Weird Thai Nicknames

I’m sure many others have written about this. The topic is just so hard to resist. I have wanted to write about Thai nicknames for a long time but never got around to… until now. I kept hearing weirder and weirder nicknames bestowed on the poor Thai kids—well, perhaps not all ‘poor’ in the sense they will hate their nicknames five years from now but I bet many will wish their parents were less into fads and had a little more foresight.

Start with a couple of names flashing under my radar lately:

วุ้นเส้น Wun Sen /wún-sên/ = vermicelli

แพนเค้ก Pancake = pancake (surprise!)

ขนมจีน Khanom Jeen /khà-nǒm jiin/ = lit. “Chinese snack” but actually refers to Thai noodles (don’t ask my why but that’s just how Thai noodles are called)

pancake_food

Pancake the Food

pancake_person

Pancake the Person

How on earth can anyone, even Thais, think nicknames like Vermicelli, Pancake and Thai Noodles are cute? (Erm, maybe I haven’t chosen the right picture of Pancake the Person to make my point. But… uh… yummy, I concede. B-but normal? Be honest and imagine people as noodles.) My English-speaking friends, imagine naming your kid Spaghetti and you should see my point.

The three names listed above (all nicknames of pretty young Thai celebs) are among recent additions to a galore of Thai nicknames that make you hungry. But they can’t compare with this one which is in a class of its own in astounding nicknames department. It made a screeching landing in my ear a few months back and crushed more than a few of my senses:

แอร์บัส Airbus

airbus

Airbus – the huge plane

Yes, you got it! Airbus. This is a name of an actor’s baby boy (daddy’s nickname is nothing so exotic). Perhaps daddy has a dream for his boy—to be a high-flyer. And a really big one too. Airbus it is! (380 is the model I guess daddy had in mind.)

If you think naming a baby Airbus is absurd, I agree. But obviously at least one person thinks differently (that he is an actor is duly noted).

There’s a tradition—albeit a relatively recent one, a few decades old—of Thai kids being named after brand names or even generic (English) names of inanimate or previously animate objects. Here are some common girl and boy nicknames you might have heard of:

เบนซ์ Benz (girl, as in Mercedes Benz)

โคล่า Cola (boy, as in Coca Cola)

เป๊บซี่ Pepsi (you know, Coke’s rival, boy)

เซเว่น Seven (as in 7-Eleven, girl)

บอล Ball (boy, as in round object you kick or throw or hit in a game)

กอล์ฟ Golf (boy or girl, not exactly an object but I can imagine him/her as Ball’s sibling)

แบ๊งค์ Bank (modern masculine, boy, as in a place that keeps a lot of money)

โบ๊ต Boat (boy, water vehicle)

ปาล์ม Palm (boy I guess, as in the sturdy plant found in the tropics)

มิ้งค์ Mink (modern feminine?, girl, as in semiaquatic weasellike animal, or politically incorrect fur of this poor creature)

มิ้นท์ Mint (girl, a plant or extracted flavor thereof that’s considered refreshing)

If you have heard them often enough you might think they are normal nicknames like Thais do, I guess. But just imagine people calling you by some of these names and seeing the following images.

Pepsi

Pepsi

boat

Boat

mink

Mink

Gone are the days when Thai girls are nicknamed after cute, small animals and Thai fruits like แมว Maew (cat), นก Nok (bird), หนู Noo (mouse), ปู Poo (crab), ปลา Pla (fish), กวาง Kwang (deer), ต่าย Taay (rabbit), or ส้ม Som (orange), ส้มโอ Som-O (pomelo), ชมพู่ Chompoo (rose apple), มะปราง Ma-prang (Marian plum), แตงโม Taeng-mo (watermelon), องุ่น A-ngun (grape), etc. Okay, maybe you can’t really see nicknames like Orange and Grape adorable, or Crab and Fish cute and cuddly, but they seem to be all those in unique Thai sensibility.

The Thai concept of “cute animal nicknames” includes not only animals you can eat but extends further to amphibians, insects and other creatures that you may not want to see on your dinner table (but sometimes do appear on some dinner tables), like เต่า Tao (turtle), กบ Kob (frog), ลูกอ๊อด Luk-od (tadpole), มด Mod (ant), จิ้งจก Jingjok (house lizard), จิ้งหรีด Jingreed (cricket), etc.

frog

Kob – Frog

cricket

Jingreed – Cricket

This small sample should give you some idea about the Thai taste in cuteness. Non-Thais may think this set of nicknames pretty strange, but I can assure you, they are so “normal”. Even “passé normal.” So 1970s passé normal.

