What are some Chinese words that I can use to call either my spouse or a love interest?

In English we have names like sweety, sweetheart, lovely, honey etc.

What are some common equivalents that are used in China today? I'm looking for words that are modern and I would not look that silly if someone heard me saying them or if I were type them online.

It would be if you could classify the terms to assist with learning:

  • Which ones are for male/female
  • Which ones are better for a spouse or for a single person
  • Which ones should be used with care e.g In English you wouldn't just say "Hey sexy lady" to anyone.
  • Just a personal thought: I find all Chinese terms of endearment sound old fashioned. I wonder if the younger Chinese in China are actually using English instead :)
    – 杨以轩
    Commented Oct 11, 2012 at 4:27
  • @QuestionOverflow - I don't use any Chinese social media sites so not sure if there has been anything invented in the past few years.
    – going
    Commented Oct 11, 2012 at 4:28
  • Yes, I am curious to find out too :)
    – 杨以轩
    Commented Oct 11, 2012 at 4:30
  • 1
    I think @QuestionOverflow is right. Most of Chinese terms of endearment sound old fashioned. They are usually translated from English. The younger generation usually give special nickname, which will be used exclusively by him/herself, to partner or close friends to express the special relationship.
    – nfang
    Commented Oct 11, 2012 at 22:41

1 Answer 1


I guess you have known the "old fashioned" terms like 宝贝(baby), 亲爱的/亲亲(darling), 心肝(heart and liver), 乖乖(well-behaved) etc. Here's some other terms:

  1. 孩子他爸,孩子他妈(Father/Mother of our children). Used for spouses who have children.
  2. Some words for depreciating one's lover literally. 笨蛋、傻瓜、呆子、笨笨⋯⋯(fool,idiot). I guess it means love make a person blind and fool.
  3. Retro style words. 娘子/夫人(wife)、丫头(maid servant) for female, 相公/官人(husband)、老爷(master) for male.
  4. Some creature names. The most usual one is 小猪(piggy). Others like 小狗(doggie)、大脸猫(kitty with a big face, from a cartoon)、小猫(kitty) etc. Most of them are some cute animals. If one's bf is a muscle man, 大熊(bear) is also OK.
  5. Reiterative diction. Usually for the last character of one's name. For example, if the name is 于墨(yu mo), we can call him/her 墨墨. And we often pronounce the second char in light tone(轻声).
  6. 妹子(younger sister). This is popular in recent years.
  7. 老婆/媳妇(wife)、老公(husband) is not only used for spouse. Even teen lovers could address each other like this (and of course informal).
  8. Like nfang said, most couples use their own terms.
  • 1
    +1 for categorization. Worth noting some of them are only used as pronouns, some are only used as vocatives, some can be used in both ways.
    – NS.X.
    Commented Oct 12, 2012 at 18:52
  • 甜心 for Sweetheart? Commented Oct 13, 2012 at 12:25
  • @MikeManilone Yes, this literal translation also works. But it seems few people use this one. Usually in a dubbed foreign movie.
    – halfelf
    Commented Oct 13, 2012 at 14:18

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