The Washington Post investigates the origin of 'baby bump'

03/04/2008 at 10:53 PM ET

"Baby bump."  Much like "preggers" and other terms used to describe expectant mothers, many people have an opinion on the phrase — they either think the term is lighthearted and cute, or they can’t stand it! The Washington Post asked our publisher Danielle about the origins of the phrase, and her thoughts on the use of it in the media. Danielle shared,

The term appears to be British in origin and was in use,though not as much, over four years ago when I created the site. Now it’s used in conjunction with othersimilarly annoying terms like bump watch or womb watch. I never caredfor the term myself (so we try to use it minimally at CBB) as I find itcutesy, obnoxious and juvenile. I complained about the term four yearsago here.

Aside from ‘belly,’ there’s no other colloquial term touniquely describe the outward physical anatomy of the pregnant womb so’bump’ has become the word everyone uses. Part of its popularity stemsfrom its descriptiveness — a showing pregnant belly is round andappears to emerge from the abdomen differently than just a full stomach– but also because we are squeamish about describing human femaleanatomy correctly … If you want to get technical, uterus or wombwould be completely accurate but uterus watch or expanding uterus justdoesn’t have the same alliterative catchiness of baby bump.

The Post’s Celebritology columnist Liz Kelly‘s opinion falls on the other side — she finds it more cute than obnoxious.

I kind of like "baby bump." It’s fun(unlike the snoozy "expecting"), doesn’t carry any baggage (like theloaded "in the family way"), doesn’t rhyme with a processed breakfastfood ("preggo") and is — to a girl who styles her writing for a sitethat can be a little squeamish — refreshingly non-graphic. Itliterally makes a molehill out of a potential mountain of landmines.

Source: The Washington Post ‘Celebritology’

Photo by Dan Nourie.

What are your thoughts?

What do you prefer to call the pregnant belly? Alternately, any particular phrases that drive you crazy?


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Showing 29 comments

Stéph on

I like it I think it’s really cute and definitely better than ‘expanding uterus’!

Cathy on

I have been reading this site for about 3 years and this is the first time I have commented. I can not stand the word preggers, it has always driven me crazy. I think it sounds so trashy and gross. I personally prefer baby belly to baby bump but baby bump doesn’t really bother me.

sil on

Cathy, I agree with you…i also hate the word “preggers”, don’t know even what it means (i know is for pregnant, but i don’t know if that word means something else…) but it sounds ugly to me.
Baby bump is fine 🙂

Jen on

First off I have to agree with with the person abouve, I can not tolerate “preggers” at all. Pretty much for the same reason.

I can not at all stand baby bump! It just sounds wrong I don’t know why. Like a disease or somthing.

Aleys on

I like the term “baby bump,” I find it cute. On the other hand, I don’t like the term “preggers” at all. Somehow it sounds kind of more pejorative to me than “pregnant.”

Carlie on

I agree with Cathy, I don’t like it when people say ‘preggers’ but baby bump is fine. I actually use it myself with my pregnant friends and people used to say it to me when I was pregnant.

We use it quite a lot over here in Britain, as it says in the post, so maybe that’s why I say it a lot and don’t mind the phrase ‘baby bump’ because I suppose it’s what I’ve grown up with and it’s what others have said before me.

NicoleMarie on

I think using preggy (not preggers) is rather cute. There are terms that I hate like: knocked up & bun in the oven. I think the first one I mentioned is rather cruel and trashy to say. The term “baby bump” can sometimes be used in annoying ways like “baby bump watch begins!” or “Her bump is showing!” I rather hear belly! I think it is cute. =)

anniebabe on

I’m scottish and i call it a “bump”, i even called my son “bump” in the early stages of pregnancy before we thought of a good nickname for him. I love the term and to be honest i didn’t care what phrase others used for me, i just loved people knowing i was pregnant. Ahh, i miss being “up the duff” 😀

Summer on

I like it… a bump is small and cute, just like the baby itself. Plus the image it conjures up is a nice one.

