July 16, 2013

Terms of Endearment

Have you ever been reading a book, moving along quite nicely, and then--bam--a character whips out a particular term of endearment that just yanks you right out of the story? It happened to me recently, and I'm sad to say I couldn't recover. I did try. But she just kept using that term and I . . . I had to get the hell out of Dodge. Buh-bye, story. Don't let the door hit you on the way out. I'm not saying this is the norm (thank goodness). I can put up with a certain amount of treacly back and forth when it comes to the exchange of terms of endearment, especially if they fit the characters, their background, culture, the tenor of their relationship, etc. And the history of these terms at home and from around the world is often fascinating (at times hilarious). But there comes a point where I can't see past the cheese and/or weird anymore and I do not want to be with these people any longer. Shallow? Perhaps. But it's a very individual thing, isn't it? We all have our personal favorites. As well as the ones that just, for whatever reason, grate on that last nerve. So. I'm curious as to your favorite terms of endearment? Does darling or babe do it for you? Or are you more of a pumpkin/poppet sort of person? And, please, if you've ever given up on a story or couple because you just couldn't take one more cringeworthy exchange, let me know? Maybe then I won't feel so bad for jumping ship.

54 comments:

  1. loverly. sweetheart. darlin'....those ones all make me swoon (especially when DH uses them. :o) ) I can't recall ever hating a term of endearment used by a character...but that doesn't mean it couldn't happen.

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  2. I couldn't deal with the boy in Pushing the Limits always referring to the girl as "my siren." Like, every single time he said it, I wanted to die of embarrassment on his behalf and then lecture him on what "siren" actually means.

    I'm most fond of the terms of endearment that are unique to the people, that have some sort of special meaning, which puts them more in "pet name" (such a cringe-inducing term) territory than terms of endearment.

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    1. Oh my. That one was dead awful. I could not deal.

      That is such a good point. If it's unique to the couple it's much more likely to be endearing to me.

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  3. Poppet is terrible. (Especially now that I picture Pirates of the Caribbean when it's said.)

    "Mon petite" in the Anita Blake books was pretty cringeworthy.

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    1. I like "poppet" just because it reminds me of Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

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    2. I was going to say, it works for me with Spike for sure! Not sure if it would between any other adults in a book.

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  4. I think it very much depends on what you are used to. I just got torn a new one by a reader who took huge umbrage by the fact that I called her "honey" in a tweet. What can I say? I'm southern. Apparently it comes across as insanely condescending to some people.

    "Kitten" bugs me when romance heroes use it.

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    1. For sure.

      I can't *believe* that reader took you to task over that in a tweet.

      No to kitten. Except when Liam is using it to refer to Alanna. Then and only then.

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    2. Lizzy9:46 AM

      I do not condone the reader's response, but I can definitely see where she's coming from. It is, as you say, insanely condescending to some people, whether or not a condescending tone was intended. I'm from the midwest, and I also take offense to anyone who calls me sweetie/honey--and I mean I literally bristle with distaste--even though the person using those terms might not even realize it. I think it's because most people who use the words "honey/sweetie" are usually talking to a small child, so people immediately feel like they're being talked down to. It's like a warning signal--once someone addresses you with those words, it's a sign that person does not consider you an equal, that you are, for all intents and purposes, a child to them.

      This may just be a regional difference, like how some places say soda instead of pop, or coke instead of soda, etc. In retrospect, the few people who have used honey or sweetie with me are not from around here (and...yes, I did call them out on it. It's especially insulting when someone your own age uses it), and I never hear people from around here address one another as honey or sweetie unless they're talking to someone 12 and under.

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    3. I've lived all over the U.S. and I think it's definitely a regional difference and not intended to be condescending. At least, I never felt that way when I lived in the south. I'm sure there are exceptions when certain people use it, though.

      The soda thing makes me laugh. We always only said "soda." Never pop. And coke meant an actual Coke. The first time I heard some people refer to all different kinds of soda as coke, I was completely mystified. These regional differences fascinate me.

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  5. This post makes me laugh, because I've totally given up a story for similar reasons. Some terms of endearment are very cringe-worthy. I didn't mind Poppet in Pirates, because Barbossa was so skeevy, and I could pretty much ignore it. But if the alpha male character in a book called the heroine that, I would cringe unless the endearment really fit the character.

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    1. Yes! Not alone.

      Yeah, between two adults we're supposed to like, I think I would find it hard to get on board.

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  6. Lol. This has never happened to me but I can totally see it happening. Would you be willing to tell us to which book you're referring? ;)

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    1. :) Okay . . .

      Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith

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  7. Anonymous4:54 PM

    I had a very hard time with a heroine being called "girl" by the male lead. The heroine loved it, but it bugged me. "Babe" tends to turn me off, especially if it's used as an endearment, and not as a way to show the reader who the character is.

    I'm offended when strangers call me "sweetie" even when I know it isn't meant in a condescending way.

    KarenS

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    1. Hm. I can see that one going either way for me. And I wondered about babe. I got the sense it bothered a lot of people. Again, it's worked for me sometimes and others not. at. all. It's like it actually sounds wrong coming out of some characters' mouths, you know?

      That's interesting. I don't think many strangers call me sweetie. Does the speaker's age make a difference to you? I can see maybe taking it from an elderly woman, but I don't know...

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    2. Anonymous7:51 AM

      The book was Flirting with Forty by Jane Porter. I loved Kai, the male lead, but there was something about his use of "girl" instead of the heroine's name that bugged me.

      I've been called "sweetie" by women in their twenties (or early thirties), and that's when it offends me. I've probably been called "sweetie" or "hon" by an older nurse, and that hasn't bothered me. One of my former employers was slightly amused by her neighbor who called her "sweetie" all the time (they were both in their forties at the time), but she also didn't like it. She asked me "What kind of person calls another person sweetie?" My former employer was originally from Ohio.

      KarenS

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    3. I can see that.

      Yeah, when they're younger makes total sense to me. It's just weird and somewhat disrespectful. I talked with some friends over the weekend about this subject and their responses were interesting. Several from the midwest and further west felt the same way. It would offend them. These regional differences fascinate me. I moved around every two years growing up and so I think I assumed I was always a step behind on how people spoke wherever we were, so I accepted whatever they said as normal for that place and people. But I myself often said the "wrong" thing because of it. There was a horrible 7th grade history class faux pas that to this day makes me shudder...

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  8. The worst case of endearments for me came from Julie Anne Long's horrendous debut, "The Runaway Duke" - the hero keeps calling the heroine "Wee Becca" because, you know, that's what he called her when he was 21 and she was **10**. Yes. He calls her by her childhood nickname while he's having sex with her.

    Gross.

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  9. I can't think of one at the moment, but I can see it happening. Are you gonna share?

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    1. It was "love bison."

      Hand to God.

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    2. oh dear lord. I can't even

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    3. I felt assaulted.

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    4. Anonymous7:52 AM

      Ha! I love your reaction, Angie. Assaulted!

      KarenS

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    5. Lol. It was awful.

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  10. Fun topic! I'm not fond of "babe" under any circumstances. "Pumpkin" or "punkin" is for one's offspring, not one's significant other. Same for "sweet-pea." (For the record, I've used both with my own offspring.) The worst so-called endearment I ever heard in real life was "love muffin", and one of the best in a romance novel was "mon ange" from a half-French hero to the heroine. Living south of the Mason-Dixon line, I've gotten used to "sweetie" or "honey" from strangers, and don't take offense unless it's meant offensively or patronizingly. "Honey" from one spouse to another seems absolutely normal to me. I think a lot of it is what you grow up and come of age hearing, to be honest.

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    1. Lol. Completely agree re: pumpkin being reserved for offspring alone.

      Yeeaahhh . . . no to love muffin.

      Mon ange is lovely, though. Quite lovely.

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  11. I've never given up a book for overly treacly pet names, but I had to chime in. The boyfriend and I are not much for pet names, but we do occasionally call each other sweets, especially if the other person is feeling sickly or discouraged. Other than that, we aren't much for the love talk (except in jest and mockery, of course ;) ).

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    1. Sweets makes me smile.

      Mockery love talk is awesome.

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  12. I am defiantly for the darling/babe category over poppet/muffin/pumpkin whatever. Ach. To my own surprise I call my husband babe all the time. If we are one of those couples that drive you crazy, do tell...

    I RARLEY like any kind of pet name in a book. It's even hard for me to swallow nicknames unless they are really good. It usually doesn't make me put the book down, but my liking of both characters involved in the awful pet/nickname scenario decreases significantly. I have no idea why that is.

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    1. Definitely. I am with you on this. Aaron and I use babe for each other all the time. But he started it. ;)

      I will say I love a good nickname. A good one. I tend to shorten the names of people I love, so.

      It really does have to be just right in a book.

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  13. If the guy calls the girl babe, I want to quit. Doesn't bother me nearly as much if the girl uses it. I think honey and sweetheart are nice, usually, but any of the endearments that sound condescending (it's late, I can't brain enough to think of any examples) are a real put off for me. GENERALLY, this is combined with some other problems in the book, so I can't say I've put one down specifically for that. But it's definitely a factor!

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    1. Interesting! I should have asked if the gender direction matters.

