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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    Maternal Mirth June 11, 2007 at 7:33 pm

    I must get working on my responses to your harrassment if only to quell any further attempts :)

    Love the dirty Budgie-Face!!!!


    Mrs. Chicken June 11, 2007 at 7:57 pm

    The Poo is a real nickname. And we do the same:

    The Poo is such a poo.

    The poo is a sleepin’poo.

    The poodaloo, poodalee, poodalumps. Or the poodles, and sometimes, the peedles.

    All stemmed from a a huge bowel movement when she was an infant. We decided that were she a superhero, she’d be SuperPoo, and her power would be killing enemies with her stench.

    Now, she’s just The Poo.

    Megan (Velveteen Mind) June 11, 2007 at 8:16 pm

    “…meaning that melts into air outside of the circle that is us.”


    We call our oldest “Pants.” It started out from some obscure episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, a show we don’t even watch. A character was named “M.C. Pee Pants.” For us, this turned into “Fart Pants,” and eventually “Pants.”

    I can’t tell you what that word means to me now. How random. But my heart is tied up in it.

    And, yes, sometimes I slip and yell it out at the park.

    Marymurtz June 11, 2007 at 8:24 pm

    Our daughter is “Bunny” or “Bunny Rabbit” or “Rabbit.” I called her a million different nicknames, and those were the ones that my husband least objected to. Now she’s just “Bunny” or “Bun”. Once in a while, my hubby will email me at work to let me know he’s picking up “The Rabbit” from school.

    Lisa Giebitz June 11, 2007 at 8:30 pm

    My father and I have the same nickname for each other: Wiener. From the time I was 5 or 6 I’ve called him Wiener. On the phone, in public, he is more likely to be called Wiener than Dad. And he calls me Wiener as well. It just works. So much so that I wonder about the funny looks we get sometimes. :)

    As for this male child festering within, I have no doubt he will have his own nickname in time.

    Lawyer Mama June 11, 2007 at 8:44 pm

    Our nicknames have evolved. Hollis was Little Man and he really was a Little Man. He looked like an infant CPA before the age of 1. Now he’s more often buddyboo. Or if he’s being ornery, buddybooboo. I don’t know why.

    Holden, being a second child, has the nickname cast offs. He’s usually grumpypoo, even though he’s not usually grumpy.

    slouching mom June 11, 2007 at 8:54 pm

    Ben (Benjamin) was Farmajin.
    Jack is still Jack Attack or Jackson (the latter being a joke between me and the hubs, because we did not want to name him Jackson, but we got shit for naming him “just Jack”).

    ali June 11, 2007 at 8:55 pm

    Isabella is ‘Boots’ – she has been since day 1. it just seems to fit.

    kgirl June 11, 2007 at 8:56 pm

    Bee was Bee in utero. Now she’s something else entirely, but I’m afraid that babe #2 is already cast in her older sister’s shadow – we’ve been refering to her as Soon to Bee. No doubt this one, like her sister, will have a silly, special nickname once we get to know her.

    (or him. that wasn’t a slip, just habit)

    JMA June 11, 2007 at 9:00 pm

    I just emerged from my introspective world the other day and happened across your blog. Loved the post about the “Great H&M Escape!” Came back for more…

    Now that the blatant flattery is out of the way, on to nicknames. We have so many, but what stands out most for me is that all three have been called “Choops” at some point (and often still are). I will also accept “Choopy-Choo,” “Choopers,” and the shortened, “Choo.” I really can’t remember the origin, so it must have been insignificant. Yet the nickname persists.

    Mir June 11, 2007 at 9:05 pm

    I really do call mine Monkey and Chickadee. Monkey is also occasionally Smushkin (as in, so cute and smushy), whereas for Chickadee there are a number of singsongy plays on her actual name I sometimes use. Most often, though, it’s MonkeyBoy and Chickadee or Chiquita (which is unrelated but sounds similar).

    Jennifer Playgroupie June 11, 2007 at 9:17 pm

    We call our son Buster. No reason, in fact it doesn’t truly fit him. He’s not a “buster” kind of kid.

    Our daughter we call Rooty. She’s almost 5 weeks old and roots ALL THE TIME. She’s a hungry little girl!

