try these old fashioned pet names on your partner
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16 Old-Fashioned Pet Names You Should Totally Start Using On Your Partner

“Hi, doll face.”

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Whether they make you smile or cringe, cutesy couple names are often part of a loving relationship. Although ‘babe’ is a great staple, 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 and old-fashioned terms of endearment for centuries.

Plus, the precious and sometimes embarrassing nicknames couples call one another could say some positive thing about your relationship overall. “Pet names are commonly used in relationships as a sign of connection and affection for partner(s),” Sarah Trance, MS, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Romper. “Pet names may signify the love and importance a person has to another. These names can be specific and unique to each relationship. Some may stem from an inside joke or others may be common terms of endearment that someone has learned from their family system. These names can often signify a unique, loving connection in partnership.”

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. That being said, it is important to keep in mind that not everyone will love them. “Remember, pet names, just like connection, can mean different things to different folx in a relationship,” Trance says. “The meaning that we attach to those names is what matters. What one person may like could be a turn-off to someone else. It's important to tune into your partner(s) to truly know if a pet name will enhance the connection between you.”

If you and your partner do love pet names, though, then there are a ton to choose from, including the classics. So, to help you find that perfect pet name, here are 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 that suits your own relationship.


Angel face

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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. 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.


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 (so you know the information is accurate). 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 SO "honey" in a sincere way is so charming and a little retro.


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 SO, 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. 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).



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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.” 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 1570s, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary. This might make it the most old-fashioned pet name on the list.



As much as we consider “bae” dated now, think about how old-fashioned calling your partner “my beloved” is. Seriously, though, it’s cute and should be brought back. “Beloved” even frequently appeared in the love letters between legendary poets and spouses Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning.



Another Shakespearean nickname, the term of endearment “ladybird” (aka what British people call ladybugs) comes from Romeo and Juliet. Although the term might seem gendered at first, remember that the name comes from a bugand those are all called ladybirds and ladybugs, regardless of gender!


Mon petit chou

Translation from French: “my little cabbage.” Dating back to 16th-century France, this nickname is the French equivalent of darling or sweetheart. Though it’s old, people in France still use it today, even if it’s a tad cheesy.

There’s something super romantic and nostalgic about picking from old-fashioned terms of endearment when it comes to pet names in a relationship. And when you use them, at least you’ll know they aged better than “boo” and “bae.”


Sarah Trance, M.S., licensed marriage and family therapist

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