Long, long gone are the days when Thai kids were named after—gulp—basic colors. Towards the end of the 20th century sophisticated Thai parents snickered at the old way of naming kids ดำ Dam (black), แดง Daeng (red), or เขียว Khiew (green). In their way of thinking anyone who would inflict such old-fashioned and unimaginative nicknames on their children likely have not been exposed to the Thai modern way of life. But for modern parents still fond of colors, they have found a way to update the old tradition. Dump Dam, Daeng and Khiew. Enter พิ้งค์ Pink and บลู Blue—“cute” English colors, not the uncool Thai colors, mind you.

Similarly you won’t see many Nok’s among Thai girls under 20, but you’ll see many a boy or man named Bird. Not quite sure how or why, but the Thai nickname “bird” has evidently gone through a sex change. (My first suspect would be “P’ Bird” Thongchai McIntire, the pop singer superstar.) Fruit nicknames, on the other hands, stay pretty much on the feminine side but the Thai fruits have also predictably given way to farang fruits, like แอปเปิ้ล Apple, เชอรี่ Cherry. I saw บลูเบอรี่ Blueberry on the list at thainickname.com but I’m not able to confirm that the trend has gone that far—yet.

blueberry

Blueberry

Readers feeling semantically abused by this paragraph might wonder: haven’t Thai parents thought of more normal Western names, if they were going to adopt them anyway? Indeed, there are some normal Western names Thais have adopted that might soothe your senses—a little. You might find many Thai women and girls named Anne (แอนน์) and May (เมย์), and many Thai men named Joe (โจ) and Jay (เจ). And there are Tom (ทอม), Ken (เคน), Joy (จอย), and, ahem, Mark (มาร์ค). But you’ll also meet Bam (แบม), Bee (บี), Beam (บีม), Boy (บอย), Bom (บอม)—or is it Bomb (บอมบ์)? (WomenLearnThai also had a Thai nickname post by Rikker in 2009. Worth checking out.)

So you see, before you can take a long breath the Thai nicknames drag you back to the realm of weirdness and attack your sensibilities with unlikely English words “trendy” Thai parents have chosen to bestow on their children. Many more of them like these:

เบียร์ Beer (perhaps daddy, or less likely mommy, couldn’t decide on the most favorite brand of beer to name the baby boy so went with the generic name instead to cover all possibilities)

ออยล์ Oil (never occurred to me to ask a girl by this name I once knew if it was the cooking oil or petro her parents had in mind)

ฟลุ๊ค Fluke (this should qualify as child abuse – really an unkind joke on the poor boy or girl branded as a living evidence that mommy and daddy failed at planning)

เวฟ Wave (I guess this is a boy’s name, though not quite sure if it’s the popular Honda motorbike model, shortened from microwave, or water or radio wave)

โน้ต Note (this I can understand somewhat, mommy and daddy have musical aspirations for their boy – though why not for a girl I’ll never know)

กีตาร์ Guitar (this I can not understand – why not wait until the boy or girl grows up and get him or her the real instrument)

เปียโน Piano (ditto – I can imagine the parents’ desire to see a kid as a future world-famous concert pianist, but I’d hate to break it to them that naming a baby after a grand musical instrument isn’t going to make the child a musical prodigy)

อาร์ม Arm (I suppose it refers to the upper arm, as it’s a boy’s name – upper arm is manlier than the lower arm, no?)

น๊อต Knot (perhaps some kind of reverse voodoo psychology to make the child an expert at solving knotty problems, or maybe it’s “not” without the “K” which will be even higher concept than I can take)

piano

Piano

arm

Arm

However weird these may seem, it could certainly be worse. Think of the possibilities! Thai boys and girls named Leg, Elbow, Armpit, Head, Ear … in families with a human anatomy fetish; or Flute, Drum, Clarinet, Whistle, Jingle, etc. in musically inclined families. (I have a nagging suspicion there is a Flute or two in Thailand. I would bet my lunch on it.) And for adventuresome families into vehicles or moving objects, hard as it may be for anyone to imagine, there can be worse nicknames than Airbus. Think just plain Bus (I really did see this on a nickname list!), Bike, Taxi, or Tuk-tuk (come to think of it, all these may already exist). If there are Thai kids called Boat, Helicopter and Porsche out there, the day you run into Bungee, Formula One, F18, or Airship may be nearer than you previously thought.

Really, I can kind of appreciate Thai parents giving their children sweet-sixties names like Sky (in Thai [Fah: ฟ้า] or English) and Water (น้ำ), or scientifically clever ones like Atom (อะตอม) and Ohm (you know, that electrical resistance unit with this symbol Ω). These at least have something special about them.

atomic bomb

Imagine Atom falls in love with Bomb

But naming one’s offspring after some brand names (exclusive or ubiquitous), mundane inanimate objects, public and private vehicles, food, drinks, and confectionery, I just can’t see how that’s pleasing… I mean, aren’t parents supposed to make their kids feel uniquely human? What purpose does naming a kid “Boat” serve? Surely not to make him float on water? What if he cant’ swim? That’s just one problem with one Thai nickname. If you have nothing better to do you can pick any of the nicknames above and list how each can make a kid’s life miserable. But then you’d be thinking too logically. I must say I don’t see many Thai people, kids or adults, making much of these nicknames I think are weird. Maybe I’m the weird one in Thai society. (That thought has crossed my mind quite a lot lately.)

I tweeted about Airbus when I first heard of that nickname. Many Twitter friends joined in and shared the funny Thai nicknames they had heard of. We joked that there might be a kid named Facebook somewhere. Guess what, Facebook was being suggested as a name for some baby on a web board. Somebody knew a young man named Google (whose parents must have been very early adopters of the Internet). I bet my money that there are a couple of Thai babies called iPhone or Blackberry already in existence or being made right now!

But I have not lost hope (that I’m not the only weird one). I believe there are some Thai youth out there who think like me. For all we know there could be some ill-adjusted Thai teenagers called Xerox or Fax, Modem or Netscape, brooding in their rooms right now, wishing their parents had been less techno-savvy and more sensible about nicknames.

Please have mercy on your beloved children before you give them a “trendy” nickname, Thai parents! Please, if not for your kids’ sake, do it for Nickname Gods’ sake!

There are still more exotic Thai nicknames on my list so I guess I’ll have to write Part 2.

Share exotic Thai nicknames you have heard and I’ll include them in Part 2. Thanks. :)

61 responses to “Weird Thai Nicknames

  1. My favourites that I’ve met, or have been told of by teacher friends:
    - Jackpot
    - Bonus.
    - Printer.
    - ManU.
    - Name. This one really confused me the first time. Me: “Sorry, what’s your name?” Her: “Name”. Me: “Yes, what’s your name?” ….

  2. Excellent post Kaewmala. And timely. I was discussing this very subject with a friend recently.

    Thai nics held an attraction for me years before I moved here. Students from all over the Asian region would apply for an MSc program I was connected with. Each year, as the attendees were read out, the names of the Thai students were the most fun. I soon got used to names with Porn attached to them. Even so, the arriving Thai names continued to entertain me for the full nine years.

    For the students, some of the foreign names caused pink faces around the classroom. For instance, a name in Vietnamese might have a different meaning to someone from the Philippines. Some quite rude. And rude can be fun.

    • Gun is sometimes short for Kanya or other names beginning with the Gun. Also, the pronunciation isn’t really the same as the English word gun. I think the usual spelling in English is Kan.

      • Kan, if shortened from Kanya, Kalya, Kalaya or Gallaya กัลยา (meaning “beautiful woman”) is conceivably a girl’s nickname (though I think it’s not so common to shorten Kan from กัลยา). But Gun as an English for Puen ปืน I can see as a boy’s nickname. Either is possible.

      • This one was ‘Puen’, and I’m 99.9% sure she was female (but cannot confirm definitively:)

  3. @Andyd A good little collection there! Thanks. All keeping with the modern Thai nicknames tradition. I’ll put Jackpot and Bonus as ‘eccentric cute’ than weird. :) But Name, hm.. that one…

    @Cat even to Thais like me, Thai nicknames are a never ending source of amusement. :) Glad we can share them here.

    @Hobby I think Nong Gun is a boy’s nickname, but who knows the parents can have an idea of their own.

