Sugarbugs & Cheese Weasels

newborn baby

Terms of Endearment

“C’mon pumpkin butter, let’s go.”

Pumpkin butter? I overheard a mom using this pet name on her toddler the other day. I thought I’d heard them all. Used them all myself. Bunny, sweetie-pie, dumpling. Considering the incredible amount of careful consideration and hand-wringing debate parents put into choosing baby names—I bought not one, but two books of baby names when I was pregnant–it’s a little odd that so many parents rarely bother to call their kids by their given names.

Not surprisingly, most terms of endearment are sweet foods. (Cutie pie, pumpkin pie, honey bunny). Although you’ll also hear a surprising number of savory-food-inspired names for children, like “peanut” and “potato.” We sometimes call our oldest “quinoa” (calling him a fancy grain makes more sense when you know his name is Quinn). When it comes to terms of endearment for kids and babies, clearly there’s just no limit to the possibilities.

I decided to draw up a list of all the names I’ve used or heard my mommy friends use on their kids. It’s a crackup. Sometimes the funniest nicknames are slightly pejorative. On a river trip last summer, one of the river guides unilaterally called the kids “cheese weasels.” We’ve often used “tootsie pants.” I can’t exactly explain that one, but depending on the scenario, it often fits. Whether you call the kids rug rats and ankle biters or sweet cheeks and cherubs sort of depends on the day.

What follows is a list of names used in our family plus a bunch collected in an informal poll of my pals. There are some names that I simply cannot explain (“cookie ears” and “little bucket”) and some that are family code words (“biscuit” is my friend Andy’s code for bee-atch and “LMF” is Christina’s code for, well, never mind).  If the name you so lovingly call your little darling isn’t here, add it to this list with a comment. I intentionally left this list out of alphabetical order, because I liked the stream of consciousness of how it rolls now.

A final word of caution. You may think calling your baby “poopsie” is cute now, but you never know what’s going to stick. I have friends in their 40s named “Kookie” and “Buzzie.” I also know of a man named “Tiddles,” which is short for “Tiddlywinks,” his childhood nickname. Tiddles’ real name is Lester and he is 70. No one calls any of these folks by their real names.

  • Angel
  • Angelface
  • Toots
  • Tootsie pants
  • Grumpy pants
  • Grumpapotamus
  • Crab Cake
  • Pumpkin
  • Pumpkin head
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Punky
  • Pookie
  • Pumpkin butter
  • Peanut butter
  • Peanut
  • Pine nut
  • Potato
  • Bunny
  • Snuggle bunny
  • Cuddle bunny
  • Honey bunny
  • Honey
  • Honey pie
  • Cutie pie
  • Muffin
  • Cookie ears
  • Sweetie pie
  • Sweetheart
  • Sweetness
  • Sweet thing
  • Sweet pea
  • Sweets
  • Sweet cheeks
  • Butter cheeks
  • Sugar
  • Sugar Bug
  • Sugar Plum
  • Cupcake
  • Darling
  • Love
  • Lovey
  • Love bug
  • Bug
  • Nulabug
  • Noodle
  • Boo
  • Baby
  • Baby Cakes
  • Babe
  • Bean
  • Sassafras
  • Sass
  • Spicy Pepper
  • Chicken
  • Goose
  • Little Bucket
  • Cheese Weasel

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Thomas Broderick says:

    Nice job Helen. Does Buzzie know? Best, Brody

    • Helen Olsson says:

      Okay, so i never said it was bad to go through life as a “Buzzie.” She is still a Buzzie through and through. Just a word of caution that pet names stick. What if Buzzie was “Poopsie” or “Cranberry Nut Muffin Cheeks”?” Now that would be a drag!

      • hey- at least you spelled it right -ie and not -y.
        The real reason why I was named Buzzie is because they ran out of nicknames for Elizabeth- which is possible when you have over 6 Elizabeth’s in your family that were still alive at the time of my birth (and your father doesn’t like the name Beth)- I guess “Buzzie” seemed cute at the time.
        But, if you smack talk my name in future blogs – remember, i can always expose to your followers where “maddog” really came from :) xo

        • Helen Olsson says:

          My dad was very interested to know why I was called “Maddog” in college. I told him, of course, it was because I was such a voracious student. Boy, when I got my hands on a chemistry textbook, I was like a dog with a bone. Don’t you remember that?

          • Helen Olsson says:

            Just heard about a fella named “Tiddles,” short for Tiddlywinks. His real name is Lester and he is in his 70s. Love it and have added it to the mix above.

  2. Should I be embarrassed that my contribution was the most profane? If so, then I blame the endearing LMFs on my highly educated husband and brother-in-law. The original Big MFs.

