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Diva: You're Using it Wrong!

Updated on August 23, 2017

There seems to be an increased overuse of the nickname "diva" in our society.

Is it any wonder other countries don't like us? We insult our own children, ourselves, our friends, and we smile about it. We even put it on little girls baby and toddler clothing and use it as an affectionate nickname.

Unless your child is a famous opera singer from years gone by, then diva is probably not the term of endearment you are seeking. It's actually not endearing at all. It's quite insulting really.

Both the terms "diva" and "prima donna" are now used to describe for someone who acts overly entitled.

Sound off!

Is it appropriate or "cute" to refer to your daughter as "a little diva"


was used to describe famous female opera singers



1. A famous female opera singer.

2. A distinguished female singer who has enjoyed great popular success.

Synonyms: prima donna

More modernly it is known to mean: A person who may be considered or who considers herself (or by extension himself) much more important than others, has high expectations of others and who is extremely demanding and fussy when it comes to personal privileges.

Unless of course you're speaking Italian,

in which diva can mean deity or goddess. I don't know if the meaning has changed in Italian, but in this lens I'm referring to the term being used in American English.

How did that evolve to now?

If you've ever done opera or been backstage you know that their voice is everything to them, it is their talent, their life, their all and they will do everything to protect that voice. The sometimes unusual demands of opera singers for specific items in this regard led to the term being used in relation to these type of requests in other areas - pop divas for example who request specific flowers in their dressing rooms - and things seem to have steamrolled from there leading to today's overuse of the word in all sorts of ways.

You don't want to be a prima donna either...

Just for reference, a prima donna isn't really the biggest compliment these days either. While it used to simply mean the lead the lead female singer in the opera, it is often used when commenting negatively about a singer's off-stage personality as being spoiled and demanding. Today the term has become a mainstream word outside opera to often describe a vain, undisciplined, egotistical, obnoxious or temperamental person who finds it difficult to work under direction or as part of a team, and although irritating, cannot be done without.

Do you refer to your son as a "little hustler"?

I certainly hope not.

One modern definition of a diva is notably "female version of a hustler" ~ Is that how you want to describe your adorable little girl?

In case I'm being unclear here, a *hustler* is defined as ... One who hustles: especially somebody who pretends to be an amateur at a game in order to win bets. A pimp. A male prostitute. Someone who knows how to get money from others by selling drugs or gambling unfairly. A deceptive person who makes money any way they can.

I hope that paints a pretty clear picture....

Is your child selfish, spoiled and over dramatic?

That's what a diva is considered to be.

Of course, as a mom, I know firsthand that toddlers (girls and boys) can often be all three of those things for a brief moment in time - because they are toddlers. But, that does not define them and it's surely not the behavior you want to encourage the most. Is it?

Another modern definition of diva is a woman that must have her way exactly, or no way at all. She has an exaggerated sense of self-importance and is often rude and belittles people around her thinking and frequently expressing that they are below her. She is selfish, spoiled, and overly dramatic.

Some Nice Nickname Alternatives - these were suggested in the comments by readers in the above pages

  • Sugar Plum
  • Pumpkin
  • Princess
  • Baby Girl

In a time when the girls of our society are having major self image issues is "diva" really the best term of endearment for your - Please leave your thoughts...

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    • Stazjia profile image

      Carol Fisher 3 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      Part of the problem for some people is that being a diva or spoiled, selfish person is seen as clever or some kind of fashion icon. Some teenage girls in particular appear to cultivate this image of themselves and become the leader of their own group of friends.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @M Schaut: you are so right. so many little girls now stick their hips out when taking a pic. how the heck did that come about? oh yeah becus mom does it.

    • hntrssthmpsn profile image

      hntrssthmpsn 4 years ago

      Couldn't agree more. The whole "pampered princess" thing is just awful. Shallow and demanding aren't attractive, cute, or charming traits in anybody, and encouraging little girls to identify as "divas" is, in my opinion, just as damaging as the damsel-in-distress archetype perpetuated by so many fairy tales.

    • profile image

      grannysage 5 years ago

      Unfortunately, many parents push their daughters to enter pageants at an early age, so they might consider diva to be a good word. There are a few females that I would say have earned the right to call themselves diva. While reading this I was thinking of the opera singer in Phantom of the Opera played by Minnie Driver. Now she was a Diva!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @retta719: I totally agree with you!!!

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      I don't think you should label children anything and repeatedly call them any name other than terms of endearment such as "honey" "sweetheart" "dear"

    • PNWtravels profile image

      Vicki Green 6 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      It makes me sad to see so many girls and young women who act selfish and shallow. Previous generations of women fought to have them treated seriously and equally and the "divas" seem to be reinforcing the old stereotypes of women being emotional, ignorant and self-centered.

    • retta719 profile image

      Loretta 6 years ago from United States

      @careermom: absolutely agreed!

    • profile image

      careermom 6 years ago

      Nice lens. In an age a reality tv where our society popularizes people because they are ill-mannered and self centered prima donnas it isn't surprising that people will refer to their children that way or that they find it cute. It is rather sad though.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

      June Parker 6 years ago from New York

      Fun lens. I always thought prima donna was the top dancer in a ballet troupe as diva was the top operatic singer and it spiral down the trail of language evolution to spoiled bitch, which is what I call a spoiled but much loved dog. Just goes to show you, learn something new every day.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      enjoyed reading and participating on your lens today, thank you for the write up.

    • Paul Ward profile image

      Paul 6 years ago from Liverpool, England

      I have visions of five year old girls demanding bowls of M&Ms in the dressing room with all the green ones removed, escalating to Jim Bean on ice and top grade coke for the tenth birthday party!

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 6 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      We call our adopted dog "a little Diva"..she's so cute though, and if I do say so myself, attempts Opera on a daily basis! ..good lens idea!

    • NYtoSCimjustme profile image

      NYtoSCimjustme 6 years ago

      My little angel is now two and a half. And at times she does act out, but for the most part her nickname is simply "Baby Girl" or the shortened version of her name "Sammie"... I don't tell her she is anything when 'negative' behavior is prevalent - but when she is being sweet or smart I do attach those titles. My version of the psychology of positive reinforcement - great food for thought here though.

    • retta719 profile image

      Loretta 6 years ago from United States

      @M Schaut: I agree completely.

    • M Schaut profile image

      Margaret Schaut 6 years ago from Detroit

      We have way oversexualized our girls and you can't even get a natural picture of the- the camera comes out and they're 'posing.' With the increase in child sexual abuse this really worries me, and I think it distorts what girls think is important.

    • retta719 profile image

      Loretta 6 years ago from United States

      @DeclutterDiary: It is all about the point of view, but it does seem lately that many parents are using it as a cute light way to say their child is spoiled beyond their control, or in the case of referring to themselves as an excuse for being rude and childish, which both make me sad.

      Perhaps if used in reference to a child's (or a grown woman's) talents or high points instead it would sound positive and wouldn't irk me nearly as much. I wish more people would use it that way.

    • profile image

      DeclutterDiary 6 years ago

      After reading everything you wrote about the title Diva, I can see your point, and why you might think it is a disgusting thing to call a child. Personally, I connotate "Diva" with being talented and confident, so I don't see it in a negative light. The term, "Prima Donna" I do connotate with egotism and self-aggrandizement.

    • DreamsBloom profile image

      DreamsBloom 6 years ago

      I think a lot of people today do sort of see "spoiled" children as "cute." Or at least it's expected that kids are going to be demanding, temperamental, get their way, etc.

      I think that plays a part as to why the term Diva is popular. But I think it more popular because people are seeing the term Diva more towards it's older meaning. A glamorous and successful person, someone with confidence, the star of the show. Not necessarily a star who is a jerk. But just the star. Interchangeable with princess (which also is often seen as meaning spoiled brat...but not always).

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 6 years ago from Land of Aloha

      I like to just say, "this is (insert name here), my daughter!" Saying it proud and giving her a hug at the same time. (yes, even during the squirmy, sulkish years.) :)

    • Othercatt profile image

      Othercatt 6 years ago

      I don't think it's a term of endearment. It's more of a nice way to describe a whiny selfish brat (although there's another "b" word that could also apply).

    • retta719 profile image

      Loretta 6 years ago from United States

      @Othercatt: Yes, the "b" word is an alternate definition in our modern society and diva is used when a person is trying not to curse out loud. I considered including that above, but I couldn't think of a way to do so without Squidoo giving me an R rating :-p

    • retta719 profile image

      Loretta 6 years ago from United States

      @AngryBaker: And this seems to be happening more and more - women calling themselves divas thinking it makes them sound important or beautiful in some way :-( It just makes me sad! And sometimes it makes me embarrassed for all womanhood!

    • profile image

      AngryBaker 6 years ago

      I never liked the idea that people refer to themselves as "diva", when they really mean 'self-centered spoiled brat'.