In English, we often use pet names and specialty words to express affection toward people we love. French terms of endearment are no different, relying on phrases involving animals, nature, and even food to express love and appreciation.
You might be familiar with phrases like mon amour – and that’s a great place to start. But do you know which terms of endearment are reserved for males? How about female terms of endearment? Is there a difference between words used for children, and phrases used in romantic relationships?
Discover the answer to all of your questions with this comprehensive roundup of French endearment terms.
Common French Terms of Endearment
Some of these terms may be news, but others are likely new. Learn these common terms of endearment so you can say and understanding expressions of affection.
The most well-known French endearment term, meaning my love.
Ma belle / ma beauté
My beautiful. Think: Michelle my belle.
Ma chéri / mon chéri
This means my darling or my sweetheart. Say ma chérie when speaking to a female, and mon chérie when speaking to a male.
This one is easy. It means my baby, and it can be said to pretty much anyone (or anything) you care for.
Mon chou / ChouChou
Set aside the fact that this term means my cabbage, and you’ll come to find that it’s actually pretty cute. Plus, it technically refers to a chou à la crème, which is a sweet and yummy puff pastry.
There are many ways you can alter this term to express endearment more uniquely. For example, you might say:
Mon petit chou
Say mon petit chou to men and young boys to mean my little cabbage.
Mon choupinou / mon chouchou
Two more ways to express the same phrase in an even more cutesy and endearing way.
This is the female-only version of my cabbage.
ma choupinette / ma chouchoutte
Additional ways to call your lady friend a cute little cabbage.
In English, its normal to refer to a friend or lady lover as doll. Ma poupée is how you’d express this saying in French. Say Ma Poupette to further enhance the cuteness of this phrase.
The French are known for loving their gems and adornment. So, it’s no surprise that they say mon bijou, or my jewelry, as a loving term.
My heart, or my sweetheart.
Translating to my life, this is a common way for parents to refer to their children.
Similar to ma vie, Mon souffle means my breath – a person that you simply can’t live without.
We often say my better half to refer to best friends and significant others. Ma moitié means the same thing, translating literally to my other half.
This endearment term is equivalent to saying my treasure. It means the same as saying my precious in English.
Say mon ange to express my angel to a loved one.
A simple phrase with a great deal of meaning. Mon bonheur translates to my happiness.
Although this term technically translates to my fat one, it’s a positive slang term for a male friend. In English, it’s similar to saying my dude or bro.
Mon petit monstre
Similar to English, a mother might say this endearingly to or about her son to mean my little monster.
Romantic Terms of Endearment
Many terms of endearment can be applied to anyone you love, but this list is reserved for boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives and other romantic relationships.
Doudou literally means my cuddly thing in English, but it conveys endearment similarly to a term like pookie. Use it as a cute, sweet way to refer to a loved one.
L’amour de ma vie
How you’d express strong affection for someone by calling them the love of your life.
Ma raison d’être / Ma raison de vivre
Want to voice a deep passion for your significant other? Here’s how you’d say that he or she is your reason for being or reason for living.
Ma tigresse / mon tigre
Ma tigresse is an especially kind way to refer to a woman that you love and adore. It essentially means my tiger in a slightly fierce and romantic way. Say mon tigre when speaking to a man.
Grande means big or tall, but this is an endearing way that a woman might say my big guy when speaking of her boyfriend.
Mon prince / Mon roméo
These translations are fairly straightforward, but they’re still a fun way to refer to your special man or boy in French.
How you’d say my preferred one when expressing love to another.
Adopts a similar meaning to mon préféré. Literally, it’s a way of calling someone indispensable – meaning you can’t live without them.
We often say the man / woman of my dreams. Within that context, here’s a simple way to say my dream.
My cutie, or my little cute one.
Unique Terms of Endearment
Whether you’re trying to impress a love interest or simply discover a new phrase, these unique French terms of endearment have you covered.
Mon ciel étoilé
Refer to someone as a beautiful, mystical wonder with this phrase, which means my starry sky.
Mon rayon de soleil
Do you think of your loved one as your ray of sun? This is the perfect phrase for you.
Mon sucre d’orge
A fun and unique way to call someone your sugar or your candy.
Eggs are small and cute, right? Call someone your egg with this easy saying.
Another endearment term involving food is mon crevette. Crevette means shrimp, and saying mon crevette is kind of like saying, my munchkin!
This one is just plain fun to say. But it also means my sausage when speaking fondly of a loved one.
Mon plaisir quotidien
Show someone how much their presence matters to you by saying mon plaisir quotidien, or my daily pleasure.
It’s common to say the apple of my eye when referring to a loved one in English. French speakers say mon trognon, which translates literally to my fruit core.
Ma petite sirène
You may have heard the term siren to refer to a mythological, mermaid-like creature. This term is how you’d call a woman my little mermaid.
Even if you enjoy the crust of bread, you can probably admit that the soft, fluffy inner part is still the best. Ma mie refers to that part of the loaf.
Mon loutin means my elf. Most elves are adorable, so that’s what this term is referring to.
Animal Terms of Endearment in French
In English, we say words like kitten to refer to our loved ones. French people follow suit, which makes some terms especially easy to remember.
Use this simple term to say my kitten. Once you’ve mastered that, you can say mon p’tit chaton to mean my little kitty toward either gender. Then, test out these gender-specific variations:
Mon loulou / mon loup
We don’t really say my wolf to someone that we love in English, but that’s exactly what this phrase means. While mon loulou can only be said to men or boys, you can say ma louloutte to say this expression to a woman.
Ma biche / ma bichette
This female-only term means the equivalent to my doe or my little deer.
My little teddy bear. Use this sweet term on your son, husband or boyfriend, but never a lady.
Translated as my rabbit or my bunny, this endearment term can apply to nearly anyone. Although it’s more commonly said to young boys and males, saying it to a female isn’t wrong.
Calling someone my flea in English wouldn’t exactly be endearing. But in French, this phrase works! Say it to boys or girls to express affection similarly to honey or sweetie pie. You can also say ma petite puce to mean my little flea.
This word means ladybug, and it’s only used to express affection towards girls and women.
Endearment Terms Involving Birds
Birds play such a popular role in French endearment that on this list, they receive a dedicated category.
Mon petit oiseau
This is a sweet term that can be used to call a person of any gender my little birdy. Mon oisillon works just the same.
Meaning my quail.
A unisex way to call someone my chick. Unlike in English, it’s not a flattering way to refer to an attractive girl. Instead, it refers to a baby chicken, or a cute and small animal.
Calling someone a chicken in English isn’t always nice. But, like ma poussin, ma poule means something more like chickie.
The same meaning, but for males only.
How to call a woman your little chick.
Mon coco / mon cocotte
Say mon coco to a male, or mon cocotte to a female, to mean my hen.
My duckling can be said to both boys and girls.
Doves are commonly associated with love and peace. Likewise, this is a reassuring way to express adoration towards a girl or woman.
Say mon colibri to mean my hummingbird. It’s a simple way to express endearment, kind of like saying my sweetie.
Using French Terms of Endearment
Equipped with these phrases, you’ll be able to express affection and adoration for anyone special in your life. For more help with French, check out our roundup of common French phrases that are great for travelers, or get started learning thousands of French words and phrases in context with Clozemaster.