You simply cannot communicate with Spanish speakers without using terms of endearment in Spanish.
If you’ve been learning Spanish for a little while, you’ve probably noticed that Spanish speakers love their terms of endearment. Spanish and Latin American cultures tend to be much warmer than those that speak Germanic languages, so this may come as a bit of a culture shock to you if you’re a native English speaker.
Terms of endearment are so important, in fact, that not using one can be considered rude in certain contexts. Learning a language also involves understanding the cultural sensitivities as well as norms and traditions, so this vocabulary list will give you many insights into Spanish speaking cultures.
And the best part? Affectionate words in Spanish are extremely customizable. In fact, we’ll teach you a couple of ways to turn any Spanish word into a term of endearment at the end of this blog.
Ready to get started? ¡Vamos, mis amores!
Terms of endearment in Spanish
Learning the terms of affection and fondness will take some practice, but you can master them in no time with enough perseverance. Just make sure you know when and with whom to use each term and you’ll be on your way to native fluency!
We’ll include some context for each term of endearment so you don’t have to worry about making a faux-pas. The last thing you want is to call your real mom your mamacita or something that would seem off-putting!
General terms of endearment
Spanish speaking cultures tend to be very indirect. That is, instead of showing their affection directly, they will show their love and affection through roundabout ways.
One of the most common ways to show love in Spanish is by referring to someone with an adjective. Things like “hey beautiful” or “hi cutie” can sound a little corny in English, but in Spanish, they’re totally acceptable ways to refer to a close friend or a romantic interest without telling them directly that you like them (romantically or not).
Terms of endearment in Spanish for boyfriend, girlfriend and romantic interests
Many people choose to learn Spanish in order to communicate with their partner. Others choose to learn Spanish so they can live in Spanish speaking countries. And if you’re single and move to a Spanish speaking country, you’ll very likely want to mingle!
Below, we’ll show you a few dozen cute names you can call your significant other, a person you’re seeing, or even someone you’re trying to woo. Many of these are terms of affection in Spanish for boyfriend or girlfriend, whereas others are only appropriate for casual encounters, so save the drama and make sure you read the context column!
|Love||Amor||aˈmoɾ||ah-more||Very close friends, family or lover|
|Little love||Amorcito||amoɾˈsito||ah-more-see-toe||Very close friends, family or lover|
|Daddy||Papi||ˈpapi||pah-pee||Romantic unless used with your literal dad or a child|
|Mommy||Mami||ˈmami||mah-me||Romantic unless used with your literal mom or a child|
|Dear||Querido/querida||kɛˈɾiðo/kɛˈɾiða||kay-ree-doh/kay-ree-dah||Warm and casual|
|Baby||Bebé||beˈβe||beh-beh||Can be used romantically and platonically|
|King||Rey||ˈrei̯||ray||Can be used with a (male) romantic partner or with boys|
|Queen||Reina||ˈrei̯na||ray-nah||Can be used with a (female) romantic partner or with girls|
|Mommy||Mamacita||mamaˈsita||mah-mah-see-tah||Romantic only, may be a bit vulgar|
|Fat||Gordo/gorda||ˈɡoɾðo/ˈɡoɾða||gore-doh/gore-dah||Cutesy way to call your partner (even if not fat)|
|Skinny||Flaco/flaca||ˈflako/ˈflaka||flah-coh/flah-cah||Cutesy way to call your partner (even if not skinny)|
|Curly hair||Ricitos||riˈsitos||ree-see-toes||Only applicable for someone with curly hair|
|Tiny||Pichurri||piˈʧuri||pee-choo-ree||Mostly used in Spain|
|My life||Vida mía||ˈbiða ˈmia||vee-da me-ah||Romantic or platonic with very close friends/family|
|Biscuit||Bizcocho||bisˈkoʧo||bees-coh-cho||Romantic, may have sexual connotations|
|Nymph||Ninfa||ˈnĩmfa||neen-fah||Romantic, may have sexual connotations|
|My tiger||Mi tigre||mi ˈtiɣɾe||me tee-gray||Used romantically for men only|
|My light||Mi luz||mi ˈlus||me looz||Romantic or platonic with very close friends/family|
|My other half||Mi media naranja||mi ˈmeðja naˈɾãnxa||me meh-dee-ah nah-rahn-ha||Exclusively romantic|
|My soul||Mi alma||mj ˈalma||me all-mah||Romantic or platonic with very close friends/family|
|Little bear||Osito||oˈsito||oh-see-toe||Casual, used for men|
|Little cake||Pastelito||pasteˈlito||pass-tay-lee-toh||Romantic unless used with children|
|Little eyes||Ojitos||oˈxitos||oh-he-toes||Romantic, used for someone with striking eyes|
|Melon heart||Corazón de melón||koɾaˈsõn de meˈlõn||coh-rah-son deh meh-lon||Exclusively romantic|
Terms of endearment in Spanish for family
Just as in English, you can very well refer to your family by their names in relation to you. However, what fun is there in that? Family is extremely important in Spanish speaking countries, so calling your family by their proper name may come across as cold and distant.
