We’re crazy about hypocorisms at the dictionary. That’s another word for pet name or nickname … you know, the kind of name you give your sweetie or bae.
But, why settle for commonplace pet names like honey, sweetie, and darling when you could woo your beloved with lesser-known noms d’amour that delight their intellects (whilst also confusing them slightly)?
For the knight-errant: Dulcinea
Would you joust the most treacherous of windmills to defend your beloved’s honor? Consider addressing your sweetie as dulcinea.
This is the name that Don Quixote bestowed on the object of his affections in Cervantes’s masterwork from 1605. The name is an embellishment of the Spanish word dulce meaning “sweet” and is used to mean “sweetheart” or “ladylove.”
For undefined lovers: Amoret
This wonderfully versatile term is like the Swiss army knife of the lexicon of love: amoret can refer to “a sweetheart, an amorous girl or woman, a love knot, a love song, or love glances.”
It’s the perfect word to test the relationship waters if you need a pet name that leaves things open to interpretation. The masculine equivalent of this term is amoretto, which has an additional sense of “a little cupid.” It’s also a delicious alcoholic liqueur.
For those unafraid of commitment: Turtledove
Known for forming strong, affectionate bonds with its mates, the turtledove has long been a symbol of love and devotion in literature. Which is why, in addition to referring to “a bird with a long, graduated tail and soft, cooing call,” the word turtledove can refer to “a sweetheart or beloved mate.”
James Joyce used turtledove as a verb (“Yea, turtledove her”) in Ulysses to mean “to show affection as a turtledove for its mate.”
For ironic significant others: Bully
These days, bully is what we’d call the school jerk who menaces and intimidates people. Not exactly something you want to be called on Valentine’s Day.
But when this term first entered English in the mid-1500s, it did so as a gender-neutral term for “sweetheart” or “darling.” It can be traced back to the Dutch boel, meaning “lover” and “brother.”
For veggie enthusiasts: Cabbage
In French, a popular pet name is mon petit chou, which translates to “my little cabbage.” Although this sense of the term emerges in the late 1700s, the word would later lose its luster, eventually coming to mean “a dull-witted or spiritless person.” Hopefully your beloved is not familiar with the latter sense.
For frontiersmen or frontierswomen: Huckleberry
In the mid-1800s, the word huckleberry began showing up in a range of expressions, often paired with the word persimmon, as in “huckleberry to your persimmon,” or “huckleberry over your persimmon.” Davy Crockett used this folksy combination to describe a challenging task before him: “But to do this, and write the warrants too, was at least a huckleberry over my persimmon.”
Shortly thereafter, the word huckleberry took on a sense of “sweetheart, friend, or partner.”
For the perfect plus one: Squire
This word first entered English as a term for a young man serving–and aspiring to be–a knight. Over the course of a few centuries, it picked up additional senses, including “a man who accompanies or escorts a woman,” and as a verb, “to escort (a woman) as to a dance or social gathering.”
The term comes from the Old French esquier meaning “shield carrier.”
For loves that burn bright and eternal: Inamorata
If the sight of your beloved inspires you to compose sonnets and gather wildflowers out of sheer uncontrollable passion, inamorata (or its masculine equivalent inamorato) might be the pet name for you. Coming from the Italian innamorare meaning “to fall in love,” this mellifluous term is for the romantics who are unafraid to wear their hearts on their sleeves.
Curious about more synonyms for your beloved? Drown yourself in pet name possibilities at Thesaurus.com.