    @freakincat Thanks for stopping by to comment. :)

  4. at my bangkok university i had some funny student names, these are actually NOT nick names! all real names!

    1) Tittiporn
    2) Snickers
    3) Bart
    4) Super Go
    5) Tissue

  5. @Pdoubleok -Ha, lucky that your name is only Pook. If it were part of “Pook Look” then you might get written about in Part 2. ;)

    @Florian – Tsk, tsk, it’s just not fair to choose Tittiporn, which is a very beautiful Thai name. If spelled ธิติพร, it would mean “Blessed with Wisdom.” If you or anyone see anything other than ‘wisdom’ in that name, it’s really your naughty minds. Now, as for Snickers, Tissue and Super Go, you’re not kidding me?!! However Thais may go wayyy overboard with nicknames, most Thais take great care of their official names–the right, auspicious alphabets that compliment their birth stars with good feng shui, etc. How could Super Go or Tissue possibly be Thai real names? For starters, they won’t get pass the names-police at the amphur!

    @Saksith Ah, “Gift” I have heard of. It’s not such a bad nickname either, compared to Tissue at least. So really unfortunate that she had to be in Germany. And as for the effect of her name on you: how? You were driven out of your mind? (Is that good or bad?) ;)

    • “And as for the effect of her name on you: how? You were driven out of your mind? (Is that good or bad?) ;)”

      Not gonna comment on that out here in public! ;)

      As for my nickname…I’m only gonna say it’s a fruit, pretty common I think!

  6. Very fun post to read!

    I’ve had this ambition for a few years (and I just only began my twenties!) that I will try my best to avoid imposing any weird nicknames on my kids. No, it’s not really out of my miserable life. Thanks to my parents, my nickname is not that weird after all. (Just a simple Thai word for a type of fabric, although I experienced a little problem when some Thais thought I was a female.)

    For me it’s one thing having a valid Thai name that sounds funny to foreign ears. It’s another story being named ‘Beer’, ‘Guitar’ or ‘Airbus’.

    You may have encountered this page while doing your little research. I still don’t feel too comfortable with the ideas these potential parents were having. http://www.blognone.com/node/9731

    [Summary: The OP's brother wants to name his kid with a unique computer-related name. There is a mention that at least one real kid has been named 'Linux'.]

    • Khun Chayanin, Thank you for visiting naka. And really appreciate your very thoughtful and informative comment.

      Except one or two places I didn’t do a lot of research for this post (goes to show how many weird Thai nicknames there are that just popped in my head!) So your blognone link was really eye-opening for me. A kid named “Linux” is not so shocking, if there are already Apple, Mac, Com, etc. But to contemplate naming a child, Bug, Debug, Compile, Function, On, Off, Phython, is just… what can I say? The dad really should get out more, don’t you think? (Incidentally, I just typed one of the nicknames that shouldn’t be easily forgettable–Off!) 5555

      Oh, and I’m very happy for you that you’ve not been inflicted with a weird nickname. Mine isn’t so bad either but it a boy’s name rather than a girl’s. It could have been worse, much worse, I tell myself. :)

  7. My favorite was two Thai men that were hanging out and together their names were man 1= “D**k” and the second man=”Big”… I could not stop laughing… but I always have a smile over beer and guitar myself…

  8. Thai nicknames never cease to surprise. A Thai man named D*ck!!! Sitting with another Thai man named Big! Seriously, it can only get better from here–or not depending how you look at it.

    I think Beer and Guitar will make good pals to the pair above. :)

  9. This is a fun read. My niece is named Jet Ski which has been shortened over time to Nong Jet. A friend has a young son named Neo. My daughter goes to school with a brother and sister named Diamond and Money.

  10. Another nic I heard used by a Thai woman is, “Cartoon” which is a little hard to take seriously.

    Really, if there is any way to communicate the fact that these off-beat nicknames will be future hinderances in some circles, the word should go out. I know a young Chinese girl with the nic, “Juicy” that is going a problem for her later. There’s a serious side to all of this.

  11. Hi Kaewmala,

    Wonderful post. Great fun and some good ideas – I’m always on the lookout for Thai nicknames for characters in my books.

