What do you call your loved one? Do you have nicknames for your boyfriend /girlfriend? An important part of the process of falling in love is creating our own world, and our language plays a huge role in that. When you meet someone and fall in love, a whole new language unfolds, with loving words and silly names that no one except the happy couple understands. This new creative language helps create a unique bond and brings us closer together.
Language has the power to convey all of our emotions, and when it comes to love, there are often many things we want to express. So it comes as no surprise to learn that the English language is full of words of affection – English words that people use every day in conversations with the people they love, be it family, friends, or that special someone.
In Britain, you will often find expressions of endearment in English used informally among strangers – the man who sells newspapers, the woman who works in the bakery, or the taxi driver who takes you to the station – it may surprise you, but at they will often use caring terms like informal and friendly greetings – it doesn’t mean they are in love with you, they are just trying to be nice!
So here we are going to take a look at some of the more common ones so that you can add them to your own conversations and understand what the British mean when they use them.
Nicknames for your boyfriend/girlfriend
1. Love / Luv (Love)
The term love in Britain is often written as Luv , and it is used simply as a name most of the time. For example, if a woman bumps into a man on the street he might say “Watch where you’re going, Luv!” Similarly, if you walk into a cafe, whether you are a man or a woman, the waitress might say “What are you having, Luv?” This is a word that is used more often to treat strangers among the working and middle class and not exactly among the upper class.
Since love is used regularly in everyday conversation, it is very easy to transfer when speaking to a partner, which is why many couples call their loved one love, usually at the end of sentences – “How was your day, love? ”,“ Hello, love, would you like a cup of tea? ”
2. Honey/hun (Honey)
Another word that tends to get slightly shortened in common usage – this often happens with expressions of affection. Honey is a word that is normally used between couples but rarely between strangers. It is much more common to hear the word hun used when someone you don’t know is talking to you, in much the same way as Luv – “What can I get you, hun?”
It is not unusual to find words related to sweet foods that are used as expressions of affection, such as sugar and honey pie. We found this in languages around the world, such as sugar cube (Sugarlump) in Spain, for example.
3. Sweetheart (Heart)
Another expression that implies sweetness, sweetheart is used as a term of affection between loved ones and also as a familiar term to speak, such as hun or Luv. It can be traced back to the 13th century, where it comes from the Middle English swete hert .
Since doctors knew very little about our hearts and circulatory systems at the time, figurative words were connected to the heart regarding people’s personalities, heavy-hearted, light-hearted, and cold-hearted. (cold hearted). Because love makes us dizzy, our hearts often beat faster, which is why the term swete hert came to mean a fast-beating heart. The term gradually evolved into the expression sweetheart – often used to address someone who makes your heart beat fast.
4. Dear/dearie (Dear)
This is another old expression of endearment, dating back to at least the early 14th century. It comes from Old English deore which means precious, valuable, costly, loved, beloved. This is believed to be an abbreviation for dear one, which has been used as an expression of endearment to initiate letters since the 1500s. Today it is typically used by older couples – not so much by younger people and is another term that is also you’ll hear strangers use sometimes. “What can I get you from the menu, dear?”
5. Darling (Adored)
Darling is a word that truly crosses class boundaries. It is used as an expression of affection by the upper class – “I love you, darling”, even the taxi driver on the street – “Where you going ‘, darlin’?” This expression of endearment is actually a reformulation of dear, from Old English deorling , becoming deyrling during the 1500s, and finally darling.
6. Babe/baby (Baby)
This is one of the most common expressions of affection in the world, and there is a very good reason for it. Loved ones and babies tend to evoke the same kinds of emotions in us – we want to care for them, love them, and protect them – we regard them as something valuable. And so the word baby came to be used by lovers as well, particularly in the United States. Babe is simply an abbreviation for baby and is heard much more commonly in Britain today. Calling a woman baby can be considered condescending unless it is used in a joking or funny way. Unlike the rest of the previous words, both babe and baby they only tend to be used by couples and not strangers.
Expressions of affection in regional English
These are common in specific areas of the country, and you will often only hear them in certain parts of the UK.
Head to Glasgow in Scotland and if you’re a woman they’ll call you that all the time – “Salt and vinegar on your fish and chips, hen?”
2. Duck / me duck
Another example of a bird-based expression of endearment is one you’ll hear all over the Midlands of England, typically when a man addresses a woman or a woman addresses a man – “Alright, me duck? “
Notice how the British like to use animals as expressions of affection. Calling someone pet does not mean that you think it is your lapdog, it is a typical way of greeting in the northeast of England placing it at the end of the sentence – “How are you doing, pet?”
4. My lover
Don’t be alarmed if you are in the South West of England and someone calls you that. This does not mean that they want to put you to bed! It’s a common expression of greeting and affection in this area, so even the milkman might greet you with a “Good morning ‘, my lover!”
If you’re in Essex, in East London, I hear tell the end of sentences always – “Fancy going into town, babes?”
Usually, most of these expressions of affection are used to address women, but this Welsh term is used mainly among men, in the same way as ‘ mate’ or ‘ pal’ – “Alright, boyo? What have you been up to? “
7. Princess / treasure / beautiful
Haven’t you run into the Cockney yet? It is the language of East London, typically of the working class; If you are a woman in the back of an English taxi, chances are that you have already been called this way. The use of these words may seem quite condescending, but it is understood in a kind and caring way, it is not really intended to offend – “Lovely chattin ‘to ya, princess!”
Now you have a new vocabulary in English, nicknames for your boyfriend or girlfriend with which you will show love in English.
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