    Karen Rani June 11, 2007 at 9:18 pm

    Dylan is Monkey Toad and Thomas is Scooter.

    LOVED this post. So cute.

    Cathy June 11, 2007 at 9:29 pm

    On the day our Tootie arrived, Hubs cradled her in his arms and crooned, “Hey, there, Toot-Toot.”

    And it stuck.

    As for our little guy, I call him Baby Man, which, now that he is 2 1/2, is simply ridiculous, but I can’t help myself.

    We also call him “E.” Or E-man.

    Mike June 11, 2007 at 9:30 pm

    My son use to be the “bean” in utero because that is what he looked like. Now it’s “cheeky” from when he had chubby cheeks when he was two. The cheeks have long since disappeared, but the name stays in many of it’s forms. Cheeky, cheeky monkey, cheekasaurus, etc. You know the drill.

    Jan B June 11, 2007 at 9:39 pm

    I have some strange nicknames for my six.

    Kim was Clue
    Rick was Rickster
    Andy was Andrew Pandrew – which he hated.
    Jon, of course was the Kidney Bean,
    Charlie is Char-low
    and Rachel is Boo.

    My husband is Chuckle Bucket. Don’t tell him I said that!!

    Smiling Mom June 11, 2007 at 9:44 pm

    Ahh, all your names are so cute!

    We call our son Brodiferous Christopherous. (I can’t even spell it.) But he responds.

    Our daughter’s nickname hasn’t quite emerged yet. My son and husband call her “sweet girl”. Hmm, I’ll have to put more thought into this one. I loved the post. An insight into someone’s life is always so fun!

    Her Bad Mother June 11, 2007 at 9:45 pm

    Oh, LOVE these!!!

    I also, sometimes, call WonderBaby ‘Jones.’ No reason. Just ‘cuz.

    Lara June 11, 2007 at 10:04 pm

    no kids of my own – as we all know – but lady m’s son will always be my bubbers, or bubs, or bubbala. my best friend’s daughter is named makayla, but i call her miki. :)

    crazymumma June 11, 2007 at 10:06 pm

    miss magoo for bigirl when she was little, now she is called sweetie

    littlegirl is boo or superbaby (only from her big sister)

    my nickname when I was little?

    Geah (pronounced guh), a noise you give with a hug.

    wierd shit you made me remember tonight.

    eastcoastelle June 11, 2007 at 10:10 pm

    Our nickname while our daughter was still in utero was Peanut, for the obvious reason that it is exactly what she looked like.

    Since then the name has evolved. Silly Monkey is always popular, or Boo-Boo. But recently she has been Turkey, or Turkey-Bird most of the time. Where it comes from? No idea really… Mostly because she can be such a turkey when she’s not getting her own way. :) You get some funny looks in public though…

    My name is Kari June 11, 2007 at 10:28 pm

    My Claire is honeygirl, Clairegirl or Pooper depending on what she’s been up to. Most recently, it’s been Pooperloo & Iderdider (the sound that her tongue makes when she’s really happy)

    Motherhood Uncensored June 11, 2007 at 10:36 pm

    Hehe. These are great.

    Q is Miss Goose, The Goose, which turn into Googaloog or Googs or something of that nature. I like the “OO” sound apparently.

    And Drew – Mr. Goose. And Cha-Cha

    Don’t ask. I have no idea.

    Lynanne June 11, 2007 at 11:00 pm

    Oh, I love the nickname “Budge”

    My toddler’s nickname is “Bah” It started out as a cute way to say “baby” (bah-bee). Now she’s just “Bah” and even “The Bah”

    The new baby’s nickname (for now) is “Squishy.” Because he’s so little and squishy of course! My 8-year old thinks he should be called “Tuba” for “Two-Bah” (Bah #2) Poor little Squishy…

    nomotherearth June 11, 2007 at 11:08 pm

    That’s funny, I just wrote a post about names, and then clicked over to your site. Funny-weird, not funny-haha. ;-)

    We actually did refer to the Boy as “The Boy” before I started blogging. I also used Sweetpea (a throwback to Popeye), which I have now bastardized to “Sweet of Pee”.

    In utero, he was “Estéban” (he of the Magical Guitar in informercials).

