22 Affectionate German Terms of Endearment for Loved Ones

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Although Germans have a reputation for being serious, they also love to refer to each other by creative and fun nicknames. German pet names are often derived from actual pets, or use diminutives to add cuteness. In this post, we’ll teach you 22 cute German terms of endearment that you can use with your romantic partner, children, family, and friends.

German Terms of Endearment at a Glance

German

English

Terms of endearment for romantic partners

Schatz

Darling

Maus

Mouse

Bär

Bear

Schnucki

Sweetie-pie

Schnecke

Snail

Süße Süßer

Sweetie

Liebling / Liebes

Darling

Engel

Angel

Hase

Bunny

Terms of endearment for children

Kindchen

Sweetheart

Mäusezähnchen

Little mouse tooth

Vögelchen

Little bird

Terms of endearment for friends

Bestie

Every other week

BFF

During the day

Kumpel

Bro

Schwester

Sister

Bruder

Brother

Terms of endearment for romantic partners

German terms of endearment

Most German pet names are derived from animals. They are often used in a diminutive form adding either -i or -chen at the end of the word. Fun fact, words that end in -chen always come with the neutral article das.

Read next: 16 Ways to Say I Love You in German – Beyond Ich liebe dich

Schatz – Darling

Schatz is a popular gender-neutral term of endearment that means “darling”. It is widely used across different age groups including children. The common diminutive form of Schatz is Schatzi.

Other forms of Schatz are Schatzilein and Schätzchen (the former is more common for women). Schatz is also one of the only pet names that you will commonly hear out in the open. The other terms of endearment we’ll mention are used in more personal settings.

Maus – Mouse

Maus “mouse” is another popular pet name and is often used in a diminutive form such as Mausi, Mäuschen or Mausilein

Bär – Bear

Although Bär “bear” has a masculine article, it is used for all genders in its popular forms Bärli, Bärchen or Schnuckibär “little cuddle bear”.

Schnucki – Sweetie-pie

Schnucki is a popular gender-neutral term that is best translated with “sweetie-pie” or “cutie-pie”. It’s a term of endearment that in itself isn’t used in any other context and doesn’t have a diminutive or variation.

Schnecke – Snail

Schnecke , which means “snail”, may seem like an odd thing to call someone, but it is a cute German nickname used mostly for women. Depending on the context it can be a derogatory term. So just be aware that not all women will want to be called Schnecke. Diminutive forms of Schnecke include Schnecki and Schneckchen.

Biene – Bee

Biene “bee” is another female pet name that is also popular in its diminutive form Bienchen “little bee”.

Süße / Süßer – Sweetie

Süße is a popular term of endearment for women, Süßer its male counterpart. Both mean “sweetie”.

Liebling / Liebes – Darling

Liebling is a gender-neutral term, Liebes is a female term, both mean “darling” or “sweetheart”. Those pet names are popular across age groups and are even used for children.

Engel – Angel

Engel “angel” is another term that is used for women and children. Its diminutive forms Engelchen and Engelein are also popular choices. 

Hase – Bunny

Hase , Häschen, Hasi, and Hasilein which all mean “little bunny” are all very familiar pet names for men and women. All German terms of endearment can be used with the pronoun “my” – mein (male) or meine (female) – to make the expression more personal. 

Terms of endearment for children

Pet names for children are less commonly used, and limited to the child’s own family. It’s not common at all to call random kids by a nickname, and schools don’t use pet names with their students either.

If you know a child well enough you can call them by a child-friendly pet name such as Schatz “darling”, Engel “angel” or Liebling “sweetie”. Below we have a list of other appropriate terms.

Kindchen – Sweetheart

Kindchen is derived from Kind which means “child” and is an affectionate pet name for young boys and girls. It can be translated to “sweetheart” or “dear”.

Mäusezähnchen – Little mouse tooth

Mäusezähnchen means “little mouse tooth” and is a fun little nickname for boys and girls alike. The term illustrates the creativity with which Germans create pet names. Using an animal name, something cute, and a diminutive you can get a cute nickname like “little mouse tooth”!

Vögelchen – Little bird

Vögelchen means “little bird” and is a sweet way of referring to children when they need to be comforted. Pet names are often used when kids are sick or sad and need some cheering up.

Terms of endearment for family members 

Most children, including grown children, call their Eltern “parents” by the terms Mama “mom” and Papa “dad”. More formal terms such as Mutter “mother” and Vater “father” aren’t frequently used anymore. Small children usually call their parents Mami “mommy” and Papi “daddy”.

The Großeltern “grandparents” are affectionately called Oma or Omi “grandma” and Opi or Opa “grandpa”.

Favorite family members are often addressed by the prefix Lieblings- “favorite” such as Lieblingstante which means “favorite aunt” or Lieblingsonkel, meaning “favorite uncle”. 

Terms of endearment for friends

There aren’t many popular terms of endearment for friends in German, most people just call their friends by their names. Germany is however a country that’s always looking towards the United States and we have incorporated some English terms that you might be familiar with.

Bestie – Bestie

This is a term that refers to our best friends and doesn’t need any translation. It’s only used between women and girls of younger generations.

BFF – BFF

While the term BFF, best friends forever might have lost its appeal in English-speaking countries, it’s still thriving in Germany, particularly for kids and teens.

Kumpel – Bro

Kumpel is term of endearment that’s used between friends, typically men. It means something like “buddy” or “bro”. Add guter “good” or bester “best” to it to emphasize the depth of your friendship.

Schwester / Bruder – Sister / Brother

Many people in Germany will consider their closest friends to be Schwester (sister) and Bruder (brother). This nickname is reserved for those special friends that are closest to you.

Terms of endearment in Switzerland

Swiss-German uses a lot of the same terms of endearment that are used in Germany. The particular dialect however transforms the words Schatz, Hase and Maus into Schätzli, Häsli and Müsli. Müsli refers here to the diminutive of “mouse”, not to the breakfast dish with oats, nuts and dried fruit. 

Conclusion

There are no limits to the imagination when coming up with cute pet names. Just remember that it is not common to call strangers, adults or children, by pet names, you should reserve those for close family members and friends. The terminations -chen, -i, or -lein can be added to create a diminutive.

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