Instead, use some of these affectionate terms to sound like a true Spanish native speaker and nurture your relationships with your family!
|Brother/sister||Manito/manita||maˈnito/maˈnita||mah-knee-toe/mah-knee-tah||For siblings, abbreviation of hermanito|
|Sister-in-law||Cuñis||ˈkuɲis||coo-nys||Used for sister-in-law, abbreviation of cuñada|
|Little bunny||Conejito/conejita||koneˈxito/koneˈxita||coh-nay-he-toe/coh-nay-he-tah||Used for kids, grandkids|
|Grandma||Abue||ˈaβwe||ah-boo-eh||Used for grandma or grandpa|
|My sun||Mi sol||mi ˈsol||me sol||Used for kids, grandkids|
|My little child||Mijito/Mijita||miˈxito/miˈxita||me-he-toe/me-he-tah||Used for kids, grandkids|
Terms of endearment in Spanish for friends
If you’ve just arrived in a Spanish speaking country, you may be surprised to find out just how many different Spanish terms of endearment for friends there are. The quintessential amigo will only get you so far, so make sure to learn a few more terms of affection in Spanish for friends to switch it up!
Many of these are not just reserved for friends, and even strangers could use some of these with you on the street. This is because, in many Spanish speaking countries, the standard rule is to treat everyone as if they were your friends. So don’t be surprised if a complete stranger calls you one of these!
|Dude||Wey||ˈwei̯||way||Most common in Mexico, can be gender neutral with close friends|
|Friend||Parce||ˈpaɾse||par-say||Most common in Northern South America|
|Little friend||Parcerito||paɾsɛˈɾito||par-say-re-toe||Most common in Northern South America|
|Bro||Bro||ˈbɾo||bro||Pronounced the same as English|
|Friend||Compa||ˈkõmpa||come-pah||Used for friends|
|Cousin||Primo/prima||ˈpɾimo/ˈpɾima||pre-mo/pre-ma||Used for close friends|
|Bro||Mano/mana||ˈmano/ˈmana||mah-no/mah-nah||Used for close friends|
|Twin||Cuate/cuata||ˈkwate/ˈkwata||coo-ah-teh/coo-ah-tah||Used for close friends|
|Brother||Carnal/carnala||kaɾˈnal kaɾˈnala||car-nal/car-nah-lah||Used for close friends|
|Guy/girl||Muchacho/muchacha||muˈʧaʧo muˈʧaʧa||moo-cha-cho/moo-cha-cha||Used for strangers|
|Dude||Ese||ˈese||eh-seh||Used mostly by Chicanos in the United States|
|Friend||Pana||ˈpana||pah-nah||Used for friends|
|Crazy||Loco/loca||ˈloko/ˈloka||loh-coh/loh-cah||Used for close friends|
|Countryman||Paisa||ˈpai̯sa||pah-e-sah||Used for friends, also to refer to people from your same country|
|Uncle||Tío||ˈtio||tee-oh||Used the same as “dude” in Spain|
|Dude||Vato||ˈbato||vah-toh||Used the same as “dude” in Mexico|
|Brother-in-law/sister-in-law||Cuñado/cuñada||kuˈɲaðo kuˈɲaða||coo-nya-do/coo-nya-dah||Used for very close friends, even if not related by law|
|Black||Negro/negra||ˈneɣɾo ˈneɣɾa||neh-gro/neh-grah||Used for people with darker skin|
|Chinese||Chino/china||ˈʧino ˈʧina||chee-no/chee-na||Used for people with small eyes, not necessarily Chinese|
|Bald||Pelón/pelona||peˈlõn peˈlona||peh-lon/peh-lo-nah||Used for bald people|
|Guy/girl||Chico/chica||ˈʧiko ˈʧika||chee-coh/chee-cah||Used for acquaintances|
|Great guy/great girl||Tipazo/tipaza||tiˈpaso tiˈpasa||tee-pah-so/tee-pah-sa||Used for people you consider to be amazing. Doesn’t have to be a close friend|
|Colleague||Colega||koˈleɣa||coh-leh-gah||Used for coworkers|
Terms of endearment in Spanish for children
Children are often the most common receivers of terms of endearment. Even their names are often modified with a diminutive to show warmth and friendliness towards them. Even if you’ve never met the child before, you can use these terms for children without issue.
