Do you call your grandfather Bumpy?
May 14, 2008 10:10 AM   Subscribe

How common is the title "Bumpy" for a grandfather? Like "Grampa Joe" or "Peepaw Frank"... do you say/understand the usage "Bumpy Jackson" for a grandfather? If so, where did you grow up?

I've known a couple people in my time who called their grandfathers by the title Bumpy [lastname]... I assumed that it was Southern (or maybe Texan) and that it was uncommon, but not completely unheard of. A short office conversation now has me wondering if it's just some weird thing that a couple of the people I know have in common.

1. Do/did you call your grandfather Bumpy?
2. If so, where did you grow up?
posted by 23skidoo to Grab Bag (37 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I know three, maybe four people who called their male grand-somethings Bumpy. (Usually used as a way to distinguish between two would be Bumpy, the other would be Pappy, or whatever.) I grew up in Savannah, GA (but the families who used the term originally came from more rural areas). Uncommon, but definitely not unknown.
posted by phunniemee at 10:18 AM on May 14, 2008

All 8 of my grandkids call me "Bampy".
posted by pjern at 10:19 AM on May 14, 2008

Never heard of it-- grew up in Southern Illinois.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 10:22 AM on May 14, 2008

It's unfamiliar to me, but paging through the google results for bumpy grandfather is turning up (among a lot of noise) some evidence that suggests it's not just a couple people you know, though no sign so far of a direct discussion of it as a convention.
posted by cortex at 10:32 AM on May 14, 2008

It's relatively common in Southeastern Michigan, though mine were Papa Fred and Grampa Erv. It's, at least to my knowledge, a remnant of the influx of Southerners to Michigan for the auto plants.
posted by klangklangston at 10:35 AM on May 14, 2008

"Bumpa" also seems to make the rounds, on further searching. The cute-mispronunciation-gains-traction explanation for a general class of grandpaternal nicknames that includes "bumpy" seems pretty compelling to me, but again I've got no hard links here.

Parents transliterating children's flawed reproductions of standard terms (like "grandpa") would tend to lead to a real blossoming of variants, so it wouldn't surprise me if familial and regional momentum accounted for one or another common appellation for different folks. My niece calls my dad "Boppy", based on the family's delighted adoption of her early speech and the reinforcement that has come with the same.
posted by cortex at 10:38 AM on May 14, 2008

I once heard of someone calling a grandfather "Boom-pa" (spelling approximate). I grew up in the Chicago area but am not sure where I heard this.
posted by JimN2TAW at 10:59 AM on May 14, 2008

My father was raised two towns out from Boston (born in the 40's) and called his paternal grandfather "Bumpy."
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:14 AM on May 14, 2008

From Minnesota by way of California, not only have I never said this, this is the first time I've ever heard of it.
posted by nanojath at 11:21 AM on May 14, 2008

From Vermont, family in eastern Pennsylvania. I echo nanojath -- have never said it, and never even heard of it.
posted by tigerbelly at 11:23 AM on May 14, 2008

Not Bumpy, but some variations:

When I was little I called my grandpa "Beebop".

"Boompah" as a grandpa nickname was used in the Jimmy Stewart movie "Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation"
posted by stefnet at 11:24 AM on May 14, 2008

West Michigan (lower Peninsula): I've heard this term--several of my friends have referred to their paternal grandfathers as "Bumpy" and "Bumpa".

In my family, my paternal grandfather was "Poppy". My (living) great-grandfather was called "Poppy-Poppy." My son calls my father "Poppa." My wife's father, however, is "Grandpa."

Among those who know this term, is it understood that its a name variant applied primarily to paternal grandfathers? That pattern seems to hold across my own family's usage and that of most of my friends.
posted by Chrischris at 11:24 AM on May 14, 2008

Not exactly the same, but my father called his paternal grandfather Bompa and his paternal grandmother Bommy. His paternal grandfather was born in Kansas City, MO around 1882, but my father grew up in Orange County, CA in the 50s.
posted by nonmerci at 11:31 AM on May 14, 2008

Northern West Virginia/Eastern Ohio...never heard of it.

