Can You Call A Man “Darling”? Read This Before You Do!

English is full of terms of endearment, but it can be tricky to figure out which terms are appropriate for which people. In this article we’re going to take a look at the term “darling.” What does it mean? Is it a gendered term? Read on to find out.

Can You Call A Man “Darling”?

It’s completely fine to call a man “darling” if he’s okay with it. “Darling” is a term that can be used between friends and loved ones. While it’s perfectly acceptable to call men “darling,” men don’t typically call each other “darling” unless they are romantic partners.

Can You Call A Man Darling

“Darling” is commonly used in British English. In American English, “darling” is primarily used in the south where it is typically pronounced “darlin’.” Outside of the south, Americans might think “darling” sounds theatrical, as it’s associated with theater and older films.

In both countries, when “darling” is used as a term of endearment it isn’t typically used between men unless they’re romantic partners. It would be natural for a woman to call a man “darling” but a man may be uncomfortable being called “darling” by another man.

Keep in mind that context matters. While men don’t generally call each other “darling,” there are several settings where men calling each other “darling” is the norm.

For example, people who work in theater often call each other “darling” regardless of gender. This is true in both British and American English.

What Does “Darling” Mean?

“Darling” is a common term of endearment in the UK and the southern US. The Cambridge Dictionary defines “darling” as “a person who is very much loved or liked.” As such, “darling” is an affectionate term you can use to express your love or to be friendly.

It is common for people to call their children, partners, and friends “darling.” When used with people you know, it comes off as quite affectionate.

“Darling” can also be used with strangers or acquaintances to be friendly. This is extremely common in the southern United States.

Outside of the south, “darling” isn’t very commonly used in the United States. If they aren’t southern or associated with theater, someone from the US may be considered eccentric for calling people “darling.”

Is “Darling” Masculine Or Feminine?

“Darling” is affectionate, which can feel feminine in many English-speaking countries. While “darling” leans feminine, it’s not considered exclusively feminine as a rule.

The true reason men typically don’t call each other “darling” isn’t that the word is inherently feminine. In many English-speaking countries, men showing affection to each other is often considered feminine.

So a woman calling her husband “darling” isn’t calling him by a feminine nickname. She’s showing affection to him. As it’s a cultural norm for women to show affection to men, the interaction isn’t considered inherently feminine.

Similarly, a man calling a woman “darling,” a woman calling another woman “darling,” or another calling a child “darling” fall in line with cultural norms associated with affection.

So “darling” has feminine associations because it’s affectionate. A man calling another man “darling” feels feminine, but outside of that, it’s fairly neutral.

13 Better Nicknames To Call Your Man

While it’s normal for a woman to call her male partner “darling,” it may feel dated as a term of endearment. If your man doesn’t like to be called “darling,” here are some better alternatives:


“Sweetheart” is a common term of endearment used between loved ones. “Sweetheart” is most commonly used between romantic partners and as something parents may call their children.

“Sweetheart” can also be used as a more general term of endearment towards children. Typically only women will call children who aren’t theirs “sweetheart.”

Men sometimes call women who aren’t their parents “sweetheart,” but this is considered outdated and now seems a bit smarmy.

Here are some examples:

  • I’m marrying my high school sweetheart this fall.
  • Sweetheart, have you seen my green leggings?
  • Sweetheart, where have you been?


“Sweetie” is a shortened, more casual version of “sweetheart.” Nowadays it’s more common for romantic partners to call each other “sweetie” than “sweetheart.”

“Sweetie” has the same general uses as “sweetheart.”

Here are some examples:

  • I’ll be there in a minute, sweetie! I’m just making popcorn.
  • Good morning, sweetie. Did you sleep well?
  • Sweetie, I need some help moving the desk.


“Honey” is a common term of endearment. Like “sweetheart,” “honey” can be used for a child and for a romantic partner.

You’ll notice many terms of endearment in English, especially American English, are references to something sweet. The sweets-based terms of endearment typically have the same meaning and use. The difference mostly comes down to preference.

