Learn English – Is it appropriate to use “sport”, “champ”, or “kiddo” to call a child (e.g. your son)


I'm Spanish, just in case some of you think this question is kind of silly.

I watch TV series in English very frequently to practise my listening skills. The words I've heard in relation to children are:

  1. Sport
  2. Champ
  3. Kiddo

I wonder whether they are used in everyday speech or not. I looked up the meaning of sport in a dictionary and it says:

(old-fashioned) used when speaking to a boy in a friendly way.

However, the Urban Dictionary says: "the name your dad calls you by that makes you feel like a total loser".

As for champ, I think it's a shortening for champion, but according to Urban Dictionary it can be used in a pejorative way, "sarcastically to disparage someone's ability".

And the last one is kiddo, so that would be "(spoken informal) used by adults to address a young person". I like this one because it seems that it's always used with endearment.

So, what's the actual usage of these words? Do you ever use any of them? What words do you suggest I use for this purpose?

Best Answer

Don't worry about what Urban Dictionary says. While it's true, in some cases, it's not true for everyone all the time. Those three nicknames are a little bit dated, especially Sport and Champ. I wouldn't use those two at all: your son's classmates'll change the first to "Chump" or "Chimp" and the second to "Spurt". I sometimes call my wife "Kiddo", and I sometimes call my son "Kiddo". It's okay for anyone, but not really as a nickname.

Parents call their children by all kinds of names and nicknames. All names can be used pejoratively, especially by children's peers. When I was in high school, a little word game called "mother mock" was popular. My mother's name is Katherine, "Kay" for short. When my classmates wanted to mock my mother, they'd say "Eff you see Kay, tell her I love her" = "F-U-C-K, tell her I love her". I don't remember any others.

My son's English name is William. I call him "Willie" in English to distinguish his name from mine, "Bill", and at school, some of his friends call him "Wei-Li" in Chinese, and some Taiwanese call him "William". His Chinese name is "Yi-Hong", a perfectly normal name, but he doesn't like it and thinks it sounds like a girl's name. I always called him "Di-di", Chinese for "little brother", when he was small, which is what almost all Taiwanese call their sons. Maybe you can use that nickname.

When I grew up, I legally changed my first name because nobody used it: everyone called me by my middle name.

There's no need to call your children by nicknames. I always called my first son David, never "Dave" or "Davy". Now at 44, he calls himself "Dave".

I suggest that you call your son by the name that you gave him when he was born. Names are important. If you give a kid a name and then don't use it, the kid'll wonder why. I did. If you name him "Antonio", why call him "Tony"? If you name him "Archibald", why call him "Arch"? If you don't like the full name, then give him the short name. Just make sure that any nickname you can't prevent yourself from using isn't embarrassing to him, and if he asks you to stop using it, please respect his request.