Where does habibi come from?
Habibi or habibti comes from the Arabic root word meaning “love.” Habib (masculine) or habiba (feminine) refers to a loved one. That final -i is a possessive—it turns “love” into “my love.”
Who uses habibi?
Habibi is frequently used in songs to give them a romantic feel ... and usually both men and women are habibi in music.
In everyday speech, however, habibi can be used from a parent to child and between friends. In some places, including Lebanon, it’s even common to use the word to soften interactions between strangers ... kind of like the usages of hon, baby, and sweetie in some parts of the United States, where something that’s typically a pet name for loved ones becomes acceptable (maybe ...) to apply to someone you’ve just met.
Habibi can also be used as a name, most commonly a surname. It's not uncommon to see it used as a name for businesses as well. Dance troupes, bands, and restaurants can all be found with the name Habibi, too. It's everywhere.
When used for a parent to a child, the word could be translated as sweetie or honey. In a more romantic context, beloved or my love might be more accurate. When used between friends or strangers, it can be represented as “my brother,” or “my friend” or even "bro" or "dude."
“Hi habibi I miss you I love you I need you???”
Asima Hassim Saluang Facebook, February, 2017
“My mom: habibi can you throw the trash out?”
@WaladShami, March, 2017
“Habibti, ta'lli– come to our house for lunch this afternoon.”
Louisa B. Waugh, Meet Me in Gaza: Uncommon Stories of Life inside the Strip, June, 2013