Nappie = Diaper, in UK?

In American English “babytalk”, one may say they are putting the baby down for a nappie. I have come to understand that, in England for one, a nappie is a diaper! Is this true? - Jinx

Yes, it’s true. But we spell it nappy.

And a brief doze is a “nap”.

Sorry to hijack slightly, but what’s the meaning of “nappy” (or “nappie”) in Stevie Wonder’s song I Wish?

My guess is that it’s related to tousled hair (as in the “nap” of a carpet), but as a Brit, you can imagine my confusion at first - a kid with a diaper on his head? :confused:

“nappy” hair (sometimes spelled “knappy”) is an term from 1950 (which I think is considered derogatory these days if it’s said by a white person, but not a black person) to describe the very curly black-descended-from-Africa hair in its natural state. It’s from “nap” as in, the soft surface of a piece of cloth. Many people use relaxers and styling product to avoid having “nappy hair”. Children, especially boys, are generally let alone to have nappy hair.


A Nappy Hair Affair


Not exactly. Another meaning of “nappy,” particularly in reference to hair, is “kinky.” It’s in fairly common informal use as a descriptive of black people’s hair in the US. As has been said, it can be perceived as derogatory in some contexts.

The use of “nappy” to refer to a diaper is derived from “napkin,” which can also mean diaper.

This caused me some confusion when I lived in NZ, where the things you wipe your mouth on at the dinner table are called “serviettes.” When I asked for a napkin in a reastaurant, I would sometimes get blank looks, since the waiter didn’t understand why I would want a diaper at the dinner table.

Colibri: May I have a napkin, please?
Waiter: Depends?
Colibri: Depends on what? :confused:
Others at table: <laughter>

Yeah, and then there was the time this sweet little old lady who was the departmental secreatary asked me if I knew where to find rubbers if I needed them . . .

Thanks for the clarification on the hair definition of “nappy”. I get it now. :smack:

Well, there’s processed/straightened hair, “natural” (not chemically-processed) hair, and then nappy hair, which can refer to natural hair that hasn’t been styled.

For example, a boy with a short hair or Afro which hasn’t been combed or picked could be referred to that since it hasn’t been styled and looks unkempt.

So called because you use them to ‘rub’ out a mistake. (rubbers are what NZ calls erasers, folks)

From Etymonline: “Very useful for erasing the strokes of black lead pencils, and is popularly called rubber, and lead-eater.” [entry for Caoutchouc in, Howard, “New Royal Encyclopedia,” 1788]

I really really like ’lead-eater’

There’s a children’s picture book called Nappy Hair. The summary paragraph is pretty descriptive.

Meant to say this, too: they only got it from the correct speakers of the language :smiley:

Although my vocabulary has been accurately described as anachronistic and many of my figures of speach went out of style in the 50s or earlier, I am American and would not have thought twice upon hearing or reading that someone was changing nappies. Maybe it is because my household used cloth diapers. (20 years ago)

Not quite. Nappy = daiper. ‘-y’, not ‘-ie’.

Whereas in the US rubbers (condoms) are used to prevent mistakes. :smiley:

And then “fanny-pack” can have some radically different meanings . . .

So as not to leave folks confused, in the US, “fanny” is a very mild term (as in, it’s the sort of thing one’s gramma might say) for the buttocks, male or female. And a “fanny pack” is a sort of pouch with an attached belt, worn over one’s fanny (or occasionally over a hip) and used to carry miscellaneous items.

Meanwhile, on the east side of the Pond, “fanny” refers to the female genetalia, and I gather is considered rather crude (as are most non-clinical terms for genetalia, I suppose).

I’ve never understood that, actually. Fanny was a girl’s name in England for a long time too, and as far as I can tell there were still girls nicknamed Fanny when people were using it as a crude euphemism. Surely the name should have fallen out of use as soon as that happened?

I’m currently reading Inventing the Victorians, and during one bit about advertisements and personal ads, he tells about a naughty joke personal someone put in that was a correspondence between Fanny and Willie. So it’s been in use for quite a long time…

My Great-Great-Grandmother (born 1844) was called Fanny Innocent. Make of that as you will.