I am wondering if addressing a person as ''Dear'' sounds casual, friendly or formal. For example, ''Thanks dear'' Is it used in business letters nowadays or is it outdated? I hear "dear" used a lot by non-natives.
Usage of "dear" in speaking to address a person is an informal way to express your good feelings toward that person:
You use dear in expressions such as 'my dear fellow', 'dear girl', or 'my dear Richard' when you are addressing someone whom you know and are fond of.
Note that the expression may be used sarcastically:
You can also use expressions like this in a rude way to indicate that you think you are superior to the person you are addressing.
- Of course, Toby, my dear fellow, of course.
- Take as long as you like, dear boy.
In writing dear is often used to begin a letter, both in a formal and informal contexts:
Dear is written at the beginning of a letter, followed by the name or title of the person you are writing to.
- Dear Peter, I have been thinking about you so much during the past few days.
In British English, you begin formal letters with 'Dear Sir' or 'Dear Madam'. In American English, you begin them with 'Sir' or 'Madam'. [written]
- 'Dear sir,' she began.
In most languages we have this "dear" whether to drag people's attention for asking a question, or addressing someone in our thank you responses and such like. It all depends on the situation and context. how would you react or take it if you hear that in BrE English a shopkeeper may greet a lady with "love", [ How can I help you love?]. There it goes another example of using the word in its context, register and region which bears an acceptable and fashionable meaning; so at the same time may not be suitable use in another place. And if one wants to translate them, they'd better give a popular equivalent in the target language.