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Cute as a Bouncing Betty

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"Big Bertha" in action.

Military people, real or fictional, have a macabre (and often hilarious) tendency to give cutesy nicknames to some truly nasty and often lethal hardware. This trope does for weapons what Fluffy the Terrible and Fluffy Tamers do for the animal kingdom, with possibly a little bit of overlap with I Call It "Vera".

To understand the significance of this trope, the "Bouncing Betty" is a buried land mine with a double charge. When it was stepped on, it had a small charge that detonated, launching it to waist height, whereupon the second charge would explode, at a minimum destroying the soldier's penis and testicles.

Compare Maximum Fun Chamber, Black Comedy.


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     Anime and Manga  

  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's.
    • L'Arc-en-ciel is French for Rainbow. It is also the name of the Arthra's Wave-Motion Gun.
    • The titular character's magic staff is named "Raising Heart." Kinda tame and cute sounding compared to the other magical devices in the show, like Bardiche or Graf Eisen. Said staff is also capable of raining pink beams of doom and a beam that could level cities.
  • Girls und Panzer. Katyusha usually calls her team's KV-2 (a 152mm assault howitzer in the body of a heavy tank) "KV-tan". Which, accounting for Japanese translation convention, is a pretty accurate depiction of how the Russians name their equipment (see the Real Life notes for Russian Katyushas below).
  • Gunslinger Girl. Cyborg Child Soldier Triela does hand-to-hand combat with the Italian GIS special forces, who dub her Lepretto (roughly "bunny") after a child's doll that shares her Twin Tails.
  • ∀ Gundam has a deceptively poetic name (and thematic design) for its apocalyptic weapons system. The Moonlight Butterfly.
  • Several sidestories to Mobile Suit Gundam feature the Pixy, a lightweight, high-performance limited-run variant of the RX-78 Gundam. It's basically a Humongous Mecha knife-fighter, designed to close in on enemy mobile suits at ridiculously high speeds and rip them apart with its pair of beam daggers before they have a chance to react, and the Pixies that saw action in the One Year War acquired as fearsome a reputation as any of the Earth Federation's other Gundams.
  • Funky Boy is a "bio weapon" from the REDLINE world. In other words, it's a Lovecraftian blob of yellow matter the size of an aircraft carrier, which can scream a Wave-Motion Gun and survive a blast from a kill sat, all while still in its infant stage.

     Fan Works 

  • During the battle to retake her home village from Akatsuki in Son of the Sannin, Fu begins using a felled tree trunk as a Telephone Polearm and ultimately decides to keep it as her personal weapon of choice. She calls it "Arbor-chan".

     Films — Animated  

  • In Open Season, McSqueezy blows up a hunter's truck with a bomb improvised from a propane tank. He calls it Mr. Happy.

     Films — Live-Action  

  • Men in Black's Noisy Cricket, which doesn't look very nasty until it's fired.
  • Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows: When Moriarty's troops can't hit Holmes, Watson, and Sim with their regular guns and mortars, they pull out the absurdly large cannon named Little Hansel.
  • Hellboy II: The Golden Army has Hellboy and his Big Baby. It's a big revolver. As in "it's so big Hellboy has to hold it in his Right Hand of Doom" big. It also shoots mini rockets that say "Suck on This" and the grip looks like it was made from a rifle or shotgun butt.
  • Predator has Blain's Minigun, "Old Painless."
  • You Only Live Twice: "Little Nellie" is a compact autogyro which travels light but comes armed to the teeth and is fully capable of outflying and outfighting four of S.P.E.C.T.R.E's armed helicopters.


  • Ender's Game features the Molecular Disruption Device, capable quite literally of destroying whole planets. Also known as the Little Doctor or Doctor Device, for M.D. Device.
  • The spear of Gil-Galad, Aiglos (literally "snow-point", or rather "icicle") in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings.
  • The Lost Fleet: While liberating a prisoner-of-war camp in the fifth book, enemy stealth commandos carrying 'hupnums' are detected approaching. When Captain John Geary asks for elaboration, while musing to himself that they sound like a cute fairy tale creature, he is informed that its an acronym for HUman Portable NUclear Munitions.

     Live Action TV  

  • Stephen Colbert has his handgun, which he calls "Sweetness".
  • The Mandalorian: One type of Mandalorian weapon is called "Whistling Birds." They are anti-infantry micro-missiles that launch from the wrist and home in on every enemy in sight. They are extremely useful, but rather expensive, and therefore rare.

