Terms of Endearment

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 Reading books by authors from different countries always gives me a subject to talk about in the blog.  I might not have noticed if I had been reading the book, but after listening to an audio book by Jill Mansell, the differences in terms of endearment jumped out at me.
 
I have always been fascinated by regional and country etymology especially expression of love, probably brought on by being called pumpkin and sweet pea by my mother. I mean really pumpkin?  However doing some research I found that the language of love is filled with fruit, vegetables and animals and even an insect. While there are many common endearments like these:
English
 
French
 
Spanish
 
Greek
 
               
Sweetheart
cheri
 
Cariño,
 
Gluka mou (my heart)
               
angel
         
               
Babe
         
               
love,luv
 
mon amour
Mi Amor
Agapi mou
               
The French have some quite unique terms such as: ma biche (my doe),ma caille ( my quail, informal),mon canard(my duck),mon chou,( my cabbage),mon cochon (my pig), mon coco (my egg),mon poulet (my chicken),ma puce (my flea,informal). French cooking is famous, so I wonder if the names come from their love of food.  While I wouldn’t raise too much off a fuss with my duck or quail, I draw the line at pig and flea.  A woman has to have her standards.  While there are no French speaking men in my life, maybe I better memorize these two, just in case.

 
Mmmmmmm, the Spanish language has some very romantic terms with Corazoncito (My Heart), Mi Cielo (My Heaven /Sky),Mi Querida / Mi Querido (my dear) Cuchura / Cuchuras (sweetie). Although, I would have to pass on Bomboncito (marshmallow). While my heart is very tempting, I would love to be someone’s heaven.
 
So what about English love words? Here in the South, babe, honey, sweetheart, sugar, and darlin’ (yes without the g) are pretty common. I have been even known to use cutie pie or sweetie, but usually when interacting with children. I don’t know about other regions of the country. People from the North, the West and other regions will need to be sure and post if I missed some.
 
From across the pond, I’ve found love or luv, pet (which was the word used in the book I was reading) hinny, chuck and doll.  I know that there are people from Europe, Canada, and Australia that visit.  Please post and tell me which terms people use in real life.  I always wonder how accurate the books are.
 
Of course these words really only have significance if used by people who love each other.  I can’t tell you the numbers of times I have been called “hon”, or “sweetheart” or “sugar” by a perfect stranger.  Most of the time it bothers me, but I can’t honestly say I would take offense being called “luv” by someone with an English accent. But I suspect that is only because it is unique.  And apparently those to whom it is not unique with disagree with me, as BBC has an article about nurses being told to stop using “dearie”, and “love” because it isn’t respectful.
 
Come on guys, tells what names you use in public (you can keep the bedroom ones a secret). How about family love names? Is it unique to your family?  I found that pumpkin is not that unique. Have you come across a unique expression of love in a novel?
 
 
 - Leigh Davis

 

From a message board, I found Greek names seem more romantic and less food oriented (although there is my pigeon and doughnut).  Latreia mou (my adorable one), Psychi mou (my soul), Peristeraki mou (my pigeon/dove) and Loukoumaki mou (my little doughnut).  Wow, some very romantic sounding names. . . I could easily get use to being called my adorable one, or my heart.

29 thoughts on “Terms of Endearment

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  4. I’ve loved this post and all the comments. I’ve lived in the South for the past [almost] 25 years but it seems that my endearment vocabulary hasn’t been effected as much as I would have thougth. When my daughter was little my primary endearment for her was Angel Buttons – no idea where it came from, it just popped out and stuck. My son was Boy and a made up name that I don’t even know how to spell. Now, my grandchildren are [singularly] Love & Baby and many othes unique to the child or [collectively] The Amazing Ones & The Incrediible Ones. My husband and I use Honey, Sweetie, Babe and once in a great while Dear.

  5. Growing up in Texas I heard a lot of “honey”, “darlin’”, “sweetheart” and “sugar”. I am a nurse, and I try not to, but when you have 10 surgical patients a night, sometimes endearments like “hon” or “doll” get used.

    With my family and friends I use “sugar” and “sweetheart”. I call my husband “babe”. My daughter is “puddin’” (no g), or “sunshine”. My nephew is ” baby boy” or “angel face”. He hates “angel face” so I try not to call him that often.

    For some reason I’ve never understood we use endearments a lot more in the South.

  6. Darling, Honey for partners. Also Gorgeous, or Hey Gorgeous. And my parents picked up Mein Schatz (my treasure) from Germany in the 1960s for partners and I’m not sure where they picked up babykinsa or bubbakinsa for children but I suspect it may have something to do with Kinder, the German for children. Also Big Ears and Giggling Gurtie for children.

