Tag Archives: nickname

The Big D


Residents of Dallas refer to it as “the Big D.”


The informant lived in Dallas for 17 years, and grew up knowing this nickname for her hometown.


Preliminary research points towards this nickname originating from the song with the same name, “Big D” from the 1956 musical The Most Happy Fella. The name popularized when Bing Crosby recorded the song, and stuck when a columnist at Dallas Morning News titled his column “Big D.” Since then, residents of Dallas have continued to call their city “the Big D” without necessarily knowing the origin of the nickname.

The longevity of the nickname may be more due to its function as a double entendre than the timelessness origins. Though the nickname remains the same, the meaning behind it changes, so that new generations believe their hometown nickname is unironically an epithet for genitalia.

Ethiopian Bride’s Nickname

Informant AD is a graduate student from San Jose California, whose family is originally from Ethiopia. There is a strong Ethiopian disasporic community in San Jose, where much of its traditions live on


“The groom’s mom, or like closest maternal figure, comes up with a meaningful name for the bride. Some people have random ones like ብርሃን ናት (“birhan nat,” or “she is bright,” roughly). It’s supposed to be meaningful to how the groom’s mom feels towards the bride.”


Informant AM witnessed this tradition in primarily Ethiopian Orthodox Christian weddings. Ethiopia is a country with 36 million Orthodox Christians as of 2017, according to the Pew Research Center (Diamant). Ethiopian Orthodox culture places heavy emphasis on the family. Traditionally, the name that the groom’s mother gives to the bride is known as የዳቦ ስም,or ye dabo sim, which translates roughly to “name of the bread” or “bread name.” This name is traditionally given during an event after the wedding and wedding reception known as the መልሴ, or “melse.” The nickname is usually granted while breaking bread for everyone to eat, and each attendee must recite the dabo sim before being able to eat the bread (Habeshabrides).


The ritual re-naming of the bride is a symbolic aspect of an Ethiopian ceremony — from my own observation, as the bride rarely uses the name — but it reflects the influence of family on this important time: the groom’s mother— a family member not directly involved in the wedding itself — is granted the privilege of renaming the bride, and the name thus represents the interconnection of two families. Thus, the naming ceremony reflects not only the bonding of two individuals, but two families.

Works Cited:

Diamant, Jeff. “Ethiopia Is an Outlier in the Orthodox Christian World.” Pew Research Center, Pew Research Center, 17 Aug. 2020, https://www.pewresearch.org/short-reads/2017/11/28/ethiopia-is-an-outlier-in-the-orthodox-christian-world/#:~:text=Ethiopia%20is%20an%20outlier%20in%20the%20Orthodox%20Christian%20world&text=The%20country%20in%20the%20Horn,largest%20Orthodox%20population%20after%20Russia. 

“Brides of the Blue Nile.” Habeshabrides, https://habeshabrides.com/culture/brides-of-the-blue-nile/. 

Danish Term of Endearment

Text: “When I was really little my mom called me noula, which is noodle in Danish, and I was always so squiggly and squirmy, that I would just fall out of her arms.”

Context: L is 21 and originally from Colorado, but currently a student at USC. She is of British and Dutch heritage. Her grandmother immigrated from Denmark when she was nine years old, and her mother grew up speaking Danish, but no longer does. 

Analysis: L spelled the word above n-o-u-l-a, and pronounced the first syllable like the English word “new.” However, there is no dutch word available online with this spelling. There is the spelling n-u-l-a or nula, meaning zero in English. Yet, this word is pronounced nUH-lah, rather than nOO-la. The danish word available for noodle online is nudel. As well as the less frequently used, tosshoved, which directly translates to noodle, but also “crazy head.” Maybe L’s mother was combining the meaning of “tosshoved” and “nudel” to encapsulate L’s personality as a child. Or perhaps the word “noula” is a slang term for noodle in Danish. Danish terms of endearment are often shorter, and similar to English refer to “my sweet” or “my dear,” they can also be diminutive like “little one.” However there are also more playful terms like puttegøj or puttemus which refers to a small type of mouse. L’s mother’s use of noula was something that stopped as she grew older, however she says she’s always reminded of it when she eats noodles. Danish food is hearty with its cultural dishes containing lots of potatoes and meat. Noodles or pasta aren’t as common, but can be found in a number of recipes like Danish goulash.

Culinta (Cullies) and Ginkles (Ginks)

  • Conext: The following informant, T, is a 56 yr. old married mother of three. She comes from a large Italian family. She explains to me the alternative names she and her entire extended family use for vagina (culinta/cullie) and penis (ginkle/ginks). The informant also sings me a song she created when her daughter was a toddler that incorporates a variant of the word culinta that is now sung throughout her family to female toddlers. The conversation took place in the informants kitchen as we looked at old family photos and remembered other folkspeech used among the family. 
  • Text:

T: “In my family growing up we would call vaginas culintas and penises ginkles and I don’t know where it came from. But it came from my dad’s side of the family, and they we’re Italian, and they would really call it a cullie or a ginks or a ginkle and we would just reference that…

And so when [my daughter] was little I made up this song about putting her pull-ups on in the kitchen and it would go… it goes like this…

‘Put the pulls on the cules and make the coffee in the kitchen’

And now that’s a family song. And all of the nieces, all of my nieces, sing that song to their kids.”

  • Analysis: Sex is a very tabboo subject in American society. The conversation of genitalia is also often censored. I believe this may be one of the reasons for the wide variety of vocabulary used to describe male and female genitalia. It does not shock me that my own family uses the words culinta and ginkle, because even though we’re aware of what body parts we’re referring to, it somehow makes the conversation feel appropriate to any audience. In addition, the words themselves sound more similar to Italian words, so they harken back to our ancestry. I plan on teaching the words culinta/cullie and ginkle/ginks to my children, as I’m not sure they could survive in our family without knowing the meaning of those words. Surprisingly to me, when the terms are used around non-family members, they often understand the meaning, but I would attribute this more to the context in which they are used. Perhaps from the other parts of the conversation, the person is able to pick up on the meaning of the words rather than inherently knowing the definitions. 

Going Out the Road

  • Context: The informant (A) is a 19 year old college student who lives at the Jersey Shore in South New Jersey in the summer. He explains to me the colloquial term used in his town when a person is driving from the island on which they live to stores inland. The conversation came up during a family discussion whether or not everyone in the town of Sea Isle City, NJ knows the term “out the road” means going inland or if it is specific to the informant’s family (this was never resolved). 
  • Text:

A: “Out the road is when you’re down at the shore in New Jersey… which is the southern part of Jersey in between Atlantic City and Wildwood.

And… uh… when you’re going out the road you drive inland and south towards where the shopping centers are in middle New Jersey… uh… and there’s a TJMaxx and there’s a couple other stores…

And you go out the road when you uh… when you want things… anyway that’s what out the road is.”

  • Analysis: “Out the road” is a term used to describe going from the islands to the inlands because you physically must go out the road. There is only one road leading in and out of the island in New Jersey where the informant spends his summers, so it makes sense that there is a term for this action. It creates a group of those who know the local terms and those who do not. It also creates a group of inlanders and islanders and the two are physically separated by a road as well as a specific term/speech.