    I thought I’d weigh in with some nicknames from Laos. I once visited a village in Vientiane province where there was a local family famous for their unusual names:

    Dollar = girl
    Fanta = boy
    La Rue (pronounced ‘La Louie’) = girl
    Cuba (pronounced ‘Quee-bah’) = girl

    I have a Lao friend who called his son ‘Jumbo’ after the large tuk-tuk that rushed his mother to hospital when she was in labour. Another called his son ‘Boss’.

    A colleague called her daughter ‘Lady’, which even her Lao friends thought was a bit strange. One of them asked if she had a son next, would she call him ‘Gentleman’.

    Cheers,
    Angela

  12. @David Jet Ski was a bit ambitious I guess, given it’s two-word, three-syllable nickname. It was bound to be shortened. Diamond and Money… let’s not comment on those :)

    @John In Part 2 I’m going to have a section “Nicknames that should never be given your kids unless you really want to condemn them to a life of perpetual embarrassment.”

    @Angela It seems adoption of Anglo names is becoming an Asian epidemic (with Thailand still the worst sufferer IMO). Somebody should make this a sociology thesis: Nicknames in the globalized world – from the reflections of the agricultural society to the consumer society….ZZZZZZZZZZ

  13. How about a blog topic having a list of nice names and nicks. We are having a baby and are struggling with our choices. We want a name and a nick that will fit in while growing up in Thailand and also as an adult in the USA.

  14. Wow great post, you’ve certainly dug up a lot of interesting (?!) nicknames but I’ve one to add to the list.

    When I heard my in-laws’ neighbours’ son was called Nong C, I assumed it came from A-B-C or perhaps vitamin C :) – but it turns out it he is Nong ‘Sea’ which is short for ‘Sea Food’ because mummy likes to eat sea food.

    Poor kid – especially when they call him food…

  15. Well my old friend, I have a nephew named “Jungle” and my neighbors granddaughter (how I hate now being called Uey!) has the unfortunate name of, and I kid you not, “Doughnut”.

  16. @Mike There are so many possibilities for good names and nicks, I wouldn’t know where to start. The thing about Thai names and nicknames is that Thai people like them unique (hence the ridiculousness of diversity taken to the extreme as exemplified by this blog post, which is just a slice of “uniqueness” in Thai nicknames). Thais love names that are unlike others’. There have never been Somchai I, Somchai Junior, Somchai III, in the same family. The idea of having a dime and a dozen name for Thais is like running into people wearing identical outfit – not so very cool. Official Thai names are often very fancy with great meaning, etc. Of late, many Thais also like them to look cool–literally. They go into great length to pick cool looking letters (unlike English, we have 44 to choose from, and this is not counting the vowels), mix them together and the result is often some very strange looking words (though cool)that pass as a name. But that’s another post for another time. (I like weird stuff, and don’t do normal very well, sorry.) ;)

    @Jon Don’t worry, Nong Sea Food has lots of edibly-named friends. There are lots of water-creature friends waiting to make his acquaintance like Pla, Poo, Kob, Kung, Pla Wan, etc. He can also change the nick himself when he grows up.

    @ Lung Jopha (I won’t call you Uey) What a pleasant surprise ! Very happy to ‘see’ you here. Jungle will join others the nature nicknames group, and Doughnut, confectionery. :) Hope you’re doing well.

  17. The ingenuity of Thai nicknames never ceases to entertain.

    And when I think of entertaining nicknames I always think of a family I met once. The kids were named แตงโม “watermelon” (off to a normal start), บาส “basketball” (still not too strange), ลูกปืน “bullet” (getting weirder), and ถุงมือ “glove” (wtf?!).

    I started my own list a couple years back. People just can’t get enough of this subject for some reason. :)

    • Checked out your nickname post, Rikker. Great! The family in your example, I guess the mom and dad probably just looked around the house, in the fridge or a bottom drawer, for inspirations. Or the nicknames mirror the parents’ mental state–taking a deep plunge down the cliff–by the third child. :)

  18. I have a friend named Ping Pong, because, yep, her parents liked playing ping pong.

    Not nicknames as you said in Florian’s case, but my ex-girlfriend taught at an ESL school in Boston and the staff had a hard time not snickering about Thai students named Tittiporn and Ratporn on the rosters… It was enlightening to learn what พร means after coming here and realizing how common it is in names ;-)

    • Ches, I suppose Ping Pong sounds positively normal next to Gun, Bullet and Glove. Just yesterday, a friend told me she knew two kids named Helicopter, and one name ตุ๊กแก Tuk-kae (Gecko). And I thought House Lizard was weird! :P

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  20. the worst nickname recently is an actress name ‘roth mail’ (bus) not long before another ‘ka-touy’ activists group apeared on tv one of them his-her name is ‘nong rothmail’…from his-her look i should name her ‘roth 10 lor’(10 wheeler truck)…dont know whether to laugh or cry!!!!

