About This Word

Bama

or 'Bama or Bam or bama

[bam-uh] or [bam]

What does Bama mean?

Bama, a clipped form of Alabama, is a nickname of the University of Alabama, the state, and the people who live there. Bama also popularly refers to the university’s successful SEC (Southeastern Conference) football program.

The term bama can also be used as slang for someone who is unstylish, unsophisticated, or uncool.

Bama

@bama

Where does Bama come from?

Bama has been a colloquial shortening of Alabama since at least 1914, when W.C. Handy used it in his lyrics to “Yellow Dog Blues.”

Around this time, bama was also a term used by the African-American community to mean a poor, rural, often white person. While the term has spread over time from just African-American usage to more general usage, the association of bama with rural naivety has endured. Since at least the 1970s, the noun, a bama, has been African-American slang for an unhip, unstylish bumpkin.

In the 20th century, the University of Alabama began to officially adopt the abbreviation. For instance, in 1989, the University of Alabama Board of Trustees registered a patent to use the word Bama on merchandise. And in 2009, the university rebranded its new student orientation as “Bama Bound” and its online student portal “myBama.”

The widespread use of Bama to refer to the university’s athletic program can be attributed to the sustained success of the football team. With two Heisman trophies and the most bowl games and National Championships of any team, the Alabama Crimson Tide has earned the university enough public relevancy to allow most to commonly equate Bama with the university.

Who uses Bama?

The connotation carried by the term Bama typically depends on who uses it. Southerners, particularly those who grew up near colleges in the Southeastern Conference, automatically associate Bama with the University of Alabama Crimson Tide football team. The “#bama” hashtag on Twitter, for instance, is entirely devoted to sharing news, photos, videos, and speculation about the team. In such cases, Bama is used with pride by its fans and with contempt by other football commentators and fans of rival teams.

This usage with regard to the football team is also applicable more generally to the state—residents see Bama as a term of endearment, while outsiders, particularly Northerners, use it as a form of ridicule.

The slang usage of bama can be used by anyone referring to someone who is blatantly unstylish or unsophisticated. Typically, it is used to describe someone based on their attire.

For example

Why is dude still wearing BUM Equipment? That's some Bama shit!

GullibleZine, UrbanDictionary, December, 2005

I like how you tried to prove you weren't stupid and misspelled too. But hey we are measuring by Bama standards.

@HPNthetruth, February, 2018

On top of that, the rumblings that 4-star quarterback commit Emory Jones would again return to Bama did not turn out to be, either.

Jeremy Birmingham, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, November, 2017

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