A comparison of pet names in English and French

A comparison of pet names in English and French

by Erin McGann

Updated November 10, 2022

Terms of endearment and pet names are what we use for people we love. They are funny, unconscious things, and there are usually a few common ones in every language.

When taken literally, they often sound ridiculous, but it’s a bit of a window into someone else’s world when you hear their private, sweet name for someone. Choose your moment, though. You’ll get some funny looks if you call your barista ‘babycakes’.

We compiled for you some lists of pet names in English and French, so you can see for yourself how sweet names can be different from one country to another!

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English sweetness

In English, there are lots of variations of ‘sweet’:

  • Sweetheart
  • Sweetie
  • Sweetness
  • Sweetcheeks

It’s not uncommon to go the baby route with your significant other, too:

  • Baby
  • Babycakes
  • Babe
  • Bae

All of these names can be used for any gender, too. Referring to the attractiveness of your romantic partner is also good:

  • Beautiful
  • Cutie
  • Cutie pie
  • Handsome

Food always seems to make an appearance in any language, and in English ‘pie’ pops up in:

  • Cutie pie
  • Sweetie pie
  • Honey pie
  • And even pudding pie

‘Sugar’ and ‘honey’ are pretty self-explanatory in the sweetness department.

In the UK, they seem to be fond of birds, because loved ones are called: ‘hen’ or ‘duck’ quite often, especially in the north of England. And of course, calling someone ‘love’ spells it out quite nicely.

Common French terms of endearment

In French, you can call your loved one:

  • Mon amour (my love)
  • Mon trésor (my treasure)
  • Mon/ma chéri(e) (my darling)
  • Mon bébé (my baby)

These are the most common affectionate names in France. It’s worth noting that the possessive of mon/ma goes with all of these pet names more often in French, but that’s not necessarily the case in English.

You can add -et or -ette to something to make it little and cute, for example, ma chouquette (my little pastry, literally).

You can also pop petit(e) before the noun to accomplish this as well. Mon petit chou is a very common phrase, for example.

Of course, there is also the catch-all of mamour a shortened version of mon/m’ amour (literally, my love), and mon cœur (my heart).

French… Birdiness?

The French go in for lots of birds as well, with, for example:

  • Mon canard (my duck)
  • Mon poulet (my chicken)
  • Mon poussin (my chick)
  • Ma caille (my quail)

There are a few pet names in French that don’t really have a translation, like doudou and lolotte, but they feel quite nice to say in a sweet voice, so they work!

In the lost in translation department, there’s ma puce (literally, my flea) which is generally only used to refer to a woman. But French people are not the only ones to be crazy about pet names, Germans are too!

Watch out for pet names in England or France!

Listening out for funny pet names is an excellent way to learn more about a language, see if you can catch one out in the wild! For example, when traveling or going to a restaurant. Maybe you’ll soon find your favorite and use it for your loved one!

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Erin McGann is a Canadian freelance writer focusing on travel, living abroad, parenting, history, and culture. After nearly a decade living in the UK, Erin settled in Heidelberg, Germany with her husband and son. Dragging her family to every castle and open-air museum is a favorite activity, along with sewing, cooking, and weaving. You can check out her travel blog, and follow her obsession with half-timbered houses on her Instagram account.

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