When you’re talking to your partner, friends, or family, do you only refer to them by their first names? Of course not! We use terms of endearment to show our loved ones how special they are.
Similar to most languages, terms of endearment will vary based on the region and your relationship to the person. Just imagine, you wouldn’t hear an American call their friend “love”, but in parts of the UK it’s perfectly normal.
In Spanish, it’s the same. There are tons of vocabulary options to let your Spanish-speaking loved ones know you care about them. Here are some of the most common Spanish terms of endearment to help you sound more like a native speaker:
Spanish Terms of endearment for your partner
This is an extremely common term in many Latin American countries, and is used by native Spanish speakers to refer to a romantic partner. It doesn’t typically have any gender connotations. In other words, people of any gender often say it towards their partner. This makes it one of the most useful and easiest Spanish terms of endearment to remember.
You can also use it with or without the possessive pronoun “mi”.
- ¿Qué quieres cenar, amor? – What do you want for dinner, love?
- ¡Qué guapo/a estás, mi amor! – Wow! You look handsome/beautiful, love!
Other endearment terms that Spanish speakers tend to use in a cute and affectionate way with your lover as an alternative to “mi amor” are “mi vida” (my life), “mi alma” (my soul), “mi ángel” (my angel) and “mi cielo” (my heaven).
This word loosely translates to “dear” or “sweetie” or “honey”. Just like “amor”, it’s frequently used by people of any gender, so it’s another great option to keep under your belt.
Unlike “amor”, however, it’s not restricted to only romantic partners. You’ll also hear parents use this as a pet name for their kids. This usage is especially common in Spain and in Latin America for small children.
Sometimes, you’ll even hear the shortened version “cari”, mainly used by girls.
- Buenos días, cariño – Good morning, sweetie.
- Cariño, ven a poner la mesa. – Sweetie, come set the table.
Mi rey / Mi reina
This term is much more common to hear in Latin American countries, especially in certain parts of Mexico. When using the possessive pronoun “mi”, it’s often used to refer to your romantic partner. It’s a completely normal word to use and it isn’t as dramatic as it sounds to English-speaking ears.
DID YOU KNOW..?
Sometimes this word is used sarcastically, especially when leaving out the “mi”. It can be meant as an insult to make someone feel inferior.
- ¿Quieres ir al cine, mi reina? – Do you want to go to the movies, my queen?
- A ver, reina, ¿quién te crees que eres?* – Look here, Your Majesty, who do you think you are?
This word is another self-explanatory example. Someone you love is someone who is in your heart, so this is another great pet name for your partner.
- ¿Qué tal el trabajo, corazón? – How was work sweetheart?
- Ay, mi corazón, te manchaste la camiseta. – Oh no sweetheart, you stained your shirt.
It is also common to hear female clerks addressing customers with terms of endearment such as corazón, mi cielo, mi amor or mi vida in popular street markets, especially in Venezuela. That doesn’t mean they are actually flirting with you. That particular trait is hilariously called the Venezuelan “miamoreo”.
Gordito / Gordita
These terms of endearment are a bit striking for English speakers, but they’re perfectly normal in many places in the Americas and Spain. Calling your partner “gordito” o “gordita” (chubby/fatty) is a common way to endearingly talk to your partner.
People also use “gordo” o “gorda” without the diminutive suffixes -ito / -ita at the end, as well as the shortened form “gordi”.
It can also be used with friends or family. Just to be clear: the person doesn’t have to be overweight to use this term – many times it’s just for people with big cheeks.
But of course, it’s only a term of endearment if it’s well-intended. So make sure your tone and your face show you mean it in a good way.
- Hola, gordita de mi vida, ¿cómo estás? – Hello, fatty of my life, how are you? (literally, but in English you’d say honey or sweetheart, for example)
- Mira que gordito más guapo. – Look how handsome the (chubby) baby is!
Love is a universal language regardless of your nationality. Learn some of the Sweetest Spanish Nicknames for Girlfriends and Boyfriends including the best Spanish phrases to express love to your partner.
Terms of endearment you can use with your Spanish-speaking friends
Chicos / Chicas
This is one of the most common ways to refer to a group of friends or to get their attention. It’s very similar to English, saying “guys” to refer to everyone at once.
This use is fairly neutral, so you can say it to casual friends or acquaintances as well.
But what if you are talking to a group of friends of different genders? That’s a problematic question. It’s common in the Spanish-speaking world to default to the grammatically male “chicos” for mixed groups and to only use “chicas” for a group of females.
However it’s becoming increasingly more common for (younger) people to say “Chicos, chicas” to be more inclusive in spoken speech. And if you’re writing in a group chat, some options are “Chicos/as”, “Chicxs”, or “Chic@s”. Use whichever option you like best!
- Vengan chicas, vamos a otra discoteca. – Alright girls, let’s go to another club.
- Ey chicos, chicas, ¿qué pelí (película) vemos? Guys (girls), which movie should we watch?
Tío / Tía
These words literally mean “uncle” and “aunt”, but are often used in the same way that in English we use “dude” or “bro”.
Native speakers from nearly every country say this frequently when talking to their friends. With friends, it’s always a nice way to show that you feel close to them.
However, adolescents and young adults will also sometimes use it as a filler word when speaking to almost anyone. In formal contexts this is usually inappropriate and some older people might get offended, since it seems like a lack of respect.
Although not really a term of endearment, it’s also used to refer to a person you don’t know, especially when telling a story of something that happened to you.
- Tía, no te vas a creer lo que me dijo ese tío – Girl (the friend), you’re not gonna believe what that dude said to me.
- Enhorabuena, tío, ¡me alegro mucho! – Congrats, dude, I’m really happy for you!