    No nickname for Babe#2 as of yet. Mr Earth keeps saying “TJ”, but I can’t say that without following it with a “Hooker” afterwards. tee hee.

    Jen June 11, 2007 at 11:13 pm

    Oh this is so fun! I think I love nicknames as much as the real names.

    The name of my blog was based on the nicknames my Mom has for the girls. I think Papoosie Girl came from our obsession with swaddling. Rosebud had those perfect baby rosebud lips.

    These are not the nicknames I use or what my MIL uses (Greek sweet names) and they are not the names I yell out at the playground. I call them interchangeably:

    peanut (not so much now)
    Susie (strange, but Rosebud likes to play a game where I pretend to forget who she is and she always wants me to call her Susie)

    I have more, but these are common ones, others are based on their names.

    This was fun, I will be back to see the rest of the comments.

    petite gourmand June 11, 2007 at 11:17 pm

    I love nick names.
    we actually call Lulu-lulu-even though this is not her real name.
    that along with a bunch of other sappy things like
    luv, monkey, bubelah, rascal, sweet pea, munchkin, etc etc.

    To this day my own parents (and most of my relatives) don’t ever call me by my real name.
    They actually just call me sheen.
    some times sheen bean.
    silly, but I really like it.

    Budge is the cutest.

    Major Bedhead June 11, 2007 at 11:27 pm

    O has been called LaLa ever since Boo could talk. And Boo has been Boo pretty much since birth. She’s also called Issy-boo because that’s what she used to call herself. She’s also often and frequently called Monkeybutt.

    The Bug is not called The Bug and never really has been, except for on my blog. We were calling her Pumpkin Pie, but Boo couldn’t say that, so she just called her PiePie. That somehow turned into Muffinhead and that seems to have stuck. And now, every morning, Boo comes bursting into the room and yells “G’mornin’, Muffinhead!” It is too cute.

    nonlineargirl June 11, 2007 at 11:34 pm

    Small animals seem ripe for nickname fodder. I call Ada “Bun” a lot. Bun from bunny. In the other direction I call her Ada Potata. When I am in public, I notice how much I call her that.

    NotSoSage June 11, 2007 at 11:43 pm

    Most of Mme L’s nicknames are too close to her real name to divulge here but we have, in the past, called her Ms. Pants (which, I stress, must be voiced with a Scottish accent). Don’t ask me why.

    Our hypothetical second child has, almost since Mme L’s birth, been referred to as Twinkle, as in, “before you were even a twinkle in your father’s eye.”

    But I am a huge fan of Budgerigar and I have friends who call each other and their dog “Jones”.

    flutter June 12, 2007 at 12:23 am

    I think Budge is precious.

    My mom used to call me teenybug. Which is funny on many levels since I was always really really tall

    laura June 12, 2007 at 12:40 am

    Budge is a perfect nickname! My kiddo’s nickname is Shmoo. I don’t know how it came to be, but we use it, ironically, in a similar manner that you do with Budge. For example, “Shmoo was such a Shmooper today!”

    Kate June 12, 2007 at 1:30 am

    Big girl is called Baa – a recent thing because the toddlers can’t say her name, the smaller one is really called Jboo, oober baby, or snazzy. The incoming invader has been called, parasite, jelly bean and peanut so far but none of those will stick.

    Anonymous June 12, 2007 at 1:42 am

    These are just great!
    My 2 yr old daughter Eliana has been called Ellie by EVERYONE (including me) since birth. My personal nicknames for her are Bugaboo if she’s being a real butt or just plain ole “boo” if she’s being cute. If I want a giggle I’ll call her my shnugglepuffs. She likes it now…just wait!
    My 4 year old Gavin has had a gizillion knicknames over the years and none have stuck other than “my little guy” which is so…boring..and yet, he IS my little guy! It just fits!

    painted maypole June 12, 2007 at 2:21 am

    too funny! my most recent post, which I wrote before reading yours, is simply titled “nicknames”

    Lady M June 12, 2007 at 3:40 am

    There was a time when we called Q by the name “Darth Baby” because he was such a noisy breather when sleeping. No complaints from us – it was easy to check whether he was sleeping without having to get out of bed.

    jess June 12, 2007 at 4:05 am

    I used to call my baby brother, Bubby or Bubs, when he was little. It stuck and on his first day of kindergarten when the teacher’s called him Zachary he muttered darkly, “I’m not Zachawy, I’m Bubby!”

