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I'm looking for a term that a child (who also has regular parents) would use to refer to a male live-in caregiver. Is there any such word? (Loan words from other languages, as long as an English-speaker has a reasonable chance of recognizing them, would be okay also.)

For example: "This is Alfred; he's my ____". Ideally, the same or similar word could also be used as in "_____, will you take me to the park?".

Internet searches mostly turn up results about males being "nannies".

Words I don't like:

  • Nanny - sounds feminine
  • Sitter - implies someone watching a child only temporarily
  • Papi (and variants thereof) - to easily confused to mean "father"
  • Childcare-worker, childminder - a mouthful, not something a child is likely to use
  • Guardian - not technically correct when the child also has regular parents; also, a more endearing term would be preferred
  • manny - just sounds silly (to put it politely)
  • tutor - close, but implies someone who is primarily an educator; looking for something more general
  • au pair - obscure, not very recognizable, and connotes someone younger
  • amah, ayah - obscure, and anyway denotes a woman
  • attendant - maybe, but ideally I'd like something that means closer to 'supplemental parent'
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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – tchrist
    Jul 11, 2020 at 5:55

5 Answers 5

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The British Home Office uses "au pair" for both males and females.

This has been the case for about the past 40 years. Note the use of the gender-neutral "they" at the official website: https://www.gov.uk/au-pairs-employment-law/au-pairs

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  • I'll grant that "au pair" isn't necessarily gender specific. However, as I understand it, it implies someone who is temporarily lodging with a host family for whatever reason — essentially a tenant — and is providing services as a means of offsetting the cost of their stay, i.e. childcare is secondary. I'm looking for someone who is in the household for the express purpose of providing childcare, i.e. childcare is primary. Also, while the parents might refer to Alfred as "their au pair", I'm not sure Bruce would refer to Alfred as "my au pair".
    – Matthew
    Jul 11, 2020 at 1:21
  • Au pair is the most accurate answer. It is commonly used for a live-in child-minder, and certainly doesn't usually mean a lodger/tenant with incidental responsibilities.
    – Stuart F
    Oct 27, 2023 at 10:58
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Keeper, noun

A person who manages or looks after something or someone.

Caretaker, noun

A person employed to look after people or animals.

Optionally, the child could describe Alfred as his "parent's assistant," or more wordily his, "parent's assistant who looks after me."

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This site gives bro pair or, in the page title, manny as alternatives.

Fight Against Prejudices – Invite A Bro Pair

and in German,

Kampf gegen Vorurteile – ladet ein männliches Au Pair ein

Also this page has

Switching to bro-pair?

We have a manny and ...

We have had BPs who were great with laundry and BPs who did it only reluctantly -- same as our APs. ...

Historically, a job title would have been governor (the male version of a governess) or tutor, but those imply teaching rather than childcare.

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    Yeah... "bro pair" (which in fairness, is new to me) is the same sort of silly-sounding mangled language as "manny"... ugh.
    – Matthew
    Jul 10, 2020 at 19:39
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    "Manny" is probably considered offensive at this point. Like "male nurse." Jul 10, 2020 at 23:27
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I suggest custodian.

Custodian (noun): a person or organization that is responsible for protecting, caring for, or maintaining something or someone.

[Cambridge English Dictionary]

Or carer.

Carer (noun): someone who takes care of a person who is young, old, or sick.

[Cambridge English Dictionary]

(In your example, I would use uncle. In many cultures it is perfectly acceptable to use that title for someone you're not related to. However, I think it depends on how old the kid is, and how close the caregiver is with the family. Most kids with nannies/caregivers call them by their first name, without any sort of title. Most kids don't care about titles. In my experience, this is how the examples in your scenario would actually play out.)

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  • The OP wants a word that is like nanny, in that a child could use it, not only to address that person, but also to convey to the third parties the nature of the relationship, as in "This is Alfred, he is my _______'. Uncle doesn't accomplish that, as it would not make it clear to a third party that the person is a paid caregiver, like a nanny, rather than a family member.
    – jsw29
    Jul 10, 2020 at 22:47
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    @jsw29, there hardly seems any alternative to "uncle" in my view. Like "auntie", it doesn't always imply a blood relation, but it does imply closeness, and is capable of being used as a form of address. "Nanny" is itself capable of being conflated with a blood-related grandmother. There is no established special title for a male employed caregiver because the role is historically unheard of. If the caregiver is closer in age to the child than the parents, an alternative in the same vein might be "brother".
    – Steve
    Jul 11, 2020 at 1:32
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    I'm upvoting for "uncle". I'm leaning away from that for my actual use case, but I agree it's among the more plausible answers. I'm undecided how much I'll actually have my character using the term vs. a name, but I do want the character to be able to introduce "Alfred" (not the actual name, obviously) as "my such-and-such, Alfred", without having to turn that sentence into word salad.
    – Matthew
    Jul 11, 2020 at 1:44
  • @Matthew, Try Steward. Jul 11, 2020 at 3:24
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    Carer or caregiver, but nanny is actually OK; I know male nannies who call themselves nannies, it's just a job title. The kid would most likely call Alfred by his first name or some easy to pronounce variant, unless that's not allowed in the child's culture. I think Uncle or Cousin would work as a form of address if this person isn't a paid employee. I've also seen the title Baba used, although in some languages I think that means grandfather it may not be an issue in your situation. Also I know a step parent friend whose stepkids call him their bonus parent, which I love. (By My friend) Jul 11, 2020 at 3:55
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Replacing my comment with an answer

manny Noun (mannies)
A male nanny.
‘my husband would like us to hire a manny for our two boys’
Lexico

Note that this is in the US Dictionary at Lexico, but not in the UK Dictionary.

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    The OP has considered and explicitly rejected that term, so some argument is needed why it would be the best term to use, in spite of the OP's explicit rejection.
    – jsw29
    Jul 10, 2020 at 22:37
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    I can confirm from the UK that this suggestion is utterly dreadful.
    – Steve
    Jul 11, 2020 at 1:10

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