Who are the most important people in your life besides your family? Your friends, of course. They are always there for you. They build you up again when you are feeling bad. They fool around with you.
And we have lots of nicknames for them. Some specifically for good friends, others for romantic relationships. But which nicknames do the French use in such cases? What are the typical words of endearment in French? That’s what this article is about.
The people in different countries have different preferences when it comes to pet names. Italians like to use food related names. Russians often use animals as the basis for their nicknames. British and Americans seem to have a sweet tooth when addressing their sweethearts (honey, sweetie, sugar). Now let’s have a look at some typical french pet names.
Romantic Words of Endearment in French
The French are much more generous in their use of pet names than we are. They use pet names even when they don’t know the other person very well or when they are in a less private surrounding like an office. Especially French women like to address each other with loving nicknames. Some of them aren’t translatable, as they don’t really mean anything. Ma choupette, ma choupinette, mon loulou, or ma poupoune simply sound nice and are just terms of affection in French. But not only women, but also French men like to give nicknames to each other. Generally not as tender as the expressions used by the women and font with some kind of sexual annotation.
But rest assured, the following terms aren’t naughty and are generally well suited for a more romantic relationship.
Mon Amour – My Love
We start off our list with the classic “my love”. Simple, but also tender and comprehensive.
Mon Ange – My Angel
Angels are magical beings who bring us love and comfort. No wonder, then, that we so often choose them as pet names for our loved ones.
Ma Belle / Ma Beauté – My Beautiful
Both expressions mean someone is good looking, of course. And French men like to use this expression a lot. So when you enter a café don’t be too surprised when you are addressed as “my beauty” by the waiter. The French see flirting as an art form, not as harassment. So relax and enjoy the compliment.
Mon Cher / Ma Cherie
Both literally mean “my darling” and work in different kinds of scenarios.
Mon Coeur – My Heart
Another staple of romantic expressions is to call someone “my heart”. The idea that love comes from the heart developed in the middle ages. Probably because your heart beats faster when you see your lover. The associated heart symbol to which we became so accustomed also stems from the middle ages. It’s not quite clear whether it’s based on the idea the ancient greek had of the shape of a heart. Or weather it might symbolize a woman’s bottom.
Mon Trésor – My Treasure
With this expression you let your loved one know, he or she is your most valuable possession. (Note: I use the term “possession” metaphorically. No one actually owns another person, of course.)
Animal based Words of Endearment in French
Minou – Kitten
According to general wisdom, large parts of the internet consist of cat pictures and videos. And even though I’m more of a dog lover myself, I’m willing to admit that kitten are (almost) always cute. No surprise then, that kitten is also a popular term of endearment in the French language.
Ma Biche – My Roe Deer
Delicate, svelte and beautiful, with huge dark eyes. No wonder French men like to address their wives with the name of these wonderful creatures!
Mon Canard – My Duck
A French woman will see it as a compliment, when you call her my duck. I’m not too sure whether an English speaking would react in the same way. But maybe that’s just me remembering H. C. Andersen’s tale of the ugly duckling.
Mon Lapin – My Rabbit
I assume rabbits are pretty high up on the list of “favorite pet names” for most languages in the world. And French certainly isn’t the exception to this rule.
Unusual Words of Endearment in French
As I said above, references to food or animals are quite common when it comes to pet names. But not all of them are ordinary. Or would you use one the names below in English?
Belle Plante – Beautiful Plant
OK, we have flower names such as “my rose” or “my buttercup”. But “beautiful plant”? Apparently it’s an affectionate expression which is often used amongst women (even when they aren’t too close).
Ma Puce – My Flea
Can comparing your partner to a flea be a loving reference at all? It can, if you are French. Plus I think it’s funny and well suited as a nickname for a small child. But the French also use it in romantic circumstances, when it roughly translates to something like sweetheart.
Petit Chou – Little Cabbage
Now, you may have thought that the kraut-loving Germans refer to their better halves as cabbage. But no, it’s their neighbors, the French! The expression is also often used doubled up, i.e. chouchou (in the sense of darling). Interestingly, the French also say that boys are born in cabbage, whereas girls are born in roses. As a male I find that a bit disappointing, but on the other hand: at least cabbage doesn’t have thorns.
So, these was our list of words of endearment in French. Which expression is your favorite? Or do you even use one we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments.