What Do Chinese People Call Their Loved Ones in Mandarin

December 16, 2022

Although Chinese culture is often viewed as conservative, it is completely normal for couples to enjoy a bit of romance by calling each other cute Chinese pet names to express their love.

If you too want to address your partner with endearing nicknames in Chinese, here are 21 Chinese pet names you can choose from.

How to call your partner “baby” in Chinese

1-宝贝 bǎobèi

Bǎo means “treasure” or “precious”, and 贝 bèi means “shellfish”. I understand that calling someone a “precious shellfish” may seem weird, but once you move past the literal meaning, it’s easy to see why the term 宝贝 is typically used as an endearing way to call your partner “baby” in Chinese nowadays.

2-宝宝 bǎobǎo

宝宝 Bǎobǎo is another popular way to say “baby” in Chinese. As mentioned previously, 宝 Bǎo means “precious” in Chinese, and reiterating it twice is a great way to emphasize how important your significant other is to you. Don’t worry, calling your lover 宝宝 won’t make you sound like Gollum from Lord of the Rings saying “precious”.

3-北鼻 běibí

In its literal sense, 北鼻 Běibí means “north nose”, but in fact, it is a transliteration of the English word “baby” and can also be used as a pet name in Chinese.

Although the aforementioned terms of endearment can be used to refer to an actual baby, they are also popular pet names to address a romantic partner among young couples.


How do you say “my angel” in Chinese?

4-我的天使 wǒ de tiānshǐ

Another endearing Chinese nickname that is sure to make you sound extra sweet is 我的天使 wǒ de tiānshǐ, which means “my angel”. Bear in mind that it’s generally used to address a female romantic partner, but parents sometimes use it for their children too.

How to say “sweetheart” in Chinese

5-甜心 tiánxīn

This one is pretty straightforward. 甜心 tiánxīn literally means “sweet heart”, and it’s how lovers call each other “sweetheart” “sweetie” or “honey” in Chinese.

How to call your partner “my everything” in Chinese

6-心肝 xīn'gān

If you’re a big romantic and prefer a more poetic Chinese pet name for your other half, then 心肝 xīngān is the perfect way to go.

心肝 means “heart and liver” in the literal sense, but since we can’t live without our heart and liver, calling your girlfriend/boyfriend 心肝 would convey the idea that you can’t live without them. You can also think of this Chinese term of endearment as the equivalent of “heart and soul” in English.

How do you say “dear” or “darling” in Chinese?

7-亲爱的 qīn'ài de

In case the Chinese pet names mentioned above sound too cloying and over the top to you, try using the term 亲爱的 qīn'ài de instead. 亲爱的 means “dear” or “darling” in Chinese. It’s less cutesy and is equally popular among young and older couples.

"亲爱的+ name" is also how you'd start a letter in Chinese, just like how you'd use " dear..." in English. However, this is only suitable for friends or family. In a professional setting, "尊敬的 Zūnjìng de +name" is more appropriate, as it means "respected, esteemed", similar to what you'd use to address your audience at the start of a formal speech.

8-亲 qīn

Qīn was initially an abbreviated form of 亲爱的 however today, you can think of it as something similar to the English slang “bae” or “babe”.

Computer keyboard with heart button

How to say “hubby” in Chinese

9-老公 lǎogōng

老公 Lǎogōng is a casual way of saying “husband” in Chinese, but even though it implies that the couple is married, it is not uncommon to hear it used to address a boyfriend. In that sense, calling your partner 老公 would be like calling them “hubby” in Chinese.

10-哥哥 gēgē

This one confused me for the longest time because most Chinese textbooks often teach that 哥哥 gēgē means “older brother”.

The truth is 哥哥 can have two possible meanings in Chinese, a literal one and a figurative one.

In its literal sense, 哥哥 means 亲哥哥 qīn gēgē, an older male sibling, while the figurative meaning is 情哥哥 qíng gēgē, a “love” brother. When using 哥哥 as a Chinese pet name for a boyfriend, you would be alluding to its figurative meaning while also indicating that you consider them as family. I’ve mainly seen this Chinese term of endearment being widely used by young Chinese women to address their boyfriends.

Moreover, because older brothers are thought to be caring and protective of their sisters, calling your boyfriend 哥哥 means that you find them reliable and capable of taking care of you. Most Chinese men find this nickname very flattering, so go ahead and call your boyfriend 哥哥 to bump up his ego.

It’s important to note that, in the context of a romantic relationship, the term 哥哥 is not age-sensitive, so you can use it regardless of whether your boyfriend is younger or older than you.

How to say “wifey” in Chinese

11-老婆 lǎopó

老婆 Lǎopó is the female version of 老公. It is a common way to casually refer to one’s wife, however, it can be translated as “wifey” when it’s used to address a girlfriend.

Both the nicknames 老公 and 老婆 are generally used between couples that have been dating for a long period of time.

12-妹妹 mèimei

It is also customary to call one’s girlfriend 妹妹 mèimei in Chinese, even though 妹妹 generally means “younger sister”. Calling your girlfriend 妹妹 means that you are willing to look after her the same way a 哥哥 would.

Just like with 哥哥, this use of 妹妹 relates to its figurative meaning and is not related to age, so feel free to use it to address your girlfriend no matter who’s older.


How do you call your S.O “silly” in Chinese

13-傻瓜 shǎguā

傻瓜 Shǎguā can be translated to “silly melon” in English. In Chinese, it’s a common way to insult others without sounding mean or rude. Instead, 傻瓜 is an affectionate way to mock someone’s intelligence, similar to how you’d call your partner “silly” in English.

14-笨蛋 bèndàn

dàn is typically used as a cute way to refer to a person even though it literally means “egg” in Chinese. By combining it with 笨 (Chinese for “dumb”), you would be playfully calling your boyfriend or girlfriend “dummy” in Chinese, in the same vein as 傻瓜.

15-木头 mùtou

This is yet another endearing term for saying “stupid” in Chinese. 木头 mùtou means wood in Chinese, however, metaphorically, calling your other half 木头 would be like calling them a “blockhead” in Chinese. Luckily, it’s a lot less offensive in Chinese.

How do you call your S.O “naughty” in Chinese

16-小坏蛋 xiǎo huàidàn

Remember how I mentioned earlier that you can call your lover a “dumb egg” in China? If the “egg” is being mischievous, you can also say 坏蛋 (literally “bad egg”) to call your SO “naughty” in Chinese.

If calling them a bad egg sounds too harsh, simply add 小 xiǎo (Chinese for “little”) to the phrase for an extra sprinkle of cuteness.

17-坏包 huài bāo

Another alternative for calling your partner “naughty” in Chinese is 坏包 huài bāo or “a bag of badness”. Don’t worry, it doesn’t sound as vexing in Chinese.

Now that you know what to call your girlfriend or boyfriend “naughty” in Chinese, let’s take a look at some cute ways to address them when they’re being good.

How do you say a “good girl/boy” in Chinese?

21-乖乖 guāiguāi

乖乖 Guāiguāi means well-behaved and obedient in Chinese. It can be used for kids by their parents or for romantic partners, usually females.

It might sound slightly condescending, but if you feel comfortable teasing your partner and calling them naughty, I’m confident that you won’t mind pointing it out too when they do something good.


There you go, friends: 21 Chinese terms of endearment for your significant other, in various situations. Now that the ball is in your court, which one of these Chinese pet names do you plan on using?

If you’re up for a challenge and want to learn more Chinese, check out our online Chinese classes here.

About the Author

Juli Mboty has called China home for over 11 years where she became passionate about Chinese culture, language, and history.

Juli Author Culture Yard