BMP on

I loathe the terms “preggo” or “preggers”! Seems demeaning to me somehow. And a little trashy too. Really takes away from the beauty of the event. I don’t mind “baby bump”, but prefer “baby belly”.

Bess on

I don’t mind baby bump, I usually just say baby belly. The thing that annoyed me the most when I was pregnant was when people said ‘You guys [meaning both me and my husband] are pregnant!’ NO. I am pregnant. We are having a baby, but I am the pregnant one with all-day sickness and backaches and random bursts of tears over nothing and a massive protrusion from my body!

Twy on

Being 5+ months pregnant I really have an opinion on this. At work people use the term “belly” a lot. I would prefer the term baby bump, as belly could be referring to my beer belly, jelly belly or just plain fat belly. I also love the term “preggo” and use it often to describe myself and my friends who are “preggo”.
Different strokes for different folks, though.

katey on

I also dislike the term baby bump. I also dislike a lot of other cutesy pregnancy/baby terms, but that’s me.

Livy on

I love the term baby bump and also bump in general. Hate hate hate preggo and preggers -I just think they sound cheap and demeaning. I don’t mind ‘belly’ but I suppose here in the UK belly isn’t used so much anyway – you’d be more likely to say tummy. I hear ‘pregnant tum’ a lot.

Lilianne on

I really don’t like the term “baby bump”. In fact, I kind of really hate it. I think it is a really stupid and juvenile way of describing a pregnant woman. I don’t know what is wrong with using words like pregnancy, expecting, mother-to-be, pregnant stomach, etc. I really hated the recent headline regarding Angelina Jolie’s current pregnancy….”she let her baby bump do the talking.” To me it is just ridiculous and I don’t find it cute or charming at all.

kristen on

what’s wrong with just saying that someone is pregnant? i know that back in the 1950s and 60s the term was considered too technical and, thus, offensive, but it’s not the 1960s anymore!

as for slang, i like the terms “expecting” (which sounds like the mom-to-be is looking forward to the baby), “knocked up” (it suggests a sense of humor as well as a bit of sexiness on the part of the mom-to-be), and “in a family way” (just because it is so antiquated and funny).

i agree with those who hate the terms “preggers” (which makes it sound as though the person using the word is strangely afraid of the word “pregnant”) and “baby bump” (i couldn’t agree more with the person who said it sounds like a disease).

Ash on

I’m so glad I’m not the only one who can’t stand the word preggers! My cousin is pregnant, and she uses that word all the time. It drives me nuts! But I guess people are too lazy to just use the word pregnant. As far as the term baby bump, that one sounds kind of stupid to me too. Baby belly sounds much better.

Xan on

I’ve been wondering if I was the only one who hated the term “bump”!

What I dislike about it is it’s prevalence in the media. The word is used to describe as pregnancy as though it was just another accessory. Someone sports a “bump” in the same way they do a new purse or expensive shoes.

I think it’s more appropriate and respectful to say that someone is “expecting,” or simply, “having a baby.”

Anna Bella on

Wow I am pleased that many people hate the term “preggers” “prego” and all those other “wonderful terms” used out there…. Have people become so lazy that adding “nant” to “preg” has become such a burden?
Hopefully its the last time people use those trashy, crude terms

Danielle on

I dont mind the term baby bump but preggers drives me crazy.

J.J. on

I think saying that a pregnant woman has a ‘baby bump’ or ‘baby belly’ sounds really cute, but, saying that she’s ‘preggers’ doesn’t make any sense or doesn’t seem to fit. I think ‘preggers’ is the slang term for being pregnant.

poppy on

I hate the term “preggers”. I just find it so ugly for some reason. I also hate when people call their husband “hubby”. I like baby bump though. That doesn’t annoy me at all.

Emily's Aunt on

I dislike the term “knocked up” although I enjoyed the movie by the same name…go figure!!

