The Informal Bubba Census

Beth and I were talking about this over on Twitter–how I find it a little weird that I knew a lot of Bubbas and Bubs in Illinois, but don’t know any down here. And she, from Mississippi, remarked that she only knows one Bubba, though she knows a Taco and a couple of Taters.

This got me wondering if Bubba, though used in pop culture as a kind of ubiquitous rural nickname, might, in real life, have a regional concentration. In other words, I wonder if there are more Bubbas in the Midwest than in the South?

So, dear readers, here’s what I want to know–have you known any Bubbas or Bubs and from whence did they come?

(Can I tell you how disappointed I am to have looked up the definition of the word “whence” just now? I always thought it was “where” but with some time implications. So, if I asked “From whence did your Bubba come, sir/ma’am?” you would know to answer “Charleston, IL, in the early 80s.” But now it appears that I’m only asking from where your Bubba came. Which is kind of disappointing. Whence, you could have been so much more.)

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22 thoughts on “The Informal Bubba Census

  1. Except that “whence” actually means “from where,” not “where.” So you would ask, “Whence did your Bubba come, sir/ma’am?” instead, which has a nice tony ring to it.

    I don’t believe I knew any Bubbas growing up in St. Louis, but I wasn’t living in the part of St. Louis where they might have been found.

  2. I was going to tell you of all the Bubbas I knew but realized that I’ve only known one. As a kid. It’s just so pervasive I was sure I knew several.

    So add one Bubba-age 8-10(and Sissy his sister) from late 1960’s Dallas area, Texas.

  3. The only Bubba I’ve known was a five year old whose parents and family called him that. This was in Missouri (ten minutes from Arkansas) in 1999.

    I haven’t encountered a lot of nicknames in the midwest other than things like Becky for Rebecca and Jim for James. I did have a great Uncle who was called Junior by his entire family all his life because he was a junior. My dad and his siblings did call him Uncle Junior. :)

    I also had a neighbor here in the Chicago suburbs who was called Big Yuri but he was a.) named Yuri and b.) not a small man.

  4. I recalled another “Bubba” on the drive to work, although I didn’t personally know him. There was a musician-type guy who played around in the bars of the college town when I was in school. He was affectionately known as “Bubba Cheese” and I’ve not idea what his real name is. Come to think of it, I never knew his last name either.

    As for “Sissy” — ugh, I detest that term and I’ve known quite a few people who go by it. I had a Great Aunt named “Sis” – and a relative, when speaking to her son about her daughter, refers to the child as “Sister”. I cringe.

  5. I’ve got an aunt who goes by Sis (and her daughter Sissy), an uncle Shugg, uncles-in-law Boo, Duck, and Rocky, aunt-in-law Darl, more Juniors than I can count, many “Big” this and “Little” that (always guys….), family friends named Starl and Parley and Deuce (his other twin is named Ace) but no Bubbas.

  6. I am completely bummed that my name isn’t Big Yuri. I feel cheated by life. I didn’t even know Big Yuri was an option. Big Betsy sounds like a woman who’s going to make you a lot of pancakes and then send you out lumberjacking with her husband. And I’m not going to make you pancakes nor let you spend time with my lumberjack husband.

    But Big Yuri! Big Yuri stands in his back yard in February in his boxer shorts and an old bathrobe and he laughs so loud and awesomely all the children in the neighborhood join in.

  7. In news actually related to the Bubba Survey, so far the most Bubbas seem concentrated in West Tennessee, Kansas, and Central and Southern Illinois.

  8. Never run into one down this way, though (in the interest of somebody always volunteering what you didn’t ask for on the internet) I did know a “brother,” as in “bruthuh” or two in New England.

  9. Big Yuri (I think his dad was also a Yuri) had a brother named Mike. I would think Mike would be justified if he had any name jealousy.

  10. I’ve known two Bubbas: one in my class in high school (here) and one who was a longtime friend of my parents’. He was from Fayetteville, TN.

    Clearly the nickname is not as common as A) it used to be (?) or B) media wants to portray.

  11. Oh, based on the OED, I have a new theory about Bubba. Okay, according to the OED, which does NOT have an entry for Bubba (sadly and shame on you, OED), Bub is a shortened version of Bubby, which was a common nickname for boys in the U.S. in the mid-1800s. But get this etymology–“Bartlett and Webster say a corruption of brother: but the word looks more like German bube, bub, boy.”

    So, now I wonder if Bubba isn’t more common in areas with a heavy German heritage–Texas (thank them for turning Wiener Schnitzel into chicken-fried steak) and the Midwest, as opposed to the parts of the South with mostly African and Scots-Irish heritage. The only drawback to this hypothesis is that you’d think there’d be a ton of Bubbas in Pennsylvania then and a ton of Amish and Mennonite Bubbas.

  12. A Nebraskan here (though not from one of the German communities), who has never known a Bubba. But I did want to say that your description of Big Yuri is absolutely the best thing I’ve seen on the internet this week. That’s a whole novel, there, in one sentence.

  13. I knew one Bubba from elementary school. I know a couple of Juniors – who are simply that – Junior, way back then their parents didn’t understand the nuances of naming a child; guess the doctor didn’t either. Most of my Dad’s family still call him Sonny and it’s a name that you hear fairly often around western Kentucky with men of a “certain age”.

  14. Now I want to marry Big Yuri and have him show me off to his huge strapping family as “the biggest old Southern girl I could find, and boy, can she cook me some biscuits, momma!” in a big booming Germanic-sounding bellow.

    I have *never* felt that way in my life. It’s all your writing, B.

    We could live next door to you. I wouldn’t even be jealous when my Big Yuri went over to your house to smooch his/our “Sweet Betsy”! Who could resist? :D

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