Pet Names (terms of endearment)

My sister-in-law calls her daughter "peanut".  When I was little (who am I kidding, I'm 5'1"?) younger  a child, my mom called me "kiddo".  I call my kids "honey", "pumpkin", "sweet pea" and "honey bunches of oats".  At school I even call my students "honey", "buddy", and once, accidentally, "babe".  (I don't even know how that slipped out.)

How many different terms of endearment are there?  honey, baby, dear, sweetheart, muffin, sugar,...I'm sure you can help me out with this list. :0)

And I know they vary from language to language and culture to culture.  I remember learning about pet names in a French phonetics class I took in college (from a professor from Belgium).  She said theirs were chosen by how they sounded, not necessarily what they stood for.  Le petit puce...because the p's were pleasing to the ears...not because a mother necessarily felt her little baby reminded her of a little flea.

I recently thought about my characters and what they refer to each other as.  I haven't read the middle of Solstice in at least six months.  I can't remember if my MC's dad uses any terms of endearment when he talks to her.  I can't remember what Lawrence calls Dawn.  In my current WIP (okay, so now I'm actually switching back and forth on a daily basis so I guess they're both my current WIPS, but whatever) my MC's not-so-best friend calls her "Love".  You know like, "Oh, Love.  I can't even believe you wore that atrocious outfit today."   She never actually says that, but she's probably thought it.

So...just curious.  What terms of endearment, or pet names, do you use in your real life?  And which ones, if any, do you include in your novels?  How do you decide which to use?


  1. I call the hubs babe and my toddler my love, in my wips I have used princess for my very prissy heroines. you should read tim robbins - half asleep in frog pyjamas it has the weirdest petnames the hero must have called her up to 20 in it and they were all hilarious and very original

  2. so agree with JSJ, tom robbins is the king of pet names (so long as you don't mind that most refer to the nether regions!)

  3. Though I may start using my "captchas" from this site as T's of E: just had Bobroc and tortgat

  4. I tend to call friends darling, sweetie or hon.

    Sometimes, I'll use French or Italian... But not too often, since people usually insist on knowing the meaning of what I said.


  5. Sometimes I'll have couples in my novel call each other "love" or something like that, or "baby", if they're young-ish people. I usually decide which to use based on age and mindset.

  6. I think Bobroc and tortgat are lovely names. :)

    At school, my students become "buddy" all the time - especially at the beginning of the year, when I can't tell them apart! One of the other teachers calls the girls "sweetie" and the boys "buddy" (he's really bad at names).

    At home, the boys are "buddy" and my husband and I throw the word "honey" around a lot. Can't say I do it in my writing yet, though.

  7. I rarely used terms of endearment until I got married, when I started calling my husband "Honey". And now I slip up and call other people (our male friends, my brother, etc) "Honey" from time to time. So usually, my husband is not "esposo mío", because I'm not going to slip and call anyone else "husband"!

    Also, my mum has a cousin called "Peanut". I've never heard his real name.
    I started calling children "sweetheart" about five years ago, don't really remember how it started, but now I call pretty much everyone younger than me "sweetheart" (which really endears me to my university classmates).

    I have one (elderly) character that calls everyone "dear". But that's pretty much it.

  8. Dang! That was supposed to be, "my husband is NOW 'esposo mío'".

  9. One character calls my MC love but only because she's nuts. I think that is the only one I have used...huh...which is weird because I never call the hubs by name. Always babe, baby, or love. My best friend is called angel. And my cats have infinite "pet"<ha names. But rarely ever their real ones.

    You have just struck a strange cord. In life, when we rarely ever use real names, why don't we see it more often in novels? Well, as far as I have seen. This got rambly! Great post!

  10. This is interesting because I never liked pet names and it just made me realize, I don't use them much in my books. There are a few nicknames, but not any loves or petite puce's. Thanks for the thought L)

  11. Wow, there's another Fritz writing and blogging! Well, anyway, just like JEFritz above, I don't really use pet names with hubby or in my writing. But I had all sorts of names for our sons when they were growing up. Sweetie, Little Guy, Kiddo, you name it.

  12. We call my daughter Little Monster only because her favorite singer is Lady Gaga right now. We used to call her Chucky Monkey when she was a baby and now someimes still call her Monkey. I call her sweetie, baby, babydoll, my little girl,...with hubs we call each other mommy and daddy. And when we are exclusively talking to each other its "Hon" or "babe". That's it. But honestly, to say my husbands real name out loud is weird to me because we never call each other our real names. Weird. In my book my male character calls the femalae "Nu" which is short for Nuala. Thats abotu it on that. Yay for pet names!

  13. joanna and mike-thanks! i'll check out that author!

    misha-that's funny. have you ever had to lie about what you called them when translating? :0)

    golden eagle-interesting to think about age and which "pet names" would be used in various generations.

    erica--LOL! funny to use pet names to get around not knowing students' names!

    su-i have that same problem. i called my brother-in-law honey once. my dad, too, come to think of it. hehe. (i totally knew what you were talking about!)

    colene-funny because the girl in my ms that uses the term "honey" isn't using it very nicely either. or, well, she isn't very nice i mean. i think i call our dog "pups" once in a while, but usually just use his name, toby.

    jefritz-nicknames count. i wonder how many of us use nickames in our books now, rather than the full name of the character. i know erica uses kenz instead of mckenzie...i use shel instead of shelby...

    joanne-funny! (i mean about realizing there are two of you!) and that we have such long lists for what we call our children after (maybe) spending so much time picking out just the right name for them. and then calling them by other names!

    abby-same here. i call my husband honey and daddy. even when the kids aren't around i call him dad. that's confusing when i'm with him and my dad. nobody ever knows who im referring to.

    THANKS FOR ALL THE COMMENTS EVERYONE! i guess i save up my capital letters to use them all at once. such a lazy typer i am! christy

  14. What a great post! Always funny to hear the endearments that other people use :-) I go with the traditional ones - honey, dear, sweetheart, darling. Have one been petname "my little cat" though... rather a strange one.

  15. My daughter was "punkin doodle" or just "poodle" for short when she was younger. Now I just call her "sweetie girl." My son is still young enough for his nickname though, which is "bun bun."

  16. In real life, I don't use them much. My characters do though. My MC's love interest calls her E, which is short for Eren. My MC's aunt calls her honey. I like pet names because they say a bit about who uses them.


Stay and chat with us! Share your thoughts.