Whether they make you smile or cringe, cutesy couple names are often part of a loving relationship. Although babe, bae, and boo are all great staples, why not take a look at past names too? The old-fashioned pet names for your partner are cute, cheesy, and sometimes a little bizarre. As it turns out, couples have been praising (and maybe slightly annoying) one another with these cutesy terms of endearment for centuries.
Plus, the precious and sometimes embarrassing nicknames that couples call one another could say some positive things about your relationship overall. “Using baby talk seems to be a way to strengthen an emotional bond between relationship partners, which is something you would want to do with a partner you want to commit to, but probably not with partners that you don’t wish to be attached to,” Amanda Gesselman, a postdoctoral research fellow at The Kinsey Institute, told Scientific American. If both you and your partner are open to the silliness that comes along with it, using pet names for one another can make your connection even stronger.
So to help you find that perfect pet name, here is a selection of couples’ nicknames from the past. Some are traditional and precious, whereas others are a bit more unusual. Read on to pick one suits your own partner and relationship.
1. Angel Face
This cute pet name sounds like something courting teens would have used in the ’40s or ’50s. Use it for your modern-day partner any time. To be extra cutesy, use the angel emoji as well the next time you text them.
Sure, it’s a regular name as well, but chuck also has a long history as a term of endearment. Used since Shakespeare’s time, the nickname chuck means “my love,” and it’s derived from the sound of a chicken clucking, according to Dictionary. Drop it on your loved one out of nowhere, and they might think you’ve forgotten their name.
This is about as old-school as a pet name can get. In fact, the term darling dates back to at least the 1590s, when it already meant “very dear, particularly beloved,” according to the Online Etymology Dictionary. Using this word is a throwback to the ’90s, and in this case, that’s the 1590s.
4. Doll Face
This is one of those nicknames that sound so delightfully old-fashioned. There was even a 1945 film by the name of Doll Face, about the life of a burlesque performer. Add this one to your list of adorable names for your partner.
Typically viewed as peaceful, gentle birds, doves are also a long-standing symbol of commitment between partners. Like many birds, doves can mate for life, according to the American Dove Association. Now it makes sense why there were “two turtle doves” in the old holiday song.
For whatever reason, nicknames based on birds seem to have some serious staying power. Along these lines, duck is another old-fashioned pet name for your partner. Particularly in the UK, duck is a cute term of endearment, according to the British Council. Call your partner “duck” or “duckie” and see how they respond.
There’s no shortage of pet names based on sweet treats. Honey is no exception. Calling your S.O. “honey” in a sincere way is so charming and a little retro.
8. Gentleman Caller
You might recognize this one from the play “The Glass Menagerie,” where potential suitors for Laura are referred to as “gentleman callers” by her mother Amanda, a former debutante. It’s a distinctly old-fashioned term. To update it to your relationship, feel free to use “gentlewoman caller” or just “gentle caller”.
Adorable animals are another constant source of pet names. Consider kitten as a nickname for your S.O., if this kind of thing is your style. It’s eternally cute.
It’s another name that goes back to at least the time of Shakespeare. Lambkin is used as a pet name in both Henry IV and Henry V plays, according to Dictionary. Try it out on your partner the next time they’re being as sweet as a little lamb.
If cute, tiny animals are frequently used as inspiration for pet names, then this word takes the idea to its extreme. Meaning “a little one, a mite,” miting is an obsolete term of endearment, according to Your Dictionary. Bring it back and call your loved one a mite (with the best intentions, of course).
This is such a cute term, I’m surprised it isn’t more popular. Take it to the next level by borrowing from the German term knuddelmaus, or “cuddle mouse,” as noted in Mental Floss. Calling your partner “my little mouse” or “my cuddle mouse” is some next-level adorableness.
The classic song “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” was first published in 1910, but this term of endearment is way older than that. In fact, the term “sweetheart” as a pet name dates back to at least the year 1290, according to The New Republic. This might make it the most old-fashioned pet name on the list.
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