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Posted in: Family Last updated: 03 Oct 2016

Family Names

Mum's the word? Our survey takes a look at the most popular pet-names for those we're closest to

From the names we give our parents and friends are personal to us – but naturally, a few will prevail due to the cultures we're brought up in, or where we live. Having found a vast swathe of phrases given to mothers, fathers and other loved ones in just our own offices, we decided to commission research to give us an insight into the modern family unit.
Now, the results are in…

Mums

It appears that mum really is the word, with 63% of the nation calling their mother by that name. Still, there are regional variations; over half of people in Newcastle (53%) refer to their mother as "mam", while a surprising quarter of people from Birmingham (25%) refer to her as "mom" – similar to our friends across the pond.
One of the biggest regional differences across the country turned out to be with the word "mummy"; over one-fifth of people in southern England (22%) use the term, compared to just 5% of their northern counterparts.

Dads

Nationally, it appears we're in agreement when referring to our male parents: "dad" is the most popular male option across the UK (67%), followed by "daddy" in second (11%) and "father" in third (9%).
You'd think most Brits may have grown out of calling parents mummy and daddy, yet those aged between 25 and 34 were more likely to use the terms than 18 to 24-year-olds!

First-name terms

While a few people consider it a step too far, younger generations are pretty carefree by calling their parents by their first name, showing a major departure from generations before them: nearly half (49%) of 25 to 34-year-olds did this, compared to just one-fifth of over-55s (21%).
This is also much more the preserve of those below the Watford Gap– first-name familiarity between parents and their children is common for a third of people in south-east England (31%), compared to just under a quarter (19%) of northerners.

Terms of endearment

The battle for popular words used as terms of affection was a lot closer-fought than the fight over parent naming conventions. As a nation, we prefer one of three particular terms: "love" (28%), "darling" (23%) and "sweetheart" (18%).
Most of the terms used were general variations of old favourites – "darl", "honey", "hun", "sugar" and even "poppet" made the shortlist.

The origins of nicknames

The reasoning behind certain words we use for our loved ones can be obvious - sugar, honey and sweetie being aligned to things we love the taste of, for example - while most family names derive from French influences on early English, such as "grand-mere" becoming "grandmother".
However, some of the most popular terms of endearment are much more etymologically interesting: 

  • Darling: This word comes from the old English word "deorling", and literally means "favourite minion".
  • Poppet: Originally used to describe a small human-like figure used in witchcraft and sorcery - the same word transformed into "puppet" in the 1500s.
  • Babe: Usually seen as "attractive young woman" since the college slang of the early 1900s - but earlier uses derive from Russian "babushka" (grandmother) and "baba" (peasant woman)!
 Overall top 5 mum names:
 Mum (63%)
 Mother (13.2%)
 Mam (9.5%)
 Mummy (9.3%)
 Mom (6.2%)

 Overall top 5 grandma names:
 Nan (16.2%)
 Grandma (16%)
 Granny (11.4%)
 Gran (10.5%)
 Nanna (9.3%)

 Overall top 5 'other' names:
 Love (28.4%)
 Darling (23.2%)
 Sweetheart (17.9%)
 Babe (13.7%)
 Hun (9.6%)

 Overall top 5 dad names:
 Dad (67.2%)
 Daddy (10.9%)
 Father (8.8%)
 Papa (6.5%)
 Pop (5.1%)

 Overall top 5 grandad names:
 Grandad (36.9%)
 Grampa (6%)
 Granda (2.8%)
 Gramps (2.8%)
 Grandfather (2.6%)

 Overall bottom 'other' names:
 Sugar (2.4%)
 Bear (2.5%)
 Lovie (3.6%)
 Bunny (3.9%)
 Petal (4.1%)

Note: Whilst we take care to ensure Hub content is accurate at the time of publication, individual circumstances can differ so please don’t rely on it when making financial decisions.

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