How to Say “My Love” in French and 27 Other French Terms of Endearment
There are endless ways to express love for someone in French other than saying “je t’aime” (I love you).
Let’s explore the varied world of French terms of endearment, cute French nicknames and all sorts of ways to show your love for someone.
- Romantic Nicknames
- Terms of Endearment for Anyone
- Nicknames for Children
- Le Diminutif (The Diminutive)
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1. Mon amour
Meaning: My love
You probably recognize this term since it’s pretty universal. It sounds very similar to other romance languages and is even often used by English speakers.
The meaning of mon amour is straightforward, and out of all the entries on the list, you will probably hear this one the most often, though it’s usually reserved for romantic partners or love interests.
2. Mon beau / Ma belle
Meaning: My beautiful
These terms literally translate to “my beautiful” but also can mean “my boyfriend” or “my girlfriend”, depending on the form used.
3. Ma moitié
Meaning: My other half
While it is more literally translated as “my other half” in English, I like to think of this as “my better half.” After all, that’s the whole idea, right? We make our other halves more special by putting them up on a pedestal.
Ma moitié is, like in English, usually said to a “partner in crime” or a “main squeeze.”
Meaning: My blankie or my cuddly thing
The funky thing about this term is that there’s not really a literal translation!
A doudou is a child’s most cherished item as a toddler, usually a stuffed animal or blankie they can’t sleep, live or breathe without. And you guessed it, it’s a widely used term of endearment by the French.
According to international French speakers, particularly from African countries, doudou is a slang term used to refer to a girlfriend or wife. Although it’s technically meant for women, it can be used as an endearing term for both sexes.
I’d say the closest word to doudou in our English endearment dictionary is “pookie,” which is a fun, wacky, yet cute name to call a lover.
5. Mon chat
Meaning: My cat
Mon chat can be said to both sexes. I wouldn’t say that this is the most common term of endearment, but it is still good to know should you come across it.
Similar to mon chou, mon chat also has many cute varieties:
mon chatounet (m) / ma chatounette (f)
minou (masculine only)
minet (m) / minette (f)
mon p’tit chaton (my little kitty, unisex)
All of these mean “little kitty,” but only certain ones can be said to males or females.
6. Mon oiseau
Meaning: My bird
Oiseau is the word for “bird” in French.
Other phrases include:
mon petit oiseau (my little bird)
mon oisillon (my little birdie)
Both mon oisillon and mon petit oiseau are commonly said to males and females. There’s no preference.
English equivalents may include “my little lovey dovey,” “my little birdie” or “my little dove.” This one tends to be more meant for romantic partners but I could see it being used for children as well.
7. Ma caille
Mean: My quail
Ma caille (another feminine word) can be frequently said to both women and men. There are no other variations of ma caille in French.
It’s hard to translate considering we don’t really have an equal in our own language in the context of it being a term of endearment.
Caille also means “freezing,” so just keep that in mind!
8. Mon coco / Ma cocotte
Meaning: My hen
Even though a hen is a female bird, the word coco is actually masculine.
Mon coco does have a female version: Ma cocotte.
This means that you will have to use the proper version according to who you’re talking to. This is another one that can be used in multiple contexts.
9. Mon papillon
Meaning: My butterfly
This nickname is usually used romantically, and is used in the masculine regardless of the person’s gender.
10. Ma foi
Meaning: My faith
This term is a bit more old-fashioned (and can have some religious connotations) but it can be used as a sweet and usually romantic term for a loved one.
Ma foi is a more formal than many of the others nicknames on this list and isn’t as commonly used, but it’s also poetic in a way that can be very romantic.
Je ne te quitterai jamais, ma foi ! (I will never leave you, my faith!)
Terms of Endearment for Anyone
11. Mon chéri / Ma chérie
Meaning: My darling
Lucky for you, this is a direct translation. However, let me remind you that the French word chérie is more complex than you think.
Can you tell me the difference between chérie, chéri, cher and chère?
Ma chérie (said to women) and mon chéri (said to men) both refer to “my darling,” but ma chère (for women) and mon cher (for men) both translate to “my dear.” While these words are similar, they do technically have different meanings, so just keep that in mind.
