It is very common around the world for couples to give nicknames to each other, whether they are hooking up, dating or are married. These nicknames are referred to in English as “pet names,” and it is a more affectionate alternative to using a first name.
A tactically placed “doçura” in Brazil, for example, can really make that person swoon (to enter an intense state of joy or ecstasy). They can range from silly and playful to having more of a sexual feeling.
This powerful tool is commonly used in the romantic scene, either with your boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife, or anybody else you’re romantically involved with, so it is in your best interest to add some of these words to your vocabulary if you really want to sound like a native.
In today’s article, we have a lot to explore, from pet names, to how to talk about romantic partners in both committed and non-committed relationships. Today you will learn:
- The 8 most popular pet names that are used in English
- 15 Common terms to refer to your committed romantic partner
- 11 Terms used to talk about casual romantic partners (contains explicit language)
- Baby Talk (how couples talk to each other as if they were babies)
- 70 more popular pet names that native speakers use
DISCLAIMER – You want to avoid using these names for strangers. Just a heads up (warning). We recommend observing how they are used in pop-culture and playing around with them first.
Top 10 English Nicknames For Your Romantic Partner
This is arguably the most common of all. The more modern form of babe is created by adding a (s) to the end leaving you with babes. Check out the classic blues song, “My Babe,” by Little Walter.
This is the more intimate form of babe or babes, use this in the bedroom or when you’re alone with your better half. Usher is going to show you exactly how to use this word.
This next one is a bit old-school but is still going strong. Very casual and is often used before making a request. “Hey hun, can you please get me a glass of water while you’re up?”
A very lighthearted pet name that is generally given to that girl or guy you are with who is really kind. They always have nice words to say and are very thoughtful. These people are easy to love.
If you think that your girl or guy is a very pure and honest person then this “pet name” might be the best to use.
This really became romanticized after Disney started making their famous prince and princess movies such as Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Prince Charming, Knight in Shining Armor
This is an affection term people who are in love might use to address each other, only for romantic partners.
This is a term of affection not just for couples, but your mom also might call you “dear.” Note: just a warning, do not call strangers dear. You can use it to start a letter (i.e. “Dear Justin”) but don’t call somebody “dear” unless you have an intimate or family relationship with them.
We tend to add a (my) before saying lover to make it sound smoother and to sort of signify you are together exclusively. This is a deeper “pet name” and is most appropriately used after sexual intercourse has occurred between the couple. It works best when whispered softly close to the ear.
This can range from a casual “hey boo” to a sexually packed “right there boo don’t stop.” Listen to this song because Usher, again, explains this much better than I can.
Learn English with Friends: Ross’s Beautiful Cousin
17 Terms to Refer to Romantic Partners (Committed)
Significant Other: A general way to refer the person you’re in a committed intimate relationship with.
Spouse: Your husband, wife, or partner in marriage or life.
Husband/ Hubby: A playful way to refer to your husband.
Wife/ Wifey: A playful way to refer to your wife.
Partner: A common way to describe your romantic partner if none of the other words are appealing. Maybe you aren’t married, but the person is your companion. This is also often used by gay people, but it can be ambiguous, because people often say “partner” when referring to business partner too.
Life Partner: A common way to describe your romantic partner if you have plan on being together for your entire lives but prefer not to use any of the other terms. This is often used by gay people.
Boyfriend: The guy you’re dating (in a committed romantic relationship with) is called your boyfriend.
Girlfriend: The girl you’re dating (in a committed romantic relationship with) is called your girlfriend, but sometimes girls use this to refer to their friends who are girls. This can be confusing, especially with lesbians.
Beau: French for beautiful, meaning your boyfriend.
The Old Ball and Chain: Literally a steal ball and chain (like a prisoner wears– see picture to left), “the old ball and chain” is a playfully derogatory term used to describe your romantic partner who won’t let you do anything without them (like a ball and chain, they are attached and you can’t do anything without them.)
The Mrs. (“the misses”): A man may casually refer to his wife or long-term girlfriend as “the mrs.” The origin of this is that when they get married, women usually change their last name to the last guy’s last name.
Other Half: The other half is a nice way to talk about your romantic partner and indicate that you and the other person have one identity.
Better Half: Similar to “the other half” (above), to refer to your romantic partner as your better half is another really nice to say that they complete you, but also an endearing (and figurative) way to say that you admire this person (by saying that you they are better than you).
Domestic Partner: A legal relationship between two people who live together in official union, but aren’t officially married. This is a very formal term that you would probably not use in social contexts.
My Man: A traditional/direct way to refer to your male romantic partner.
My Woman: A traditional/direct way to refer to your female romantic partner.
My Girl: A colloquial way young people might use to talk about their romantic partner.
11 Terms to Talk About Romantic Partners (Casual)
Lady Friend: A girl that a guy is hanging out with romantically, but when he says “lady friend” he communicates his relationship in an ambiguous way in order to show that there is no commitment (see Urban Dictionary definition to the right.)
Lover: This can mean a person’s role as your sexual partner (he/she is a great lover), or it can also mean a second/extra relationship outside of your committed relationship.
Mistress: Similar to lover, but only used to refer to a woman, a mistress is a long-term female companion who is not married to her lover (the man).
An Affair: An extramarital relationship (outside of the marriage). “He’s having an affair with his secretary”
Friends with Benefits (Slightly Vulgar): A friend (male or female) who you have casual sex with (without commitment). “Fuckbuddy” (below) is a more vulgar and disrespectful way to say the same thing. (commonly used with we: “we are friends with benefits”)
F*ckbuddy (Extremely Vulgar): (buddy= friend/ fuck= have sex) A friend (male or female) who you have casual sex with (without commitment). This is a more vulgar way to say “friend with benefits.” I wouldn’t recommend using “fuckbuddy,” as this as it tends to be offensive and disrespectful.
Booty Call (Mildly Vulgar): (Booty= ass/butt) A “booty call” is either (a) a person you can call up to go and have sex with (this can be somebody you’re committed to, or a casual relationship), or (b) the call you get from that person.
Slam Piece (Extremely Vulgar AND Offensive): A person you have sexual relations with, but would never want to date (usually a girl). This is a more recent word being used in the U.S., but we don’t recommend using it as it’s very vulgar and disrespectful.
Boy Toy (Slightly Vulgar): A term a girl would use to describe her sexual partner (in a way that objectifies him). This is slightly vulgar, and depending on the context can be disrespectful.
A Fling: A short and casual relationship (implications are that you had sexual relations, but not necessarily). This is also the person you’re having the fling with. (“I don’t want to date him. He’s just a fling”)
Extra: Baby Talk
Okay so now that you know a few of the most common ones, we need to address baby talk. Even though some couples talk to each other like this, “Baby Talk” is technically when you talk to somebody as if they were a baby. Watch this short video so you understand exactly what I mean.
Some people enjoy using the more playful names such schmoopsie or pookie while speaking like the guys in the video. Many people find it rather annoying if couples speak to each other like this in public, but the cool thing is it doesn’t matter what they think.
If you want to speak this way sometimes go right ahead. I myself do this jokingly sometimes.
69 More Pet Names (Nicknames For Your Romantic Partner)
To finish up, here are 69 more common options for you to pick from. My personal favorite is boo-boo.
Angel Eyes | Angel Face | Baby Cakes | Baby Doll | Baby Face | Baby Girl | Beautiful | Big Daddy | Boo-Boo | Bright Eyes | Buttercup | Care Bear | Cookie | Cuddle Bug | Cuddle Bunny | Cupcake | Cutie | Cutie Pie | Darling | Dear | Dearest | Doll Face | Handsome | Honey Bee | Honey Bunch | Honey Buns | Honey Muffin | Hot Mama | Hot Stuff | Hottie | Hubby | Kit Kat | Lady Bug | Little Monkey | Love Bug | Love Muffin | Lovebird | Lover Boy | Muffin | My King | My Queen | Pookie | Precious | Precious Angel | Pretty Lady | Prince Charming | Pudding | Pumpkin | Pussycat | Sex Machine |Sexy | Sexy Lady | Sexy Legs | Snookums | Snowflake | Snuggle Bunny | Sugar | Sugar Mama | Sugarplum | Sunshine | Sweet Cheeks | Sweetie Pie | Sweet Lips | Teddy Bear | Tiger | Tootsie | Twinkle Toes | Wifey | Wookums
This is a guest post by new RealLife English Collaborator, Glenn Grove. Check out his first youtube video (with Chad) earlier this week, “6 Funny Ways to Say Something is Expensive.”
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