    Poor kid, he’s 21 now and I still love telling that story. :)

    Janet a.k.a. "Wonder Mom" June 12, 2007 at 8:06 am

    Stinkfoot is a real nickname.

    So is Pidge (as in pidgeon), Bobby, Lu, LaLa, Boo, Mamma, Moo…Goodness…I never call her by her REAL name.

    Beck June 12, 2007 at 8:34 am

    By birth order:
    1) Scooter
    2) Mr. Magoo or Hey, Buddy
    3) Her Royal Majesty Queen Victoria

    Avalon June 12, 2007 at 8:55 am

    My daughter has always been “Buns” or “Bunsy” to me cause she had the cutest chubby set of buns when she was a baby. It was not, however, much appreciated when she was a teenager.

    Laural Dawn June 12, 2007 at 9:57 am

    My son is “love bug” to me. He’s so cute because he’ll say “I’m not Maffew – I’m your love bug”.
    And, then the other day he said “I know you love me cause I’m your love bug.”
    Toooo adorable.
    I love the new design.
    PS Budge is very cute.

    Elizabeth June 12, 2007 at 10:00 am

    Kaitlyn’s nickname is “The Boo”. The boys gave her that nickname when she was just a newborn, because they thought she was so cute and they always said to her “what a cute baby boo you are”. So now I say thing to them like “where’s The Boo?” or “Would one of you take “The Boo” on a walk?” And I have used it at their school, on playgrounds, everywhere.

    Love your little Budge’s messy face!

    Elizabeth June 12, 2007 at 10:04 am

    OH, and my husband and I call her “KatieBug”. It started because she had this adorable ladybug onesie as a baby, and I called it her KatieBug LadyBug outfit. The nickname stuck, and sometimes I call her the whole name, KatieBug LadyBug. I need to start collecting ladybug stuff for her!

    Louise June 12, 2007 at 10:19 am

    We have : Monkey (7), Bean or Doodle (5), brothers who are also referred to as monster 1 and monster 2, and our baby, who is the Pickle to one and all.

    Kyla June 12, 2007 at 11:09 am

    They both have shorten versions of their own name. Then the Tar nicknames from the Hubs. But their nonsensical nicknames are respectively: Monkey (Monk, Monkster, MonkeyMan, ect) and Princess Pie (Pie-Pie, PieFace, ect). No clue how it started. Also, sometimes they are called Squirt and Squirtle.

    ewe are here June 12, 2007 at 11:25 am

    Oh this is a great post, and all the stories about nicknames here are fantastic, too!

    Perhaps this will give me something to write about a bit more expansively when I get Pookie Pumpkin and Baby Boo into their respective beds tonight…. ;-)

    clueless but hopeful mama June 12, 2007 at 11:27 am

    Apparently we are late to the “Boo” party. My 13 month old has been “Boo” or “Booboo” for at least half her life. Unfortunately, a new friend of mine has a poop-eating chihuahua named Booboo. We may have to find a new nickname….

    Mad Hatter June 12, 2007 at 12:01 pm

    Miss M quite literally has over 100 nicknames. We are a nickname household. She has so many nicknames that she has now started insisting on making up her own pseudonyms. Right now we MUST call her Jenny. Last week it was Jesse Jeerial. There’s been about 10 pseudonyms in all. I’ve been meaning to write a post about this but I’ve now said it in enough comments that the post is moot.

    mothergoosemouse June 12, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    Ready for this convoluted chain of nickname evolutions?

    Former co-worker who is Irish used expression “tickety boo”, which stuck in my head. I also used to like to sing the following to our cats: “(S)he’s the kitty witty doodle pie from Company C”, appropriate because both cats had names that began with the letter C.

    So. “Tickety boo” became “Tickety boo doodle” became “Ticka” or “Boo” or “Boodle”. ACK.

    And don’t even ask about how I have further bastardized the Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy song in honor of both Tacy and CJ.

    Kate H. June 12, 2007 at 1:12 pm

    My daughter Mae is “Ducky” or, sometimes, “Miss Duck”. I wish I could remember where it came from, but I can’t. She’s just so darned ducky, is all.

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