Like mon cœur and mon amour, ma chérie or mon chéri is said with an innocent, loving tone to either a lover or child and even sometimes to a friend—especially in France.
12. Mon cœur
Meaning: My heart
Mon cœur is not as regularly used in English, but it is fairly common in French.
I would say that mon cœur translates—though not literally—to “my sweetheart.”
This one is typically used in romantic contexts but can also be used by parents to refer to their children. In this manner, English is similar as most English speakers will refer to their own kids in a similar way.
13. Mon trésor
Meaning: My treasure
Although it literally means “my treasure,” I would more closely equate this to “my precious” in English, referring to a loved one.
In reality, mon trésor is kind of just its own word that is hard to directly translate as it doesn’t quite mean the same thing.
In French, mon trésor can be said to both males and females, friends, family and children.
14. Mon ange
Meaning: My angel
In English, we use “my angel” as a favored term of affection. Other forms include “angel face,” “my sweet angel,” etc.
I will say that I don’t really hear this one that often in English, and while it might be a bit more common in French, I wouldn’t name it one of the most typical terms of endearment.
Mon ange can be used for both sexes and toward children or lovers.
15. Mon chou / Ma choue
Meaning: My cabbage
Yes, chou means “cabbage,” but what this phrase actually conveys is “my favorite one.”
This is where things start to get a little tricky because there are other variations of mon chou to make them sound cuter.
Some of these varieties include:
ma choupette (f)
mon choupinou (m) / ma choupinette (f) — this makes the phrase even cuter.
mon chouchou (m) / ma chouchoute (f) — another way to make the name sound cute.
mon petit chou (my little cabbage) — can only be said to males or little boys.
While “cabbage” isn’t very widely used as an English nickname, the closest equivalent I’d use would be “pumpkin,” “pumpkin pie, “baby cakes” or any other name referring to food.
16. Mon bébé
Meaning: My baby
Bébé is up on the “typical” list with mon cœur, mon trésor, ma chérie and mon amour.
You will hear this term of endearment quite frequently and it can be used in nearly any situation.
Anyone can be a baby. You can use this to refer to your lover, your friend, your child or even your pet!
Just keep in mind that this word is masculine and actually stays masculine no matter who you use it for.
17. Ma joie
Meaning: My joy
This sweet term for someone you love literally refers to happiness. It’s usually used romantically, but can be used by a parent toward their child (but not the reverse).
Je t’adore, ma joie. (I love you, my joy.)
Note: Because joie is feminine, you would use this expression exactly as is when speaking to a boyfriend/husband. The possessive pronoun does not change to mon joie.
18. Mon lapin
Meaning: My rabbit
While this one may not make much sense in English, it is a pretty well-known term of endearment in French.
Like chaton, there are also other diminutive versions of lapin that help make the French endearing term sound all the cuter:
According to my French source, mon lapin is commonly said to males and young boys, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t used for females.
Young girls can be referred to as lapin, but unfortunately, there isn’t a feminine conversion for this endearing name. That still doesn’t mean that a female can’t be a honey bunny!
19. Ma puce
Meaning: My flea
From personal experience, ma puce is a pretty popular term and you will probably hear it often used with friends, lovers and children.
And as with most animal names, ma puce also has its diminutive varieties:
ma petite puce (little flea)
ma pupuce (tiny, little flea)
While I’m not too sure why this little bug has become such an affectionate term, the French sure love it!
We don’t exactly have an equivalent for this, so I’d say “sweetie” fits just fine.
While this one is feminine, it also doesn’t change gender so it will stay feminine no matter the context, just as the masculine terms stay masculine!
20. Mon poussin
English translation: My chicky
Poussin actually translates to “chick.” Not like a “hot babe,” but a “baby chicken.”
And so as it goes, while it’s a masculine word it’s still unisex with diminutive varieties!
mon poussinet (m) / ma poussinette (f) — A cuter version of “chicky”
Our English translation for this cuter version? I think “chicky-poo” could suffice. This is yet another one that isn’t just reserved for romantic relationships, but for friends and family as well!
