It’s common to have a pet name for a loved one, but how many of us are comfortable with using terms such as ‘babe’, ‘buddy’ or ‘hun’ when chatting with colleagues or estrangers?

New research by has revealed the UK’s favourite pet names, and also discovered when it is and isn’t appropriate to call someone by these familiar terms.

Topping the list as the favourite pet name is ‘babe’ with more than 7per cent of the vote, often associated with the cast of Essex-based reality show, TOWIE. In second place was ‘buddy’ (5 per cent), followed by ‘honey’ (4.5 per cent), both of which were more popular among women than men.

The UK’s top ten pet names are: Babe; Buddy; Honey; Darling; Sweetheart; Love; Boo; Angel; Hun; Mate

But when is it appropriate to use these terms of endearment? Forty per cent of people stated they only like being called a pet name by people they know well, and 23 per cent claimed they do not like to be called pet names at all.

Women are more likely to be happy for a pet name to be given to them, than men (65 per cent versus 45 per cent).

There are also certain situations in which terms of endearment should not be used.

The five least appropriate occasions to use pet names are: In a job interview; Speaking to a taxi driver; Meeting your partner’s parents; When someone cold calls you; On a first date

On the other hand, according to the study, the five most appropriate times to use pet names are: Greeting your partner; Greeting a friend; Speaking to younger family members; Sending a text; Saying goodbye

Reader in Sociolinguistics at Cardiff University, Dr. Mercedes Durham, commented,

Generally speaking, pet names, like other terms of endearment, can be used for politeness when you don’t know someone’s name, but also to build a connection.

There are definite differences in terms of which pet names are used and who they are used with. Younger speakers might not use ‘love’ or ‘hen’ or ‘petal’ as much as older speakers, but might use ‘mate’ instead. Older speakers are also often perceived to use more pet names with strangers.

Karina Adrian, Head of Brand Marketing at, commented,

We all use pet names every now and again, especially with our friends and family so it’s interesting to look at the occasions when people think it is definitely not ok to use them.

We agree a job interview isn’t quite the right time to call someone sweetheart – if you want to get the job that is!







Aphrodite is a creative writer and editor specialising in publishing and communications. She is passionate about undertaking projects in diverse sectors. She has written and edited copy for media as varied as social enterprise, art, fashion and education. She is at her most happy owning a project from its very conception, focusing on the client and project research in the first instance, and working closely with CEOs and Directors throughout the consultation process. Much of her work has focused on rebranding; messaging and tone of voice is one of her expertise, as is a distinctively unique writing style in my most of her creative projects. Her work is always driven by the versatility of language to galvanise image and to change perception, as it is by inspiring and being inspired by the wondrous diversity of people with whom paths she crosses cross!

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