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I'm wondering what kids use to call their parents when they are quarrelling with them.

I assume the common rude way to call women is bitch. But is it something kids use even when they are very nasty? Due to the sexual element of the word, I feel it is rather odd, not just nasty.

A situation I have in mind is like when a parent scolds a kid and then s/he yells back. Are there any phrases that are used instead of mom or dad? Or they just keep calling mom and dad (in most cases)?


Background is this question on Anime & Manga SE. The Japanese word 'Babaa' is an insult without any sexual connotations. There is the male counterpart 'Jijii'. The latter may be like old bastard. These are words you use when you quarrel with your parents and get very mad. I wonder if English has something similar.

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    Hi. In the UK at least there's no specific insults just for a parents, if that's what you mean. There are general swear words/insults that can apply to anyone, some more extreme, or less extreme. Swearing at or insulting your parents by calling them a name is generally taboo here in the UK. Of course, I'm pretty sure there are some kids who are particularly horrible, but the vast majority are not. You are more likely to hear a child say something like "I hate you".
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Nov 13, 2023 at 12:31
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    If I had called my mother a bitch, or my father a bastard, they would have hit me very hard. Commented Nov 13, 2023 at 12:44
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    I don't see bitch as primarily sexual - MW has 'a malicious, spiteful, or overbearing woman' - but a child would have to be really angry, and probably come from a dysfunctional family, to use it to their mother. Commented Nov 13, 2023 at 13:25
  • @KateBunting - agree on both points. A family would have to be deeply dysfunctional for the children to resort to addressing their parents so insultingly. Of course, there could be mental health issues. Commented Nov 13, 2023 at 14:01
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    It depends on whether the kids are in the presence of their parents or not. They can insult them with all sorts of language which will probably be different in different circumstances (out of their presence). "Oh dad, you are such a pain". Mom and dad are not terms of endearment. They are terms for parents.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 13, 2023 at 16:09

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I agree with the comments that there is no insult or disrespectful term specific to parents. I know some American kids who, when angry or frustrated with their parents, will call them by their first names, which is only mildly taboo but not common. More common culturally would be generally disrespectful sounds or gestures - eye rolling, slouching, not making eye contact, stomping their feet or slamming doors, making huffing or whining sounds.

In extreme cases of disrespect, a child might "flip off" or raise their middle finger to their parent. This is the equivalent of saying "fuck you" and considered highly inappropriate for children/young teens to be doing. Similarly, a very disrespectful child might call a parent swear words like "bitch" "cunt" "asshole" or "fucker." But most of society would view something as deeply wrong there. While these words come from sexual roots, there isn't a strong sexual context anymore, so they are inappropriate to say to a parent because of general respect, not because of sexual implications.

There are also class-based, region-based, and race-based differences. In general, there is a reputation of white kids as more disrespectful to their parents than most other races in the US. But even as a child who grew up in mostly-white areas, I don't think I ever heard or saw a child actually swear at their parent.

Frequency of Address

One possible cultural difference - English speakers often just address people as "you" especially in informal settings. So if we imagine an argument between a parent and child, it's likely that the child wouldn't address their parent as anything specific at all. For example:

Mom: "Your room is a mess! You cannot go to the party until it's cleaned up. How did it even get like this?"

Child: "Ugh, it's fine. It's my room anyway, why do you even care?"

It's fairly common for a child to only address a parent as Mom/Mum or Dad if they are trying to get their attention or in a setting where they might be talking to someone else. In situations where two people are only talking to each other, using someone's name or title is rarer and implies a sense of either formality or importance to the situation.

Nasty as an Adjective

As an aside note - in this question, you used the word "nasty" to refer to a child as bad, disrespectful, or naughty. The word nasty can mean "bad" or "cruel" but it can also mean "dirty" (either physically dirty or in a sexual way). To this American, calling a child nasty seems a little strange in this context.

I might call a child "nasty" if they were:

  • Cruel or mean to other children, those they had power over - As a synonym for being a bully.
  • Covered in dirt or mud or some other gross thing.

In this case, I would say that you are talking about a child who is rude (as an informal word) or disrespectful (as a more formal word). I believe in the UK, they may use the word naughty to describe a child who behaves poorly, but that is not common in the US.

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