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March 21, 2016

Terms of Endearment


“Hello, darling.”

“Stop right there, sweetheart.”

“Lookin’ good, babe!”

“Sugar-pie, honey bunch, you know that I love you.”

“Aw, snookums.”

Endearments and pet names have always been part of our vocabularies. They appear in movies, on television, we see them in books and magazines and hear them in our daily conversations. Some are cute. Some are private, kept for tender moments between lovers. Some are over-the-top saccharine-sweet and make us cringe.

As a romance writer, I sprinkle sweetheart or babe in my dialogue. It’s a good way of adding characterization. A man might use the casual “babe” because a woman’s name escapes him and he doesn’t want to look stupid. Our male character might never utter a sweetheart or love until he meets the one. Perhaps the first time the heroine hears an endearment she realizes our hero is serious about their relationship. The ceasing of endearments could be the signal that the relationship is important, or it might mean it’s over and the person doesn’t care enough to use a pet name.

I’m not averse to the odd sweet nothing. A sweetheart or love works for me, maybe babe in some situations, but if anyone calls me snookums they should watch out!

When I’m reading, I don’t mind endearments as long as they’re not overdone. If they’re used on every page I want to yank them out of the book. Violent, much? But it’s true. They can bug a reader if they’re used too often.

What do you think about endearments? Do they irritate you or make you smile? Are there any that make you cringe?


  1. Mary Kirkland

    I’ve called Ken, Honey for a long time. I think the only one that I’m tired of hearing right now is, Babe. For the most part I like reading endearments in a story as long as it’s not over done.

  2. Shelley Munro

    I like honey as an endearment. Babe – for me, it depends on the way and tone it’s said.
    Some men can use endearments and it’s fine. They use them with charm while others using the same endearment really grates on me.

    I remember when we first went to Britain and worked in pubs. I couldn’t get over the number of men and women who called me love. It’s so common over there. Even people who were younger than me called me love. It took a bit of getting used to!

  3. Maria Zannini

    I use babe for my dogs and occasionally the husband.

    I like endearments as a rule as long as they’re not hokey because that rings false to me even when it’s meant to be sweet.

  4. anna (herding cats & burning soup)

    I love endearments and seeing what people will come up with for them. One I read recently he called her brat but it fit them so well (they’d known each other since they were little kids) and made me smile.

    I like babe and sweetheart and darlin’. :)

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