Father’s Day is on the horizon and approaching at speed, and so many of us are thinking about how to celebrate the most important man in our lives. However, have you stopped to think about what you call him? Have you noticed how many variations of the word “father” there are to be found in the English language?

Obviously, there are many private names to be found in different families, but even the more generic terms are very varied. Pa, pop, dad, pops, daddy, papa, father, and da; there are many names in use, but how do we use them, and how do they shape our relationships?

From the mouths of babes…

Many linguists believe that the words we use in relation to our parents originate from the first sounds which we are able to create as children. These tend to be dada, baba, mama etc, and as such it makes sense that these abbreviations for father have stuck; they are short, sweet and remind us of being small. It’s interesting, however, that we tend to grow out of the word daddy when we are teenagers and return to it as adults when we wish to be more affectionate. Likewise, pa is often used to denote a close and intimate relationship between father and child.

Father Playing and Throwing Daughter Up in Ocean at Sunset

Pops

Pop and pops are short and jokey ways to refers to our fathers that originates in the 1830’s. They have a more grown up feel than papa or dada, but retain the affection. These shortened, informal nicknames are used to show great affection. Though it is generally the case that we use the names for our parents that are inherited from earlier generations; for example, the names used to refer to your grandparents by your parents.

Nicknames

Some have suggested that daughters are more likely to use varied names for their fathers than sons are, but it is also common for sons to use nicknames which denote the status of the father in the household e.g. “chief” or “boss”. Both can be extremely affectionate if used in a loving way.

Whatever you call your dad, whether it’s pa, pops, chief or boss, this Father’s Day is a great excuse to spoil the first and best man in your life. So grab a few beers, get a nice meal and make sure you let him know just how much you appreciate everything he’s done.