If you’re speaking to someone you love —a romantic partner, a friend, or a family member—, give them a sweet nickname to show them they’re special to you. Knowing some key Spanish terms of endearment is a great way of sparking some love into your conversation.
Spanish terms of endearment vary a lot between dialects. And with the right tone, almost any word can be transformed into something affectionate and meaningful. It is not strange to hear native Spanish-speakers getting creative around terms of endearment, and using words like máquina (lit machine) or bestia (lit beast) in a playful manner.
But here, we’ll stick to the basics: Here are the most most common Spanish terms of endearment for your loved ones.
Spanish Terms of Endearment for Romantic Partners
Some couples have a language of their own. It’s a private language, where a seemingly unrelated word means something very different. They are not commonly used, but part of an intimate wordplay. Here are the most common Spanish nicknames you can use for your girlfriend or boyfriend.
- Amor, ¿dónde dejaste las llaves?
- En el escritorio, mi amor.
- Love, where did you leave the keys?
- In the desk, my love.
In English, cariño is almost always translated as “honey”, “dear” or “sweetie”. In conversation, it looks like this:
Gracias, cariño, por venir a buscarme.
Thank you, sweetie, for coming to pick me up.
Mi cielo means “my sky”. It’s a very sweet way to refer to your loved one as it alludes that they are like heaven.
¿Tienes hambre, mi cielo?
Are you hungry, my sky?
Mi vida has a very good English equivalent: “my life”. There is also another option, Vida mía, but that is a little melodramatic and isn’t used often in day-to-day life.
So remember: the best option is, almost always, Mi vida. Here’s an example:
Disculpa, mi vida, no te escuché. ¿Puedes repetirlo?
I’m sorry, my life, I couldn’t hear you. Can you repeat it?
A list of cute Spanish nicknames wouldn’t be complete without corazón , which means “heart”. Like in some other cases, it can be presided over by the possessive: Mi corazón.
It will be difficult for Schitt’s Creek fans to NOT think of the melodramatic Moira Rose when they hear bebé, which means “baby” in Spanish. While Moira may be speaking about an actual baby, the bebé in this case, is used as a term of endearment in Spanish. Let’s take a look at the example below.
Estás muy linda hoy, bebé.
You look lovely today, baby.
Mi rey / Mi reina
Querido / Querida
Querida, ¿pudiste hablar con Miguel?
Dear, could you speak with Miguel?
Gordo / Gorda
This can be strange for non-native Spanish speakers, but Gordo or Gorda —which means something like “fatty”— is in fact a term of endearment. And it has no relation with bodyweight: it’s just another way speaking to your partner affectionately! It works like this:
Gordo, ¿tienes sueño?
Fatty, are you sleepy?
Mami / Papi
In some countries, like Puerto Rico, Mami (“mommy”) and Papi (“daddy”) are very common terms of endearment, and they’re used for romantic partners. This is not used in all Spanish-speaking countries so make sure to find out about this before trying it out otherwise you’ll get some strange looks!
Oye, mami, ¿qué quieres comer esta noche?
Listen, mommy, what do you want to eat tonight?
Spanish Terms of Endearment for Family
The family unit is so important in many Spanish-speaking countries. It’s no surprise that there are many little nicknames for different members of the family.
Viejo / Vieja
Viejo or Vieja —literally, “old man” or “old woman”— are mostly used when talking to your mother or father. In the English translation, it can sound a bit rude, but rest assured, it’s an affectionate and loving term.
Vieja, ¿quieres que te vaya a visitar esta tarde?
Old woman, do you want me to visit you this afternoon?
Jefe / Jefa
Both Jefe and Jefa mean “boss” or “chief”. In some Spanish-speaking countries, these are used when speaking to the head of your family, the one that governs your home. It can be a mother, for example, but also a grandfather, and anything in between.
¡Nos vemos mañana, jefa!
See you tomorrow, boss!
Manito / Manita
¡Feliz cumpleaños, manita!
Happy birthday, sis!
Spanish Terms of Endearment for Children
In Spanish, there are a lot of terms for children, and most parents have a few of their own. There is also a great variation between dialects, and that means that different countries will use their own nicknames. Here are the most common ones.
Mi tesoro means “my treasure”.
¿Tienes hambre, mi tesoro?
Are you hungry, my treasure?
Mi niño is easy to translate: it means “my child”.
Among all the loving ways of calling your children, mi ángel (“my angel”) is one of the most affectionate ones.
Mijo / Mija
Mija, ¿no tienes frío?
My child, are you not cold?
Nene / Nena
Chango / Changa
In South America, Chango means “child”… but in Mexico, it means “monkey”. So be careful!
Gurí / Gurisa
Negro / Negra
This may seem odd to non-native Spanish-speakers, but in the Río de la Plata, Negro and Negra are, in fact, terms of endearment. Although this term can be used with a lot of loved ones, it is mostly used with sons and daughters, frequently in the diminutive form and preceded by the possessive (Mi negrito). As in the case with gordo (a term of endearment for romantic partners), it has no relation with how the person actually looks.
Gringo / Gringa
Most people will recognize gringo / gringa to mean a foreigner from an English-speaking country. In other cases, it just means “blond”. But in some specific countries, like Argentina, it is also used with children, specifically sons and daughters. And again: the child doesn’t have to be blond to be called Gringuito.
Chaparrito / Chaparrita
Chaparrito means something like “shorty”, so you can imagine that is a very common way of referring to children. Here’s an example:
¿Cómo te fue en la escuela, chaparrito?
How was school, shorty?
Spanish Terms of Endearment for Friends
Almost every Spanish dialect its own casual way of saying friend in Spanish. They can all be translated to “buddy”. Here are a few ways of referring to your friends in casually in a few different Spanish-speaking countries.
Pana (Venezuela and Puerto Rico)
Using Diminutives to Make Nicknames
Diminutives are a fast way of making customized cute nicknames in Spanish. Diminutives are used to convey a smaller version of something or add additional affection to a word. You can make them by adding –ito to the end of words. That’s how Pájaro (“bird”) becomes Pajarito (“birdie”), which, let’s be honest, sounds far cuter.
You can use it with your favorite term of endearment to make it even more affectionate. Let’s see some examples:
- Amor (love) becomes amorcito
- Gordo (fatty) becomes gordito
- Ciel (sky) becomes cielito
- Viejo (old man) becomes viejito
You can also use diminutives to invent your own term of endearment. Get creative!
You might just get a cavity now that you’ve learned so many sweet nicknames for your loved ones. Use them in a creative way, be playful with words, and have fun. Whether you’re speaking with a family member, a friend, or a romantic partner, you now have thirty different ways of being a lot more affectionate. Keep practicing and use this chance to make someone feel loved!