5 min read

Unusual terms of endearment from around the world

During our research on family names, we discovered how the pet names we have for our loved ones can differ depending on our location in the country.

A couple having a cup of tea at the kitchen table, with patio doors open behind them.

We thought we would delve a little deeper and find out what pet names and terms of endearment are popular around the world.

A trip to Europe

Referring to your partner as a crumb might not go down well in England. But in Finland the term “muru” (which translates to crumb) is a common term of affection.

If you pop over to France, you might hear the term “mon petit chou” used. It actually has two meanings, the first being “my little cabbage” and the second being “my little cream puff”. According to language specialists Eurotalk, it’s the equivalent of the term of endearment “sweetheart” here in the UK.1

Travelling east

In Japan, the phrase “tomago gata no kao” is used to express the beauty of a woman. But it translates to “an egg with eyes”. This might seem strange, but in Japanese culture an oval or egg-shaped face is seen as a sign of beauty. You can often see this in Japanese paintings.

A slightly more unusual term of endearment is “nyingdu-la”, a Tibetan phrase meaning “most honoured poison of my heart”.

“In China, the romantic term “chen yu luo yan” means “diving fish swooping geese”. It might sound nonsensical to us, but there’s a wonderful story behind it.”

The phrase, now spoken whenever a Chinese person wishes to express love, is said to come from an ancient tale. Whenever Xi Shi, a beauty in China, walked past a pond the fish were so struck by her beauty they forgot to swim, sinking towards the bottom. Geese, too, flew over another beautiful woman named Wang Zhaojun and would forget to flap their wings, eventually swooping to the ground.

If the phrase is uttered, it means the beholder finds the object of their eye just as beautiful as those two ancient women.

A step into the past

If we take a step back in time and travel to the past, words such as “bully” and “honey sop” were used to address loved ones. Bully, in the mid-16th century, was related to the term of endearment “boele” which meant “lover”. This is the opposite of what it means today. “Honey sop” literally means a piece of bread soaked in honey. It’s similar to calling a loved one sweetie pie, but it definitely doesn’t sound as appealing.

We all have our own, personal terms of endearment we use for our loved ones, no matter where we are in the world. And don’t forget, read our post on family names in the UK.

Note: Whilst we take care to ensure Talking Finance content is accurate at the time of publication, individual circumstances can differ so please don’t rely on it when making financial decisions.


1 http://eurotalk.com/blog/2015/02/13/my-little-cabbage-terms-of-endearment-from-around-the-world/