If you live in Thailand, you would have ever got shocked when Thai people introduce their nicknames because they’re not only super creative but also can mean something hilarious/weird in English.
Thai parents probably have so much fun thinking about naming their kid’s nicknames because it can be anything, literally any possible things from plants to animals.
In this blog post, I will help you understand the logic behind the topic of Thai nicknames as well as give you some examples of common nicknames and those weird ones.
How to say nickname in Thai
Nickname in Thai is ชื่อเล่น (chûe-lên):
Basically nickname is translated as a playful name in Thai – short, easy, and many times funny.
What is your nickname is Thai?
In the western world, you would normally ask ‘What is your name?’ but in Thailand, you would also ask ‘What is your nickname?’:
If you don’t have a nickname, you would say:
Fun facts about Thai nicknames
To learn a bit in the cultural part, there are many interesting things you might want to know about Thai nicknames and where they are from:
All Thais have a nickname
It makes sense for Thai people to have a nickname as Thai names are quite long and they are mainly in Pali or Sanskrit. For example:
- My name is ‘Pariyakorn’ ปริยากร (That was four syllables) in which it is not Thai and it’s quite complicated to call in daily life.
Parents named us a nickname
Thai nicknames are usually named by parents or family members. While our names are carefully chosen from available names designed by monks or prophets (as Thai people believe in luck, fortune, and karma), our nicknames are quite easy, creative, and fun.
Thai nicknames are usually not related to name or surname
My foreign friends are always surprised when I introduce my name and my nickname as they do different things!
- My name is ปริยากร (Pariyakorn) while my nickname is สมุ้ก (Smuk) or มุก (Muk) which means “a pearl”.
Even though it is more common to have a distinctive nickname that is different from a real name, some Thais use a short version of their names as a nickname. For example,
- My friend สุดารัตน์ (so-daa-rad) is called สุดา’ (su-da) as a nickname. Only the first two syllables.
They all have a meaning, and it doesn’t matter what
Our nicknames usually have meaning. For example,
- My dad named me มุก (Muk from Smuk) as it means ‘pearl’. He wants me to be beautiful, natural and valuable.
The only contradictory thing is that pearls are white but I am not so many friends were teasing me – I am not white as I sound.
While my nickname has such a beautiful meaning, other nicknames mean something hilarious. For example,
- One of my neighbors is called จิ๋ม (jim). It might sound like a Western name: Jim but it’s pronounced with a rising tone. This word might come from the word จุ๋มจิ๋ม ‘jum-jim’ which means ‘tiny or small’ but it can mean ‘vagina’ in Thai.
- The last example, many people were named after fruits and vegetables such as แตงโม (dtaeng-moo = watermelon), แตงกวา (dtaeng-gwaa = cucumber), ชมพู่ (chom-pûu = rose apple) and มะนาว (ma-naao = lime)
Honestly, these names a quite common especially a century ago so we don’t really feel uncomfortable or surprised when hearing them. Just only when we think about the meaning, it’s kind of hilarious.
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Common Thai Nicknames
I would like to introduce you to common Thai nicknames from the 20th century, my generation. These names are the names of my classmates and university friends that are at least once duplicated.
One thing that you can realize of these names is that they are developed from the English language. For example, Boss, Fern, Gold, Ice, etc.
It was quite popular to have a nickname from English at that time, even though we don’t really care about the meaning.
Common Thai nicknames with a weird English meaning
Many Thai nicknames are inspired by English names or words even though the meaning of the nicknames would not be so impressive and oftentimes sound really weird in English. Here is a list of those weird ones, but common in Thai.
- พร (Porn)
Well, many Thai names compound the word ‘porn’ which means ‘blessing or wish’. We pronounce this word without ‘R’ sound. This name is really common for female names or nicknames. For example, สุดาพร (Sudaporn) พรประภา (Pornprapa) and พรทิพย์ (Pornthip)
- บอล (Ball)
In English, Ball can be an ‘egg-shape object’ or ‘testicle’. For the Thai nickname, it definitely refers to ‘Football, Basketball and any other ball’. We pronounce the name ‘Bon’ instead of ‘Ball’
- ปู (Poo, Pu)
ปู (pronounced bpuu) means ‘crab’ but many times it is written ‘Poo’ in which it is something disgusting in English.
- พี (Pee)
P, Pee, Pii or Phi could sound like ‘Pee’ or urine in English, but for Thai people whose nickname is ‘พี’, it refers to ‘P alphabet’
- บอม (Bom)
This name sounds destructive as it sounds similar to the word ‘bomb’ but it is quite popular for a male nickname.
- เนม (Name)
One of my good friends is called เนม (name). She sometimes has a difficult time when introducing herself: My nickname is Name.
- อานัส อนัส (Anus)
Well, it is an Arabic word that means intimacy or familiarity. It is pronounced อา-นัด (aa-nud) but it’s commonly written with ส (S).
Thai people have not only a name but also a nickname in which it oftentimes has nothing related to the name. A Thai nickname is named by parents and they are usually short, easy, and have a meaning.
As a Thai nickname is quite creative, the meaning can be hilarious when translated into English.
What about you? What are your Thai favorite nicknames or the interesting ones? Share with me in the comment below: