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Any idea what Nu means when someone uses it as a nickname for someone else in South Africa?

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I don't want to upset OP, but oxforddictionaries has...

nunu also noonoo Pronunciation: /ˈnuːnuː/
South African INFORMAL
An insect, spider, worm, or similar small creature:
the box gives protection against worms and other nunus

from Zulu inunu 'horrible object or animal'

And here's someone who knows that, commenting on the usage as an informal/affectionate term...

So, girls, if your boyfriend uses nunu in its lighter meaning, as a term of endearment and affection, think again - his motives might be sinister!


I can't think of an equivalent English term offhand, but French mon petit chou (my little cabbage) comes to mind.

  • I asked around and looked up nunu as a nickname and it seems to be a term of endearment. Something people call their grandkids. Thanks. Nunu has info on it but a search for Nu just came up with a definition of now. – Euroguy Sep 21 '14 at 23:43
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    My mother's favorite term of endearment is bogárkám = "my little insect". – Marthaª Sep 22 '14 at 0:05
  • "Bug" is a slightly dated (southern?) American term for the same thing. – Preston Sep 22 '14 at 5:21
  • @Preston: I did think about mentioning bug, but my impression is it's like shrimp - usually used of younger siblings, rather than romantic partners. – FumbleFingers Sep 22 '14 at 12:37
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In South Africa, anything cute is referred to as "nunus". Nunu is a term of endearment (what my husband calls me). And if my cat does something precious - we say she is being nunus. It's a very loosely used and adaptable noun and adverb.

protected by NVZ Jan 28 '17 at 17:23

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