21. Mon loulou / Ma louloute
While loulou doesn’t actually mean anything, it’s believed to derive from loup , which in French means “wolf.”
Loulou could technically be the diminutive of loup, but both are completely separate from each other.
The female version can be spelled two ways: ma louloute or ma louloutte.
There’s also mon loup (my wolf), but keep in mind that mon loulou and mon loup are only said to men or boys—no exceptions.
Unfortunately, there’s no translation for mon loulou. I would say that mon loup is the equivalent to “sparky.”
22. Mon nounours
Meaning: My teddy bear
Although the technical phrase is mon ours (my bear), this diminutive version is more popular.
French natives are more likely to use mon nounours because it’s cute—duh. And like mon loup, it should only be used toward males (sorry, ladies).
English translations include, “my little teddy bear” or “my teddy bear.”
This one can be used for romantic partners or for children.
23. Ma biche
Meaning: My doe
Okay, now here’s one for the ladies!
This literally translates into a female deer—a doe!
Other written styles include:
This one is meant for women only, but it can be used in any loving context including lovers, family and friends!
24. Ma poule
Meaning: My chicken
What’s the deal with poultry in France? They eat a heck of a lot of it, so that can explain why there are so many endearing terms that pay homage to French culinary culture.
Ma poule, like mon poussin, refers to “chickens” and endearingly means “chickie-poo.”
Although ma poule is unisex, other variations include:
mon poulet (m) — this version can only be said to males
ma poulette (f) — females only
25. Ma crevette
Meaning: My shrimp
Last but not least, ma crevette. It’s a feminine word with a diminutive ending! How sweet!
This one can go both ways—animal-related or food-related endearing name. The best English equivalent I’d give it is “munchkin.”
Ma crevette can be a bit difficult to wrap your head around, as calling someone a shrimp in English is not exactly the highest of compliments. In French, it’s quite the opposite. It’s used to call someone small in a cutesy way rather than a demeaning way.
Ma crevette can be for both the guys and gals and in any context.
Nicknames for Children
26. Mon biquet / Ma biquette
Meaning: My lamb
This term of endearment meaning “my lamb” is used similarly to “sweetie” or “little one” and is mainly used when talking to children.
27. Mon caneton
Meaning: My duckling
Canard , as most of you might know, means “duck” in French.
Mon caneton is the charming, cuter way to express love while still talking about ducks. This one is pretty common for referring to children.
There are no variations for this phrase, but it can be used for both males and females, so disregard the masculinity!
28. Ma coccinelle
This term is often used as a sweet pet name for loved ones, but typically not in the romantic sense. This would be said more often in a parent-daughter relationship.
Aujourd’hui tes cheveux sont trop beaux, ma coccinelle ! (Your hair is so beautiful today, my ladybug!)
Le Diminutif (The Diminutive)
The diminutive can be tricky as it may exist somewhat in English, but it’s not at all the same as it is in French. English diminutive examples are itsy, bitsy, tubsy or wubsy.
The diminutive is essentially meant to make things cuter, which you’ve already seen instances of earlier. It also appears in some of the terms of endearment in the video below.
The difference between French and English is that French can use the diminutive for any word. This is done by adding a suffix to the end of regular French words.
What they do is add a suffix to the end of regular French words. Luckily, there are only two endings to remember:
Here are some examples:
un livre (a book) → un livret (a booklet, masculine)
un jardin (a garden) → jardinet (a small garden, masculine)
une cuisine (a kitchen) → une cuisinette (a small kitchen, feminine)
une fille, une fillette (a little girl, feminine)
There are times when the endings get mixed up a bit, but you just have to remember the specific instances as there’s not really a rule for when that happens.
Just be on the lookout for diminutive and more terms of endearment in any French film you’re watching or book you’re reading.
You can also look up the terms of endearment and its diminutive varieties on FluentU, which will bring up native French clips from the video library that feature your search. Additionally, you can add any word or phrase to a personal flashcard deck to review later.
So, there you have it—28 ways to kindly let someone know you’re dearly fond of them in French.
There are even more terms of endearment out there that you will encounter in time, so be sure to listen in and pick those up for your own use!
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)