Sex & Dating

History's Best Lovey-Dovey Pet Names

Published On 10/12/2015 Published On 10/12/2015

Whether you call your special friend "boo," "bae," or "boobae!" (yea, apparently, people say this), "pet names" between lovers have been around for ages. Right, Schmoopy? In fact, history's most famous men and women created some superb love monikers for their significant others, and many of these silly syllables have (for better or worse) been preserved through an ancient custom known as "letter writing."
For kicks, we delved deep into said letters of history's most beloved to identify the best "pet names" of the past. Hemingway, Napoleon, Beethoven, they are all here. And depending on how Cupid is treating you at the moment, you will either find this list nauseating or absolutely adorable.


"My Ever New Delight"

When: Early 1700s
Who said it: John Hervey 1st Earl of Bristol to Elizabeth Hervey 

This English politician wrote his wife Elizabeth touching letters in which he addresses her as his "Ever New Delight," showing he was as passionate about his love as he was about the Hanoverian succession. They had 17 children, so things seemed to be "ever new" in the bedroom as well. 


"Cher Papa"

When: Late 1700s 
Who said it: Madame Brillion to Benjamin Franklin

Franklin was quite popular with the French women, as is well documented in history. Madame Brillion was one who would write him passionate letters addressed to her "Cher Papa," which translates to "Dear Daddy." Madame Brillion was calling Benjamin Franklin, "Daddy." Let that sink in. 


“Mio Dolce Amor” 

When: Late 1700s
Who said it: Napoleon Bonaparte to wife Joséphine

Underneath every great conqueror is a distressed lover boy, right? Turns out, while maneuvering his armies, Napoleon had a girl back home on his mind. Plenty of letters filled with jealousy exist, but some show his softer side, in which he calls Joséphine his sweet love and sends her "a thousand kisses."


"Immortal Beloved"

When: Early 1800s
Who said it: Beethoven to his unnamed, "Immortal Beloved"

Probably the most famous pet name in all of history, Beethoven wrote a series of love letters (that rival his Concerto No. 5 in beauty) to a woman historians have yet to identify by anything other than her loving nickname. 


"Dear Goody"

When: 1830s 
Who said it: Jane Carlyle to Thomas Carlyle 

We wonder if Thomas Carlyle ever thought that he'd go down in history for his pet name. His wife called him "Goody," which is really damn cute and probably made him the butt of a few fellow essayists' jokes. 


"Dear Star"

When: 1840s 
Who said it: Honoré de Balzac to Countess Hanska

Ok, so we kind of expect Balzac to come up with some great names considering his profession. He refers to Polish countess, Ewelina Hanska, by a number of lovely phrases during the course of the 20 years that they exchanged letters. But "Star" is our favorite because of its simplicity. 



When: 1880s 
Who said it: Charles Stewart Parnell to Katherine O’Shea 

This was the affair that set Ireland ablaze; and for all the drama, this nationalist leader better have had a good pet name for his lover. He calls Katherine "Queenie" and signs off "Your King." Things are getting kinky...

Flickr/Pere coba

"Ma Jolie"

When: Early 1900s
Who said it: Picasso to Marcelle Humbert

When you date an artist, sometimes you get a painting named after you. And sometimes that painting hangs in a museum for years to come. You can see the painting "Ma Jolie:" or "My pretty girl" at MOMA in New York City. It's both the title of a song that was popular during Picasso's time, and his pet name for one of his many female companions, Marcelle Humbert.

Flickr/Archives New Zealand


When: Early 1900s
Who said it: Katherine Mansfield to John Murry

When the avant-garde writer Mansfield met the editor of an avant-garde literary magazine, it was a match made in hipster heaven. Mansfield called her man "Bogey" and he called her "Tig." It's unknown if they traded Eskimo kisses while calling each other the aforementioned monikers. 



When: Early 1900s 
Who said it: Alexandra Feodorovna to Tsar Nicholas II 

As wife to the last Tzar of the Russian empire, Alexandra has a prime place in history. But when speaking of Tsars and revolution, it's easy to miss individual details. Far from cold and collected, Alexandra was a little cheesy when she writes to her husband, regularly calling him, "Lovey."

Flickr/Smithsonian Institution Libraries


When: 1920s 
Who said it: Zelda Fitzgerald to Scott Fitzgerald

The Fitzgeralds are often cited as an example of tragic love, with most historians painting Zelda as the villain who ruined Scott. But after reading their early letters, it's easy to fall in love with this flapper princess; especially when she calls Scott "Goofo" as a term of endearment.


"Wicky Poo”

When: 1920s
Who said it: Earnest Hemingway to wife-to-be Hadley

This dude loved nicknames in general. That's only one step away from loving pet names. His first wife was "Hash." (Hadley Richardson). His second wife was "Fife" (Pauline Pfeiffer). But things start to get embarrassing when he gets romantic. He consistently calls Hadley "Poo" in their early correspondence, culminating in the pet name of the decade, "Wicky Poo."


“Darling Clemmie”

When: 1930s 
Who said it: Winston Churchill to wife Clementine 

We knew he was a man of words, but we did not know he was a man to borrow the lovey-dovey words of an American western folk ballad turned kids song. Oh my darling, oh my darling, oh my... turns out where wife Clementine Churchill was concerned, Winston got a wee bit sappy. 

Flickr/Vagner Carvalheiro


When: 1940s
Who said it: Jose Bartoli to Frida Kahlo

Most have read the inspiring love letters between Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. But, our favorite pet name comes not from the pen of Rivera, but from that of lover Jose Bartol. This secret lover called the painter, "Mara," short for, "Maravillosa," of course.

Flickr/That Hartford Guy


When: 1960s
Who said it: Elvis Presley to Priscilla Presley

Another guy who just loved baby talk, Elvis had special names for all his women. So many, in fact, that it was difficult to pick just one for this list. But, his name for Priscilla is our favorite because it sounds like the noise all humans make when rubbing noises with a puppy. Apparently it meant "little one" in Elvis language.

Flickr/Paul Townsend

"The Pig"

When: 1960s 
Who said it: Suze Rotolo to lover Bob Dylan

No ideas on this one. We are out of ideas. Suze Rotolo dated legendary musician Bob Dylan from 1961 to 1964. She is the woman on the cover of The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. Somewhere in the course of their three-year relationship, she started calling Bob Dylan, "The Pig," but in a cute, "I love you" sort of way. Like most pet names, it makes absolutely no sense to outsiders unversed in their specific language of love. 
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Kara King is a Production Assistant at Thrillist and would gladly go by "Wicky Poo" for Earnest. Follow her lovelorn tweets at @karatillie



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