August 11, 2008

Thai nicknames from English words: an eventually comprehensive list

Here's something that just occurred to me: compile a list of Thai nicknames that come from English words.

What this list includes:  mostly nicknames of people I have actually met (or who are otherwise well-known) which comes from English words.

What this list doesn't include: nicknames which are only meaningful in English as names (so Sarah is out, but Rose is in). I've also excluded names which have other meanings, but those meanings have no bearing on their selection for Thai nicknames (e.g. Peter).

This list is an ongoing project
. Please leave a comment with other nicknames you know and I'll expand the list. I'll also add to it as I think of more or meet new people. I'm including the Thai spelling used by the person I know, but other variations are certainly possible. Nicknames I've heard of but never
personally met are in green. Some words aren't English, like Benz or Olé, but I'm including them anyway because of the familiarity of these words to English speakers.

This also demonstrates how the spelling of English words in Thai often does not transparently reveal their actual pronunciation. So in some cases I've included the typical Thai pronunciation in square brackets.

And away we go:
A1 เอวัน

Apple แอปเปิ้ล [แอบเปิ้น or แอ๊บเปิ้น] or for short เปิ้ล [เปิ้น]
Bank แบงค์ [แบ๊ง] 
Benz เบนซ์ [เบ๊น] 
Bird เบิร์ด [เบิ๊ด] 
Bomb บอมบ์ [บ็อม] 
Bow โบว์
Boy บอย (not to be confused with บอยด์ Boyd; cf. บ๋อย)
Cartoon การ์ตูน or for short, ตูน 

Champ แชมป์ [แช้ม]
Cream ครีม
Earth เอิร์ธ [เอิ๊ด]
Firm เฟิร์ม 

First เฟิร์สท [เฟิ้ด]
Fuse ฟิวส์
God ก๊อด (his dad is Muslim.. that's the only explanation I can give)
Golf กอล์ฟ [ก๊อบ]

Guide ไกด์ [ไก๊]]
Lily ลิลี่
Mafia มาเฟีย 

May เมย์ 
Ma'am แหม่ม
New นิว 
Note โน้ต or โน๊ต
Off อ๊อฟ 

Opal โอเปิ้ล [โอเปิ้น] or for short เปิ้ล [เปิ้น], also โอปอล [โอปอ]
Olé โอเ่ล่

Peach พีช [พี้ด]
Rose โรซ [โร้ด] 
Stop สต๊อป
Tiger ไทเกอร์ [ไทเก้อ]
Time ไทม์ [ทาย]
Title ไตเติ้ล [ไตเติ้น] or for short เติ้ล [เติ้น]
Valentine ไทน์ [ทาย] (the person I know only ever used the short version) 

Yeast ยีสต์ [ยี้ด] (his dad worked as a baker)

Okay, now your turn. Let the list grow.


  1. I know two Thai girls (nick)named Air. I don't know if it really comes from English or not, but there you go.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I can't believe I actually have something to contribute! This is an exciting day for me. These are some of my coworker's names (that aren't already on your list):

    Bank - แบงค์
    Beer - เบียร์
    Bell - เบล
    Eve - อีฟ
    Joy - จอย
    Kiwi - กีวี
    Luck (for ศิริลักษณ์) - it has been explained to me that since the closest Thai spelling of this name is 'ลัก', which means 'to steal', the English spelling always used.
    M - เอ็ม (this one isn't really a word, but it is meant to be the letter in the English alphabet)
    Sun - ซัน

    I will post another comment if I think of any others.

  4. A couple more:

    Pink - พิงค์
    Graph - กราฟ - this is the name of the brand-new baby daughter of the leader of the QA team for a graphics toolkit used in our software.

