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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 03/03/2008

Comment Box: A Baby Bump Debate

When did the hideous term "baby bump" become common to describe the state of pregnancy? I don't remember ever hearing it or reading it five years ago and it is now everywhere. I am just curious if you or other posters feel the same way. Personally, I would rather return to the days of describing a starlet as being "in the family way." -- Submitted during last week's Celebritology Live discussion

Good question. Like Simon Cowell or Britney's crazy, it just feels like it's always been around. But one need only look at the ghosts of tabloids past to discover that "baby bump" is a new-millennial spin.

The term was most recently used (here in Celebritology and basically everywhere) to describe Angelina Jolie's bulging midriff. Though she and partner Brad Pitt haven't officially admitted that they'll be welcoming a new kid (or two) to their growing brood, there is no doubt: this (see pic at right), my friends, is a baby bump.

But where did the term originate? Though Celebritology editor Nancy Kerr credits tabloid queen Bonnie Fuller with first using the term in Us Weekly, I'm finding no help from either Google or a LexisNexis search. So, I asked an expert: Celebrity Baby Blog publisher and president Danielle Friedland. Here's what she had to say:

"The term appears to be British in origin and was in use, though not as much, over four years ago when I created the site (the first on the subject, btw). Now it's used in conjunction with other similarly annoying terms like bump watch or womb watch. I never cared for the term myself (so we try to use it minimally at CBB) as I find it cutesy, obnoxious and juvenile. I complained about the term four years ago here.
"Aside from 'belly,' there's no other colloquial term to uniquely describe the outward physical anatomy of the pregnant womb so 'bump' has become the word everyone uses. Part of its popularity stems from its descriptiveness -- a showing pregnant belly is round and appears to emerge from the abdomen differently than just a full stomach -- but also because we are squeamish about describing human female anatomy correctly ... If you want to get technical, uterus or womb would be completely accurate but uterus watch or expanding uterus just doesn't have the same alliterative catchiness of baby bump."

In case you needed another reason to find the term objectionable, one Yahoo! commenter opined recently about her notion that "baby bump's" inherent cutesy-ness may actually encourage teen pregnancy by reducing the protruding pregnant belly to an accessory.

Okay. Unlike you, and that commenter and Friedland (who is an expert and so probably in the right), I kind of like "baby bump." It's fun (unlike the snoozy "expecting"), doesn't carry any baggage (like the loaded "in the family way"), doesn't rhyme with a processed breakfast food ("preggo") and is -- to a girl who styles her writing for a site that can be a little squeamish -- refreshingly non-graphic. It literally makes a molehill out of a potential mountain of landmines.

The one use I will object to: The inevitable Fergie Ferg is with kid headline: Fergie's Lovely Baby Bump.


D.C. all the way: Forgot to ask this. Will you listen to Scarlett Johansson's CD so I don't have to and give it a review? I was hoping since you were so kind in alerting us to Gene Simmons sex video. -- Submitted during last week's Celebritology Live discussion

Well, okay. But I need some time to recover from the Simmons thing. Johannson's album, "Anywhere I Lay My Head," -- a collection of Tom Waits covers -- is expected to be released on May 20.


Comment of the Week
"I doubt Mary Kate Ols[e]n could even lift a coffee table book, much less write one." -- Grimm comments on the Olsen twins upcoming book, "Influence."

By Liz Kelly  |  11:00 AM ET, 03/03/2008

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