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Often times when we're overwhelmingly beclouded with love and want to put up a petting habit, these words would be a way to show it.

Honey, Darling, Sweetie, Mine, Sweetheart, etc

I was wondering whether they are old fashioned, as I hear it from almost every couple. Are there newer or more recent terms I could use?

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    That everybody uses them demonstrates that they are not perceived as 'old-fashioned'. Apr 30, 2014 at 11:47
  • Most English words are "old-fashioned" in the sense that they've been around for hundreds of years. Some words are old-fashioned in the sense that people rarely use them anymore, like "thou" and "forsooth", but I don't think these words are in that category.
    – Jay
    Apr 30, 2014 at 13:18
  • Just needed a newer version of pet names that would replace these ones as i just want to uniquely address my better half and this ones seem proverbial and old.
    – user5678
    Apr 30, 2014 at 13:26
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    They're still used (as you yourself note), but they're seen differently in different contexts and locales and by different people.
    – user230
    Apr 30, 2014 at 15:20
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    My dad usually called my mom "honey". I call my girlfriend "sweetheart". But I think it's pretty much a personal choice.
    – BobRodes
    Apr 30, 2014 at 21:32

3 Answers 3

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The words you're talking about are known generally as terms of endearment.

One of the points of a term of endearment is that it's well-established. If you call someone "dear," you're addressing them while giving a mild compliment. So:

How was your day, dear?

is pretty much a slightly complimentary way of asking:

How was your day?

The problem with inventing new terms of endearment is that they are not well-established, and so people will not hear them in the same way; they will hear the literal meaning of whatever term you use. So if you say:

How was your day, lovely-bottom?

the person you're talking to will hear:

How was your day? By the way, I'm thinking about your posterior, and I find it erotically pleasing.

Which is a very different idea to convey.

In summary: in English, straying outside of the well-established round of terms of endearment will make you seem creepy. In fact, even the established ones will come off as creepy in many situations; for example, when you use them to address strangers.

My name's Mike. What's your name, sexy?

is unlikely to make a good impression.

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The answer provided by chapka is a good start. Yet another term for these names are pet names. From NOAD:

pet name (n.) a name that is used instead of someone's usual first name to express fondness or familiarity.

I agree with chapka's assertion: when using such names to address people you don't know very well, it's best to stick to the well-known ones. Even then, however, some people get a little uncomfortable being called hun (short for "honey") by their waitress. Some regional variations apply as well – in some parts of the U.S. at least, this practice is much more commonplace, and therefore more widely accepted.

Among couples who have been together for a long time, though (including married couples), you're only limited by your imagination – and by your partner's tolerance for unusual nicknames. I once visited a gentleman's house, and he called his wife "loveboat" at least six times during the half-hour we were there. My brother and I found it very unusual.

I was also at a weekend get-together with my co-workers once. As people were beginning to leave, one fellow's wife stood up and asked him, "Are you ready to go, pumpkin?" She meant it affectionately, but he still got some good-natured teasing for a week.

Out of the five you've listed – Honey, Darling, Sweetie, Mine, Sweetheart – here's my opinion (Midwestern U.S.):

  • Honey - still quite common and widely-used
  • Darling - not as prominent, sounds somewhat regional
  • Mine - outside of BE MINE on Valentine's candy, I don't generally hear this being used as a term of endearment
  • Sweetie, Sweetheart - Is one is a shortened version of the other? I'm not sure. But these still seem to be in use, although they do have a somewhat old-fashioned feel to them, at least in my opinion.

Here's one that you've left off your list; I would say that it's holding its own in the 2010s:

  • Babe, Baby

Lastly, another reason you want to be careful using these names is that they can be interpreted as being derogatory, insulting, belittling, or sexist. If I think someone is giving out bad advice, and I want to express my disdain with a bit of sarcasm, I might say:

Oh, yeah, honey, that's a great idea!

In that case, the word "honey" is not being used to express fondness, but disparagement or belittlement.

Your comment indicates that you're looking for a "newer version" to replace these more tried ones, so that you can uniquely address your better half. I'd say your best bet is to come up with your own – but be careful about who is within earshot when you use it.

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Richard Bach's autobiographical The Bridge Across Forever: A Love Story reveals that he and Leslie Parrish called each other "wookie", firmly dating the work to after May 25, 1977.

Edited to Add: Fine, have the source. Starting page 114 pb edition:

The movie we saw that night was one we were to watch eleven times before the end of the year. In that film was a large furry blue-eyed creature from another planet, copilot of a battered spaceship. The creature was called a wookie. We loved him as though we were two wookies ourselves, with our own idol on-screen. The next time I flew to Los Angeles, Leslie met me at the airport. When I was down from the cockpit she handed me a box, ribbon and bow tied around.

"I know you hate presents," she said, "so I got you one." "I never give you presents," I gruffed pleasantly. "That's my present to you: I never give you presents. Why. . . ?" "Open it," she said.

"OK, this one time. I'll open it, but . . ." "Open it," she said impatiently. The present was a latex-and-creature-fur wookie-mask, a pullover hat-to-the-neck complete with eye-holes and partly bared teeth-a perfect likeness of our motion-picture hero. "Leslie. . . !" I said. I loved it.

"Now you can tickle all your girlfriends with your soft furry face. Put it on."

"Right here at the airport in public you want me to. . . ?" "Oh, put it on! For me. Put it on." She charmed the ice out of me. I put on the mask, to please her, gave her a wookie-roar or two, and she laughed till she cried. Behind the mask I laughed too, and thought how much I cared for her.

"Come on, wookie," she said, brushing tears, impulsively taking my hand.

They then spend the rest of the book referring to each other as "wookie". Or occasionally "wook" for short.

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  • Funny conclusion, but there's always a possibility that Lucas and Bach were friends; Lucas might have overheard Parrish, and thought, “That's a great name! I'll have to remember that...” :^) (Wikipedia notes that Parrish and Bach met during the filming of JLS, which was released in '73.)
    – J.R.
    May 1, 2014 at 9:30
  • You actually made me look it up. Too long to fit here, so I added to the answer. May 1, 2014 at 17:49
  • I always believed your hypothesis was more plausible than mine. :^) Thanks for posting the passage anyhow. Interesting information.
    – J.R.
    May 1, 2014 at 21:24

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