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View Full Version : When did "binky" start meaning "pacifier"?


Interrobang!?
01-04-2006, 02:43 PM
I don't think I ever heard pacifiers being called binkies when I was a kid. Granted, I didn't hang around babies much. But if I heard the word "binky," I'd assume it was a baby-talk word for "blanket."

Now that I'm a new parent, though, it seems like many if not most other parents refer to pacifiers as binkies.

Binky does seem to be a registered trademark for a line of Playtex pacifiers, but, like Xerox and Coke, people I know aren't picky about which brand they're calling a binky. They're all binkies.

When did this usage take off? Does it predate the Playtex brand, or is it a trademark under genericization?

(American parents, that is. I know they're "soothers" in Britain. I may have to start using that.)

Loach
01-04-2006, 02:51 PM
I don't know where to begin to find a cite but I first heard it when the brand name was refered to (my niece had one). I never heard of it before the brand name. I always assumed it came from that.

Hari Seldon
01-04-2006, 02:57 PM
I could be wrong, but my California born and raised daughter-in-law implied that that was what they had always called it, so I inferred it was a west coast thing. Since it has been 30 years since I had a child young enough to use one, I don't know what word they use here in the east anymore, but in our house it was always called a "faffy" based on my oldest child's pronunciation of pacifier.

WhyNot
01-04-2006, 03:10 PM
I think it happened like this:

Binky first meant blanket. Baby talk explains this one, and it's easy to see why.

Then binky meant any sort of baby soother attachment thing. Most often a blanket, sometimes a pacifier, sometimes a stuffed duck. When WhyKid was an infant, this is what baby care books called attachment items.

Finally, Playtex named their pacifier Binky, and it became a common (though not exclusive) term for any pacifier.

"Binky pacifier" gets 597 hits on Google, mostly for retail sites selling Binkys. "Binky blanket" gets 192.



FWIW, the nurses at WhyBaby's hospital here in America called them "Soothers", because they were all of the brand name Soothers.

Interrobang!?
01-04-2006, 03:55 PM
I inferred it was a west coast thing. That could be true -- I'm in Seattle now, and grew up in Wisconsin. That'd fit the West Coast idea. "Binky pacifier" gets 597 hits on Google Searching without the quotes gets 26,800 hits, vs. 33,700 hits for binky blanket.

Binky's easily the most common term for pacifier I hear, but my sister-in-law calls 'em pacis (pronounced PASS-ee).

Cunctator
01-04-2006, 04:08 PM
(American parents, that is. I know they're "soothers" in Britain. I may have to start using that.)And "dummies" here in Australia.

Capt. Ridley's Shooting Party
01-04-2006, 04:20 PM
I've only ever heard of them called "dummies" in the UK too, never "soothers".

Interrobang!?
01-04-2006, 04:24 PM
I've only ever heard of them called "dummies" in the UK too, never "soothers". Crap. Misremembered slang will be the death of me.

WhyNot
01-04-2006, 05:30 PM
Searching without the quotes gets 26,800 hits, vs. 33,700 hits for binky blanket.
Right, and I did that first, but you end up with sites that have "pacifier" but not "binky" and vise-versa. In the end, it seemed more telling to me that the majority of "binky" as relating directly to pacifiers was retail, as opposed to lots of colloquial hits for binky and blanket.

twopennorth
01-04-2006, 06:12 PM
I've only ever heard of them called "dummies" in the UK too, never "soothers".

I think they might be called soothers on the packets, I can't remember.

My kids always said "dum-dum", anyway.

In French the word sounds like toot-toot - sorry, I can't spell that, I've only heard it said.

Whatever you call them, useful things.

Mister Rik
01-04-2006, 09:38 PM
I've lived on the West Coast since childhood (1966-present) and I never heard the term "binky" until I heard a teenager use the word in the mid-1990s. They were always called pacifiers when I was growing up. Of course, I'm still trying to figure out when "stocking cap" became "beanie". I always thought a beanie was a fabric skullcap with or without a propeller on top.

picunurse
01-04-2006, 09:52 PM
I believe binky became popular when Platex™ named their pacifier Binky™ (http://playtexbaby.com/bottlesandpacifiers/products/pacifiers.asp)

Interrobang!?
01-05-2006, 12:59 AM
I believe binky became popular when Platex™ named their pacifier Binky™ (http://playtexbaby.com/bottlesandpacifiers/products/pacifiers.asp) While I suppose that's technically true, I don't think the word swept the country back in 1935. Also, I noted the Playtex connection in the OP -- I'm still not sure if the term predates Playtex or vice versa.

And I'm not the only person (http://shenuts.com/index.php?p=1091) who thinks "binky" has become a lot more popular in the last few years.

