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British slang/terms of endearment
emma frost
oldby21 wrote in little_details
Because Google and the various books in my room aren't providing a whole lot of help.

Let's say you've got a gay English couple, both men in their late-twenties, early-thirties, thereabouts. Would they be likely to refer to each other as "love?" My instincts say yes, but every "guide" book I find either doesn't make that distinction, or in one memorable instance, says that women use it indiscriminately but men never use it among men. Of course, it failed to mention what would happen if those men really were in love.

Along that line, are there other affectionate names that could be used? I know the standards still exist like honey and sweetheart and everything, but are there any other distinctly British ones out there floating around? Doesn't have to be gender-specific or anything in this case, I'm just curious.

Oh, and one last thing: what are some general terms of abuse amongst UK citizens when referring to one another? The only one I know of is "sassanach" so I'm looking for anything else close to that, regardless of place of origin. Again, I've tried the usual "British English to American English" lexicon sites online, but so far I've been unable to find one that A) lists terms the British use with each other and not just what other countries say about them/vice-versa and B) actually distinguishes from what region the name/phrase/whatever comes.

Any help at all would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

If it's any help, my partner and I refer to one another as "love." :D I mean, we're not British, but that should just up the liklihood, shouldn't it? :D

Joe

Abuse? "Tosser" and "wanker", I believe.

Can't help you with the first bit but as for terms of abuse "sassanach" would never be used by anyone English. It's a corruption of the old gaelic word for the Saxons and is now an insult used by the Scots for the English.

Other general terms could be ones like git, pillock, prat, berk (though most people don't realise what this actually means), a big girl's blouse or a spod.

Have a wander through London Slang and see if anything there helps.

Berk! Heh, now that you mention it, I remember seeing this one before. I, uh, won't repeat it here, but... is that a generally widespread British thing or just Cockney slang that's specific to London?

General British and as already said most people don't know the derivation.

This is a tremendously helpful site.

Stupid mangey git is also a good one, or just git. (abusive that is) definetly *not* sassenach. Stupid cow is another. (i'm taking these from my mother and brothers, who are british, i'm american born, pity)


I may not be gay, but I'm a Brit so feel I should be qualified for this.

The term "love" in Britain (often written "luv") tends to get used simply as a title most of the time. A man might, for instance, say to a woman who just ran into him in the street "Watch where you're going, luv!" And likewise a waitress in a (working man's) cafe might say to a man "What can I get you, luv?" This predisposition for using the familiar on strangers means that it very easily gets transferred across when speaking to a partner.

However, another thing to consider is what social class they come from, their educational background, etc. For instance, if they come from a public school (and by that I mean private) as opposed to "state" school then they're likely to be very well-spoken and might well say "darling" in place of "love" in just about all aspects. Likewise, if they're part of the "luvvies" in the thespian circles of society renown for calling *everyone* "darling".

"Hun" from "honey" gets used in much the same way, but I rarely to ever hear someone actually say "honey".

Of course, there are regional variancies on this. For example, up north they're more inclined to say "pet" or "ducky" (a favourite for sending up campness) or "chuck", but these are very general terms of endearment as opposed to specific terms of affection. However, they most frequently get used amongst lovers, too.

Very common, too, is "dear" or "my dear" (the former usually used at the end of a sentence or sentence while the latter can be used either at the start or end) although, like all these terms, you won't find a man who was not gay referring to another man with this term.

I found this http://www.yaelf.com/toe.shtml through Google and while not quite all of them I've ever heard in great abundance, I think there's a lot there that you can possibly use and abuse. Be careful with the more colourful or outright strange ones since even I've not heard them before, such as "puddlepooper", "shmoopsie-poo" and "sugar-booger" I have never heard before, although "shmoopsie-poo" may well be the kind of thing a woman might call her beloved toy dog - or rat, as I tend to call them. However, funnily enough "snookums" while often used for dogs I've also heard used (often when being particularly playful) for people.

So far as insults are concerned there are lots. Typically British ones include:

plonker*, dipstick*, twit*, git*, pillock*, prat*, tosser, wanker, twat (rhymes with bat; although I've had some people react to this one as though I've just said the dreaded c-word), toss-pot, arse, arse-hole, bugger, sod, fuck-wit

(*these are generally acceptable terms for 'polite' society)

This page http://www.zoo.ufl.edu/bolker/vocab/node5.html might offer some other inspiration for British crudity.

Hope that helps!

twat (rhymes with bat; although I've had some people react to this one as though I've just said the dreaded c-word)

Well anatomically they ARE they same thing.

This is true, but you're less likely to have the TV censors getting their black markers ready. It's generally considered on par with calling someone a "dick-head", but I used it once without thinking at work and immediately one woman threw her hands to her mouth and said "oh, we don't use the T-word here".

'Hen' is also used up here in Scotland in the manner of love, pet, etc. Which is why it's so amusing in Chicken Run when the Scottish chicken says it to Ginger....

Specifically regional insults are a bit tricky. The only ones I'm sure of are pretty general - there may be more up-to-date terms that I don't know. English people may use "taff" or "taffy" for a Welsh person, "jock" for a Scot and "pad" or "paddy" for the Irish. All of these can be used as terms of bantering affection as well, but I don't think most Welsh, Scots or Irish people would take too kindly to them generally. Living in England, I'm not sure about terms going the other way, but I've occasionaly heard "Sassnach" from a Scot referring to the English, and I've definitely heard "Sais" (which means the same thing in Welsh) spoken with some venom also "Brit" in Ireland. "English" on its own can be made to sound pretty insulting, if you put enough spin behind it, especially in Ireland. Oh, and there is a standing joke about the Welsh and sheep, socalling anyone Welsh a "sheep-shagger" won't go down too well, but that can also be used for anyone from the country.

