Babe, bae, bbz & other Terms of Endearment


“Alright my divas!!!” trilled the aerobics instructor in a broad East London accent. I instantly cringed and thought this was a mistake. I don’t, and most likely never will, identify as being a “diva” in either the positive or negative connotation. I told myself to just get through the exercise class with as little awkwardness as possible and then never return, just as I have done at various other classes across this big gym-loving city.

However, once I finished the class I realised that despite having “DIVAS!!” blared at us several times, I’d actually really enjoyed the workout. Turns out that an hour earlier I was being a bit of a judgemental bitch. Because at the end of the day, don’t our terms of endearment for each other essentially mean the same thing?

I used to be a fully paid-up member of the Anti-Babe Brigade. I bristled at the simpering sickliness of “my lovely” (it only sounds ok when a Welsh person says it). I couldn’t stand overhearing girls on the phone saying “Love you baby” and “chin up babycakes”. That is until my boyfriend and I started calling each other “babes” ironically in private for lols, and then accidentally started using it in public – yep, even in front of his parents. I felt so ashamed.

But I justified it – “babe” is the best of a bad bunch. It doesn’t have as much sugary meaning attached to it like “gorgeous” (too superficial), “bae” (too young for me to ever use authentically) and “hun” (the worst). “Babe” can be co0l and aloof, independent and casual yet still kind and authentic.

I can call my boyfriend, my sister, my mum, my friends, and yep even a colleague or two a babe (recommended with caution).

But babe is such a BORING word. One that’s so overused. Yet there aren’t many better options. Sweets, darling, poppet, petal, beb, bubs, honey, stunner, cutie… They all just seemed a bit too girly-girl to be on brand with my cool feminist beliefs, y’know? I’d find myself re-drafting Whatsapps and emails thinking Is she cool with me calling her babe? Will she notice if I don’t ‘hun’ her back? Is there ANY other pet name that sounds less cringe?

I would pay close attention to which terms of endearment other women would use with their female friends and wonder whether this choice revealed anything about them. Well guess what? All it revealed was that I’m a big fat word snob. Because they all have the same meaning attached, and in what universe should showing affection be deemed cringeworthy or embarrassing?

So now I’m trying to use a bigger variety of nicknames with no judgement. There are still a couple that don’t sound quite right when they come out of my mouth (and one of them might well be diva) but I’ll still happily let myself be called one for an hour while getting a sweat on with 30 fellow laydeez – see what I did there?

Are you a hun, or a gal, or a mate, or a poppet person? What’s your favourite term of endearment? You’re allowed to say NONE OF THEM by the way, I’m just interested in your opinions!

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