Interrobang!?
01-05-2006, 01:05 AM
I just realized I misread your comment -- because while it's true Binky's been a registered trademark since 1935, Playtex's line is newer than that. I don't know when it was rolled out, but the word's popularity may have taken off at the same time.

picunurse
01-05-2006, 01:56 AM
I know we used "binky" in the hospital because playtex supplied them to us free. A lot of the nurses, never having had children of their own, simply called them by what was on the package....Heck, maybe it's our fault!

RickJay
01-05-2006, 02:26 AM
Until I heard the word used on "Nanny 911" this year, I had never in my life heard the word "binky" applied to a pacifier.

galt
01-05-2006, 05:20 AM
Crap. Misremembered slang will be the death of me.Perhaps literally, if you say "nice fanny" around the wrong guy's girl. :D

samclem
01-05-2006, 07:27 AM
I can find a 1988 reference in a US newspaper to "Binky" being used generically to mean a pacifier. But most hits are in the 1990's.

Jonathan Chance
01-05-2006, 07:32 AM
Call me another hole in the 'west coast' argument. I lived in LA as boy and adolescent through the early 1980s and never heard them called 'binky'. They were always 'pacifiers'.

I recall noticing the universality of 'binky' in the mid-90s sometime.

Hypno-Toad
01-05-2006, 07:45 AM
Here on the west coast of the east coast, I'd never heard "Binky" until just this last year when one of my friends got a new kid.

Barbarian
01-05-2006, 08:14 AM
I first heard the term 'binky' on some horrible sit-com that my wife watched two years ago. In Montreal, the object is usually called a 'suss' (short for sucon... another example of cross-language dialect).

Ensign Edison
01-05-2006, 10:38 AM
No idea where I picked up "binky", but the nurses in the NICU when my daughter was born used it. My own mother and grandmothers always said "nuk" or "nuk-nuk" - anyone else encountered that one?

butler1850
01-05-2006, 11:03 AM
It's either a Binky (or Bink-a-link) or a "plug" at our house... depending on who we've spent time with recently.

Either way, we were originally convinced that we'd be "plug free" at our house... that lasted 3 days after the Butlerette came home from the hospital.

Cheez_Whia
01-05-2006, 11:12 AM
When my nephew was born in California, in 1966, he came home from the hospital supplied with a "Binky" brand pacifier. We called it a binky, because it said "Binky" right on the thing.

When my daughters were born, in California, in 1973 and 1981, another popular brand was "Nuk". However, due to habit, it was always called binky. YMMV.

FWIW, a disclaimer for my doper daughter. The Sausage Creature never liked her binky. She would always spit it out. :)

Ensign Edison
01-05-2006, 11:17 AM
When my nephew was born in California, in 1966, he came home from the hospital supplied with a "Binky" brand pacifier. We called it a binky, because it said "Binky" right on the thing.

When my daughters were born, in California, in 1973 and 1981, another popular brand was "Nuk". However, due to habit, it was always called binky. YMMV.


FWIW, a disclaimer for my doper daughter. The Sausage Creature never liked her binky. She would always spit it out.


Aah, but which came first? The brand name or the slang?

(babyx also has use for the binker anymore, but it was helpful early on. The damn things get everywhere. They're like little filth magnets. Pacis, not babies, though...).

MentalGuy
01-05-2006, 11:18 AM
I first recall hearing them referred to as binkies in the The Rugrats Movie .

My father (who died this past spring at the age of 92) always called them "foolers."

Interrobang!?
01-05-2006, 12:22 PM
My own mother and grandmothers always said "nuk" or "nuk-nuk" - anyone else encountered that one? That's another brand name, though I don't know if the brand predates the word or vice versa.

Samclem's post at least confirms that I'm not crazy -- "binky" does seem to be a recently widespread generic word for pacifier. I'm sure that thrills Playtex to no end. Perhaps they can celebrate with the folks from Coke and Xerox.

Cheez_Whia
01-05-2006, 12:38 PM
Aah, but which came first? The brand name or the slang?

Alas, the Binky Apocrypha can tell us no more!

The Chao Goes Mu
01-05-2006, 12:49 PM
When I was a child (in the 70's midwest) my parents referred to my pacifier as a "pippy." I have no idea where this came from. Perhaps their own parents. I referred to (ok and still do :o ) security items like a favorite blanket, my partner, my pets as "woobies" and "binkies"


Come to think of it, I think my grandparents (from Northcentral Kentucky) started the "pippy" thing.


I think "binky" is just babytalk for "blanket."

elfkin477
01-05-2006, 05:03 PM
I tried to post this yesterday, but the brower crashed, or the dope itself did. The first time I heard this term was when my best friends as a little kid had a baby brother, and their mom called his pacifier a "binky." That was in 1982. As far as I know their parents grew up in MA like mine did. I don't think I recall anyone else calling it that, though, until the 90s.