  5. My Thai partner has chimed in with the following:

    A เอ
    B บี
    X เอ็กซ์
    Mint มิ้นท์
    Best เบส
    Heart ฮาร์ท
    Gift กิ๊ฟท์
    Nut นัท
    Not น็อต
    My มาย

  6. There's also ไวน์​ (Wine), featured in the Luk Thung mega-hit คุณลำไย by ลูกนกสุภาพร, a song which is all about Thais being given "fancy" English-derived names. There are several other names quoted in the song, but I don't have the lyrics in front of me now nor time to go through the song and pick them out...

  7. A few co-workers' names:

    And my personal favorite, an actress' name:


    Apologies for no Thai script.

  8. I know the following:
    Joke:โจ๊ก (although this one isn't really from the english i guess)

  9. Here are a couple that stuck in my mind.

    Heineken (a girl)
    Four Wheel (also a girl whose father liked four wheel trucks)

    My friend who teaches kindergarten says there are a few 8 year old Mins about because of their year of birth (work it out)

  10. Just came across another odd one, another actor: Gapper.

    And further apologies for my earlier comment and not following simple directions that you only want English.

  11. My 2 cents to add are the names of two cousins - a boy named Barley and a girl named Ploen. The first one is of course directly taken from English, the second one is supposed to be a contraction of "Play" and "Learn".

  12. Oh, and I had two friends (sisters) nicknamed Ice and Nice.

  13. Someone beat me to X! (Very common nickname among boys at the โรงเรียนมธยม I attended in 2540-41/1997-98.) I know a guy named ยอช์ต or ยอช์ท [Yacht]. (I remember thinking the ช. ช้าง in the name was funny, but can't remember which /t/.) When I first met him, I thought he was a George.

  14. กะละแมร์ >> caramel

  15. Boss, Man and Atomic are buddies in one of my classes. I also have a Nice, a Fork and an Icy.

  16. a girl named Ploen ... supposed to be a contraction of "Play" and "Learn".

    Unlikely. The name is more likely to be the Thai pronunciation of the last syllable of "apple". (Can't be certain without seeing the Thai script.)

  17. The name of one of my nieces is "Thames"(เทมซ์), from River Thames. She was called Thames as she has an elder brother called Tom and the both names were to have an alliteration

    She has a (female) friend called Benz, from the German car (เบนซ์)

    And a Thai boy living in my neighbourhood here in Germany is called "Game" (เกม)

    Erwin Beyer

  18. well i am not sure if these are common names... but i have heard or know of people with these names

    Dew - ดิว
    Bell - เบลล์
    (this spelling reflects the english of it all)
    Balloon - บาลูน
    May - เมย์
    Boss - บอสส์ (not sure of the spellinig in thai)

  19. -Donut
    -Fern [I think this is far more common than 'Firm' mentioned in the original post?]
    -Ice [pronounced "I"]
    -Moss (?) [certainly not the Thai word for ant, though people have a hard time deciding whether to pronounce it "mos" or "mot"]
    -Toy [not sure if this is from English; the person in question is a Thai-Chinese girl, and it is written ต๋อย (?)]

    Already mentioned by others:

    Also, not qualifying here because it is a real English name: George. Quite awkward pronunciation in Thai (approx. "Jort").

  20. I met a girl the other night named "Milk". that's some silly stuff right there...

  21. I just remembered some more:
    -L/El (or French: elle?) (presumably written เอ็ล or เอ็ว, pronounced like a short version of เอว, "waist")

    Plus: non-English nickname, but mentioned for cuteness - There's a little girl called น้อง แป้งหอม (=fragrant powder) in my neighborhood. (And she is a real cutie, too.)
    Though I do love "Pancake", cited by WiseKwai above!

  22. The Thai romantic comedy film My Valentine (แล้วรัก ...ก็หมุนรอบตัวเรา) stars Mintita Wattanakul, better known as Mint AF3 because she became famous on the third season of the Academy Fantasia reality-TV talent show.

    In the movie, her character's name is Mind, though in the subtitles it's stated as Mild. Early in the film there's a joke about her nickname being Mint, er no, it's Mild.

    But really it's Mind, which is shown, if I remember correctly, when she signs a cast for a boyfriend's broken arm. Her nickname is also stated as Mind in the closing credits. I guess the "l" and "n" sounds get confused sometimes.

  23. @ncr The name L is probably written แอล in Thai, and pronounced แอ็ว. Not 100% certain, of course, but if it is indeed based on the English letter, then Thais usually pronounce that with สระแอ.

    The most colorful Thai nicknames I've ever seen are in a family I know personally. In age order, their kids are:

    * บาส [pronounced บ๊าด], from the first syllable of "basketball"
    * แตงโม "watermelon" (though this one is fairly common, actually)
    * ลูกปืน "bullet"
    * ถุงมือ "glove"

    บาส and especially แตงโม aren't really odd for Thai nicknames (the starlet แตงโม, for example), but ลูกปืน and ถุงมือ make even Thai folks chuckle.

    @WiseKwai I have a niece named Mind/Mild, actually. Though clearly it is meant to come from an English word, the way it's spelled in Thai is ambiguous: มายด์.

    In Thai phonology you can't have a consonant after the "ai" vowel at all, so both Mild and Mind are just pronounced "Mai" with a long vowel. (This is also why die, drive, dry, dine, dive, etc. are *all* pronounced the same in the Thai accent.)

    My niece's parents intended her nickname to be Mild, as in meek and mild (which is seen as a good thing in Thai, corresponding to อ่อนโยน). But even she uses both spellings.

    I had never realized until your comment that this is an issue for all people of this nickname (apparently). The subtitle translator assumed one English spelling, while the filmmakers intended another.

  24. @Rikker: :-) That 'family combination' reminds me of the ingenious way my parents-in-law named their children. You know, my wife is the oldest of three, and her nickname is มะ. Her younger brother (who died in a motorbike accident more than 10 years ago) was called ละ. And her younger sister's name is กอ.
    And that adds up to? Bingo! "Papaya". A very important fruit, as we all know - without it, no som tam. Though in her home region (i.e. Isaan), it is of course not referred to as 'malakor', but rather 'mak hung'. But that word only has two syllables, and as the parents chose 'malakor' over it, this apparently means they must have planned to have 3 kids - no less, no more - right from the beginning!

  25. I have a friend who lives in Bangkok again now after going to high school with me in the U.S. who used the name Key. My favorite so far in living here is a friend from Loei called Ping Pong -- she says quite simply that her parents like table tennis :-)

  26. You might enjoy this post as it cites yours.

  27. When we had Thai students at school, there was one called Palm (girl), one called Win (boy), one called Oil (gir, pronounced "Oi"), one called Name (girl) and last year, one called Gift (girl) and one called Betty (girl)

  28. nonymous said...
    a girl named Ploen ... supposed to be a contraction of "Play" and "Learn".

    Unlikely. The name is more likely to be the Thai pronunciation of the last syllable of "apple". (Can't be certain without seeing the Thai script.)
    9/19/2008 6:11 PM

    Ploen เพลิน means 'enjoy' in Thai.

  29. Yes, in most cases "Ploen" is simply the Thai word เพลิน. But the play + learn = เพลิน thing is also a well-known play on words.

    Just Google..

    เพลิน play learn

    ..and you'll see lots of hits.

  30. I once taught English to a Thai girl in Bangkok named Zigzag :-)

  31. You got a good collection! Nice that you even have Thai writing too.

    What about pla-waan? This word means whale. The kid got to be real big!

  32. At my matthayom school I have a bunch of fame, game, cream, Prince, dream, an atom and a neutron and a potter. My host sister is named ing.

  33. When I taught English in Thailand I met kids named Ball, Ice, Mint, Bee, Nut, Fish, Chicken and Rat.

  34. I know a couple additions...
    Ize (pronounced like Ice - a boy that has an icey personality sometimes he's mean but often he melts into a smile)
    Sand (Ize's girlfriend)
    Ouu (a guy I loved)