A Guide to British Terms of Endearment


British terms of endearment – photo by monkeymyshkin

If you travel around Britain and talk to locals, you may be blessed with some regional terms of endearment. Although we mean well, some may cause offence to the uninitiated….

Brits may have a reputation for being a bit aloof and overly polite, but we’re actually quite friendly. Foreign visitors, however, may misread a friendly term of endearment or two in their travels around the country. The stuff we call you may sound weird but we generally don’t mean any harm.

So, there are universal words you won’t take offence to like mate, love and dear/dearie because they obviously give a friendly beginning or end to a sentence. Others may confuse you or make you feel insulted. Best to read this first to get the skinny on what we mean before you get snippy.

  • Hinny and pet – you’ll hear these two most often in the north-east of England. Although a hinny is technically the offspring of a male horse and a female donkey, in this context it is a variation of honey.
  • Me duck and duck – these are Midlands terms and should be viewed in the same way as if someone was calling you dear or love.
  • My lover – this south-western phrase should not be taken at face value. You aren’t, nor are you expected to be, in a close relationship with whoever calls you this.
  • Hen – women in Scotland are often addressed as hen. It doesn’t mean you are fowl.
  • Doll – Scottish men often use this when they are talking to their ladies (or any ladies).
  • Chuck – most often heard on TV in Coronation Street, you’ll also hear this term in the Manchester region.
  • Kidder – Liverpudlians use this as an alternative to mate.
  • Babes – this one belongs to Essex.
  • Boyo – if you’re a bloke, you may hear this in Wales. You may not hear a Welsh person say it but some English people have been known to use it to try and get down with the locals (don’t try it; it won’t work).
  • Bab – likely to be based on baby, you may be happy to hear this in the Midlands. If you hear it in Yorkshire it might be worth not smiling back sweetly as it can be used as slang for poo.
  • Cocker – in some parts of northern England, this can be used as a subsitute for mate. In other areas it is just rude. You’ll have to use the sentence context to decide.

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Posted in Essential Info for Visitors, Just Plain Bizarre..., Language & Humour

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