There’s no context column in this section because all of these can be used with children. Yes, you can call a child mijo even if he is not your son! Just keep an eye out for gender distinctions with children, as they’ll surely correct you if you don’t use the correct gender!
|My son/my daughter||Mijo/mija||mixoˈmixa||me-ho/me-ha|
|My boy/girl||Mi niño/niña||mi niɲoˈniɲa||me knee-nyo/me knee-nya|
|My life||Mi vida||mi ˈβiða||me vee-dah|
|My ski||Mi cielo||mi ˈsjelo||me see-eh-lo|
How to use diminutives as terms of endearment in Spanish
One of the most popular ways to show endearment is through the use of diminutives. These can even be used on inanimate objects, so you can show endearment towards a thing just by turning the word into a diminutive!
This is one of the easiest ways to turn any word you’d like into a diminutive. If you have a special person in mind and want to call them by something other than the words outlined above, you can easily do so by turning any word into a diminutive.
How to turn a word into a diminutive in Spanish
Turning Spanish words into diminutives is incredibly easy. All you need to do is add a suffix to your Spanish word to turn it into an affectionate diminutive.
All diminutives end in one of the following:
To know which one to use, simply take a look at the following table:
|Words that end in||Turn into diminutive||Examples|
|A O||Remove the last vowel and replace with -ito or -ita|
|E N R||Add -cito or -cito at the end|
|All other consonants||Add -ito or -ita at the end|
Of course, there are some exceptions (as is usually the case with Spanish!), but the table above should help you get started with turning regular nouns into diminutives! Now you can turn almost any word into a term of endearment in Spanish by turning it into a diminutive.
How to use possessive pronouns as terms of endearment in Spanish
Another common way to show warmth and appreciation is to use a possessive pronoun (mi, tu, nuestro). If you’re not familiar with Spanish pronouns, feel free to check out our exhaustive guide on the topic before you keep scrolling!
Using possessive pronouns before your term of endearment can be a great way to show closeness to someone (not necessarily possession!). This can work with most nouns and virtually all the terms of endearment in this blog. Here are some examples:
- Mi vida
- Mi rey
- Mi cielo
- Mi corazón
- Mi amigo
You can even turn people’s names into terms of endearment by adding a mi in front of their name! So instead of saying “Hola, George” you can say “Hola, mi George” to show warmth and appreciation!
Terms of endearment in Spanish FAQs
Why do Latinos nickname everyone?
Most Latin American countries are very warm. As such, words of endearment are not only common, but almost expected. You can even use words of endearment when talking to strangers or people you just met.
Another reason why words of affection and fondness are so common is that you can turn almost any word into a term of endearment in Spanish. Just make it a diminutive or use a possessive pronoun to turn your favorite noun into a term of endearment!
What is ese in Spanish?
Ese is a term of endearment used mostly by Chicanos in the United States to refer to friends or acquaintances. It is used very similarly to English words like “dude” or “bro” or even “homie.”
The word ese literally means “that one,” so by calling someone ese you’re essentially calling them the one!
How do you say bae in Spanish?
While there is no direct translation of bae in Spanish, there are many different terms of endearment that can fit the bill just as well! Next time you want to use a cutesy term of endearment for your bae in Spanish, try using one of the following words:
- Mi amor
- Mi vida
¡Adiós, mis amores!
If you’ve made it to the end of this blog, you’re now more than ready to strengthen your relationships with your Spanish speaking friends, family, and even romantic interests!
If you’re a native English speaker, introducing these words of endearment into your daily life might take a little bit of getting used to. Just remember that terms of endearment are a part of everyday life for most Spanish speakers, so don’t be shy in using them!
After all, getting out of your comfort zone is the best way to learn a new language. Whether you’re still a beginner at Spanish or are working your way to intermediate Spanish, you’re gonna have to learn to adjust your personality somewhat when you speak a different language.
That’s why Charlamagne, the former Holy Roman Emperor who reigned in the 9th century, said, “To have another language is to possess a second soul.” And who doesn’t need a little extra soul in their life?
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