     Tabletop Games 

  • BattleTech usually averts this trope, but it has shown up a few times. For example, there's the Kingfisher, a 90 ton assault mech that's known for how difficult to kill it is. There are also a number of recon mechs that fall into this, like the Dragonfly, Vixen, and Jackalope, all of which are fairly powerful for their sizes.
  • Warhammer 40,000
    • Averted for the most part, where every piece of military equipment has a suitably impressive name, such as the Manticore Deathstrike launcher (a mobile missile launcher), or the Exorcist (a multiple rocket launcher that also does double duty as a mobile church organ), or the Predator (a four-barreled tank), or the Baneblade (an eleven-barreled tank)... and those are all used by the Imperium. Chaos names are all remarkably descriptive, like the Slaughterfiends or Soulgrinders or Defilers.
    • The ork weapon known as a Bubblechukka does in fact launch bubbles. However, these bubbles are actually forcefields that explode on contact, leveling everything in their area of effect.

     Video Games  

  • The "Broken Butterfly" magnum and "Matilda" automatic handgun in Resident Evil 4.
  • Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening's "Kalina Ann" rocket launcher, used by Lady. She specifically named it after her mother, who was killed by her father Arkham for a demonic ritual of some sort.
  • The "Tiny Bee" pistols used by Gunners in Final Fantasy X-2.
  • From Team Fortress 2, Heavy's Sasha and Natascha, which are two mini-guns. Though it's averted with his other big guns: the Brass Beast, the Iron Curtain, and the Tomislav. Then, it turned out he had his own cutesy names for some of them too, including Svetlana, Oksana and Sheila.
  • Metal Slug features several combat vehicles with silly names. Among them are a spiked tank called "Melty Honey", a camouflaged tank known as "Bull Chan", and of course, the titular "Metal Slug" tank. The "Augenstern" is the most glaring example; it's a massive, four-legged death machine whose name is German for "my darling".
  • MechWarrior Living Legends has the Atlas "A" variant, affectionately named "Mr. Bubbles". Mr. Bubbles is a 100 ton Humongous Mecha toting three rotary autocannons, missile racks, and enough armor to shrug off a small army.
  • Several missions in Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation has the player assisting the Emmerian Navy, which is spearheaded by their flagship, a Kirov Class Battlecruiser. called the Marigold.
  • Dawn of War II: Retribution: During the campaign you face a battlewagon, a Mad Max-esque smoke-belching Big Badass Rig covered in guns and armor, with a massive spiked roller in front with which to run over infantry. The orks, a species of violent savages literally created for war and slaughter, call it "Daisy".
  • Valkyria Chronicles has the heroes' Super Prototype tank, the Edelweiss.
  • In Deep Rock Galactic, there's a robot weapon called Breakpoint Explosives Transport — Combat-Specification. The dwarves call her BET-C for short, which sounds like Betsy. They also call the drilldozer "Doretta" but they don't know why they call it that.

    Web Original 
  • Critical Role: During the second campaign, Nott develops an improvised explosive in the form of a simple barrel of gunpowder, meant to be thrown at an enemy and then ignited by a flaming arrow of one of Caleb's Fire Bolts. She names it "Fluffernutter".

     Real Life  

  • The Trope Namer is the "Bouncing Betty". The Other Wiki should bring you up to speed...
    • Finnish name for that contraption is Hyppy-Heikki (Hopping Henry).
    • Swedish servicemen famously call a similar contraption "Lille Skutt" ("little hop") after a cute cartoon rabbit from Bamse...
      • Heck, Bamse itself is an anti-air missile. Considering the very explicit pacifism of both the character and the author of the comic, you can understand why Rune A. was not amused.
      • Even leaving aside the character, bamse was and still is a cutesy adjective (for large).
  • The Germans had a knack for this in both World Wars.
    • Various artillery pieces were known as "Big Bertha" (German Dicke Bertha, literally "thick (fat) Bertha"). The most famous was perhaps the railway gun, shown at the top of this page.
    • A longer-barreled but smaller-bored (relatively speaking) railway gun on the same type of mounting as the "Big Bertha" was known as Schlanke Emma ("Slender Emma").
    • And the most famous (or most bizarre, depending on your point of view) German artillery piece of World War One, the Paris Gun that shelled the French capital from a range of over 70 miles (110 kilometers), was according to Ian Hogg nicknamed "Die Pariserin" by its crew—which as he points out translates into French as La Parisienne.note 
    • Yet another absurdly-huge German gun was called Dora.
    • The 180-ton Panzerkampfwagen VII was known as the Maus ("Mouse").
    • The WWII-era German self-propelled gun known as the Hummel (bumblebee) looks like this.
    • Two huge German Krupp K5 railroad guns were used to defend against the Allied landing at Anzio, Italy in 1944. Their crews nicknamed them Leopold and Robert, which are men's names and only slightly cutesy... but the Allied soldiers who were taking fire from the guns called them Anzio Express and Anzio Annie.
    • The current German army has a difficult time finding acceptance with the civilian population, so they avoid overly aggressive or martial names for their equipment. Combat vehicles often have names like "mongoose", "weasel", or "dingo", which are all cute animals, but also very vicious predators. For the same reason, there is the Panthera Awesome naming theme with "Leopard" (the German MBT), "Cheetah" (the "Gepard" Anti-Air Platform ) and the "Fennek" recon vehicle (named after an adorable looking fox sub species).
  • As well as giving the Germans a run for their money when giving cutesy nicknames to German weapons, the Allies had their own fair share of such names.
    • Little Boy and Fat Man, the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively. The very first bomb, tested at Alamogordo, was simply called "The Gadget".
    • The BLU-82 Daisy Cutter doesn't sound like much, but it was often used during the The Vietnam War to create instant helicopter landing zones in the jungle. And by create, we mean flatten.
  • And British tanks in the early part of WWII had some pretty cute names, too. How about the "Valentine"note  or the "Matilda" (which depending on which story you believe, was either named from a cartoon duck popular at the time or was actually not at all German for "victory")note 
    • One of the first tanks imported in volume from the USA was allegedly initially called "The Honey" because it was a delight to drive and maintain. It is, however, likely a fabricated tale because 'honey' is not used in the British English to denote "sweetheart" or "delight", but merely just the apian-made edible thing. Anyway, the British generals fretted that having two main battle tanks with names like Valentine and Honey suggested the men weren't getting the idea about it being a war.note 
    • There was also the trend to name British self propelled artillery models after ecclesiastical titles leading to "Priests", "Deacons", "Sextons" and "Bishops" blasting enemies to bits with high-explosive shells.
    • The RAF dropped 4000 lb "Cookies" on German targets throughout the war.
    • ... and 12,000 lb "Tallboys".
      • Seemingly Sir Barnes Wallis was a bridge player as he named the 22,000 lb bomb as Grand Slam.
  • Molotov Bread Basket for the Soviet WWII cluster bomb. The Soviets, who firebombed Helsinki in 1939, claimed to just drop bread to the starving Helsinki children.
  • Finns called the Degtyarov DP light machine gun as Emma, after a popular waltz. The round magazine revolved like a record player.
  • Several variants of Russian rocket artillery were named Katyusha, which is a cutesy nickname for "Catherine" and the title of a 1938 song about a young woman waiting for her lover to return.
    • The Tupolev SB-2 bomber bore the same nickname.
      • This has resulted in quite a few jokes about "Katyusha walking out onto the shore" (a line from the song)... to unleash a barrage of rocket death on the enemy.
      • The Germans referred to it as "Stalinorgel" which means "Stalin's Organ" (no, not that one) from the sound the rockets made and the way the rockets were mounted in a single row of tubes, resembling a pipe organ.
    • Similar to the Katyusha was the American T34 multiple rocket launcher mounted on the M4 Sherman medium tank. Dubbed "Calliope" due to the similarity between the launch tubes (60 of them) and the musical instrument.
  • Cannons have been named for as long as there have been cannons. Since there was no standardization for the bore sizes, the balls and loading and cleaning equipment had to be custom-made for each cannon. Naming the cannons made it easier for the less-well-paid members of the cannon crew to fetch the right equipment.
    • There is a very large medieval bombard known as Mons Meg which is kept at Edinburgh Castle. Mons refers to the location of one of the early testing sites; The Other Wiki is not entirely sure where the name Meg came from.
    • A 15th-century cannon cast in Marienburg (Polish: Malbork) for the Teutonic Knights and borrowed by the Margrave of Brandenburg to crack the castles of some robber barons was called Faule Grete ("Lazy Greta").
    • Humpty Dumpty (yes, the one in the nursery rhyme) was originally a cannon in the English Civil War!
    • And before gunpowder, siege engines got the same sort of treatment. During the siege of Acre, King Phillip II of France famously nicknamed one of his two trebuchets "Bad Neighbor". (The other one was "God's Own Sling"; the opposing Muslim army had its counterpart, "Bad Kinsman").
      • The two trebuchets even get a cameo in a mission depicting that siege in Age of Empires II.
    • The very word "gun" is believed to derive from the woman's name "Gunhilda", possibly because of a large English ballista with that nickname that was built around the time gunpowder weapons were becoming common.
    • The patron saint of artillery is a woman - St Barbara. More religious gunners in older times used to mount icons of the saint on the guns they served.
  • Quite a number of standard words for weapons are of this type:
    • A Roman boarding device used since the First Punic War was called the corvus meaning "raven" or "crow".
    • Caesar mentions a type of ground obstacle used by his army in the siege of Alesia. The legionaries called them liliae ("lilies") and they consisted of a conical pit with a sharpened pole at the bottom.
    • A type of Roman catapult was called the onager "wild donkey".
    • During sieges, Romans would also use vineae ("vine arbours"), mobile shelters to protect soldiers approaching a defended enemy wall.
    • The morning star.
    • A type of (mainly) anti-cavalry barrier used from the middle ages to the advent of barbed wire is called the "cheval de frise" (literally: "Frisian horse"). In German it is called a Spanischer Reiter ("Spanish rider").
    • The name of an early gunpowder weapon, the petard, is derived from the French word for "to fart".
    • Grenades were called "grenades" due to their resemblance to pomegranates.
    • The word "howitzer" is rooted in the Czech word for "sling", this type of artillery piece was so named by the Hussites, who were obviously thinking of the story of David and Goliath.
    • Another type of artillery piece, the mortar, is named after a utensil used e. g. in the kitchen since the dawn of history.
    • The word "pistol" is rooted in the Czech word for whistle.
    • "Torpedo" was the name for an electric ray before the naval weapon was called after it.
      • In World War 2, sailors of the German Kriegsmarine referred to torpedoes as Aale ("eels"). Meanwhile, Anglophone sailors sometimes referred to torpedoes as "fish".
    • A type of concrete dugout is called a "pillbox".
  • The American Civil War brings us Pumpkin-Slingers (rifles with unusually heavy bullets), Donkey-Kickers (rifles that had a lot of recoil), pepperboxes (multishot pistols), wormcastles and tacks (biscuits that are stale to the point of being harder than rocks).
    • Nowadays, we call that "Dwarf Bread" or cram.
      • Finnish army hardtack bread is called vaneri (literally "plywood").
  • Russian 18th-century howitzers were called "Unicorns".
    • Russia in general has a lot of fun with this tradition. It has self-propelled artillery pieces named after flowering plants ("Acacia", "Hyacinth", "Peony"), mortars with the same naming scheme ("Tulip", "Knapweed"), an autocannon named "Ballerina", anti-tank missile "Pipsqueak", anti-ship missile "Mosquito" and, ta-dam! - mobile incendiary rocket launching system called "Buratino" (basically, Pinocchio). Unfortunately, most of these names are not used by foreign military experts, who prefer to use Reporting Names.
  • There was an early-1960s era Soviet antiarmor guided missile with the NATO Reporting Name of AT-1 "Swatter," but which Russian troops nicknamed the "Shmel", or "Bumblebee".
    • "Shmel" is (also?) something else altogether. Namely, a launcher of a fuel-air explosive grenade. That is, it's not tank-killing, but it creates a three-metre exploding cloud that takes out everyone in a room, regardless of their personal armor. And a wall or two.
    • "Canary" is a flashless and noiseless underbarrel grenade launcher.
    • The R-60, an aircraft launched, infrared air-to-air missile is known to NATO as the AA-8 Aphid.
    • Similarly, the P-750 Grom and 3M25A Meteorit-A air-to-surface missiles both received the reporting name AA-19 Koala.
  • One of the anti-aircraft guns used on US naval ships was a 1.1 inch quad gun nicknamed "The Chicago Piano", as a humorous nod since the the Thompson M1 submachinegun (AKA Tommy-gun). That weapon was also known as the "Chicago Typewriter" for it's chattering report and stereotypical use in 1920s and 30s gang violence in Chicago. Evidently the nickname was chosen to mean "bigger than a Tommy-gun".
  • The British equivalent was called the "Pom-pom", after the noise it made when fired, with four or eight barrels to a turret.
  • The suitcase that U.S. Presidents have near them at all times containing the nuclear launch codes is creepily but hilariously nicknamed "the football," and the card holding the code to open the football is called "the biscuit." (The former nickname seems to have confused the Brits who created Watchmen, as in one scene the President is shown carrying a suitcase that is literally shaped like a football.) The person carrying the "football" is often referred to as "the quarterback".
    • The Russian equivalent is called just "the little nuclear suitcase" (its official name is "Cheget").
  • The Dutch anti-missile system consisting of a radar commanding a GAU-8 30mm Gatling gun (yes, the exact same kind they strap planes to), is called the "Goalkeeper".
    • The American equivalent, officially known as the Phalanx, is nicknamed "R2". The British equivalent, meanwhile, has the slightly less cuddly nickname of "Dalek".
  • Towards the end of World War II, the Americans introduced a large air-launched rocket (11 inches in diameter, with a 148 pound explosive warhead) designed for knocking out bunkers. It was known as "Tiny Tim".
  • Azuki Nagamitsu ("Red Bean" Nagamitsu) is an Absurdly Sharp Blade that allegedly split in half a red bean that fell on the cutting edge, hence the name.
  • Not an example of cute but still fitting the funny factor is the "Ontos", a six-barreled tank destroyer used by America during the Vietnam war. "Ontos" is Greek for "The thing".
  • Speaking of the Vietnam War, there's the famous Bell HU-1 helicopters. Officially known as the "Iroquois" but better known by aviators and the US military as the "Huey" (from the pronunciation of HUI, which resembles HU-1).
  • The most portable nuclear weapon system ever invented, the Davy Crockett.
  • In Israel, it's interesting that almost all military slang has to do with farming and agriculture. This may be attributed to the fact that, while Israelis are battle-hardened by circumstances, the traditional Zionist ideal has always been a peaceful agrarian existence.
  • The US famously built and comissioned over 150 aircraft carriers during World War II, while an impressive number of these were full-sized fleet carriers, the lion's share were small, cheap, and slow Escort Carriers. Given their mass produced nature and ubiquitousness, their nicknames included "Jeep Carriers", after the small all-terrain utility truck used by the Army.
  • During World War II, one of the weapons used by the Germans to bomb Britain was the V1 rocket - effectively a flying bomb (it had no pilot) that would keep flying until it ran out of fuel, at which point it would fall to the ground and explode. They made a very distinctive sound, which led to the British calling them “Doodlebugs”
    • The German nickname was Maikäfer (Maybug).
  • The Mistel (Mistletoe). A flying bomb composed of a twin-engine bomber filled with four tonnes of explosives, and a single-engine fighter operating as the control aircraft. Once approaching the target, the controller detached itself from the unmanned bomber, and directed it to target by using radio control. This device was also known as Vati und Sohn (Daddy and Son) and Beethoven-Gerät (The Beethoven Device).
  • In general, Reporting Names used by various militaries can lend themselves to this.
    • During World War II, American naming practice was to assign enemy fighters with male names (the Mitsubishi A6M Zero was officially called the "Zeke") while most other aircraft were given female names (the Aichi D3A dive bomber was known as "Val")
  • The Malyuk, a Ukrainian assault rifle that didn't have its own Wikipedia page when it was added to Hotdogs Horseshoes And Hand Grenades. Its name is Ukrainian for "baby".
  • The names of individual warships can also be this. World War II saw Polish destroyers named after folk dances, the USS Cowpens that became as famous for its ridiculous name as it was for its impressive war record, and the UK having several hundred corvettes named after flowers.
  • Improvised explosive devices are sometimes called "pineapples" in Hong Kong, either because a grenade vaguely resembles a pineapple, or that rudimentary bombs were made with actual pineapple cans as the shell.
    • The U.S. Army's Mk. 2 fragmentation grenade is likewise known affectionately as a "pineapple" because its knurled appearance (designed both to serve as a grip for the device, and so that the detonation would split the segments into deadly shrapnel) superficially resembles the fruit.
  • Surface-to-Air Missiles, which are frequencly acronymized to "SAM".


Video Example(s):


Send In Mr. Happy

McSqueezy blows up a hunter's truck with "Mr. Happy", a bomb improvised from a propane tank.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / CuteAsABouncingBetty

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