In American usage, bubba is a relationship nickname formed from brother and given to boys, especially eldest male siblings, to indicate their role in a family. For some boys and men, bubba is used so pervasively that it replaces the given name. The nickname may also be used outside the family by friends as a term of endearment.
Because of its association with the southern part of the United States, bubba is also often used outside the South as a pejorative to mean a person of low economic status and limited education. Bubba may also be taken to mean one who is a "good ol' boy." In the US Army and Marines, bubba can mean a lay soldier, similar to grunt but with connotations of endearment instead of derision (e.g., "Can you make that device easier to work with, 'cus every bubba is gonna have to use it.").
At times it may be used as a term of endearment (or in an insulting sense) for a person, especially a man, who is either overweight or seemingly powerful large body frame. In American prison culture, Big Bubba can refer to a cliche of a man that is simple minded but of imposing stature and with incredible strength, there for a lengthy sentence for an especially heinous crime that is by coincidence, is a newcomer's cellmate, often in the context that if one submits to or refuses any sexual advances, it can make the difference between an easy or extremely difficult prison sentence.
The word exists in other languages and carries similar meanings. Bubba is common in Australia and New Zealand as a noun or pronoun to refer affectionately to a baby.
Those named or nicknamed Bubba include:
- Bill Clinton, the 42nd president of the United States
- Charles "Bubba" Chaney, Louisiana politician
- Bubba Church, former Major League Baseball player
- Bubba Crosby, Major League Baseball outfielder for the Seattle Mariners
- Bubba Dickerson, PGA Tour golfer
- Tommy Facenda, rockabilly singer and dancer
- Bubba Franks, National Football League player for the New York Jets
- Merald "Bubba" Knight, soul singer, member of Gladys Knight & the Pips
- Bubba Paris, former National Football League player
- Bubba Phillips, former Major League Baseball player
- Bubba Shobert, former motorcycle racer
- Bubba Smith, former National Football League player and actor
- Bubba Sparxxx, Southern rapper
- James Stewart Jr., professional motocross rider
- Bubba Trammell, former Major League Baseball player
- Bubba Watson, PGA Tour golfer
- Bubba Wells, former National Basketball Association player
- Bubba the Love Sponge Clem, radio talk show host
Fictional characters 
Television and movies 
- Benjamin Buford "Bubba" Blue in the 1994 film Forrest Gump
- Bubba the Caveduck from The Walt Disney Company's series DuckTales
- Bubba Ho-tep, a name given to a reanimated Egyptian mummy by Elvis Presley in Joe R. Lansdale's novella and film of the same name
- Bubba Zanetti, in the 1979 film Mad Max
- Bubba Higgins, in the situation comedy Mama's Family
- Bubba Bexley, a recurring character in the situation comedy Sanford and Son
- Bubba Bixby, a character from the 2007 television film, Shredderman Rules, a film based on the books
- Plumber Bubba, a fictional comedian based on Larry the Cable Guy and idolized by Rusty and Early Cuyler on the Adult Swim animated series Squidbillies
- Bubba Hendershot, a leading antagonistic-character from the Stephen King directorial debut film Maximum Overdrive. He was portrayed by late veteran actor Pat Hingle.
- Bubba Skinner, a leading character from the television series In the Heat of the Night
- Bubba J, a puppet of ventriloquist Jeff Dunham
- Bubba the Chimp, a character on Quigley's Village
- Bubba Bo Bob Brain, Brain's fictitious country music star persona from a Pinky and the Brain segment on the U.S. cartoon series Animaniacs
- Leatherface, or Bubba Sawyer, from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
- Bubba Ray Dudley, an American professional wrestler, best known for his appearances with Extreme Championship Wrestling and World Wrestling Entertainment.
- Landry Clarke, played by Jesse Plemons in the television series "Friday Night Lights (TV series)"
- Bubba Kelly, a character in Carson McCullers' novel The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
- a character in A Drink Before the War
- Alvin "Bubba" Bixby, the bully in Wendelin Van Draanen's Shredderman series.
- Bubba is a character in the Southern Vampire Series by Charlaine Harris and is a "codename" for Elvis who is now a vampire in this series
- One of the protagonists in the Amiga computer game Bubba 'n' Stix
- Monster from Rampage: Total Destruction
- One of the protagonists of Redneck Rampage
- A giant fish in Super Mario 64
- A character in Jagged Alliance 2
- Bubba (fish) (d. 2006), a Queensland grouper who resided at the Shedd Aquarium, noted for being the first fish known to have undergone chemotherapy