Amaranta
01-05-2006, 05:58 PM
West Coast Canada here. They were always "soothers" in my house, and "soo-soo" for my littlest sister (as a side note, littlest sister was very, very attached to her soo-soos, and our dentist told my mum about the whole messed-up teeth from using soothers for a long time, so my mum created the "soother fairy" who would leave you toys in exchange for soothers left under your pillow, so middle sister and I thought ourselves very naughty children for never meeting the "soother fairy", thus confirming my mother's belief that anything can be turned in a sibling rivalry/"mommy doesn't love me!" issue). I've never heard of a soother being called "binky" until this thread.

We called blankets blankie, and woof-woof was dog, and my middle sister (for reasons forever unknown) called lip balm "bo-bo lips", which still slips out sometimes.

Me: "Does anyone have any bo-bo lips?"
Friends: "WHAAAAT?"
Me: "Um, lip balm. Lip chap. You know, lip balm."
Friends: "No, what did you say the first time?"
Me: "Nothing......"

jsc1953
01-05-2006, 07:59 PM
When I was raising infants 20-odd years ago, the word "binky" was unknown. We just called them "plugs", but I think that was a bit odd -- I know there was a more common word, but it escapes me now.

Nuk was the upscale brand for yuppie babies then.

samclem
01-05-2006, 08:43 PM
Aah, but which came first? The brand name or the slang?


The slang word probably wasn't used by the general population before the 1980's. Individuals, as attested to in this thread, probably bought a "Binky" brand pacifier, which dates from the 1930's, and called it a "binky." But those were isolated incidents.

So, the brand predated the slang word.

Mister Rik
01-05-2006, 09:48 PM
Now that the brand name, Nuk, has been mentioned, I do seem to recall hearing the term "nuk-nuk". When you think about it, that's kind of the sound made when sucking on a pacifier. Think of Maggie Simpson.

vivalostwages
01-05-2006, 10:04 PM
Until I heard the word used on "Nanny 911" this year, I had never in my life heard the word "binky" applied to a pacifier.

On Supernanny, one family called them "dodies."

On Malcolm in the Middle, Reese referred to baby Jamie's "nu-nu." (Where the heck did that come from?)

toadspittle
01-05-2006, 11:53 PM
We called them "bobbies" when I was growing up in the 1970s (grew up in PA, parents spent many years in San Diego/Washington State). Origin? Beats me. But I did recently saw a very retro-looking pacifier for sale in a bodega in NYC that, I believe, was brand-named "Babi". Was it meant to be pronounced "bay-bee" or "bah-bee"? Who knows. Even related? Who knows.

My sister and brother just had their own respective kids, and both my niece and nephew have "binkies."

samclem
01-06-2006, 12:42 AM
Now that the brand name, Nuk, has been mentioned, I do seem to recall hearing the term "nuk-nuk". When you think about it, that's kind of the sound made when sucking on a pacifier. Think of Maggie Simpson.Or the Three Stooges. :)

SABEI_KING
01-07-2006, 03:58 AM
Whats the big flipin' (prase stolin' by the movie Nypoline Dynomite***)deal differnt country cities and langues have other terms. My baby neice stuters pacifire when she wants her "sother binkey or pacii" But I've never heard a blakey was called a binkey but mabye a "bankey" (baby talk).

kushiel
01-07-2006, 05:16 PM
West Coast Canada here. They were always "soothers" in my house, and "soo-soo" for my littlest sister (as a side note, littlest sister was very, very attached to her soo-soos, and our dentist told my mum about the whole messed-up teeth from using soothers for a long time, so my mum created the "soother fairy" who would leave you toys in exchange for soothers left under your pillow, so middle sister and I thought ourselves very naughty children for never meeting the "soother fairy", thus confirming my mother's belief that anything can be turned in a sibling rivalry/"mommy doesn't love me!" issue). I've never heard of a soother being called "binky" until this thread.

We called blankets blankie, and woof-woof was dog, and my middle sister (for reasons forever unknown) called lip balm "bo-bo lips", which still slips out sometimes.

Me: "Does anyone have any bo-bo lips?"
Friends: "WHAAAAT?"
Me: "Um, lip balm. Lip chap. You know, lip balm."
Friends: "No, what did you say the first time?"
Me: "Nothing......"

Another Western Canadian here. Always soothers and pacifiers and blankie too.

Hedda Rosa
01-08-2006, 01:48 AM
I hear binky around here in No Cal, but in my family we call 'em a "fi" as in pacifier.

I've also heard paci. Too cutsie-poo for my taste.

Tibby or Not Tibby
01-08-2006, 11:10 AM
I've always refered to my pacifier as a "nummy" or "num-num". My mother is British, so I always assumed that the term had an English derivation. I think that everyone should call pacifiers "num-nums", it is a perfectly respectable name.

I miss my num-num :(

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