Endearing Baby Names: Honey, Sugar & Dove
By Tiana Putric
Sweetie, Angel, Dolly, Kitty, ‘amore’ (Spanish for ‘love’), ’petit chou’ (French for ‘little cabbage’), ‘moya golubushka’ (Russian for ‘my little dove’), ‘sonche’ (Macedonian for ‘sunshine’), and so on. These are just a few of the loving terms of endearment with which parents around the globe indulge their children.
Most parents would never dream of giving their child a hypocorism or a pet name as a first name or even a middle name; yet, there are many terms of endearment that double as perfectly useable and meaningful names, many of which have become lost. Here are a few such names from Amoret to Sugar.
Amoret: This soft and graceful appellation, meaning love, has roots in both Latin and Italian and is rich in literary history. Amoret – also Amorett and Amoretta – was a character in Edmund Spenser’s epic allegory The Faerie Queene. Amoret was raised by Venus, the Roman goddess of love, and represented love, loyalty, and beauty. Amoret’s meanings are aplenty and include ‘sweetheart’, ’love song’, and ‘love knot’.
Dove: Dove is a gentle term of endearment that has been used through the ages. In Medieval England Dove was an affectionate expression used for a sweetheart. In Greek mythology the dove is a symbol of the goddess Aphrodite and today pacifists around the world are referred to as ‘doves’. Dove entered the U.S. Top 1000 in the 1890’s but has since disappeared making it a long-flown gem, though it could join other bird names such as Lark, Raven, Robin, and Wren.
Dulcinea: Dulcinea, having never entered the U.S. Top 1000, is a treasure waiting to be unearthed. A bejeweled version of Dulcie and Dulce, Dulcinea originated from the Latin/ Spanish terms for sweet -‘dulcis’ or ‘dulce. Dulcinea means ‘sweetness’ and ‘sweetheart’ and was the leading character’s object of affection in Cervantes’s classic Don Quixote.
Honey: This sweet substance cherished by religions and cultures around the world is both a term of affection and a word name. Lore has it that this flower nectar produced by honey bees possesses magical powers and healing properties. Brits Kate Winslet and Jamie Oliver have included Honey in their girls’ names: Mia Honey and Poppy Honey Rosie. Perhaps this is one reason why, in 2014, Honey ranked 320th in England.
Love: This is of course one of the oldest and purest expressions of endearment. Love’s origins include ’lufu’, an Old English word meaning affection while in Ancient Greece, six different words were created to describe this human emotion. Just recently, LoCash band member Preston Brust named his baby girl Love Lily. This appellation is not reserved for girls: Love happens to be a popular boys’ name in Sweden. Trivia tidbit–Lovey Howell on Gilligan’s Island was born Eunice
Perle: This precious German term of endearment is also a French and Yiddish name, an overlooked variation of the popular Pearl. But unlike Pearl, this German term of affection has never been featured on the U.S. Top 1000.
Reine: The French word name Reine – ‘Queen’ in English – instantly evokes a sense of royalty. When used as a pet name Reine becomes ‘Ma Reine’ or ‘My Queen’, a fresh change from the oft heard adulation ‘Princess’. The English version Queenie ranked on the US list from 1900 to 1927, but now seems to be reserved for canine family members.
Sugar: One of the sweetest expressions of affection, the pet name Sugar has an unmistakable southern ring. In Spanish-speaking families, parents adoringly call their wee ones ‘terron de azucar’ or ‘sugar cube’. In Germany it is ‘zuckerschnäutzchen’ or ‘little sugar mouth’. Sugar Kane was Marilyn Monroe’s indelible character’s name in Some Like it Hot, and there’s also Sugar Motta on Glee .
Sweetheart: This declaration of affection dates back to the 13th century – the Middle English ‘swete hert’ – when doctors used it to describe a swift heartbeat. In 2006, this term of endearment became an appellation when American actor Toby Maguire and Jennifer Meyer named their daughter Ruby Sweetheart.
Bear: Bear is not only a powerful animal but also a celestial constellation. It is the chosen name of gutsy British adventurist and survivalist Bear Grylls (born Edward), who is the father of three boys–Jesse, Marmaduke, and Huckleberry. Bear has its roots in the Old English word ‘bera’ meaning brown and has many worldly variations including Ari, Bjorn, Bernard, Urs, and the female Ursula. The name Bear has never entered the U.S. Top 1000, but has been used by Alicia Silverstone and Kate Winslet for their sons.
Beau: Beau is, hands down, one of the hottest endearment names for boys. French for handsome, Beau has been on a winning streak since it entered the U.S. Social Security list in 1967. It may be that Beau has author Margaret Mitchell to thank for its appeal: in 2014 a Harris Poll revealed Gone With the Wind as America’s best-loved film and second favourite book after the Bible.
Bud: This English word name denotes close friend and is a slightly more mature version of Buddy. Bud was a popular American nickname name consistently in the U.S. Top 1000 until 1965. Perhaps today’s interest in short, single-syllable, offbeat names like Ace, Beau, and Blue will bring back the retro Bud.
So, Berries, which terms of endearment do you use for your loved ones? Did you grow up with one yourself? Does your daughter or son have a name that also doubles as a term of endearment?
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on January 15th, 2016 at 11:48 am
I like Honey for a girl, but I think that’s the only name on this list I would actually put on a birth certificate. The endearing names I give my loved ones are TOO endearing. My husband is Bruiser, for example. My godson is Peanut. My puppy is Little One. I just couldn’t do any of this to a child.
on January 17th, 2016 at 5:58 am
The rest are fine but I cannot imagine a fully grown woman being proud or, at the very least, not embarrassed, when having to introduce herself (either to potential friends or potential bosses/co-workers) as Honey, Love or Sugar. That’s going a bit too far. Keep them as nicknames by all means but do not inflict them on babies who will one day grow up.
on March 4th, 2019 at 9:50 pm
Some of these could be fine middle names, but I’d be surprised to see them as first names.
In my opinion, the most usable ones are Love, Dove, Bear, Amoret and Honey, all as middles.
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