Sicilian: daddy, dad

Joey Sorrisi

New Member
English - American Mid Atlantic
I am specifically looking for nicknames and terms of endearment for the word “father”.

I am full blooded Sicilian American and my family came from the town of Serradifalco in the in the province of Caltanissetta. My grandparents were the first generation born in America and sadly have all passed away. I recall my grandmother referring to her father with the term “bah-Poe” or “bop-oh”. To my American ear it sounds almost like the name of a clown. I am hoping to get confirmation that this is a term actually used. I would also love to hear any other terms that mean father or daddy.

I have a 3 year old step son who I adore, but he has a real father that is very involved in his life. As he is speaking more and more, he occasionally calls me “dad”. It feels good that he thinks of me this way, but I also don’t want to offend or insult his real father by encouraging it.

I am hoping, with your help, I might be able to find a word in keeping with my Sicilian background. I know my grandmother also called her father “patri”, but I’m happy to hear any and all suggestions you may have.

Thanks in advance!

  • I recall my grandmother referring to her father with the term “bah-Poe” or “bop-oh”.

    The correct spelling is "babbo", it's the most used word for father in many Italian regions. (derives from the Vulgar Latin "Babbus")

    I hear most commonly among Sicilians for ‘daddy/dad’ is papà.

    I think that "papà" is mostly used in northern Italy (don't know about Sicily).
    Nunnu s.m. Il padre: Babbo. // Per Nannu V. // Per uomo vecchio: Nonno.
    (S. Macaluso Storaci, Nuovo Vocabolario Siciliano-Italiano e Italiano-Siciliano. G.E.B., 2001)
    Babbo, as a synonym of papà/ padre, is not used at all in Sicily. Babbo does exist in Sicilian but it is an adjective and means stupid/silly. It's the equivalent of babbeo in Italian.

    I didn't know that in Sicily they use papà. In Sardinia on the contrary, no one says "papà". In Sardinian language we use "Babbu", and automatically we translate it in Italian as "Babbo". Often when speaking Italian we also use "padre", but not when speaking Sardinian, because "padre" means monk.
    I also use babbo, like in Tuscany and other areas in Central Italy, in Rome, papà is used instead. Padre means monk in Italian as well. :)

    The use of Padre is slightly different from Italian, let's say that in Sardinian it's only used for "monk", while Italian mostly uses "frate".
    Thanks so much for you help. Much of my experience with my grandparents came when I was a child and it was solely verbal... I never saw any of the words and phrases written. For that reason, my family is doing our best to learn what my grandparents favorite phrases actually translate to in English. Not only was it in a language I don’t speak, but in a dialect that was far from proper Italian. A good example would be how capicola degenerated somehow into the term “gabagoul”.

    One of my grandmothers favorite expressions of anger was the word “putana” followed by the word “bottiglia”. It took my entire family quite by surprise to learn the word bottiglia was quite innocent, it was just the Italian word for “bottle”. I think she just liked the way the words sounded together.

    I guess I was not that far off when I said “Babbo” sounded like the name of a clown. Perhaps using that word was just another of her tongue in cheek type of sayings.

    If you can think of any other endearing terms, please share them with me. They don’t have to translate only to the word father. Seems like my family never relied much on official translations anyway. ;)

    Thanks again!