Bebop however is very cool.
posted by mmascolino at 11:44 AM on May 14, 2008

I forgot to add that my husband's paternal grandfather (who he never met, which is beside the point, but anyway) was referred to as Bompa. He was Greek, although I don't know if that had any bearing on the nickname.
posted by stefnet at 11:50 AM on May 14, 2008

And I completely forgot to add that these instances are all from Upstate New York.
posted by stefnet at 11:52 AM on May 14, 2008

My cousins in Maine referred to their grandfather as Bumpa and their grandmother as Nanna. I called them this as well - it always seemed perfectly natural.
posted by jammy at 12:00 PM on May 14, 2008

My father (raised in Texas) called his (Oklahoman) grandparents Nana and Bopo, for another data point...I'd never thought about where that came from and haven't heard it otherwise.
posted by kittyprecious at 12:11 PM on May 14, 2008

Grew up in eastern Canada (near the Maine border actually) and this is the first time I've heard it. Interesting.
posted by loiseau at 12:11 PM on May 14, 2008

Heard of it. LA (and by LA I mean Lower Alabama). Did not use it. Called my grandfather Pappy. My daughter and nephews call my dad Baw-baw.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:25 PM on May 14, 2008

This site gives an interesting lead: along with Bampy and Bumpa and whatnot it gives Banma and Banpa as nicknames for grandma and grandpa.

Those last set seem like plausible baby-talk, especially since consonant clusters and R's tend to give kids trouble. I could see Grandpa > Bampa > Bampy > Bumpy as a line of evolution. But that's just a guess.

(Me, I'm used to Baba and Bubbie and whatnot as nicknames for your grandmother, thanks to Yiddish. But I'd be surprised if there were any connection — the gender switch would just be too weird.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 12:27 PM on May 14, 2008

First time I've heard "Bumpy." My grandpa (Kansas) was "Crappaw." He even had a license plate saying so. Google implies that the name's uncommon but not unheard of, and comes from little kids being unable to say "Grandpa." Hee. Crappaw.
posted by Metroid Baby at 12:29 PM on May 14, 2008

My uncle is Bumpy to his grandkids. His wife is Wowie. (I have no idea where that came from.) They're all Cleveland, OH area. No one else in our family has ever come up with those names -- it's always been Grandma and Grandpa.
posted by olinerd at 12:31 PM on May 14, 2008

"Bumpy" is new to me. I grew up in northern MN and have never heard the phrase until now.
posted by flod logic at 12:55 PM on May 14, 2008

Love it, Metroid Baby. I am still giggling at Crappaw.

My father-in-law is from Kentucky and the kids call him Bumpus.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 12:55 PM on May 14, 2008

I knew a Bumpy grandfather.
Central Massachusetts
posted by beccaj at 1:36 PM on May 14, 2008

My cousins call my grandfather Bampa. I always assumed that it was a toddler mispronunciation that stuck, but maybe there is more to it than that. They are all in Ontario.
posted by ssg at 3:35 PM on May 14, 2008

My grandfather is Bimpy, but I was told it came about because I couldn't properly say "Grampy." Eastern Massachusetts.
posted by wimpdork at 3:39 PM on May 14, 2008

My husband's grandfather was a "Bump" and my uncle is "Buppa" to his grandkids. The former was Irish, the latter Italian, both in Massachusetts.
posted by platinum at 3:43 PM on May 14, 2008

Another "Bumpa", southeast Massachusetts.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 3:44 PM on May 14, 2008

What a delightful thread...a little less delightfully, all the kids in my family were more or less ordered to address our grandmother as "bubu" - Fijian for grandmother (and pronounced mboo- mboo ).

We are certainly not Fijian - but my grandmother was in the colonial service in Fiji and liked the ring of it. We all found it rather cringe-making.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 4:12 PM on May 14, 2008

stefnet, Bompa probably came from the Greek for grandfather, Papou.

My maternal grandfather is Papa Don, but I have heard of Bumpas before.
posted by wildeepdotorg at 7:46 PM on May 14, 2008

I'm in central Kansas, and I've heard "Bumpa," but it's extremely rare here.
posted by amyms at 8:36 PM on May 14, 2008

One of my great-grandfathers was called Bumpy (just Bumpy, no last name) by my mom, her siblings and cousins, all born in the 1940s and 1950s. They lived in Pittsburgh PA. My great-grandma was "HooHoo", so I always thought it was just a weird family thing. My whole identity shifted just a little seeing all these other Bumpys.
posted by donnagirl at 8:42 PM on May 14, 2008

My brother and I always called our grandfather Bompy. I thought we were unique! This is fascinating.
posted by beandip at 5:38 AM on May 15, 2008

Louisiana here. My nieces call my father Bumpy. It was first Gumpy, then it became Grumpy, then it became Bumpy. My mother is called Magenta, like some dog on Blue's Clues.
posted by ColdChef at 4:14 PM on May 15, 2008

My embarrassing admission: one grandfather known as "Bambi". I'm glad I'm not the only one with a weird family nickname. (The rest of mine were fairly standard: both grandmothers were Nanny and my other grandfather was Grampy.)
posted by loiseau at 6:51 PM on May 15, 2008

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