petite anglaise

October 6, 2004

terms of endearment

Filed under: Uncategorized — petiteanglaiseparis @ 3:23 pm

When buying a naughty breakfast snack this morning at the kiosk below my office, the lady serving me (in her 40’s, liberally made-up, raucous voice of a forty a day galloise smoker) called me ‘ma biche’, as usual. Literally: doe (a deer, a female deer…); but basically it’s like calling someone ‘pet’ in English.

And so I got to thinking about other common but rather odd terms of endearment in the French language.

My favourite has got to be ‘ma puce’, which translates as ‘my flea’. I don’t know about you, but if I could choose any member of the animal kingdom to describe someone I was rather fond of, a flea would not have been my first choice. Fleas are not cute, and definitely not cuddly. But I grant that the word sounds quite nice. Maybe that’s all it is.

If I had to choose a plant, or indeed a vegetable, to describe someone dear to me, likewise I doubt ‘my (little) cabbage’ would spring to mind, but in France ‘mon chou’ is another common affectionate name.

French ‘Mother in Law’ (because you don’t have to be married to have a MIL) calls the Tadpole ‘ma mie’, which is not a little confusing, as she calls herself ‘mamie’ (grandma)… If you were paying attention, you will recall that mie is the soft middle bit of a baguette, which the Frog scoops out and leaves in compressed balls on the dinner table.

What does the Frog call me?

That would be telling…

NB: Incidentally, the Frog will be forced to read all the comments in the ‘old maid’ post, plus his email (thanks Vit!) and I will keep you informed if there are any developments. I’m trying to persuade him to do a guest post at some point, but he says he wants me to build up some more vilainous traits in his character first. I’m not sure why.


  1. I’m sure he would call you something pretty special after receiving a zillion emails castigating him.

    He’s revelling in his notoriety, like any self respecting gallic male would.

    Its a dangerous game you play.

    Comment by Watski — October 6, 2004 @ 3:32 pm

  2. Let’s try to guess.

    Mon lapin (bunny), mon chou (cabbage), mon petit oiseau des iles (small bird from the islands), ma petite cochonne (my little piggie), mon chaton (kitten), mon canard (duck), ma loutre (otter). So many possibilities!

    I think that the “puce” thing comes because of it’s small and jumps on you. Which would explain the comparison with a girlfriend. But I should not go there. ;-)

    Comment by Chninkel — October 6, 2004 @ 5:03 pm

  3. another term of endearment that i hate is ‘mon coeur’.

    don’t tell us that the Frog calls you “chérie” ?

    Comment by zed — October 6, 2004 @ 5:09 pm

  4. nothing so poetic here, just the obvious like pretty little thingy…. except the ever-present “coitadinho/a” which means “poor little thing” which makes you feel like poo when someone says it to your child infront of you.

    (was I the only emailer? golly!) ;)

    Comment by vitriolica — October 6, 2004 @ 5:41 pm

  5. nul points

    you’ll never guess, it’s not even in the dictionary

    Comment by petite anglaise — October 6, 2004 @ 8:05 pm

  6. Actually I think “ma mie” doesn’t refer to the bread, but is a short, out-fashioned version of “mon amie”, my friend, or someone close to your heart in the Middle-age meaning of the term.

    Comment by V. — October 7, 2004 @ 8:31 am

  7. I stand corrected.

    Comment by petite anglaise — October 7, 2004 @ 10:26 am

  8. My ex Frog (yes, I used to have one!) used to call me “ma chérie” all the time – he hardly ever called me by my name at all!

    Comment by witho — October 7, 2004 @ 10:43 am

  9. Ma puce, is because the animal is little,and quick…it’s cute, the nickname existed before microscope is think.
    And mon chou is not the vegetable, it’s the sweet cake with cream in it and caramel on top…Mon chou stand for honey, sweetie, I guess.
    Nothing weird to this, maybe just a little loss in translation… I’m having quite the same experience here in SF, being french. Miel? Sucre? Miel Lapin? C’est pas des surnoms ca!

    Find your blog delightful, by the way.:smile:

    Comment by del4yo — October 12, 2004 @ 10:45 pm

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