    • Helen Olsson says:

      My little butter dumplings never — ever– exhibit the kind of behavior that would earn them “LMF” status. Ever.

  3. Suzanne says:

    Ours is a “Muffin man” – not from the song though. He’s just a muffin.

  4. Rich Kuzmeski says:

    Helen-
    I don’t see ‘Snooky’ or ‘The Situation’ on your list.
    Regards
    Kuz

    • Helen Olsson says:

      Here’s hoping your kids are not called “The Situation.” Or “Snooky” for that matter. We do sometimes call our littlest a POW… “piece of work.”

  5. I called them Dolly or some version of their name, like Emilino friend-o-mine-o and Dylbear. But they were my dollies. Now they’re big ol’ adults.

  6. Nice job, Helen! I’ll make sure that my dad reads this.

  7. I call mine sugar booger and honey bunny.

  8. Chickenbee is one of my nicknames. My husband made up a little song to go with it (I know, I know, we’re disgustingly gloopy).

    He also uses Chickenpie on our cat (I know it’s not a baby, but we can’t have a baby so we have a cat).

    I use ‘beeble’ on basically all tiny cute things, and I have been known to call small children ‘fella’ also, and I’ve always been fond of the word ‘moppet’ and ‘poppet’. ‘bibi’ is also used all over the internet (spelled ‘bb’), but has disseminated into spoken language now too. Weirdly, my mom used to call me ‘killer’ (as in ‘slow down, killer!’), which I have never heard anywhere but my own family. My maternal grandpa used to call us ‘children and other small animals’, which isn’t exactly a direct term of endearment, but it always tickled me. Then there’s the southern terms, like sweetpea and honeylamb etc. Idk if people use this, but I like ‘fairycake’ too (fairycake is what cupcakes are called in Britain). I also get called ‘tinyshinybeeface’ and similar things, again by the husband.

    My friend calls her kids ‘sprog’, and explained that this is a British term (she’s Irish).

    I love terms of endearment–one of my fav fictional characters, Lord Akeldama, calls everyone ridiculously complicated ones, like gherkin, and darlingest of [name]s, and all kinds of little flower names.

    -Ben

    • Helen Olsson says:

      Ben,
      I love these! we use sprog around here, too. my parents are Irish, so that jibes. Not sure that fairycakes is going to take off, but i do like chickenpie, gherkin, honeylamb. I’m going to steal some of those.
      MDM

  9. Really? Baby? No Baby? Does no one call their child Baby? Because I’ve been looking around (it’s awkward to explain, so I won’t) and no one seems to call their child Baby. Does this really not happen, or does it just seem so obvious that no one thinks to put it on paper (or screen)?

  10. My son’s nickname through childhood was Gulab Jamun (he was VERY VERY VERY fat and round- hit 16kilos at one year old). (He is now 7 and 20 kilos, so apparently he was just very efficient early on.)

    • Helen Olsson says:

      Goodness. I had to look that one up! For any one else who’s not familiar with the term: Gulab jamun is a milk-solids -based dessert, similar to a dumpling, popular in countries of the South Asian. Or so says Wiki.

  11. Jackie M Cofield says:

    My now 25 year old nephew has been called OTT (pronounced Uhta) since he was 2 and had to have a surgery on his male parts, he told his Popeye that they hurt his OTT an well it’s still his name for family to this day!

  12. My parents were very unoriginal when they nicknamed me for the most part – Princess and Pumpkin. My dad also called me Junie B. Jones and Junie B. (he claims that he started using it before the book series). Of course since I was a moody little thing they called me Grouchetta, Evil-lyn (after my name Kaitlyn), and Kaitlyn Sybil Surname (Sybil is after the woman with multiple personalities).

    My sister was called Hong Kong Fuey (because she cried ALL THE TIME and she used to kick a lot like she was in a martial arts movie).

    My youngest sister was born when I was seven and I started calling her Boobaloo sometimes shortened to Boob (and the rest of the family took it up until we noticed that she didn’t know her actual name when she was 2 and we were forced to stop). We also call her Cry-lie (after her name Kylie and because she whined a lot – again that was a nickname I made up). She was also called Bubbles and Peanut.

    On top of all that my mother called all of us Love Bug, Sweat Pea, and sometimes Chickpea, as well as occasionally calling us Chicken Helen, with a French accent (though that was generally left for our chicken dinners) and her Chicken (without an accent).

    • I mean Boo Boo Fuey (She cried like she had a booboo and Fuey for the martial arts kicking)

    • Helen Olsson says:

      K,
      I LOVE these! I can’t believe you remember them all. You’re inspiring me to do a Part II listing. Grouchetta is priceless. A also love “bubbles.” We’ve been calling our kids crabbypants lately. Or maybe that’s me.

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