- The general term used mainly by children to other children who are thought to cry too easily. Parents might also address a child in this way. As the Opies point out in The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren, there are a large number of local variations of ‘crybaby’. According to the district in which the child concerned lives, he is likely to be called: bubbly baby, bubbly Jock, mum’s big bubbly bairn (in the north-east of England and parts of Scotland, where ‘bubblin’ is ‘crying’); blubberface, blubber-bib, blubber-puss (in areas where ‘blubber’ is used for ‘cry’); boo-baby, booby (from ‘boo’=‘cry’). The verb ‘to grizzle’ leads to ‘grizzle-guts’, ‘grizzle-grunt’. Other terms listed by the Opies include: baby bunting, boo-hoo, diddums, howler, leaker, mother’s little darling sissy, slobber-baby, sniveller, softy, tap, Tearful Tilly, water-can, water-hog, waterworks, weeping willow, you babby, crya-lot, milk sop, squall-ass, wet eyes, drip, drainpipe, lassie boy, Waterworks Willie, and many others.‘Cry-baby’ itself is mentioned by Charles Lamb in his essay on ‘All Fools’ Day’, published in 1821. It is also mentioned in Deborah, by Marian Castle, which concerns a school in Dakota. It is normally boys, of course, who have one or more of these names hurled at them; girls normally have more licence when it comes to the shedding of tears. It is a group of young boys in Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, who are addressed as ‘you useless lot of cry-babies’ by an older boy.
A dictionary of epithets and terms of address . Leslie Dunkling . 2015.
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