Languages of love: Readers' global terms of endearment

Couple

A feature on terms of endearment from around the world attracted lots of feedback. Here, readers share affectionate nicknames from around the world.

In Argentinian Spanish, it's very common to hear someone say to his/her other half bicho ("bug"). Also, there's a widespread use of cielo ("sky") when calling someone you love... maybe because the sky is so high and unreachable. Honora Campioni, Buenos Aires, Argentina

I call my girlfriend muru (Finnish for "breadcrumb"). It's actually one of the most popular pet names back here and at least in my opinion it's terribly cute. Henry, Helsinki, Finland

My Spanish boyfriend often calls me albondiga ("meatball") or frutita ("little fruit"). He also calls the cat verdurita ("little vegetable"), but I'm not sure which one is more affectionate... Victoria Gibney, San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain

I am married to a Tibetan lady who calls me nyingdu-la. This translates as "most honoured poison of my heart". Adam Buckley, Hebden Bridge, UK

My boyfriend is Portuguese and affectionately refers to me as ursolina, the feminine version of the Portuguese words meaning "little bear". Although at first I was baffled by what the word meant I now love the unique term of affection. Sarah Hooper, Bracknell, England

Previously in the Magazine

Screengrab of Magazine story

"Some terms of endearment can be used in many languages - 'baby', 'angel' and 'sweetheart' for example.

"But some don't travel as well as you might think. If you call a French person 'honey' ('miel') he or she may take it as a unflattering comparison with a sticky mess.

"And how would you react if someone called you a cauliflower, a flea, or a baby elephant?"

Having a Tamil background and living in London today, I have a hybridised name for my other half - Paapubear. Paapu translates as "baby" and being the cuddly and slightly hairy man that he is, bear seemed a most natural addition. Nisha, London, UK

I am very close to a friend of mine and we both love maths, so we call each other by the lowest pair of amicable numbers (numbers where the factors of one add up to the other number and the same in reverse). My nickname is 220 and my friend's is 284. They have always been numbers which symbolise friendship and love and we even have key rings with them on, and both the key rings fit together to make a heart. People think its geeky, and it is, but we like that. We always have to explain it to people though! Marie

I refer to my wife as Person Two following the 2011 census return. Ian, London

My husband is Odawa (Native American). He calls me gdab which roughly translates as "beloved". It's funny to see how text messaging autocorrect changes this to "grab". L Kaye, Northern Michigan, USA

In Ecuador, couples often call each other gordo/gorda as a term of endearment. This means "fatty" and would not go down well in some cultures. Being plump there is not viewed the same way as in Europe and it is in common usage. Pip, London

In the Netherlands we call babies or little children poepie ("little poop"), scheetje ("little fart") or droppie ("little liquorice") when we think they look cute. Dutchy, Netherlands

My wife, who is from Russia, calls me pupsik and tells me that it means "little bird", but to me it sounds more like a stomach illness. Kevin, Hanoi, Vietnam

In the Mexican dialect, people tend to refer to their partners as (mi) viejo/vieja, which literally means "(my) old one". I think it is most used among those couples who live in the countryside or have been married for a long time. Although we have never had a queen or a king (for the last 100 years at least), mi reina or mi rey are terms linked to partners as well. If you want to sound really melodramatic, mi vida ("my life") fits perfectly. Samuel González, Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico

Couple using a laptop

In a part of India, sweet-mannered women may be called rossogolla - the round, white, sweet in sugar syrup. But generally, in this eastern part of India, children and women would be endearingly called "mishti", which is, literally, "sweet". Bashobi, San Jose, USA

My favourite term of endearment comes from Swabia, the area of Germany around Stuttgart. There, mein spatzle (the dialectal form of "mein spatzchen", or "my little sparrow") refers not just to sweetheart, but also to a type of sticky pasta. Stephen, Frankfurt, Germany

I had a Turkish friend who used to call her boyfriend patlicanim - "my aubergine". It's a pun on a more common endearment - canim, which literally means "my soul" but is mostly translated these days to "darling". Nick Sweeney, London, UK

Having lived in Denmark for a year, and gained a Danish girlfriend, I was surprised that the usual term of endearment is skat. Apparently it means treasure, but also means "taxes". The British equivalent would be calling your other half "HMRC". Sophie, Denmark

I had a girlfriend who loved language so we'd have a variety of pet names like gatto ("kitty" in Italian) and mo chuisle ("my pulse" in Gaelic). We'd also regularly use IOV (Isle of View) as a homophone of "I love you". Alex, Maidstone, Kent

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