Hermano / Hermana
This is another option that is easy to remember. You can call your close friend “brother” or “sister” to show how close you are.
This is more typical in some Latin American countries, especially the use of “hermano”. In fact, the usage of “hermano” between male friends or to show friendliness to a stranger (in some countries) is a bit more common than “hermana”.
- ¿Qué tal, hermano? Cuánto tiempo. – What’s up, brother? Long time no see
- Hermano, ¿esta noche salimos o qué? – Brother, are we going out tonight or what?
Guapo / Guapa
This means “handsome” or “beautiful” and it’s a great way to refer to your friend with a compliment. It’s perfectly normal in almost all of the Spanish-speaking world.
This is often heard among close friends and it’s more frequently directed towards a friend of the same gender. It’s a nice way to flatter them, especially when greeting them.
Romantic partners also say it to address each other, so it’s another handy word to know.
DID YOU KNOW..?
This word is often used sarcastically when people are upset. If someone is yelling at you and they call you “guapo” or “guapa”, it’s demeaning. It implies that your only positive quality is that you look good or possibly that you’re not very bright. Although, if the difference in context is very clear, you shouldn’t have any problems!
- Hola, guapa, ¿cómo estás? – Hi, beautiful, how are you?
- ¿Cómo va todo, guapo? – How’s it going, handsome?
The origin of this word is different depending on the region. It can be a shortened version of either “compadre” (god-father) or “compañero” (partner/friend). It’s often used in parts of Mexico and in Spanish-speaking communities in Texas.
When the word is shortened from “compadre”, you also have the optional “coma” from “comadre” (god-mother) for your female friends. Although in some places, like Costa Rica, people use “compa” for any gender.
In Spain, and some parts of Latin America, some people will also use “compi” as an alternative to “compañero”. This can refer to friends or roommates that you have a close relationship with.
These Spanish vocabulary are a bit regional, so they’ll vary in frequency depending on the country. Regardless, they’re all good options to show a sense of closeness to your friends!
- ¿Qué onda, compa? – What’s up, buddy?
- Sara, esta es mi compa María. – Sara, this is my friend María.
Spanish Terms of endearment for family member
Mijo / Mija
One of the most common ways to address your children in Spanish-speaking countries is with “mijo” (my son) and “mija” (my daughter). It comes from the contraction of “Mi hijo / Mi hija”.
It’s typically a very endearing term, used in pleasant situations and very common in Latin American culture, where you’ll often hear older family members addressing younger ones (or even those unrelated) as “mijo” or “mija” as a way to express affection.
In central / northern Spain, you can hear “hijo” or “hija” used in exactly the same way.
- Mija, guarda las cosas. – My daughter, put away your things.
- ¿Qué haces, mijo? – What are you doing, my son?
Mami / Papi
In most parts of the Spanish speaking world, it’s perfectly normal for children to refer to their parents as “mami” (mommy) or “papi” (daddy) affectionately.
While it might sound strange to English speakers, in Spanish it’s quite common for children to use this nickname for their parents this way even when they’re adults.
Since these words have become popularized in music, you might already know that these words are also sometimes used to address a partner/lover. It’s especially common in some places to use “papi” for an older male partner, with all the same connotations as in English.
Although this second usage is up to personal preference, it’s definitely more common to hear it used in the first context.
- Pásame la sal, mami – Can you pass the salt, mommy?
- Tengo un agujero en la camiseta, ¿me la coses papi? – My shirt has a hole in it, will you sew it for me, daddy?
Nene / Nena
This word translates to “little boy” or “little girl” and is often used to refer to children. It’s typically an affectionate way for adults to speak to kids.
In some countries (like Mexico or Argentina), these Spanish terms of endearment are only used for smaller children, but in other places the nicknames can often stick for their whole lives. It’s similar to how some people are nicknamed “junior” forever by their older relatives.
Parents will also say it to their kids in a more neutral tone, like when they’re telling them to go do a chore, for example.
In Spain, sometimes it’s used by teenagers to refer to other people, but with a disparaging tone. It suggests that the other person is being childish.
- Qué ojos más bonitos tienes, nene. – What pretty eyes you have, kiddo.
- Nena, tienes que estudiar más. – You need to study more, missy.
This term is used almost exclusively by Spanish people to refer to a brother. It is especially common on the Mediterranean coast.
Both parents and siblings will use this word to refer to the brother in the family. Sometimes this pet name will also stick and can be used more often than their own name.
It tends to only be said affectionately, so it has very positive connotations. The only downside to this vocabulary word is that it is regionally restricted, Spanish speakers from Latin America might not know what it means.
- Tete, ¿quieres jugar al Play? – Brother, do you want to play the Playstation?
- Dice el tete que le has pegado. – Your brother says that you hit him.
Chiquito / Chiquita
This word is used similarly to “nene” and “nena” and means “little one” or “baby”.
Normally this word is only used for small children. The words are the diminutive form of “chico” and “chica”, so the usage of the word is pretty easy to remember.
Parents and other adults will use it both to talk about a little kid and to address them.
This word also has many other meanings. For example, the RAE (the official dictionary for the Spanish language) describes it as a small glass of wine. You might also recognize “chiquita” from the banana company.
You most likely won’t have any problem understanding it in context, but it’s always good to know about other uses!
- Cada día es más grande el chiquito – The baby boy is getting bigger every day.
- ¿Te hiciste daño, chiquita? – Did you hurt yourself, baby girl?
Use what you learned!
Now you can go impress all your Spanish-speaking loved ones. But of course, this list isn’t comprehensive – every region is different and individuals have their own preferences.
When it comes to Spanish terms of endearment, use whichever vocabulary words you’re comfortable with and ask others to tell you their favorite. There’s a whole world to explore!
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