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Polish Language/Polish diminuitive nickname "Bubush"


My mom said that her grandmother (from Poland) used to call her (what sounds to me like) Poopoosh or Buboosh.  She thinks it means little doll (she doesn't know Polish).  
Can you tell me what the word is, how to spell it correctly, and what it means?  Her given name is Virginia.  All of her family was from Poland, but her parents only spoke English to her, and she had to learn only English.  She is almost 80, and I'd like to know this for both of us (though if it isn't as sweet as little doll, I'd never tell her so).  
Thank you.  I appreciate that you make yourself available to share your knowledge.

Can you email the response to me at  ?

Dear Karen,

The word your gandmother uses is most probably "bubuś" and its meaning is "little baby". It belongs to those private words, used mostly within family and among close friends and relatives, and very rarely outside. Well, you can, however, encounter ladies in a shop or walking in a street, in a park etc., who having met another woman (eventually a man) with a little kid in a pram (or the parent's lap, hands etc.) may exclaim: "Jaki słodki / słodziutki bubuś" (What a sweet baby!).
It's probably an onomatopeic word, in fact - one of many common words for little baby, others being "bobo", "bubu", "bb". The advantage of this one is that it has a consonantal ending therefore it can be inflected into all cases - which means: used in a normal speach like other Polish words (which possibility the ones ending in 'strange' vowels lack; by 'strange' I mean such vowels which normally do not appear in final position in regular Polish words, like -u or -; even -o is quite rare and causes several problems while inflected). It has another advantage, that due to ending in -uś it resembles many Polish diminutives made out of real names, like "Kubuś" (little Jack), Maciuś (little Mathias), Franuś (little Frank) atc. Yes, you have seen that all the names chosen by me are boys' names, not by an accident - "bubuś" is in fact a masculine word, and in my part of Poland it is predominantly used for boys; for girls we would use "niunia", "niuniasia" (feminine ending words) or "niuniuś" (a masculine ending word but with a feminine meaning; not so rare). The latter word would be pronounced "nyoonyoosh" ('nyoo' like 'new'). But maybe in other regions of Poland the customs vary. Anyhow, the usage quoted above (in a shop or a park) does not state what the sex of the child is, in fact it lets you guess that the lady making such a declaration probably does not recognize the sex of the baby, otherwise she would call "Jaki słodki / słodziutki chłopczyk" (boy) or "Jaka słodka / słodziutka dziewczynka" (girl).

Now, for the correct spelling: the final consonant is "ś" (s with acute), see:
It is pronounced as palatalised "sh" (it means softer than the English "sh" of "shut", more like the English "s" in "sure"). Polish has two sounds resembling English "sh" - a hard "sz" and a soft "ś" - English "sh" is halfway between the two.

If you want to know more, read:,, and

If you want to understand what I mean by "inflection" and "normal usage of Polish words", read:, and, or in a more general way:

Whether it's sweet or not, watch: - and decide for yourself.

To my surprise this word is not to be found in ANY of Polish language dictionaries, the word belongs to the spoken registry, and not to the written language. Nevertheless Google has 36400 quotations"bubuś"&num=100 , and those listed on the top relate to the names of shops with goods for babies.

Hoping this has solved the mystery, I remain sincerely yours,


PS. Sorry, I can't e-mail the answer, I don't even see your e-mail, it is automatically cut off from your message by the system of AllExperts. The answer has to be published, you will be informed about that, and then you can ask the system to e-mail it to you.

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Maciej St. Ziba


I am native Polish and from time to time I teach Polish to foreigners. I know (passively of actively) more than 15 other languages - so I can answer many questions concerning Polish grammar, pronounciation, spelling, etymology and usage - as compared to English, French, German, Russian, Dutch, Esperanto or Norwegian. Also questions concerning other Slavic languages, Sanskrit, Chinese, Tibetan, or general linguistics, especially scripts (writing systems and transcriptions) - are welcome.


Teaching English, French, and Esperanto to Poles, Polish to foreigners, teaching Sanskrit, Mandarin Chinese, Classical Chinese and Tibetan. Tour Guide in English, French, Russian and German. Former President of the Regional Examination Committee for Tourist Guides (English and French)(1999-2005).

Polish Oriental Society (since 1979); International Association of Buddhist Studies (since 1986); Klingon Language Institute (since 1986); Learned Society of the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin (since 1989); Polish Philosophical Association (since 1997); Universala Esperanto-Asocio (since 1978).

Books: "Origin of the World According to Rigveda" (Montreal 1996); "Our River Bug. Creating Conditions for Development of the Border Areas of Poland, Ukraine and Belarus through Enhancement and Preservation of Natural and Cultural Heritage" (Lublin 2008); "Migration - a Challenge to the 21st century" (Lublin 2008); "Migracja zarobkowa do Woch" (Job migration to Italy) (Lublin 2008); more than 100 articles in "Powszechna Encyklopedia Filozofii" (Universal Encyclopedia od Philosophy) vol. 1-10 (Lublin 2000-2009); many more in Polish, some of them available online, see: here and here (a list up to 2012.

Studying philosophy at Catholic University of Lublin (Poland) 1976-81; PhD in Philosophy (1989). Having learned languages in Gdansk and Gdynia (Russian, Esperanto, Latin, English - International Bacalaureate), Lublin (KUL - French, German, Dutch, Sanskrit, Latin, Ancient Greek; UMCS - Chinese, Japanese; elsewhere - Esperanto, Spanish, Italian), Paris (IIAP - French; INALCO - Tibetan, Chinese, Japanese; Sorbonne - Sanskrit), Asker (Norwegian, while working in a kindergarten!), Montreal (McGill - Chinese); Rome and Venice (Italian); Taichung, Taiwan (Chinese), Shimla, India (sanskrit). Self-taught: Slavic languages (other than Polish and Russian), Hungarian, Korean, Vietnamese, Klingon and several other.

Awards and Honors
2012 Golden Medal of Civil Service of Poland; 2012-13 Taiwan Fellowship - Tunghai University (Taichung)

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AllExperts users (since 12/03/2003); Wikipedia readers in many languages (since 2004); students learning languages (since 1979).

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