Sunday, February 1, 2009

Terms of Endearment

Darling * Honey * Honeybunny * Sweetheart * Sweetie Pie * Sweetness * Precious * Pumpkin * Pookie * Beloved * Pet * Baby * Babe * Cutie * Sugar * Cupcake * Sweetpea * Muffin * Cookie

We humans have probably endowed the objects of our affection with loving nicknames for as long as there have been spoken languages. Since we celebrate Valentine's Day this month, I've tried to do a little research on commonly used terms of endearment.

Did you know that the term sweetheart was used to refer to a loved one as early as the 1200s? The first recorded source in which someone calls their sweetheart honey is found in 1350. Sugar became a part of the English vocabulary via the Normans and their invasion if England in 1066, but the word wasn't used as an affectionate label until 1930. Wikipedia states that the term baby was first used as an endearment in 1839.

So many of our tenderhearted words are the names of things that taste sweet in our mouths. Treats, delicacies, tidbits, goodies; we use words associated with these things to describe the ones we love.

I have sweet memories of being called baby by my daddy when I was young. He still calls me that sometimes. I went to a boarding school in the deep south the first year I was in high school. The owner/head mistress peppered her conversations with "Sugar" this and "Sugar" that. Always pronounced sugah, the r was never spoken, the emphasis on the last syllable was long. I still call my own children sweetheart sometimes....because they are....sweet to my heart.

What terms of endearment do you use with the objects of your affection?

Darling: the popular form of address used in speaking to a person of the opposite sex whose name you cannot at the moment recall -Oliver Herford


  1. I will have to remember that quote. I often forge the names of people I meet. A terrible faux pas to have to deal with.

    I like this post. It has brought back memeories. My Dad would call me Sweet Pea. Sometimes Myrtle the Turtle. Ha...

    I Honey my son and Baby my daughter. I call my husband Dearly Beloved or Boudy Cakes.

    I can't wait to see what others use as terms of endearment.

  2. I call everyone love, doll, honey, sweetie, or hun...

    I got called Squirt! *pouts*

  3. Love the Herford quote, daaaaaling!

  4. Hey, great idea for Valentine's Day. Do you mind if I use this idea in the Beginning Linguistics class I am teaching this semester? Thanks for the inspiration! Was your source the OED?

  5. i call my hubbie "babe" and my dog "sweetie poo poo head". i call many of my co-workers "dear" or "my dear". i'll even say "thank you dear" to a sales girl who has given extra help at a department store.

    what a fun post, stevie!!

  6. Such a sweet post !!

    My hubby used to call me 'dear' , but now he call me mmy (mummy) :p

  7. Great post. I get called baby and sweetie by my SO. I use sweetie and honey for him.

    For my sons it's sweetie, my sweetie, honey and baby boy (even though they're 18 and 21!)

  8. I'm afraid that we're pretty boring. It's just 'hon'.

  9. Reading all of your responses brought a former co-worker to mind. She used to call me Ladybug.

  10. I enjoyed reading this blog Steviewren. I call my wife Sweetie and she calls me Hon. And we can still remember each other's names! ;) - Dave

  11. Well my parents always called me sweetie pie. My best friends always called me Laura Lou and my hubby just calls me baby. I refer to him mainly as baby or babe, but sometimes I throw in a 'hey, handsome' or 'hotstuff'. I call my cat Annie, Annie Pie, and Bennie is sometimes Bennie Boo. Or if he's shortened my husband's shoelaces by about seven inches, as he did this morning, he's Bad Bad Bennie or Biting Bennie.

  12. Aw, this was cute. Hubby used to call me Sweetie Poopsie - now it's usually Babe. I call him hon or honey. I remember when my Grandpa called me Suzy Q. I used to make endearments out of my sons' names.
    (Josher-Washer, for example) - I guess you had to be there.

  13. Wuwww, great research Steph! I appreciate your effort to bring it on the table.
    My people call me 'Nani' or 'ann' as initial of my name. And, the sweet words I often use for my people are 5: suga(r), babe, amore, bella and tesoro.
    Un abbraccio forte~

  14. This is a lovely post.;)
    It brings back memories of my childhood, when my father called me "bambina", which means "baby" in Italian.
    I will keep to myself, what the object of my affection calls me, if you do not mind.;) It makes it more special.

    Thank you so much for stopping by my place and leaving a very kind comment.;)

  15. My hubby & I probably use "hon" or "honey" the most--which is evidenced when our kiddos play house and call each other that. It's so cute:)

  16. I don't use endearing terms - it's just because they weren't used -at all - when I was growing up - same with the Mister. We got an anniversary card last year from our son - the old timey characters called each other babe and tiger - so we've been using that amidst laughter. One lady friend and I call each other chickie - and laugh when we say it. So it's pretty boring over here.
    Neat post!

  17. Hi Stevie!
    Hope all is well! So exciting!

    My hubby and I call each other "darling" and "babe" and "hon."

  18. stevie! what about porkchop!?!?! :)

    hope you are having a great day! valentines is coming up quick, isnt it? i read yesterday how it began and it was very bittersweet; touching nonetheless.


  19. Many times when we were coming out of church my father would say, Quick, who's this person coming towards us? We would laugh and tease him for the rest of the day. (This was years ago, not when he was ill.)


    I call my husband, "Hon" and he calls me "Darling" - or "Buttercup".

  20. I'm afraid we're rather boring here...on a good day my hubby is "honey" girls and grandchildren are anything that rhymes...


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