Do adult southerners in the US call their father "Daddy"?

I’ve seen this usage from time to time in novels and movies set in the south: a reference to someone as “your daddy” or “my daddy”, when the child in question is a full adult. It sounds odd to me, because to me, “Daddy” is what a small child calls their father - it’s not what an adult would call their father, except perhaps jokingly.

Is this a common usage in the southern US?

I’ve known quite a few southerners, both male and female, who refer to their fathers as “daddy.”

The closest I’ve ever come is “Daddy-O” and that’s where I draw the line.

It is not uncommon, though probably more common for adult women than men, in my experience. The only people who come to mind are my wife and a male friend from a small town. FWIW, the truly red tend to pronounse it “Diddy.”

There are areas where it is, I would say, not uncommon. More rural areas, generally. And in my experience it’s more common for a female to refer to her father this way than a male, as an adult anyway.

However, I think it gets disproportionately presented as common. George Carlin mentioned it in a skit, as did another comic whose name escapes me at the moment. It’s one of those things that people will use as shorthand for “redneck and/or Southerner,” the way some people use “youse guys” as shorthand for a certain type of New Yorker.

I’m from NJ, and I call my father daddy. I’m 39, but it’s what I’ve always call him.

When I speak of my father to my Bro’ I refer to him as “Daddy”, because my Bro is a little more “southern” than I am (We came to the States when Skip was still a baby, so he grew up southern), and that is what he always called him.

When I spoke to my Dad, I always called him “Dad”, so when I speak of him to others, it’s Dad as well.

I just noticed I capitalized the word “Dad”.

That’s kind of a two-way thing:

  1. The German grammar rule of capitalizing nouns
  2. I loved my Dad

George Carlin did a very hilarious routine about that “Daddy” thing.

Makes me laugh even now.


Everyone I know in MS refers to their father as “daddy”, including myself. “Bubba” is dying out but I did call my brother that until I was about 12.

C’mon, everyone? Certainly you must know a recent immigrant or non-native southerner. Please tell me this is hyperbole. I grew up in Alabama (22 years) and have lived in Georgia for the past 10 years. Most of the southern adult men and many of southern adult women I have know, especially those born after 1970, don’t use the term often or as a third person reference.

In parts of the South, yes, this is common. My mom was born in Alabama and she says that where she grew up everyone called their parents “Momma and Daddy”. Although a friend of mine from Tennesee called his parents “Momma and Poppa”, so maybe that’s preferred in some parts of the South. In the North, “Mom and Dad” see to be the norm. Although my dad and his sisters (who grew up in a kind of ritzy suburb of Cleveland, OH) called their parents “Mother and Father”, which just seems laughably stilted to me.

It’s VERY common in rural northeast Texas–I still call my father (whom I lost 12 years ago) “daddy” when I talk about him. He did, too, until the day he died at age 63.

It’d be easier for me to count the people who DON’T do it in my neck of the woods than to count those who do.

FWIW, it crops up in country music. Off the top of my head I can think of Hank Jr. “now I am very proud / of my daddy’s name” (Family Tradition) and “daddy told me stories bout the winos and the freight trains” (Ramblin’ in My Shoes) among others. George Strait also comes to mind: “let me tell you a secret / about a father’s love / a secret that my daddy said was just between us”.

I have some adult relatives in NC who do it. My wife who is from NC does not do it.

I don’t get this. He may be “dad” to me but when talking to others I call him “my father”. It just sounds childish to call him “dad” when speaking about him unless it is with someone who also calls him “dad”. When Americans talk to me and refer to their “dad” I feel they are giving me an intimacy which I do not want.

I guess it depends on context. For most casual conversation, I find “father” and “mother” may be too formal. Well, maybe not “too formal,” it’s just not the way I speak normally. It’s a judgment call on the situation, but I default to “mom” and “dad” and “my folks” and consciously switch vocabulary to “mother” and “father” and “parents” in situations where the formality seems more correct.


I’d say more people use it humorously, and in the third person - “When I was your age if I’d done that my daddy would have tore my butt up!”

I, and many people I’ve noticed, do say “Mama” when upset, and address their mothers with it. “Mama, I told you before I am NOT going to dinner with them!” as well as the third person use, non-humorously.

“Yo mamma” is a different animal, of course. I heard she’s so fat she has smaller fat ladies in orbit around her, but that may only be a rumor.

ETA - the “mama” usage is also disproportionately feminine, IMHO.

There’s admittedly a fine line between intimacy and informality. I think most Americans would see it as the latter.

I live in Tennessee and have traveled all over the south and have never heard a male call their father daddy except in movies/TV. I’m sure some do, but I haven’t heard it once in my life. I can see females saying it, although I don’t think I’ve heard that either, but it probably wouldn’t have registered if I heard a female say it.

Northeast Florida reporting here - my parents are Mama and Daddy to all six children (one boy and five girls). At some point when I was a snotty teenager I started using Mother although I was the only one to do that. Mom and Dad just sound so, well, Yankee.

Sailor, I do understand what you’re saying.

There’s a lot of “protocol” in Europe regarding familiarity which must be observed. The familiar Du and the unfamiliar Sie, for instance. They both mean you, but if you don’t know the person, the culture is you use “Sie”

And I also get your point about the use of “Dad” or "Daddy’. In Germany, one wouldn’t use either of those nicknames in a conversation because, as you said, this is an intimacy shared between you and your “Vati” (if I may just use that as an example).

If I were to ask you, “Ist Ihr Vati zuhause?”, (Is your Daddy at home), you would probably look at me like I just stepped off my flying saucer.

I am addressing Sailor unfamiliarly with the word “Ihr” (your), yet suddenly go familiar with “Vati”. It just doesn’t make sense. It would be inappropriate in the United States as well.

“Excuse me, Mr. Jones, is your Daddy at home?”:smiley:

But again, it’s the difference in the two cultures.

I have a problem when I go home remembering the Du and Sie, and I stumble a lot, especially in the first few days.

“Warum haben Sie mich gedutzt?” translates into 'Why did you, you me?":rolleyes::smiley:

I find the nuances of language very interesting.


My partner is from Texas and uses “Daddy” and “Mother” when talking to her parents. Both sound odd to me. Daddy sounds childish and Mother sounds ridiculously formal. She said it was common in her part of the world. They’re a modern urban family with nothing particularly formal about them in general.

I go with Dad. Never Father though. Just Dad.
Mom though can be Momma, Mama, and Mommy if i got a boo boo and she just happened to call.