Satnin’ Meaning in Elvis, Explained

In Baz Luhrmann’s biographical film ‘Elvis,’ the famed musician Elvis Presley calls his mother Gladys Presley “Satnin’,” his pet name for her. Until Gladys’ death, the mother and son communicate with each other through “baby talk” regardless of their age or the heights the artist reaches. In reality, it wasn’t any different. Elvis referred to his mother as Satnin’ while speaking to his friends. The word embodies his love for his mother and the closeness they cherished until the demise of the latter. Although Elvis is known for using pet names to call his loved ones, “Satnin’” always remained closer to his heart!

Elvis’ Term of Endearment

Elvis called Gladys “Satnin’” with affection. The meaning of the term was revealed by the musician’s cousin Billy Smith to Alanna Nash for the book ‘Elvis and the Memphis Mafia.’ “‘Satnin’’ meant a real condensed round of fattening, and Aunt Gladys was always heavy. Elvis would pat her on the stomach and say, ‘Baby’s going to bring you something to eat, Satnin’,’” Smith told Nash. The word was a part of the “baby talk” between Elvis and Gladys, which was the way the mother and son always spoke.

Image Credit: Gates of Graceland/Graceland

“She [Gladys] doted on him [Elvis] constantly. A smothering kind of affection. But he would also do it to her. He loved to pat on her, and he talked baby talk to her. Called her Satnin’,” Elvis’ friend Lamar Fike told Nash for the same book. Gladys had pet names for her son as well. “She called him ‘Elvie,’ by the way, when he was little. He hated that when he got to be a teenager, so she stopped. She also called him ‘Naughty,’ like ‘You’re a naughty boy,’” Smith added. When Gladys died, his family members and friends witnessed the gravity of the affection they shared.

After seeing Gladys’ lifeless body, Elvis said, “Oh, God, Satnin’, not now. Not when I can give you everything in the world,” according to Smith. Lamar recollected meeting Elvis the same day for Nash’s book. “I’ve never heard such crying and screaming and hollering in my life. It was unbelievable. This wailing. Almost like wolves. It made me shudder. I came around the corner and Elvis was walking towards me, and he said, ‘Lamar, Satnin’ isn’t here.’ And I said, ‘I know, Elvis, I know,’” Fike added.

Elvis’ Priscilla

After Gladys’ death, Elvis started to call his wife Priscilla “Satnin’.” “He [Elvis] called her [Priscilla] ‘Nungen,’ which was Elvis for ‘young one.’ But he also started calling her ‘Satnin’’ since Gladys was gone,” Fike told Nash. Elvis met Priscilla in 1959, a year after Gladys died. She filled the void created by the death of his mother. As his wife, she even “baby talked” with him to comfort him. “She [Priscilla] had soothed him [Elvis] with baby talk, and she’d pet him the way he loved to be petted. And they’d baby-talk back and forth,” Fike added.

Elvis and Priscilla Presley//Image Credit: Los Angeles Times/Wikimedia Commons

“Priscilla was his [Elvis’] geisha girl. They’d sit on the couch, and she’d be patting his face, and his hair, and they’d talk that baby talk. That was his trip,” Marty Lacker, another friend of the musician, told Nash. Priscilla called her husband “Fire Eyes” due to his occasional flashes of anger. Throughout his life, Elvis used several nicknames for varying people who held a special place in his life. He called Anita Wood, whom he dated before marrying Priscilla, “number one girl” or “little.” “Thumper,” “Scoobie,” and “Bunny” were the names he used to call his ‘Viva Las Vegas’ co-star Ann-Margret Olsson, with whom he had an affair as per Priscilla’s memoir ‘Elvis and Me.’

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