The Bush Family Has a Knack for Nicknames
The South is known for doling out traditional formal names, and then promptly ignoring them in favor of creative nicknames that range from Beau to Boo to Tre to Shug. Southerners are also known for the delightfully quirky titles we bestow upon our beloved grandparents like Moo, PaPaw, and Bunny. Often there's a story behind the terms of endearment, but sometimes names just evolve and then stick, and we sometimes forget how they came about. The Bush family has taken these Southern traditions and run with them. We found nicknames across the Bush generations that are part of the family's lore.
Former President George H. W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush
The late President George H.W. Bush's childhood name was "Poppy"—"…named after his maternal grandfather, who was known as 'Pops,' so the younger Bush was called 'Little Pops.' The nickname evolved into Poppy," reports AP News. There's even a biography about Bush Sr. that highlights his moniker, "Being Poppy: A Portrait of George Herbert Walker Bush." Like an heirloom, the 41st president's childhood nickname was passed down when granddaughter Jenna named her firstborn daughter Poppy.
The late 41st First Lady Barbara Bush's nickname was "The Enforcer." When Barbara passed away at the age of 92 in 2018, granddaughter Jenna memorialized "Ganny" in a letter on "Today:" "We called you 'the enforcer.' It was because, of course, you were a force and you wrote the rules and your rules were simple. Treat everyone equally, don't look down on anyone, use your voices for good, read all the great books."
The former first lady had many nicknames that summarized her character.
"Known as Barbara, as Bar, as mom, mother, as Ganny, as the 'Silver Fox' and as the 'Enforcer,' she was candid and comforting, steadfast and straightforward, honest and loving," eulogized presidential historian Jon Meacham at Bush's memorial service.
Former President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush
According to the New York Post's "Page Six," former President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush have earned some appropriately respectful and whimsical names from their grandchildren. At the 2017 Women Making History Awards, the former First Lady revealed that she isn't Nana or Grandmother to her grandchildren, but is known as "Mimi Maxwell," a name she shares with an author, an art director, and other natural-born Mimi Maxwells. She says the name was invented by daughters Jenna and Barbara and while there's undoubtedly a story behind that moniker, family outsiders may never be privy to the true origins of the quirky title.
As for the former president, Bush allegedly wanted his grandchildren to simply call him "Sir," which would certainly encourage the grandchildren to be a well-mannered bunch. However, an unnamed source told "Page Six" (and People confirmed) that the children have instead taken to calling their grandfather "Jefe," a Spanish word usually meaning "the boss" or "the chief." (It's unclear whether that was a deliberate choice as an homage to his role as the former commander in chief of the nation or simply an inside joke that only his nearest and dearest are in on.
What do George and Laura Bush call each other? "Bushie" or as daughter Jenna told Today "Bushie One" and "Bushie Two" (we're not sure who is one and who is two). In fact, Bush— "W" or "Dubya"—is renowned for using nicknames for his colleagues and associates.
The Twins: Jenna and Barbara Bush
Turquoise and Twinkle
During their father's presidency, twins Jenna and Barbara required a Secret Service code name. Barbara went by "Turquoise" nicknamed after the beautiful color of her eyes, Jenna tells "Today." But Jenna's Secret Service handle was "Twinkle," which she said people got confused with "Tinkle."
Benny and Beauregard
"Bushie One" and "Bushie Two" sure can keep a wink-wink joke going. As Jenna tells it to "Today," when the twins were children and out with their parents, a stranger came up to the Bushes commenting, "What cute boys." Instead of correcting the mistake, the Bushes introduced Jenna as Benny and Barbara as Beauregard to the clueless stranger. Liking these made-up names and amused by the inside joke, the couple continued to call the girls the boy names, and Jenna even thought her name was Benny for a time!
The Next Bush Generation
Barbara Bush's daughter is lucky to have a nickname bestowed upon her from grandfather Dubya. Barbara named her daughter Cora Georgia, as an ode to Cora's grandfather's name George. Well, he was so happy to hear this that he calls his granddaughter "C. George," according to Barbara.
Southerners Like Their Nicknames
Just like the Bush family, with their deep Texas roots, Southerners have an affinity for using nicknames. There are nicknames commonplace only in the South, often passed down through families or an affectionate descriptor of the namesake's unique trait or characteristic. For ideas on what to call some of your favorite people or pets, check out these endearing nicknames for friends, dogs, grandmas, baby girls, sisters, and significant others.