10 Original and Lovely Mexican Terms of Endearment
There are quite a lot Mexican terms of endearment, as Mexican people are very affectionate and warm to one another. They talk in diminutives and “soft” terms, and also express this affection through touching. If you’ve ever had a Mexican friend, you may know what I’m talking about.
It’s normal that such a loving, romantic, and passionate culture would produce many terms of endearment.
Today, I’ll define terms of endearment, distinguish between Spanish and Mexican terms of endearment, and introduce you to some of the most common ones, along with examples of how to use them.
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What Are Terms of Endearment?
When you want to express your affection to someone you love, you use words known as terms of endearment. These terms can be used in romantic relationships, but also with your friends and family.
Due to their Latin blood, Spanish-speaking people are very fond of using a wide array of terms of endearment. Being cariñoso or “affectionate” is part of the Latin American culture, and Mexican people are especially good at this.
Differences Between Spanish and Mexican Terms of Endearment
Just as it happens with Spanish slang, there are terms of endearment specific to different countries and regions. The uniquely Mexican terms of endearment, just like the uniquely Mexican slang, may have originated in this country, but nowadays they’re widely used in many countries across Latin America.
One important thing to mention when talking about this topic is that all Mexican terms of endearment are Spanish, but not all Spanish terms of endearment are Mexican. Some of the following words may not be understood across the Spanish-speaking world, but you can be sure that people will know what you mean if you use them in Mexico.
10 Mexican Terms of Endearment
The following is a list of 10 of the most common Mexican terms of endearment you’ll ever hear!
1. Mijo / Mija
Mijo, mija, mijito, and mijita are perhaps the most Mexican terms of endearment of them all. They’re a fusion of the words mi hijo (my son) or mi hija (my daughter), while mijito and mijita are just the diminutives of the same words (my little son, my little daughter). It’s a favorite of Mexican grandpas and grandmas, and it went mainstream after being featured in the animated film Coco.
Mijito, tráeme mis medicinas por favor.
My son, bring me my medicine please.
Te quiero mucho Mija.
I love you so much my daughter.
2. Carnal / Compa / Cuate
I’ve put these three Mexican terms of endearment together because they all mean basically the same: dude.
Carnal could be used as a synonym of brother too, but it’s more common to hear friends calling each other carnal.
Compa, on the other hand, comes from the word compadre. In Mexico, the godfather of your child is your compadre. However, nowadays you don’t need to be an actual compadre to call your very good friend compa.
Cuate is just a different word to call your friend, especially used in Central Mexico. In reference to a female friend, you’d say cuata.
¿Cómo estás carnal?
How are you dude?
Oye compa, ¿vamos a la playa?
Hey dude, do you want to go to the beach?
Te presento a mi cuate, se llama Carlos.
This is my friend, his name is Carlos.
3. Mi vida
This is one of those Mexican terms of endearment that I’m not sure if it’s uniquely Mexican or if it even originated in Mexico. It’s actually a widely used term of endearment throughout the Spanish-speaking world. What I can assure you is that in Mexico a lot of people use it to refer to their significant other (my wife among them!). It literally means “my life,” but in English you’d say something like “honey.”
Mi vida, ¿puedes cuidar un poco a las niñas?
Honey, can you keep an eye on the girls?
Similar to the previous one, cielo also refers to your significant other. It literally means “sky” or “heaven,” and may have been popularized by a Spanish song globally associated with Mexico: Cielito Lindo.
De la Sierra Morena
Un par de ojitos negros
Cielo voy a la tienda, ¿quieres algo?
Honey I’m going to the shop, do you want anything?
5. Viejo / Vieja
I know that calling someone “old man” or “old lady” doesn’t sound very endearing, but it’s all about how you say it. In Mexico, people say it to refer to their significant other, while in other Latin American countries such as Argentina and Uruguay, it’s used to refer to their parents.
Mi vieja es la mejor del mundo.
My girl is the best in the world.
Cállate y dame un beso viejo.
Shut up and kiss me honey.
6. Gordo / Gorda
Just like viejo and vieja, calling your significant other “fatty” may not be very appreciated in the English-speaking world. But in Mexico, I know quite a lot of couples that say it in such a way that it even sounds sweet.
¡Te quiero mucho gordito!
I love you so much honey!
¡Mi gorda cocina el mole más rico!
My baby prepares the best mole ever!
7. Flaco / Flaca
Weirdly enough, calling someone “skinny boy” or “skinny girl” is not reserved for your significant other, but your friends or even children. Both my dad and my best friend still call me flaco, even though I stopped being one a long time ago!
¿Cómo están todos por allá flaco?
How is everyone over there son?
Cariño is one of the most popular Mexican terms of endearment, but its use is widely extended outside of Mexico too. You can use it to refer to your significant other, but it’s also used by parents and grandparents, and even between girlfriends. It can be translated as “honey” or “dear,” just please don’t make the mistake to start a working email with cariño!
¿Cómo te va en la escuela cariño?
How are you doing at school dear?
9. Jefe / Jefa
Jefe or jefa means “boss” which is a strange word to use as a term of endearment. However, in Mexico we recognize that our parents are the “bosses of the family” and call them exactly that in a playful way. I remember calling jefecita or “little boss” to my mom, and jefazo or “big boss” to my dad many times.
Hola jefazo, ¿cómo te fue en el trabajo?
Hello dad, how was your day at work?
¡Ándale jefecita, dame permiso de ir a la fiesta!
Come on mom, let me go to the party!
10. Querido / Querida
Also meaning “dear,” querido usually comes with another word specifying who you’re referring to. For example, querido amigo (dear friend) or querida tía (dear aunt). You can also use it to refer to your significant other like in one of the top romantic Mexican songs of the 80s: Querida.
Piensa en mí solo un momento y ve
Date cuenta de que el tiempo es cruel
Y lo he pasado yo sin ti.
Think in me just for a moment and go
Realize that time is cruel
And I have passed it without you.
Querida, ¿a dónde quieres ir de vacaciones?
Honey, where do you want to go on vacations?
Estás equivocado querido amigo.
You’re wrong, dear friend.
Practice Your Mexican Terms of Endearment
Mexican culture is a very warm and affectionate one. Mexicans use a lot of diminutives and terms of endearment, and if you ever visit this country or talk with Mexican people, you’ll impress them if you know how to use them.
However, memorizing Mexican terms of endearment adds nothing to your Spanish skills, as you need to understand when it’s appropriate to use them and that only comes with practice. Sign up for a free class with a certified, native Spanish-speaking teacher and start using Mexican terms of endearment today!
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