Thai Nicknames – Pig Pork Moo

If you had to name five famous Thai people connected to the following categories: politics, sport, music and film, I am sure like myself, many of you would struggle to name three.

For those people for whom Thailand is a faraway land frequented by travellers in search of sun, sea and sex, they would probably struggle to name one.

Abhisit Vejjajiva, Thongchai Jaidee, Tata Young, Siriyakorn Pukkavesh and of course the man who would be most people’s first answer, Thaksin Shinawatra. All, with the exception of Tata Young, are names that hardly roll straight down the middle of one’s tongue.

Thai Nicknames

Actress, model and TV presenter Siriyakorn Pukkavesh is better known by her nickname Oom, and I can assure you it has no connection to her role in the 2003 Thai movie The Adventures of Iron Pussy.

Thai nicknames are the white knight in shining armour for most visitors to Thailand. They often offer the bemused tourist a slight chance of remembering someone’s name should they meet up a second time.

Khun Siriyakorn’s parents may have put the oom-ph into their talented daughter, But, why do some parents name their children Moo (pig)? A mother’s cry “Pig, your dinners ready”,  may need some explaining. So I set off with my surfboard in tow, to with Google to find out why.

Thai family names did not appear until the early 20th century. In the years before, Thai’s addressed each other by using the formal first name and more intimately by their nickname. The nicknames get chosen at birth. Parents hope the chosen name will bring their offspring good luck. And as always in Thailand, a monk is usually sought for advice.

Thai Nicknames -Don’t Pin the Blame on the Pig

PigApologies to beautiful Tata Young for placing her photo on the same page as a pig, but, like her, the hog does look very sweet. Moo is a  nickname that can mean pork as well as pig and is one of the names favoured by parents. So how do we arrive at Moo?

A Thai’s nickname such as Moo may get chosen because of their family involvement in pig farming; their parents love of eating pork, being born in the Chinese Year of the Pig, or at birth having similar characteristics to a hog. The latter being doubtful in the case of Moo. A straightforward explanation.

Animals, fruit, numbers, food, colours and size are some of the categories used by parents when choosing a nickname for their newly born baby.  Kai (chicken), Daeng (red), Neung (one), Boo (crab),  Som (orange) and Lek (small) are a few examples.

Multi-talented Siriyakorn Pukkavesh’s nickname Oom (อุ้ม), translates as to carry or to cradle. Who could argue with her parents choice as she now carries celebrity status?

Who is the Famous Maew (Cat)?

In Thailand, nicknames can arise at any time during a person’s life. School mates, work colleagues and friends often attach a nickname to their associates. However, someone’s nickname at birth will always hold court within their family circle. Maew (cat) is a widely used and traditional nickname in Thailand and one the Thai media tagged onto one of their most famous countrymen.

"Maew" Thaksin ShinawatraDespite cohabitation in colonies, cats do not have a social survival strategy or a pack mentality. This mainly means that an individual cat takes care of all basic needs on its own (e.g., finding food, and defending itself), and thus cats are always lone hunters; they do not hunt in groups as dogs or lions do.Source Wikipedia.

Is Maew, better known as Khun Shinawatra, planning on one day returning to prowl the hot tin roofs of Bangkok, or has the self-exiled cat lost his oom-ph. How about you, do you know someone who’s living up to their nickname.


Photograph Tata Young Sry85

Photograph     Swine Oink © Dmitry Maslov |

Photograph Thaksin Shinawatra



I'm a sixty-year-old Englishman living in the town of Swindon in rural Wiltshire and I have a real deep desire to retire in Thailand one day. If you don't have a dream then you won't have a dream come true.

8 Responses

  1. Thank god for Thai nicknames. I have had to learn dozens since arriving, and am only just getting them all. I’ve even started calling the misses by hers, Nan, which I always refused to call her because ‘Nan’ is of course saved for grandparents, but I’m calling the misses ‘Nan’ more and more, simply cos that’s what I hear other people call her. The Thai’s all think calling me ‘Ben’ is weird, as in Thai it’s usually a girls name, so I’m told 🙂 It works both ways though, a girl in the office hear is called ‘John’ LOL.

    Ben Shingleton’s last blog post..Ed Carabao visits the TEE Coffee Shop in Suphanburi

  2. malcolm says:

    Martyn, I too say think god for nick-names, It took me two years to say Ciejay’s real first name correctly and so in America , seeing that her initals were C J(Chamaiporn Jupia) I gave her the nick name Ciejay, but when we arrived in Thailand everyone called her Toon ,which is her Thai childhood nick-name.Toon means Mole in Thai, I guess she was so small when she was born that Ma called her Toon.She’s still small so I guess she’s living up to hers. Malcolm

    malcolm’s last blog post..SMOKEY—JOKIE

  3. Hoo Don says:

    Ben – It certainly takes a while to get your head around some of the names. Mind you some of the actual first names are near on impossible for me to say, when I think I’ve got it and have a go at calling the person it I get a total blank look or a laugh. Nicknames are a lot easier but you’ve still got to get the tone right.
    Hope Pinky has recovered.

    Malcolm – I am very lucky as Wilai is known by her family as Wi although it’s said quicker and with a falling tone towards the end, took me a long time to pronounce even a short nickname like that properly. I hope everything is good for Elvis and the Mole in your neck of the woods.

  4. Mike says:

    Martyn I agree that nicknames are a saver, MTF likes to be called Chanya but her father called her Wong Duen (full moon) but perhaps we should spare a thought for one of her nephews the poor lad is called Fook!

    “Khoa ban Fook!”

    To which he might reply “off” when he gets a bit older!

    Mike’s last blog post..Visit to Ban Krud Thailand.

  5. Hoo Don says:

    Mike – Wi’s brother who lives near Udon Thani city has a son called Fook and like you I have amused myself thinking along similar lines. Due to its English sound it is definitely one of the easier ones to remember. Fook’s younger brother is named Tee, very English.

  6. Talen says:

    Luckily I can say my girls name Natechenoak which oddly enough sounds American Indian to me. Her nickname is Pookie though which led to me being called Gumby for a while by friends…

    Talen’s last blog post..While in Bangkok

  7. Hamsaaya says:

    Hello, I found your blog in a new directory of blogs. I dont know how your blog came up, must have been a typo, Your blog looks good. Have a nice day.

  8. Alvin says:

    ur article on today — liked it.. bookmarked it , will be back to check out some more later .. nice story ..

Copyright © 2023 All Rights Reserved.  WP Premium Plugin

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap