When we have a special someone in our lives, we often call them by pet names, nicknames or other terms of endearment. It’s part of a private language you share with that important person and a way of sharing your affection for them.
English speakers use terms like “honey”, “bae”, “baby”, “hun”, or “love”. We may also tack on diminutive endings like “-kins” so that “honey” becomes “honeykins” or “-bunch” so that it is instead “honeybunch”.
But what other popular terms of endearment are used by speakers of other languages around the world?
Before we share a few words used in affection as a part of this terms of endearment list, let’s take a step back and look at just what these words are.
A term of endearment is word or phrase used to address another person, animal or even object for which the speaker feels affection. They are most often used to refer to a lover, child, or pet.
Terms of endearment are often romantic, but they can also be used in non-romantic situations. For example, you might call a friend “dude” or “bud” affectionately but without any romantic undertones.
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Here, you’ll learn ways to address those who mean most in your life in 30 different languages. Learning to say “hi” is one of the first things you’ll want to know when learning a new language, so we’re here to help you get started.
Ready to learn to these words of affection in different languages? Let’s dive in.
The term “lovebug” is used for someone whom you love fully (or whom loves you fully). It’s often used for women or children and isn’t necessarily romantic in nature.
Other variations on this affectionate name may be “bae” or “baby”. If you find a woman particularly attractive, the word “babe” can also be used to describe her.
“Sweetheart” is a common term of endearment in American English. It is also sometimes shortened to “sweetie”, “sweets” or even modified to “sweetcheeks” (a slightly offensive term depending on the context).
You’ll often hear Americans refer to their partners as “honey” or the shortened “hun”. This may also be used to refer to a female friend by either males or females, though you’ll hear it more often used by females.
This term of affection means “love of my heart” and it can be used by either a male or female to refer to a male or female partner.
In Arabic, you can also call your partner “my life”.
If you’d like something a little different from “my life” or “love of my heart”, you can also refer to your loved one as “my moon”.
It may seem like the pet name “my beautiful” is something you’d only use with a female loved one, but it can actually be used with either male or female counterparts.
This name is deceiving--it isn’t just used for someone that you love. Instead, it’s used to call anyone for whom you feel any degree of affection.
In England, you may hear the word “duck” used as a term of endearment, particularly by older generations.
In English, you can show your affection by calling someone “dear” or “my dear”. If they are the most dear to you, you could even use “dearest”!
If someone is darling to you, you can call them “darling” or “my darling” in English.
In Cantonese, you can add a diminutive to someone’s name similar to changing John to Johnny. For example, if a man’s name is 德華, you would drop the first character and add 仔 so that it becomes 華仔 (Wàhjái).
Similar to 仔, you can pair 阿 with the second character of someone’s given name. In this case, however, 阿 goes before the name whereas 仔 follows the name. For example, 學友 (Hohkyáuh) could become 阿友 (A-Yáuh).
In Cantonese, you can also use pet names like 傻豬 "silly pig". It may sound offensive, but it’s intended in a cute way, much like we might say “piglet” in English.
Just like you might call your spouse “wifey” or “hubby” in English, you can attach jái to the word for “wife” and “husband” in Cantonese to do the same.
In Danish, you can use the word elskede to refer to your “beloved” or “darling”.
If you have a “little mouse” who loves to cuddle, you might call them your puttegøj or puttemus in Danish.
In many languages, a popular term of endearment is “treasure”, and Danish is no exception.
Someone you feel affection for might be your “favorite”, so it’s no surprise that a common term of endearment in Danish is “favorite”.
Like the Danish, the Dutch also use the word “treasure” to refer to someone dear to them. It’s common and versatile--it can be used for a partner or children.
In Danish, you can use the word snoepje to refer to small candies or to refer to a loved one as a pet name. It’s similar to calling someone “my sweet” in English.
A common term of endearment in Dutch is lieve and its diminutive form liefje. These respectively mean “dear” and “little dear”.
In addition to schat for “treasure”, you can call someone your “little treasure” or schatje in Dutch by using the diminutive form.
One term of affection used in Esperanto is mia kara and it means “my dear”.
Like in Danish and Dutch, you can use “my treasure” to refer to a loved one in Esperanto.
Another term of affection in Esperanto is pudingeto which means “pudding”.
You can also call someone mia amato, “my love” in Esperanto.
It’s no surprise that in French, the “language of love”, you can call your partner or children “my love”, mon amour.
In French, you can call someone your cabbage. It’s mon chou, but if you want to make it cuter, you can use its diminutive form. It becomes ma choupette or ma choupinette for a girl and mon choupinou for a boy.
French is another language where someone you love is considered a treasure.
The opening words to Stevie Wonder’s well-known song my chérie amour refers to a “dear love”. In French, to say “my dear”, you use mon chéri for a man and ma chérie for a woman. The good news is, despite different spellings, the two are pronounced the same.
Germans also use “treasure” as a term of endearment.
You can also call someone your “favorite” in German, much like in in Danish. The German word for favorite, Liebling, is related to the word love, Liebe.
In German, in addition to calling a loved one your “treasure”, you can also call them your “pearl”.
The German language is known for combining several words into one longer word. An example of this is in the term of endearment for your “cuddle bear” in German--knuddelbärchen.
To say “my love”, a term of endearment in Hawaiian, you can say either e ku’u aloha or ko’u aloha.
The equivalent of “beloved” in Hawaiian is ke aloha or ku’u lei.
In Hawaiian, if you’d like to call someone “sweetheart”, you can use the word ku-uipo.
The Hawaiian word aloha means so much more than hello, and this is exemplified in the Hawaiian expression for “loved one”--mea aloha.
If you’d like to call someone “sweetie” in Hebrew, you can use matok for a man, or metuka for a woman.
This Hebrew term of endearment has no literal meaning, instead it’s just a nickname that you can use to refer to someone close to you.
You can use “my soul” as a term of endearment in Hebrew.
Another term of endearment in Hebrew is "honey".
In Hindi, a popular term of endearment is “my life”.
Like many other languages, you can call your partner “my love” to show your affection.
In Hindi, “darling” is another affectionate name you can use.
If you’d like something a little more expressive, you can use “love of my heart” to share your feelings.
In Hungarian, you can use bébi to refer to a loved one. It’s a borrowed word from the English “baby”.
You can use kedvesem or drágám to say “my dear” in Hungarian.
Refer to your loved one as “my sweet” with the Hungarian édesem.
Your Hungarian, you may refer to your loved one as kicsim, or “my little one”.
Your loved one, or “darling” is your kærasti if it’s a man or kærasta if it’s a woman in Icelandic.
For your children or pets, you might use krútt to call them “sweetie” or “cutie” in Icelandic.
If you want to say someone is “my love” in Icelandic, you’d say that he or she is elskan min.
The diminutive form of krútt mitt is krúttið mitt and when used, it’s similar to the English pet name “honey”.
A common term of endearment you’ll hear in Indonesian is sayangku. It translates as “my dear”.
The term kasih means “love” and is slightly outdated. You can still hear it today in songs.
Indonesian borrowed the English term of endearment “babe”, but it has its own spelling--beb.
Another Indonesion term of endearment is manis. It means “sweet” or “cute”.
If someone is dear to you, you might call them your “little strawberry” in Italian. Fragolina is the diminutive form of the Italian word for strawberry--fragola.
You can use amore mio, my love, to refer to someone you feel affection for in Italian.
In Italian, the word for “star” is stella. It’s also a word you can use to refer to a loved one. You can also use the diminutive form stellina to do the same.
You can call someone caro if there are male or cara if they are female to say “dear” in Italian. It can be used with partners, friends, or close acquaintances. You can also use carina, the diminutive version of this term of endearment.
In Japanese, it’s very uncommon to refer to someone as “you”. Instead, you use their name or title to refer to them or when you’re speaking to them. When you use anata, you’re expressing endearment and familiarity.
Another way to express affection for someone in Japanese is by adding the honorifics -chan (for a male) or -kun (for a female). These are most used with friends or family, but can sometimes be used to refer to someone who works under you.
If you are close friends with someone or in a romantic relationship, one way to show your affection is by coming up with a nickname for that person using their name or the sounds in their name. You can create these nicknames by merging their first and last names, shortening their first name, or by using a quality that describes an aspect of their personality.
To call someone “sweetheart” in Korean, you would use 애인. It can be used for either males or females.
Married couples refer to their spouses as 여보 in Korean. It means “darling”.
Korean also has a version of the affectionate “baby”. It’s 자기야 and it can also be used similarly to “honey”
If you want to call your partner “my love” in Korean, you’d use 내 사랑. 사랑 means “love” and 내 means “my”.
In Chinese, your “lover” is literally your “love person”. It also means “spouse”.
Your “beloved” in Chinese is your “dear love”. This Chinese term of endearment can also translate as “dear” or “darling”.
They say fools fall in love, and coincidentally, one of the Chinese terms of endearment for your partner is “fool”! 傻瓜 literally translates as “stupid melon”, but it roughly translates as “fool”.
In Mandarin Chinese, you can attach “small” or “big” to your friends given name to show affection. Much in the way you might refer to a friend as Big John or Little John in English (especially if you have more than one friend named John).
You can use the Maori term of endearment e ipo to say “my darling”.
Want to say “my sweetheart” in Maori? Then you’d use taku whaiāipo.
Similar to calling your loved one “my treasure” in other languages, you might call your partner “my finest greenstone” in Maori. It shows the value you find in your significant other.
Paruhi refers to something which is of high quality and completely flawless.
In Norwegian, you can use min kjæreste to tell someone that they are your dearest.
Another term of endearment in Norwegian is min skatt which means “my treasure”.
“My dear” is mój drogi in Polish if you’re saying it to a male, and moja droga if you’re saying it to a female.
A Polish term of endearment you can use is misio. It means “teddy bear”.
In Polish, the pet name “honey” is kochanie.
Polish is another language that uses “treasure” as a term of endearment. It’s mój skarb if you’re speaking to a male and moja skarbie if you’re referring to a woman.
In Portuguese, amigo means friend. But if someone is your “big friend”, or a good friend, then you would call them your amigão.
To let someone know they’re your “cutie pie”, you would call them fofinho in Portuguese.
When you adore someone, you might call them “love” or even your “little love”. To express this in Portuguese, you’d use amorzinho.
Another Portuguese term of endearment is “dear”. In Portuguese, this is querido when talking to a male or querida if talking to a female.
In Russian, your loved one might be “kitten” or even котик (kotik, “little cat”). It can be used for either a man or a woman.
When someone brightens your day, you may call them “sunshine”. The same happens in Russian.
A common term of endearment in Russian is “my life”, Жизнь моя.
Instead of “my life”, you can also use “my soul” in Russian.
Cariño can be used to refer to a romantic partner. It means “darling” and can be used with either a man or woman.
You can call your partner or children amor or mi amor (“my love”) in Spanish.
In Spanish, someone you feel strongly about may be your corazón--you’re heart.
You can call someone cielo to show your affection in Spanish.
In Swedish, one term of endearment you can use is “darling”.
Like in Spanish, “heart” is a term of endearment you can use in Swedish with a partner or a close friend.
If you were wondering what other languages use “treasure” to refer to a loved one, look no further! Swedish also uses “treasure”, min skatt.
In Swedish, you might use sötis or sötnos to call someone your “sweetie”.
Want to tell someone you value them in Tagalog? Call them mahal, it means “expensive” or “dear”.
Tagalog has borrowed the English term of endearment “bae”, but has given it a new spelling--bhe.
Irog, is close to "darling" but can carry more power. It means "my one true love".
When talking about a friend’s partner, you might use the word jowa. It comes from the Tagalog word which means “short time” and it implies that the relationship won’t last long or isn’t serious.
Someone who is your “dear”, “darling” or “love” is ที่รัก in Thai.
The Thai term of endearment คนดี can be used with either a male or female, and has very loving undertones. It can also be used with children.
You can also call someone your “sweetheart” in Thai using หวานใจ.
This Thai term of endearment is a borrowing from English and sounds much like its counterpart.
In Turkish, you can call someone “my love” as a term of endearment.
You can also use “my eyes” to refer to someone you care about in Turkish.
In English, we often say that someone we love is our “reason”. In Turkish, you might say they are “my breath”.
If you feel so strongly about someone, you might say they are your “life” or your “soul” in Turkish.
When you feel so strongly about someone that they are part of your identity, you may call them “myself” in Vietnamese.
The Vietnamese word for home is nhà. When you refer to your home, you’re not actually talking about home, but your husband or wife.
In Vietnamese, a woman calls her husband anh. It implies her husband is older than her, even if that is not actually the case.
This term of endearment is used to refer to one’s husband or wife with a touch of humor.
What terms of endearment do you like to use in the languages that you speak? Are there any that I've missed? What are the most interesting or amusing terms of endearment you've heard? Let us know in the comments.
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