  7. Hi! I’m from Costa Rica and we use:

    Mi cielo (My heaven), Mi vida (My life), Mi amor (My love)
    My father used to call my daugthers “little dolls” (munequitas). And my family use “bebecito/bebecita” for the newborns.
    My husband called me “chiquilla” when we started to date, so I always melt when I read the hero call his heroine “little one”

  8. In reference to an “Everybody Loves Raymond” episode that had us both in tears with laughter, my husband and I call each other Jelly Cheeks and Banjo Pants. It is a combination of endearment and sarcasm. I call my boys all kinds of names all the time like sweetness or cutie, but they were both huge babies, so I mostly call them Bubba.

  9. Here in the UK I’ve also heard “petal” and “flower” as terms of endearment for ladies. My husband calls me “Mrs S” and I call him “Mr S” and he sometimes calls me “wifey”. The cats (females) get called “fairy princess” or “sweetness and light”. Or “you bloody furball” when naughty.

  10. Melissa,

    While I have heard mate here, it is uncommon. . . guys here, use more hey man. I have heard champ and princess here too. Being called gorgeous is not bad, not bad at all (grin).

  11. I’m in Australia.

    I call my partner ‘darling’ as often as I use his name. He often uses ‘gorgeous’ for me.

    Other common endearments that I hear include ‘sweetpea’ (particularly for children), ‘honey’, mate (especially from men to friends, strangers or children) and ‘champ’ (often for young boys). Also, ‘princess’ sometimes for young girls (yuk).

  12. LeeB. . .

    I had a co worker from Britain and he would say love. It didn’t offend me at all. . . but have one our Southern boy call me hon, or sweetheart, and smoke is coming out of my ears.

    I suspect that women in England can get steamed by the love and might find sweetheart sexy over here. .

    That is the only way I can explain the double standard.

  13. It’s so cute when I’m in the UK and people say “love.” Makes me smile.

  14. Wow, I am surprised at the popularity of pumpkin. I wonder how that came about. . . pumpkin being a special treat?

    Blythe, I am surprised with pet being used by you. It just seemed like such a English expression. Maybe it is not as uncommon as I thought.

    LeeAnn I have heard she is a peach. . . but not just calling someone peach.

    Leslie A. . . your muffin sounds like our “oh you poor thing” or poor baby

    Karenmc. . . by parents were southern but we never did the sissy name. Maybe because I am the only girl. Sort of funny about the buddy, because that is the nick name given to my dad by his brother. Supposedly he called him my little buddy, and Buddy or Bud stuck.

    Suzanne, I like your kids’ nicknames. . . They sound fun. And there is nothing like fat little babies.

    Ell, I never was around anyone who used heart as a child. But I met someone from Louisiana, who used it quite frequently. I just thought it was shortened version of bless your heart.

    Carrie, we also used turkey when teasing someone. Also used you dog. . but since I like dogs I tried to eliminate that one from my vocabulary. (grin)

    Bungluna & GiselaB your endearments just sound so romantic. But I not really getting the black? I think your little lice or little crickets is like American men calling kids anklebiters.

    Jill, thanks for posting. I am loving your books. Don’t let them change to many words. Reading your books make me feel like I am visiting Great Britain.

    Meridith, beautiful words. . .I would be a puddle if a significant other whispered my life or my soul to me. . .

    Rene, glad to see another sweet pea in the group. . . it is funny, when I am around kids it just slips out.

  15. One of my favorite endearments is in Hindi (a language spoken in north India): meri jaan. It literally translates to “my life” or “my soul,” though people often translate it simply to mean “beloved.”

  16. My mother was from the south and I was sweetie, pumpkin and sweetie pie. I call my own children baby girl, buddy and sweet pea.

  17. Hello, and what an interesting post! A friend of ours calls his baby daughter Pumpkin but it’s not often used here in the UK. Pet is more of a northern expression. Personally I call my children sweetie or sweetie-pie but my son would die if I did it in public. I call all other children darling, usually because I can’t remember their names!
    It’s always fascinating, seeing how many word changes are made to my books before they can be published in the US. Seeing trousers referred to as pants still makes me laugh!
    Best, Jill Mansell xx

  18. I’m from Panama and we have distinctive endearments. We do not use Corazoncito (little heart) but just plain corazon (heart). The cuchura one I don’t recognize. Instead we use the following:

    querido/a – dear one m/f
    mi amor – my love
    negro/a – literally black
    cuchi – for babies, can’t translate

    There are also a ton of adjetives used as endearments that sound weird when translated: gordo (fat), guapo (handsome), flaca (skinny), beba (derivative of baby), etc. I guess every culture formulates its own terms.

