Strange Words of Endearment Used Around the World

Every country has their own list of words of endearment that they use for adults and children alike. For us English speakers they’re darling, honey or sweetheart while the French stick to mon cherie, among others. In some countries, the way people refer to each other affectionately is a bit odd, to say the least. Oftentimes it’s like a sort of inside joke among the citizens. The bottom line is, there are many strange words of endearment around the world that you may have never heard of. Here are five pet names that are strange to us but make perfect sense to the people who use them.

1. Mijn Poepie: Dutch

Unlike the speakers of romance languages, who are very flowery in their speech, the Dutch can be described as the complete opposite with their extremely blunt communication. This goes for their pet names as well, like the nickname “mijn poepie” which literally translates to my little number two – if you catch our drift.  It can be used for both romantic and platonic relationships and between adults and children. If you’re not a fan of someone calling you that, then perhaps my little fart or “scheetje” would be a slightly better substitute.

2. Moosh Bokhoradet: Persian

You know how in English we say “you’re so cute I could eat you up” to adorable children, well the Persian version of “moosh bokhoradet” which means “a mouse should eat you.” Of course, the phrase shouldn’t be taken literally, but it means something along the lines of “so small that a mouse could swallow you whole.” Other similar Persian phrases include “jeegareto bokhoram” or “I want to eat your liver” and “ghorbanat beram” which means “may I be sacrificed for you.” Remember, don’t take it literally!

3. Mausezahnchen: German

Germans, like their Dutch neighbors, are very no-nonsense in their everyday speech and they love to tease their loved ones. “Mausezahnchen” or “rodent’s mouth” is a common phrase they use. Most non-German folks would scrunch up their faces in confusion until the Germans explain that it’s their way of saying “cute as a mouse.” If your face is still twisted in disapproval, then perhaps you would find “Igelschnauzchen” or “little hedgehog snout” a bit more flattering. 

4. Ben Dan: Chinese

“Ben dan” which means “dumb egg,” is a term Chinese women playfully use towards the husbands and boyfriends. Its origin can be traced back to schoolyard bullies in China and it’s the equivalent of calling something stupid or silly. They’d often say things like huai dan (naughty egg), wan dan (finished egg) as a naughty word and hun dan (confused egg) meaning bastard. But when a wife calls her husband “ben dan,” she usually means it to be silly or to imply in a playful way that he is in trouble.

5. Ywn Ghzal: Arabic

Ywn Ghzal is an Arabic term usually used by men to woo a woman they find themselves attracted to, especially if the feeling is only one-sided. The phrase dates back to the Umayyad Arab dynasty in Medina, Arabia, where the fifth caliph or leader caught a gazelle while out hunting one day. It is said that the animal’s eyes were so mesmerizing that it reminded him of his own beloved’s eyes and he eventually let it go. So using that phrase on a woman is a way of implying that she has the hypnotic gaze of a gazelle.


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