up a lot). So, my entire family has adopted “Sydney” as the name to call each other on a whim.

    It confuses people all the time. Too funny. Budge is a great nickname, especially for such a great little girl! The photo is classic!

    MamaLee June 12, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    Love that Budge!

    I really call my kids “Pumpkin,” “Princess” and “Sweetpea.”



    Andy June 12, 2007 at 3:56 pm

    My daughter is Boo on the blog (it’s even in the title) but I have never, not once, ever called her Boo. My sister in law does at time, but I never have.

    I have avoided a blog name for Baby K, but I do call him bugaboo (as in the stroller, but with no actual resoning or relation to) or bubbaloo. It just stuck and I love it. Funny how the nickname is actually longer than the real name :)

    Anonymous June 12, 2007 at 4:17 pm

    i love your new page HBM.its great.my children have all had silly or cute nicknames at various times.some of my faves.tokapee thats right from pokemon.was the changelings nickname whilst preggers with her.and stinkerbell was called peep.my eldest girl was just called baby for like forever.and my son was boo boo bear,bunnykins etc.budge is sorta cute and i bet it suits wonderbaby wonderfully.LAVENDULA

    Mommy off the Record June 12, 2007 at 4:22 pm

    Very nice post! I like “budge”. That is cute. Our nickname for our son is Tito which is short for a diminutive of his name.

    Anonymous June 12, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    Emilie is EmBug, or Bug and yes, sometimes I call her that when we are in public. It’s much better than Princess, which is what all her teachers at daycare used to call her.

    Her sister’s real name is Margaret, but we never call her that. Its always Maggie or Mags, Magpie, sometimes Magarooni or Magaroons.

    I was bugaboo and will sometimes use that for either girl. My mom called me “turkey pot” for years…never really understood that one!

    kittenpie June 12, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    We’ve actually morphed through a few along the way.
    She started out bunny baby.
    And went through many of the usual, most of which are still used on occasion: Sweet Pea, pumpkin, muffin.
    And we use goofer, goofer girl, little lady, and oddest, kooker monker, a warping of kooky monkey.

    Rock the Cradle June 12, 2007 at 5:50 pm

    LOVE the new look!

    The Impling only goes by that name when she is in the midst of doing something very two-ish.

    Otherwise, names are created as quickly as they are forgotten. Ones that have stuck include “Panda” and “Peanut Butter Parfait”

    I have no idea where they come from, other than the natural organic evolution of sound and association.

    And I’ll consider myself harassed. Now if I can actually DO something about it…

    WkSocMom June 12, 2007 at 5:52 pm

    I am so not good with nicknames, so my blog-kids don’t even have pseudonyms yet. I think it stems from my nickname. I was a bit clueless as a child and assumed that “Nikki” was a “nick-name” as it had “Nik” in it. Yes, I’m still that clueless sometimes.

    My kids have several from dad: Oh my god you’re cute, and Oh my god you’re cute II alsong with Pulga and Hombre Fuerte (Flea and strong man in reference to their sizes)

    My kids both went through phrases of correcting me “I’m not your sweetie, bubbe, etc. I’m Dxxx [their actual name])

    Maternal Mirth June 12, 2007 at 7:06 pm
    sara - The Estrogen Files June 12, 2007 at 7:55 pm

    OldestGirl is “The Bug”
    CurlyGirl is “The Bear”
    YoungestGirl is “The Roo”
    BoyBoy has a number of nicknames, but no real “thing” like the others. We use the diminuative of his name a lot, since his “big name” is quite a handle to hang on someone who is only 3.

    ALI June 12, 2007 at 9:35 pm

    william is cookie,or baby, it started as a nickname for my nephew who is six months younger-until i watched them together one day, now i call will cookie about a million times a day, and my nephew cookie when i see him…

    my nephew is cookie because he was on special formula due to his cf that smelled like a chocolate chip cookie. his older sister i have called girly from day one, no idea why, she is just so girly..

    Moppet's Mom June 12, 2007 at 10:34 pm

    Moppet has quite a few nicknames. I mostly call her a version of ‘little one’ in my mother tongue, and my husband has a different nickname for her. But she responds to everything – even when I call her ‘rice pudding’! :-)

    Had done a post on names some time ago.


    Amber June 12, 2007 at 11:17 pm

    Hmmm…nicknames, eh? Depends on the day. Seriously, that is how often I am concocting new ones. The most regular is Bubby, which evolves into Bubalicious and then Bugsy or Bug. But never Bode. You know. His actual name… :-)

    Heather June 13, 2007 at 8:17 am

    My little girl is “Bug” or “Sweet Pea” or “Shatz-em-platz.” Her daddy is “Bear”, “Sweet Potato” or “Daddy-o”. I don’t have any nicknames….as far as I know. Sometimes, my husband calls me Mommy Awesome, but that doesn’t really roll off the tongue the way a nickname should, does it? HeatherFeather, that’s another one that gets used every now and then. I want a nickname. (pout)

    pgoodness June 13, 2007 at 9:05 am

    I take your tag! (Did it on my blog)

    Anonymous June 13, 2007 at 9:40 am

    I am kidless but I refer to my two rabbits (whose actual, dignified names are Ashley and Calbert) as bun-o and ash-o. My roomate calls Ashley Squishy, for reasons mysterious.

    mayberry June 13, 2007 at 11:36 am

    Years ago I babysat for a little boy whose nickname was Budgie (his real name was Solomon, so serious for a charming little preschooler). His baby sister was Pipsy.

    We do call our Opie just that; his real initials are O.P. so there you go. Also bugaboo, bug, crankypants, stinky dinky doo, messy marvin…whatever fits.

    Jo is Jojo, Jo-G, Jojo Pumpkin, or the old classic, Honey. And her “regular” name — the one that everyone calls her — is itself a nickname. We chose that first then worked backward to give her a formal first name. “For when she’s president of General Motors,” said my mother.

    Her Bad Mother June 13, 2007 at 11:52 am

    Ah, so WB is not the lone Budgie! I can live with that. Especially since she is, in all likelihood, the only Budgie Jones McBudgalot.

    mrsmogul June 13, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    Me and my husband used to call each other bear before the baby was born. Now we just call each other names. LOL

    Maggie June 13, 2007 at 12:06 pm

    I sometimes wonder if our kids even know what their names really are.

    Our daughter is 3 1/2 — she has been sweet pea, pea diddley, pickle pea, and almost any other variation on pea something or something pea you can think of. We’ve also been known to call her pumpkin poo, which I swear has no potty reference at all. I’m sure she’ll hate that one most of all later on.

    Our son is currently beebo (because he walked around saying that for a few days, and it stuck), but also bubby, bubby boo, beebo boo, and, again, almost any variation on something with boo.

    At least we stick to a theme for each of them — I’d hate for them to be too confused.

    SciFi Dad June 13, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    My sister and I are named after children on a 70s television show: it was the only english-speaking show my father “got” when he first immigrated.

    Anonymous June 13, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    Poopsie-Doo was my childhood nickname and my father still calls me “Poops” and never calls me by my first name. Every card, email, phone conversation, etc. starts with “Dear Poops” or “Hi Poops”. I hated it in high school, but being pregnant with my first child now, I love it. We’ve been calling our unborn baby girl “Uncle Ben”, because the ultrasound tech told us she was the size of a piece of rice at our first ultrasound. Wonder if that will stick.

    Budgie Jones McBudgalot June 13, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    hey! that’s MY name!

    Poppy June 13, 2007 at 7:15 pm

    Delurking to join in the nickname fun~

    My kids have had various nicknames during their lifetime but the ones that have stuck are: (oldest son)Bub, (middle son) Roundhead (cause he had a perfectly round head at birth)and occasionally we called him TataHead (short for Potato Head), youngest sons we called Webster (as in Dictionary) because he was like a walking encyclopedia for sports trivia. My daughter is the one who has had oodles of nicknames:Mrs. Peepers (because as a newborn she was always peeping around with one eye opened) Tilda (short for Matilda)Freda, Ducky, and the Corkster.

    My granddaughter is known as the Peach or Peachie. She was such a good baby and I was always saying she was such a Peach. So that stuck and we all call her Peach now.

    Shannon June 13, 2007 at 11:26 pm

    My girl has so many nicknames! Her name starts with a B and has no definite nickname deriving from it, logically. BUT her middle name is Addison, and I’ve always called her AddyBuglet. It’s sometimes, AddyBugs, Addy, Bug, Addy Brown, Baby Girl, Muffin, Little B, Miss B, Munchkie, Pumpkie, and Freckles. Her Daddy calls her Addy, B and Tootie. He used to call her Little Chicken. when I was pregnant and she was at the rice grain stage, we called her Colonel (a military style version of “kernel” which they said she was the size of). My bf calls her Little B and I love how he says it. He also refers to both of our kids as “pampers”. As in, “gotta love our pampers”.

    Anonymous June 13, 2007 at 11:50 pm

    We use the names Pookus, Whoot-ie, or Puppy Pupperton ( and he calls me Mommerton)for the toddler, Lucas. Yes, at the park or the grocery store…and he call it right back “You’re the whootie!!”

    Damselfly June 14, 2007 at 12:08 am

    She looks like a budge.

    I seem to pick a new nickname for my baby every month. Right now, it’s shmoopsy. I figure I can call him shmoopsy only before he grasps language skills….

    mo-wo June 14, 2007 at 2:04 am

    Miss Fancy dubbed her brother Juji baby (pronounce joodge-gee) I am in constant fear this is some obscure racial epithet.