Elizabeth Morrison on

Question for the site admin – now that you’ve heard so many of us say how much we can’t stand the term preggers (myself included), might you consider omitting the word from your future posts?

Sarah’s note: We don’t use the term in the first place (although obviously I did in this piece, per the point of the post). Are you a regular reader? I’m just confused because we don’t use the word.

kemp on

i LOVE the term “baby bump.” i first read it in a british magazine several years ago and i’m happy it’s caught on in the states. i HATE “in the family way.” i’m indifferent to “preggo” and “preggers.” i like “knocked up,” but it seems very casual to me. i wouldn’t say it to the queen or older family members! i like the french “je suis pleine” (literally “i am full,” but its meaning is “i’m pregnant.”) “expecting” is good. i also love “with child,” but it’s very antiquated!

Greg on

Problem is, it’s not a bump. But I think the bigger problem is that people are fed up with the obsession of physical appearance and the pregnancy status of celebrities? For whatever reason, someone out there is obsessed with knowing if Celeb A is pregnant, and since no one will make an announcement, the media insist on blowing up photos to look for “bumps.”

It’s stupid, and some of are disgusted with the term because of its association with a stupid phenomenon.

Tiff on

I absolutely HATE the term baby bump! So juvenile–Preggers doesn’t bother me at all though. Baby belly seems like a better choice than ‘baby bump’. Ugh, so annoying!

Zoe on

I don’t really mind “baby bump,” but did wonder why it just suddenly seemed to be everywhere in the media when just a few years ago I hadn’t heard it before. It does seem kind of silly and too cutesy, but there really doesn’t seem to be another expression to describe it that isn’t either too technical for a light-hearted tabloid article (as opposed to a medical journal or mom-to-be advice article) or somewhat rude-sounding. I wasn’t surprised to find that it seems to have originated in the UK; it seems like a lot of “Britishisms” are coming our way in the States since the internet has been such a unifying phenomenon.

“Preggers” is a term that just sounds like British slang, but seems to have a slightly racy or disapproving tone to it — as if you would use it to gossip about someone who probably didn’t intend to get pregnant and might be slightly embarrassed about it. But I’m not really certain that that is how it’s always used in Britain; perhaps it’s now very mainstream. That’s certainly the connotation that “knocked up” has in the US; no one I know would ever use that expression in the context of a woman choosing to have a baby and being very happy about it, unless it was just as a joke. As far as I ever hear it used, it’s only used by guys remarking on an accidental pregnancy — maybe confessing to be the perpetrator of said pregnancy — “She got knocked up…” or “I knocked her up.” That just sounds crude and I sure hope that doesn’t catch on as a mainstream expression for “expecting” or “pregnant.” It just sounds crude to me.

For the record, I’m a 49-year-old married woman, mother of one. I’m also a high school teacher, so I’m pretty inured to slang and crude language, although I don’t allow the latter in my classroom.

Don on

I LOATHE this term. It irritates the very being of one with any intelligence whatsoever. It’s as if the tabloid-writing chimps take to writing children’s literature in their spare time, and are now crossing work with pleasure.
There’s nothing that makes me foam at the mouth with malice more than seeing a picture of some spoiled, washed-up silver screen actress/ pop singer standing outside of her overpriced car on a street corner, sporting sunglasses and staring, mouth agape, into yonder, as if in some kind of nirvana brought on by the sure-to-be- mutated hell spawn festering inside of her, taken while she was on her way to the bar to have a few scorpion bowls to wash down her coke (not the drink), and then home to have herself a three-way. These rotund cows use pregnancy to desperately cling to and advertise the concept of two things that they never will know: responsibility and sacrifice. The term “baby bump” being plastered all over the aforementioned picture merely amplifies the insipid horror of the situation.
Celebrity women should be spayed- for our sake, as well as that of the poor, poor souls who would otherwise end up being their children.

Baby bump- disgusting.