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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.
The linguist Ian Hancock has described similarities between the African language Krio and Gullah, the creole language of African-Americans in the isolated Sea Islands of South Carolina and points out that the Krio expression bohboh (boy) appears in Gullah as buhbuh, which may account for the bubba of the American South.
Robert Ferguson notes in his book English Surnames that bubba corresponds with the German Bube, a boy. This matches Saxon and Hibernian tradition.
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.").
In gun culture, Bubba is a term used for a person who permanently alters or modifies historic firearms, with no regard for its historical value.
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.
- Bubba Brooks (1922-2002), American jazz tenor saxophonist
- Charles "Bubba" Chaney (born 1946), Louisiana politician
- Bubba Church (1924–2001), former Major League Baseball player
- Bill Clinton (born 1946), 42nd President of the United States
- Bubba Crosby (born 1976), Major League Baseball outfielder
- Bubba Dickerson (born 1981), PGA Tour golfer
- Tommy Facenda (born 1939), rockabilly singer and dancer
- Bubba Franks (born 1978), National Football League player
- Merald "Bubba" Knight (born 1942), soul singer, member of Gladys Knight & the Pips
- Bubba Marriott (born 1938), American football player
- Bubba Paris (born 1960), former National Football League player
- Bubba Phillips (1928–1993), Major League Baseball player
- Bubba Shobert (born 1961), former motorcycle racer
- Bubba Smith (1945–2011), National Football League player and actor
- James Stewart Jr. (born 1985), professional motocross rider
- Darrell Wallace, Jr. (born 1993), racing driver
- Bubba Watson (born 1978), PGA Tour golfer
- Bubba Wells (born 1974), former basketball player
- Bubba Trammell (born 1971), former Major League Baseball player
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 Ritter, played by Larry Drake in the movie Dark Night of the Scarecrow.
- 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
- A zombie in an event of Killing Floor
- Bubba (fish) (d. 2006), the first fish known to have undergone chemotherapy
- "Welcome | The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition". Yale.edu. Retrieved 2016-03-02.
- Robert Ferguson. English Surnames: And Their Place in the Teutonic Family. p. 272. Retrieved 2016-03-02.
- "Interview with a link spammer". The Register. Retrieved 2008-01-21.
- "Mr. Spammer, meet Bubba your new cell mate". ZDNet Blog: Between the Lines. Retrieved 2008-01-21.