    • I’m from Puerto Rico. We use:

      Mi amor-My love

      Mi cielo-My sky/heaven

      Mi vida-My life

      Mi alma-My soul

      Bebe/beba/bebo-baby/babe

      Negro-black <- this one is usually used between family members

      I had an uncle who called us "piojitos" (little lice) or "grillitos" (little crickets). Those are the ones that come to mind right now.

  19. I’ve always called my girls pumpkin or sweetie pie. My boys were often sweetie, although I also jokingly called them both “turkey,” and all the kids were called “goose” when I was teasing them about something. Endearing terms for my husband are pretty much limited to sweetie and honey. I only say “darlin’” when I’m being sarcastic, and showing my distant Texas roots. My children had “pet” names when they were younger that were usually word-plays on their given names. Most of our nicknames have always been tongue-in-cheek. The kids will go formal on me as a joke and call me Mother, to which I usually respond, “Yes, dearest?”

  20. I use punkin and sweetie for kids (not my own), but for some reason my kids are Boo (the oldest), Monkey (the middle) and Puppy (the youngest). I belive I referred to them all as Bubba when they were fat roley-poley babies…boy do I miss those fat babies! Don’t really use terms of endearment with my husband or anyone else…just kids.

  21. My brother and SIL always call each other “Buddy,” which seems singular to them. The SIL also uses “Darlin’” for their kids and grandkids, but her daughter always calls her own daughter “Pumpkin”. Come to think of it, the only nickname I had from one of my parents was “Sissy,” which came directly from my Dad’s Texas roots.

  22. My family is southern from way back, so I grew up with Sugar Pie, and Sugar Cookie. My Grandmother called me Heart. She also used to tell me that I was “the best little girl in this whole town”….a title I’m pretty sure she bestowed on every one of her grand girls. My husband’s family is from New Orleans, and that was the only place I heard “Boo” being used as an endearment.

    Aggravates me some when an author – obviously, not from the south – misapplies it. I’ve never heard adults use any of the above toward each other, except Heart I guess. Especially Boo. I think that is pretty much always a child.

    • Ell: My family is southern from way back, so I grew up with Sugar Pie, and Sugar Cookie. My Grandmother called me Heart. She also used to tell me that I was “the best little girl in this whole town”….a title I’m pretty sure she bestowed on every one of her grand girls. My husband’s family is from New Orleans, and that was the only place I heard “Boo” being used as an endearment.Aggravates me some when an author – obviously, not from the south – misapplies it. I’ve never heard adults use any of the above toward each other, except Heart I guess. Especially Boo. I think that is pretty much always a child.

      I am also from the south and my little sister was called “Boo” by my parents. She is now nearly 50 and we (her siblings) still call her Boo from time to time – but I agree it is normally for children. My husband is honey and my kids are sweetie or sweetie pies. Darlin’ can also be used as a mild rebuke and so can Honey. It all depends on the context and expression.

    • Ell: My family is southern from way back, so I grew up with Sugar Pie, and Sugar Cookie. My Grandmother called me Heart. She also used to tell me that I was “the best little girl in this whole town”….a title I’m pretty sure she bestowed on every one of her grand girls. My husband’s family is from New Orleans, and that was the only place I heard “Boo” being used as an endearment.Aggravates me some when an author – obviously, not from the south – misapplies it. I’ve never heard adults use any of the above toward each other, except Heart I guess. Especially Boo. I think that is pretty much always a child.

      My grandfather called my grandmother “Boo” their entire married life (50+ years) and we are all from Oklahoma. I can’t say I have heard it used elsewhere but it certainly brings back good memories for me.

  23. Hm. I’ve also noticed, too, that certain terms of endearment are regional, and stand out in novels.

    In our (Canadian) house, it’s a lot of “hon” (short for honey) and when it comes to kids (our own and other people’s), it’s “buddy,” “kiddo,” and “girlie.” Growing up, it was “pumpkin,” “kiddo,” and “babe” from my parents. And between my friends, we pull out our mock-sympathy with a “aw, muffin!” for some high-class problems or silly complaints.

    Interesting thoughts, thanks! :)

  24. My parents used “punkin” for me, “babe” for my sister (she’s the baby of the family) and went back to “punkin” for my daughter. I used “honey” for my daughter, but my grandchildren, no matter the sex, are “peach”.

  25. My husband and I have never really been pet name users (maybe an occasional “honey”), but I call all my kids “pet”. Even now that they are older (19,17,4,11). They also have dorky nicknames specific to them, but pet is my favorite general term for them all.

    I work in a kids’ store, so I hear lots of sis, Bubba, Boo, Pumpkin, etc.

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