We definitely do not take kindly to Taffy. Even in more PC days there were still books around in my daughters' school with the rhyme "Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a thief" and I got extremely hot under the collar when the headmistress could not see the problem.

My boyfriend and I call each other love... I don't know how much help that is, though, because I'm a girl, and we're not British.

Don't worry about the fact that they are male and gay. People make up endearments for each other all the time, and who is to say your characters wouldn't have their own specific in-joke pet names? If their personalities are mushy, their pet names will likely be mushy. If they are a bit snarky, they may have "insulting" pet names for each other that sound awful, but which are assumed to be benign by the recipient. Two snarktastic people I know in a couple call each other "bumface" and "stinkypie"...and they adore each other to bits.

(Speaking of, I got called 'pet' more than once in the UK, but it strikes me as very Andy Capp-esque.)


I'm British and I've never heard the word "sassanach", so I think there have been some crossed wires somewhere. I live with a male gay couple - much like any couple they use their own terms of affection including shortened nicknames etc. Terms like that are generally couple-specific, so just use what you like!

The Sunday Times used sassenach in a recent article - part of a theoretical insult from Brown to Blair.

I maintain that it wouldn't be used in everyday speech as an insult. Also, it's more specific than, say, 'wanker', as it wouldn't be relevant to everyone. Interesting, though.

I live in Scotland and I have to say I've never heard it used as a direct insult, though I *have* heard it used indirectly (both here and in Ireland) in referring to The English.

Just asked my partner (who's Scottish) and his experience is that the word *is* used, but humorously - like when you're with an English mate in the pub and you call him a Sassenach bastard. He's never heard it used as an actual insult.

I forgot to mention it in my post but I have never even heard of the word. I certainly agree that it should not be considered a common insult.

The last time I heard it was in Doctor Who... by Jamie, a Scottish boy plucked from the year 1746. Made me drop my knitting, but as that was his function in the programme anyway...

Anyway, Scottish, boy, 1746, directed towards confused army officer.

You don't know any Scots, then? Or possibly haven't offended any? Though it is no more insulting of itself than Saes.

Yorkshiremen are Tykes, people from Walsall are Yam-Yams. Liverpudlians are Scousers(as in You Scouse git)

It's spelt sassenach, and it's pretty harsh if it's used in an English-speaking conversation (as distinct from a Gaelis conversation, where I believe it just means Englishman). Like, I know Scottish people who won't use it on point of principle, because they consider it racist and xenophobic.

Oooon the other hand, we've been bastards to everyone surrounding us for so long... *grins*

To be honest, everyone is so clearly categorised here, and has such a distinct set of stereotypes (there's a joke that an Englishman will know everything about you after he's heard you speak three words - I sadly do not have these m4d skillz) that just the standard regional names can be insulting. "Northerner", "Glaswegian", "Welshman" (with that one having the extra edge of not being what the Welsh want to be called), "Londoner". It's just how you say them, and what you say.

For generic, not regional insults, I think they've all been covered.

For endearments, of course 'love' could be used, and very happily. (Please don't spell it 'luv'. They're pronounced the same, and it's a pointless piece of misspelling.)

For friendly forms of address, in the East Midlands there's m'duck and my grandmother in the Black Country used to address people as cocker.

Stereotypically, Northerners are tough (rough) and Southerners are weak. So, someone in London referring to the north of England will probably be talking negatively, thinking it's a rough and barbaric area. Equally, someone in the north talking about the south will probably be talking negatively, thinking they're all wusses (another bit of British insults there!) and a bit wet.
Oh, and people from Wigan are 'pie-eaters'. Pies generally are very northern food (don't confuse them with pasties, which tend to be Cornish, i.e. southern)
I think that's all reasonably accurate (if not coherent!) and I hope that it's useful.

hp_britglish has 41 Memorised posts about insults, which may be of some help, but only three about endearments, which may be less so.

Personally, I'm more used to hearing 'love' as used by bus drivers or the woman in the Post Office (women will say it to anyone, men only to women - unless, presumably, they're very very gay and in a gay-friendly environment), so hearing/seeing it used as an actual endearment between British characters comes across as a bit out of place. This is possibly a regional thing though, so YMMV with other British readers.

Are they talking to each other, or about each other (guessing to from the context but just wondering).

My friend refers to his boyfriend as "my boy" (presumably just lopping off "friend") but never seen them together to know how they interact.

I'd say most couples would just use ungendered nick/petnames; love, hunny (which is a bit more feminine but some gay men may use it), baby etc.

As several people have already pointed out, 'love' is used very commonly in England, but how commonly depends on where in England. I'm in Oxfordshire, for example, and calling someone 'love' is much less common than it is 'up North'. 'Dear' is fairly normal for couples around here, 'Darling' is less common in most circles (Although as with most anywhere in the South, you can find 'Sweetie Lovie Darling!' types in the cities that call everyone 'Sweetheart' or 'Darling') and phrases like 'My lovely' and 'My duck' are rather unfortunate old fashioned phrases that just won't go away.

It's probably easier to list the ones they probably wouldn't use - things like 'Babe' which is only really used by a few hetrosexual teenagers. My personal circle of friends prefer not using phrases like 'my boy' or 'my lad', which are usually somewhat common in relationships with an age gap, because of some *ahem* alternate interpretations of those particular phrases, but plenty of people do use them.