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#1
Old 06-09-2015, 12:34 AM
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Meaning of Mexican-Spanish 'Papi'?

True story. I was watching Cops one night. And the officer was about to haul in some Hispanic-American youth, I forgot on exactly what charges. And trying to get some sympathy from the cop, the youth pleaded his case, in his thick accent, repeatedly calling the officer "Papi". The officer eventually turned away in disgust, and (apparently knowing the term well) said "I'm not your "papi".

Anyways, this isn't an indictment of the show cops. My question is simple: What does the Hispanic word "papi" mean? I know it likely is derived from the same source as the English (and other) word Papa. But I am looking for context here. What does it mean when you call someone your "papi" (officer, or otherwise)? I could Google the term, or use an online translator. But I was looking for context, as well as any subtle nuances, that an online search just wouldn't provide.

Please tell me. I truly am dying to know this one (esp. if I ever the term again, on tv or otherwise). And thank you in advance all who reply.

#2
Old 06-09-2015, 12:43 AM
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From Urban Dictionary:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Urban Dictionary
Noun

1. A Spanish word (Central American) term that literally translates as 'father' into English. It is often used along with papa to refer to ones father.

2. A slang term that is similar in affect to Daddy in the phrase "Who's your Daddy?!" Often given by women to their boyfriends/husbands or to their sex partner. It is most often used during intercourse, but is also just used as a pet name. During intercourse it can be used to describe both pain or pleasure. For example "AI! Papi!" with emphasis on the Ai could be used when it is hurting, while "Ai papi!" or "Oh papi!" could indicate pleasure.

3. A title sometimes taken on by the leading members of a gang, similar to the Father of a Mafia.
He probably meant #2, but I suppose he could've meant #3 too.

Last edited by cmyk; 06-09-2015 at 12:47 AM.
#3
Old 06-09-2015, 03:25 AM
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That Urban Dictionary entry is good, but perhaps a tad incomplete. For example, I have heard Cuban fathers call their sons "papi" as a term of affection, so apparently it works both ways. But maybe that's just a specifically Cuban thing...?

Last edited by Steken; 06-09-2015 at 03:26 AM.
#4
Old 06-09-2015, 05:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
Please tell me. I truly am dying to know this one (esp. if I ever the term again, on tv or otherwise). And thank you in advance all who reply.

I think the boy was using a coloquial term of respect and authority, which the police officer might have rejected for its implicit familiarity.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steken View Post
That Urban Dictionary entry is good, but perhaps a tad incomplete. For example, I have heard Cuban fathers call their sons "papi" as a term of affection, so apparently it works both ways. But maybe that's just a specifically Cuban thing...?
No, it isn't. I was wondering where this might stem from too and I guess, in this case, 'papi' is just short for 'papi's dearest'.
#5
Old 06-09-2015, 05:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steken View Post
That Urban Dictionary entry is good, but perhaps a tad incomplete. For example, I have heard Cuban fathers call their sons "papi" as a term of affection, so apparently it works both ways. But maybe that's just a specifically Cuban thing...?
The UD entry says the term is "central american" but other than that I'd say it's quite correct; it's actually heard throughout (more commonly in some areas than others, but all over). Other similar terms, all of them diminutives for padre (father) and all of them usable exactly like daddy, are papá, papuchi or papito.

Last edited by Nava; 06-09-2015 at 05:49 AM.
#6
Old 06-09-2015, 05:52 AM
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That use of calling the children by a name that would properly refer to someone older is something I've encountered for different words in different places: it can be meant to say the child is quite grown-up, or to be ironic.

Last edited by Nava; 06-09-2015 at 05:53 AM.
#7
Old 06-09-2015, 09:20 AM
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I don't think the UD term is what applies there, exactly. He was using the term both for the authority figure it means, and for the ironic twist Nava mentioned. The person who said it, probably said it in the "authority/family" sense, with a hint of irony. The person who got the word, though, probably understood it in the way the UD took #2. I doubt the youngster was trying to imply the cop was his lover.

Adult male friends would call each other "papá" (at least in my region) or papi, and they're most definitely not using it in the sense given by the #2 UD definition.
#8
Old 06-09-2015, 09:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nava View Post
The UD entry says the term is "central american" but other than that I'd say it's quite correct; it's actually heard throughout (more commonly in some areas than others, but all over). Other similar terms, all of them diminutives for padre (father) and all of them usable exactly like daddy, are papá, papuchi or papito.
My favorite new addition to the upcoming dictionary... papichulo.
#9
Old 06-09-2015, 09:31 AM
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My Texmex wife has called me Papi for many years......
#10
Old 06-09-2015, 10:14 AM
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It's common in Panama. As has been said, it's similar to "Daddy" in all contexts.


- It is used affectionately by a child to his or her father.

- It is often used affectionately by a woman to her boyfriend or maybe husband.

- It may be used humorously to address a little boy.

- As in the case in the OP, when used to an older unrelated male, it could be affectionate/familiar, or it could be sarcastic.
#11
Old 06-09-2015, 10:36 AM
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The newly-arrested young man in the OP was using "papi" roughly the way an American might use "sweetheart" when pleading their case, with similar results. It's okay to use if, say, you're trying to sweet-talk a cashier into accepting your expired coupon ... not so much (as evidenced) with an LEO who's just given you new matching bracelets.
#12
Old 06-09-2015, 12:08 PM
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I've heard Mami and Papi used to refer to pretty much anyone, from parents, significant others, children, and even pets. I'ts mostly the Salvadorans I know that use Mami and Papi for their children and pets though.
#13
Old 06-11-2015, 02:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abner Ravenwood View Post
I've heard Mami and Papi used to refer to pretty much anyone, from parents, significant others, children, and even pets.
That's how I took it -- the cop is a man he doesn't know the name of, hence, Papi.
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