When it comes to terms of endearment (les termes affectueux), the French are extremely creative! In today’s lesson we’ll have a look at a list of fun pet names that goes far beyond the usual ma chérie and mon amour. Put on your seatbelt! This is a really fun list!
les termes affectueux
terms of endearment
French Terms of Endearment
When looking at these terms of endearment, you’ll see the usage of the possessive adjectives mon and ma, which mean “my”.
THE RULE IS THIS: With the exception of mon chéri/ma cherie, mon beau/ma belle and mon poulet, ma poule on this list, the mon or ma corresponds with the gender of the noun of the term of endearment and NOT the gender of a) The speaker or b) The person to whom it’s being directed.
Thus, a man could call his female companion, mon amour (my love) even though she’s a woman.
Usage of petit and petite
For all of these pet names, the adjectives petit and petite can be inserted between the mon/ma and the noun. For example, mon petit chou (my little cabbage) or ma petite biche (my little deer).
List of French pet names
Mon chéri and ma chérie are probably the most commonly used French terms of endearment. The word chéri is related to the adjective cher, which translates to “dear”.
mon chéri / ma chérie
The term mon amour (my love) probably ties with mon chéri/ma chérie as the most well known French pet name. As stated above, mon amour can be directed at a man or a woman. Mon amour is the title of a song by Belgian singer Stromae, which we covered in this post.
This next term, mon beau/ma belle changes in gender based on the person to whom it’s being directed. Hence, a man would call his female partner ma belle and a woman would call her male partner mon beau. Of course a man could call his male partner mon beau and a female could call her female partner ma belle.
mon beau, ma belle
This is where French terms of endearment become much more fun and creative than their English counterparts. Ma puce translates to “my flea”. Again, this could be directed towards a man or woman. The ma is agreeing with feminine gender of the noun puce.
In French, the word ange (angel) is masculine. Hence, say mon ange (my angel) regardless of whether you’re speaking to a man or a woman.
This next term of endearment is ma biche, which translates to “my deer” as in the animal.
For this next term, cocotte is a word used by children to mean “chicken” or “hen”.
For this next term, canard means duck. Again, while the next several terms of endearment start with mon because they’re masculine nouns, they can also be directed towards women.
my pussycat, kitty cat
The word cœur means “heart”, which we covered in this lesson.
mon poulet, ma poule
Et voilà ! Now you’re an expert in French terms of endearment! Now check our our related lesson covering je t’aime (I love you).