There may be some regional and cultural preferences as well, and you may even notice certain families favor one over the other.

Here’s how you can use “honey” with your man:

  • Hey, honey. How was work?
  • He’s my honey.
  • Honey, have you seen my grey jacket?


“Hun” is a shortened form of “honey.” It’s used in the same contexts.

because “hun” is a shortened word, it’s often used in colloquial contexts that don’t adhere to proper grammar usage.

Here are some examples:

  • Hun, you have any plans tonight?
  • Hun, how long’s the line?
  • You have any plans next week, hun?


“Sugar” is considered very casual and is typically popular in specific regions, primarily in the United States.

“Sugar” is a term of endearment that is typically only used by women and typically references a man. The man doesn’t need to be her romantic partner.

Calling a man “sugar” is usually seen as flirtatious outside of customer service. In regions where “sugar” is a common term of endearment, female customer service representations will often call male customers “sugar.”

Here are some examples:

  • Hey sugar. How’s your day going?
  • I missed you, sugar.

My Love

“Love” is a more general term of endearment common in British English. “My love” is more exclusively used for close relationships, like romantic partners or children.

Where “love” isn’t primarily used in British English, “my love” is used in both British and American English. It’s more common in British English, but you’ll hear it in American English much more frequently than “love.”

Here are some examples:

  • Hello, my love. Did you have a good day at work?
  • I’ve missed you, my love.

Honey Bear

“Honey bear” is a cutesy nickname that is primarily used for men. “Honey bear” is also primarily used between romantic partners.

There are several popular variations of nicknames for a boyfriend or a husband that involve the word “bear.” In general, they are quite cutesy. Calling you man “honey bear” is more cutesy than calling him “honey.”

Here are some examples:

  • I missed you, honey bear! You should stay home tomorrow.
  • I love you, honey bear.
  • Honey bear, can you pick up some garbage bags at the store?


“Baby” is a term that can be used for romantic partners or for children, typically by their parents.

Baby is still popular in some regions but may seem outdated in others.

“Baby” is often reserved for more serious moments or moments that require a deeper level of emotional intimacy, but it can be used in any context.

Here are some examples:

  • When are you going to have dinner ready, baby?
  • Hey, baby, how have you been?
  • Baby, what’s wrong?


“Babe” is a term of endearment primarily used between romantic partners. It can also be used between friends, but that’s less common.

“Babe” is a shortened form of “baby.” “Babe” isn’t more casual than “baby,” it’s just more exclusively romantic.

Here are some examples:

  • Babe, where’s my favorite spatula?
  • Babe, did you do the laundry?
  • Babe, where are you?


“Puddin'” is a popular term of endearment in the United States. It is typically pronounced and spelled “puddin'” instead of the proper “pudding.” It’s typically used by women, but can be used towards anyone.

Here are some examples:

  • Why do you have to be at work all day, puddin’?
  • I love you, puddin’.


Another reference to sweetness, “cupcake” is a term of endearment that can be used on anyone. It’s typically said by women.

Here are some examples:

  • Goodnight, cupcake.
  • Cupcake! I missed you so much.


“Dear” is an extremely common term of endearment in English. It can be said to anyone. Younger people may think “dear” is an outdated endearment for a romantic partner, but many people still use it.

Here are some examples:

  • I’ll be there in just a moment, dear.
  • Are you going to eat, dear? Hurry up.
  • Dear, do you know where the tape measure is?


“Loverboy” is a common thing to call a husband or a boyfriend. “Loverboy” often has a teasing tone.

Typically, “loverboy” is used occasionally to tease a male romantic partner about being particularly excited about romance.

“Loverboy” has something of a scandalous origin, but is usually used in a more mundane way today.

Here are some examples:

  • Come on, loverboy. Let’s eat.
  • You set up a picnic? Alright, loverboy, we can eat outside.
  • That’s too many flowers, loverboy. I can’t possibly keep them all alive.

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