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  22. Last year when we had Thai students at school, there were two girls called Dew and Due. I found this quite funny as it’s the same but spelled differently. Ploy seems to be common. In both of last year’s exchanges and this year’s exchange there was always a student called Ploy, all girls. Dew and Due were in the same exchange by the way.

  23. My nickname doesn’t fall into all of your catagories as it derived from a Chinese word meaning thought. I grew up with strangers of new friends asking what my nickname means which luckily it has and there is a story behind it by my Hong Kong born monther. I used to wonder why those people never questioned to themselves about their own nicknames, but I think because the majority rules here in terms of culture. You have my empathy. About the weirdest nickname I have recently thought of is “Think-Note” who happens to appear in gossips of entertainment pages in newspaper/website because he is a current boyfriend of a former miss Thailand who becomes Mc/actress.

  24. @Anthony, Com’on, it’s bad enough the ladyboy is nicknamed “Nong RotMail”. Let’s be nice to her. :)

    @Teri, What you may not know is that most Thais pronounce “Dew” differently from “Due” – likely “Diew” vs. “Doo”.

    @Sue, I bet many Westerners or people who don’t speak Chinese think your name is Anglicized (Sue from Susan). But “Think-Note” is really something else. IMO one or the other half of that name will be less weird. :)

    Thanks all for coming by. Really appreciate your contributions to the discussion.

  25. Great post and funny too!

    The weirdest Thai nick names I encountered are;

    ’8-ball’, for a Thai boy in the Netherlands where I originate from and ‘remote’ on Koh Samui where I currently live since 12 years!

  26. Kaewmala
    Thanks for a great post on a great topic. Couple of points I haven’t seen commented upon yet:
    First, I seem to recall reading somewhere that the original intent of some of the old-style nicknames (Rat, Frog, Black, etc.) was to head-fake any evil spirits that may be on the lookout for pristine young souls to occupy. While the “real” name typically said or meant something beautiful, the nickname, in addition to being shorter, also served as a kind of camouflage or cover for the youngster. Just wondering if you’ve heard that and if you think there is or was anything to it.
    As for the Weird Nicknames, my in-laws went all-in with the western sounding names over 40 years ago; while the first three kids all had beautiful Thai names and classic nicknames, something snapped with the last three, who became known as Bomb, Pepsi, and Howdy, respectively. Some of their offspring continued the new tradition by nicknaming their kids, among other things, Focus, Bank, and (as I saw above), Donut (assuming we’re not talking about the same kid, it’s pretty amazing to consider the possibility that, like a generation of Jennifers, Tiffanys or Brittneys here in the US, there could be more than one “Donut” in a Thai classroom).
    Finally, this may be an entirely separate topic, and forgive me if you’ve already addressed it, but I’ve also been fascinated by the trend among some Thais to change their given names altogether, either because they thought it sounded too old-fashioned, or because they believed the placement of the vowels above and/or below were bad luck. Thus has Wimon become Wassamon, and Siriporn, Tanyatorn. The vowel rule even influenced the naming of my daughter, who because she was born on a Monday or some such, was not to have vowels above or below. Strange.

  27. Does anyone know what the thai nickname ‘Bad’ means? It is pronounced not like in english, but the ‘b’ almost a ‘p’ and the ‘d’ almost a ‘t’. I think it means something like frog?

    • Hi Daisy, it sounds like you are referring to the Thai word for the number eight – pronounced “bpaet”. Hope this somewhat helps!

  28. @Chedmund, my apology for a horribly late reply. Indeed I’ve heard the same thing, the original intent of Thai nicknames might have been to scare off bad spirits from the baby. Very old Thai grandmas and grandpas may still believe that a baby should not be admired verbally for this will attract the bad spirits to take the baby away. Understandable if you consider high infant mortality rates in the old days. But this notion seems very old-fashioned now to most Thais. Unlike in the old days when babies were admired as “ugly”, you try that these days and you may not be invited back to a party. :) As for the auspicious placement of particular auspicious letters, this goes with the general Thai tendency to love anything “auspicious”–letters (which align with the birth stars), time (involving the letter 9 which sounds like “progress” in Thai), etc. etc.

