Terms of Endearment

Janet Coburn
3 min readMay 21, 2023

“What’s for dinner, Ler?”

“I don’t know, Doodle. See what’s in the freezer.”

Conversations like those are what keep our marriage strong.

Back when my husband and I were dating, we had a reputation for inspiring a need for insulin in everyone around us. To say we were sickening would be an understatement. We addressed each other with a plethora of cutesie names and endearments. I don’t remember if we ever actually said “kissy-lamb,” but you get the idea. “Sugar,” “Sweetheart,” “Darling,” and other standards were definitely within our repertoire.

Since we’ve been married, not so much. I suppose it’s because no one can keep up that level of goo and drivel for too long. Oh, we still call each other by affectionate names, but they’re more likely to be odd ones.

First, I must admit that, aside from that dating phase, I never had a lot of experience with terms of endearment. My father’s favorite thing to call my mother was “Old Squaw,” which would now be objectionable for any number of reasons. My mother never objected to it, though, so I don’t see why anyone else should get a vote.

Dan and I started out along the same lines. One of his favorite names for me was “Old Boot.” (No, I have no idea of how that started. I suppose it sort of made some kind of sense at the time. And I didn’t mind, so again with the no one else getting a vote. But I digress.)

Over time, our endearments got even stranger. We took to calling each other “Doodle,” “Cake,” “Bug,” and “Ler” (no, I have no idea what that means either). Dan calls me “Rabbit,” “Bunny,” and sometimes “Rabbi.” (“Where’s the Torah, Rabbi?” he’ll say. We also have a scrap of dialogue that goes like this: “Friend.” “Thing.” “Friendly Thing.” And yes, I sometimes do say, “Thank you, Thing.” But I digress. Again.)

We mostly skip old standards like “Honey,” except in compounds: “Honey-Lover,” or “My Own Sweet Honey-Lover,” which is still pretty icky, now that I think about it.

Recently, we tried out “Bae” and “Boo.” (I’m Bae. He’s Boo.) But I’m not sure it will ever really catch on with us. It must be out of date anyway, now that we’re saying it. Along those lines, one endearment I don’t like is “Baby.” It raises my hackles. I’m not a baby. Of course, it’s different when combined with something else — “Baby-Bunny,” “Baby-Cake,” “Baby-Bug.” Don’t ask me why. I couldn’t tell you.

The truth is, I’m really bad at terms of endearment, other than the occasional “Honey” and the silly ones. I prefer to call Dan “Dan.” (And for some reason, he can call me “Jannie,” but I can’t call him “Danny.” I think he’s afraid I’ll burst into a chorus of “Oh, Danny Boy,” although I sing like a bird. An off-key bird. I do, however, occasionally call him “Fuzzer-Bear.” But I digress yet again.)

Of course, we do know people that stick with the sticky, as it were. One couple of our acquaintance call each other “Wifey” and “Hubby,” though they’ve been married for quite a number of years.

Just don’t get me started on the terms of endearment we have for our cats. Toto-boo-boo-baby (Toby) is a bit icky even for me, though I have been heard to say it. Toby doesn’t mind, and I don’t see why anyone else gets a vote.



Janet Coburn

Author of Bipolar Me and Bipolar Us, Janet Coburn is a writer, editor, and blogger at butidigress.blog and bipolarme.blog.