    Miss Fancy has a few nicknames mostly the one that rhymes her name with Pakora. Which is likely why I rhymed Budge’s name when she toddled off a bit far near the dolphin tank when you were here.

    I tend to use nicknames for issues of security. Just like I use name escalation for discipline/pleadings.. I notice you do that, too.

    Anyway.. I regretted rhyming Budge’s name instantly. It doesn’t suit her. I wish I’d known then what I know now.

    Back to my girl… I do adore that one of our neighbours has nicknamed her. We know J. from walking her dog and she calls my girl Bubbles.

    the weirdgirl June 14, 2007 at 2:52 am

    My parents called me Tird Bird. Because (they said) I looked like a plucked chicken when I was born. And I pooped a lot.

    “Budge” is beautifully, sweetly elegant in comparison.

    Unfit Mother June 14, 2007 at 8:40 pm

    I have an Ivy J (because Ivy was too shorted to nick, we had to lengthen), Bumble Bea and one Chunky Beef Noodle. I know, I KNOW I wrote a post about it. I’m saving for her therapy.

    traci b June 15, 2007 at 7:26 pm

    My oldest, 6 year old boy, is Bug. It started when I would call him Love-Bug, and it eventually shortened to just Bug. The other day I called him that in front of his friends, by accident of course, and boy did I get “THE LOOK.” Guess I’ll work on that.
    And my 2-year0 old’s daughter real name is Nia which has turned into Nini or Nini-nunu…kind of strange that a kid with a three letter name would need nicknames at all! Oh, well!
    Love everyone’s name comments, though!

    Dragon June 15, 2007 at 10:53 pm

    No nicknames for as-yet-unemergent little one, except for the wee one, or the wee dragon, on my blog, for fear that if I assign him a nickname I might let it slip in conversation, and if it happens to sound boyish, they might guess that he is in fact, a boy. As for my brothers, I call them:

    Matt (oldest): Midget, as he was always very short until he hit about 15
    Sam: Monkey, or Spazhead, or Samsam.
    Alex: Benjo. Don’t ask me why. It doesn’t make any sense, especially since Sam’s middle name is Benjamin, and you’d think he’d be assigned Benjo. But somehow, it just fits alex.

    And I call my former best friend’s daughter Buffin, a conflagration of Baby Muffin.

    As for me, I have been alternately Tanie, Peaches, Bubbles, and Klondike. yeah, wierd, I know.

    megachick June 18, 2007 at 11:24 am

    i have no idea where i came up with pooka for daughter #1, but it gets morphed into pooks or pooka-dook. bug has been bug ever since we decided on her name, as it comes from a misreading of the name written in cursive. bug lends itself to a host of sickeningly cute things, like stinkbug (obvious), lightning bug (in the bili-blanket), etc. pooka has in the past declared her real name to be pooka. bug isn’t old enough to have a preference.

    bethiclaus June 18, 2007 at 10:03 pm

    I think ours is probably more cultural (Mexican) than nonsensical, but from the beginning we called Alliclaus “Mamas.” In the beginning we called her “Little Miss” or “the little miss,” and I have sometimes referred to her as “Missy Mae.” But “Mamas” is the name that has stuck and it is the one she knows is hers.

    Shannon June 19, 2007 at 11:57 am

    My son, Owen, is sometimes called “O-Dog” (or “O-Dawg”), his rapper name coined when he was just a baby. It still amuses me. We call our Lindsay “LuLu” – it started off as “Lindsay-Lou” and evolved. Funny, my adored grandfather was named Lou – should’ve changed her middle name to Louise. She was “Hani” for a while when she was wee little, as that was what her brother insisted her name was. (From hearing us call her “honey,” maybe? Who knows.)

    V-Grrrl June 19, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    My son is called Bobie or it Bobey? I never spell it; I only say it. It has long O sound.

    He’s almost 12 now, and I call him the Bobe-i-lizer. I also call him “B.”

    And yes, we say things like, “That’s such a bobey thing to do.”

    dana June 19, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    My sister-in-law’s goddaughter is also nicknamed Budge. But her parents called her that because she’s stubborn and won’t “budge”. How cute!

    I love the new header, too!

    Jessica June 20, 2007 at 3:11 pm

    Stink…but, more like a little song: Stink-stink-da-dink-dink-dink. No clue why or how but, she loves it.

    Also, Fatty Mcfatfat. This is because she is ginormous. She is 8 months old and weighs about 24 lbs. wears size 18 mos. clothes and size 5 diapers. Did you know they only go up to size 6? I guess we will start wrapping her in shower curtains if she doesn’t stop the madness.

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