    @Daisy, I have not yet come across any Thai named “Bad,” though I know better not to doubt my fellow Thais’ ability to surprise. I think, it’s possible it might have been an old-style nickname shortened from “Sombat” which sounds more like “but” in English, and not like “bad.” The Thai name Sombat means “treasure.” I don’t know of any Thai word resembling “bad” that means “frog.”

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  30. Pingback: Thai nicknames | Life as Me·

  31. Waddee ka Kaewmala. I am just starting to think about what Thai nicknames to give my two kids (2.5 yr old boy and 1 yr girl) and came across your useful blog – thank you! I am an American Thai and my kids are luk-krueng (half Thai, half white) but I am making an effort to speak mostly Thai to them. They have English first names and Thai middle names. So far we’ve been calling them by their English names but I should start giving them some Thai nicknames eventually. If you don’t mind, what do you think of the nicknames “Dee” (Thai for “good”; for my son) and “Duean” (Thai for “moon”; for my daughter). My mom actually came up with them but I figured I should start doing my own research into the topic. Thank you in advance :)

    • Dear G, The first reaction an average urban Thai will have to the two names you have in mind “Dee” for your son and “Duean” for your daughter would be that they’re old fashioned (I’ve asked). However, I personally think good Thai (nick)names need neither be old fashioned nor absurd like many I write about. One suggestion is “Tawan” for the boy (which means the Sun). In Thailand he’d be called “Nong Tawan” (literally little Master Sun). I think it’s cute while meaningful. For your daughter, “Duean” – while having a wonderful meaning for a girl – unfortunately sounds very outmoded to Thai ears. (You’ll find many Thai aunties with that name.) A modern alternative, though not exactly uncommon, is “Fah” (Sky). It sounds very feminine to Thai ears.

      • Kob khun mak ka Kaewmala! I finally got a chance to check your website again and I really appreciate your thoughts! I really like your suggestions! It’s so hard to judge what is modern and what is old-fashioned since I’m not up to speed with modern Thai conversation yet :)

  32. 55, In fact we can find a lot of “strange” name in Thailand for a human. Of my side I m French and my name “François”, than Thai person pronounce like “Farang shoua” means Bad Foreigner … It’s not my fault, it’s could be worst but little bit disturbing.

    A lot ask me why my name means this in Thai language, sometimes for jocking but some others they’re more serious :-/

  33. I liked the ‘smarts’ of a Thai bar girl I knew who was fond of a heineken or three ; Not sure if her orginal ‘cheu len’ or not, but she used the realtively common one of “P-ia”.
    Of course in English, this is pronounced something like ‘Beer”
    When a customer asker her name, she said ‘P-ia” – result being more often than not she was offered a beer, the name explanation came later. :)

  34. I have a friend with children named Mobile ( boy) , Mai Mai ( girl) Kai Muek ( Girl) and another whose niece is called Cha Cha . All kind of cute and seem to match the kids personalities very well or maybe the nicknames “brand” them :)

  35. Pingback: Cooking with Poo | Monna McDiarmid·

  36. My Thai wife’s nickname is Guitar. which is not so bad. But, her friend’s name is PeePoo. I’m guessing that is probably the worst nickname in the planet.

  37. Pingback: Why does every Thai woman have a 3 letter nickname?·

  38. mate ive got the best ones moo – pig, piss my wife has a friend that has called her sons and daughters internet wifi and 3g next is called computer no joke

  39. Hi, your article is very interesting and well written :). I found on my travels in Thailand that ขนมจีน Khanom Jeen /khà-nǒm jiin/ = lit. “Chinese snack” is also used to describe Chinese style steamed dumplings ( in Ubon Province, at least).

  40. No joke, my new girlfriend’s name is Kik (กิ๊ก) and yes that’s the same word that you use for your mistress or secret lover. First I though she’s joking but then she said Thai parents like to give this names to cute children, similar to Pooklook (ปุ๊กลุ๊ก).

  41. We have two friends named Title and Book. They are best friends from Thailand. Ironic. xo Jackie :*

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