- A diminutive of aunt, used mainly by young children to a real aunt, or to a close female friend of the family. The word is sometimes followed by the first name of the woman concerned. Auntie may also be used by adult speakers, especially by women, but the comment by Raymond Williams in Border Country is relevant: ‘“We go to the pictures, Auntie,” Janie said, breaking into the conversation like a child. She was in her early thirties, but still had a child’s intonation and manners.’ This is not to say that any adult using ‘Auntie’ is retarded, of course, but the word does have a childish ring to it. At one time it became customary in the American South to address older black people as ‘Uncle’ and ‘Auntie’. H.L.Mencken suggested, in The American Language, that this custom arose because the whites were reluctant to use ‘ordinary American honorifics’, by which he meant terms like ‘Mr’ and ‘Mrs’, when referring to blacks. The blacks themselves came to detest the contemptuous patronage, as they saw it, of the ‘Uncle’ and ‘Auntie’ terms. Their cause, perhaps, was not helped by Harriet Beecher Stowe’s well-meaning book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. We are never told the family name of Uncle Tom or Aunt Chloe, his wife, and they are certainly never addressed as ‘Mr’ or ‘Mrs’.A jocular misuse of ‘Auntie’ occurs in The Amberstone Exit, by Elaine Feinstein. A woman is in a railway compartment with some young football supporters who are annoying her. ‘The big boy leant forward and looked closely into her face. “How old do you reckon?” he consulted his friends. “I’m twenty-one,” she said. At that, they let out hoots of derision, “Give us a kiss, Auntie,” someone shouted.’
A dictionary of epithets and terms of address . Leslie Dunkling . 2015.