      Good point. A condescending tone can kill anything, no matter how sweet.

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  14. Wow, I don't think I've ever read a book where a term of endearment was enough to make me straight out quit. I think the one that turns me off the most is babe, just because it has that sleazy condescending feel to it, but it's not really enough to make me give up on a book. That being said, I'm dying to know what endearment made you cringe so much!

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    1. That seems to be a popular feeling. I agree if there's a sleazy connotation or sleaze in the speaker, it doesn't work at all.

      So the term was "love bison." I kid you not. There was no soldiering on at that point. I physically recoiled the first time it was uttered.

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    2. WAIT A MOMENT. WERE YOU READING WILD AWAKE????

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    3. Ding, ding, ding!

      That's the one.

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    4. I WAS JUST READING THAT LAST WEEK! Personally I thought it was rather oddly cute, especially since the narrator is so quirky and all-over-the-place. I'm sorry it didn't work out for you!

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    5. Get out!

      It's okay. I thought I would feel that way about it initially. But then I didn't. Ah well.

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  15. Wow. I just had to google "bison," thinking I must have it mixed up in my brain--it couldn't be those buffalo things. Love bison? Really? I'm from the 80s and never thought these words would come to me again, but--barf me out!

    I loathe all forms of "baby" and "babe." I almost broke up with my then-boyfriend (now-husband) because he called someone a chick, as in, "she's a nice chick." But I relented when he argued to the death that our misunderstanding was simply a regional difference in nuance.

    He calls me "Love" now, and I love it. He even capitalizes it in text. (eg, "Hello, Love, how was your day?") It still melts me.

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    1. Sadly, it *was* those buffalo things. *shudder*

      I love that you and your husband fought over chick. Totally understand. What region is he from, if you don't mind my asking?

      Love is hands down one of the best ones around. :)

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  16. [dk why, but I can't get the reply link on your comment to work, so I'm starting a new comment here.]

    David grew up in So Cal--Camarillo (just up the coast from LA), and according to him, "chick" is a perfectly synonym for "girl." Still, I'm unconvinced.

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    1. Sorry it wasn't working, Sally!

      I remain unconvinced with you.

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    2. I live in the Bakersfield area(so-cal), and grew up hearing chick a lot. As in, she's out with a bunch of her chicks. It's a chick night. But, it seems to be an generation thing. I'm in my late twenties, and I only remember hearing it from older men and women. I catch myself saying it sometimes, but now feel odd b/c of the whole chick-lit thing. Also, most of my generation didn't say it too much after the whole "b*tches" thing came out. It used be the shrug with "chicks," now it's the shrug with the other word.

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  17. LOL. I had somewhat of a similar experience with a book--only the main reason I stopped was because I couldn't get into their "love" story. And I don't know why but the fact that he kept referring to her as an angel annoyed me so much. Although I didn't mind that term of endearment when it was used in JANE.

    LOVE BISON? LMAO WHAT. HAHA, that just makes me laugh. "I'm going to stampede you....with my loveeee."

    I used to think "honey" or "sweetheart" was weird when I was younger but now I find it sweet. One of my favorites though is "pearl," or "cielo" in spanish. :)

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    1. See, I've had angel work for me between some couples and not at all with others. So finicky!

      I LOVED IT IN JANE AND THAT IS ALL

      hahahaha I just couldn't. I kept trying and I finished the book. To be fair, that was not the only thing that bothered me about the book. And everyone else in the world adores it, so I could be a complete outlier here.

      But still.

      Love. Bison.

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  18. Babe/baby irks me, but I don't remember ever DNF'ing a book just because I didn't like the endearments the author used.

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    1. I will admit it wasn't the only reason. But it was a big part of it. ;)

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  19. I'm okay with honey, baby, sweetheart. :P Most of my friends back home who are in relationships use "babe" so that one is pretty common. I don't think I've ever stopped reading a book because of an annoying term of endearment but I'll definitely let you know if it happens.

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    1. The famous trio. :)

      Definitely let me know. I would imagine truly awful ones are few and far between-ish. But they are out there! lol.

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  20. I'm kind of pissing myself laughing right now, my sweet little love bison.

    So, so funny. I've never come across that one before!

    I tend to shudder at "babe" or "baby", which I come across a lot in American romance (not sure it's popular outside of the States??), but I've never quit a book over an endearment. I've lost respect for the characters, but it hasn't been enough to make me stop reading.

    Then again, I've never read love bison before!! And it wasn't meant to be silly in any way??

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    1. I hope never to come across it again, Shannon. Sadly it was not meant in a silly way. Sadly.

      You may be right. Babe could be a US thing. Interesting.

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