20 Old English Alternatives To The Word 'Bae,' Because Your Lambkin Deserves A Classy Nickname

Let's be serious: the word bae is kind of dumb. I might be a persnickety old harridan, but in my opinion, it's just daft all around — harsh on the ear, irritating, nasty, brutish and short. The only advantage, as far as I can tell, is that it's easy to rhyme, and Beyonce likes it. That it's become our default nickname for lovers seems like such a shame, especially when the English language has a treasure-trove of obsolete terms of endearment that are, frankly, both hilarious and infinitely superior. Why would you choose "bae" over, say, heart's root, or pigsney, or powsoddy? What is the matter with people?

Fortunately, I am here to remedy the situation. Unhappily, it's past Valentine's Day so you can't break out any of these babies to help you on the most romantic day of the year — and, believe me, they would help get you some — but inserting them into all woo-worthy correspondence is definitely your best bet for 2015. You may want to include a translation, though, just in case somebody takes being called a "ding-ding" the wrong way. (Can't think why that would happen, though.)

Here are 20 seriously amazing terms to break out the next time you feel tongue-tied in a romantic clinch.

1. Hertis Rote

Origin: Middle English

Definition: "My heart's root," in the botanical sense.

Sample Sentence: "What do you want for dinner, my hertis rote?"

2. Sweeting

Origin: Early English

Definition: No wonder Kayley Cuoco married a dude called Sweeting: his name's an endearment meaning "sweet one."

Sample Sentence: "Sweeting, would you scratch my back for me? Right there."

3. Ding-Ding

Origin: Middle English

Definition: This one's a puzzler: theorists are divided as to whether it refers to bells (literally, "you ring my bell") or, erm, the testicles

Sample Sentence: "Hey, ding-ding, you're looking cute today!"

4. Mamtam

Origin: 14th century English

Definition: We genuinely don't know what this one means. It may just be rhyming nonsense. Don't pretend you've never done that.

Sample Sentence: "You're my mamtam, nobody else's, are we clear?"

5. Culver

Origin: Middle English

Definition: This is an old word for "dove,"derived from the Latin word columbula

Sample Sentence: "Aww, culver, you didn't have to wash all my socks and pair them neatly for me!"

6. Heart's Gleam

Origin: Middle English

Definition: This is just adorable, and yes, it means precisely what it says. 

Sample Sentence: "Yes, you are my heart's gleam even though you just burnt the bottom out of the saucepan."

7. Lambkin

Origin: Shakespearean-era English

Definition: Shakespeare liked this one: he used it in his Henry plays in 1600. It means a very young lamb, but it was also used as a term of endearment for both lovers and small children. 

Sample sentence: "You know I love you, lambkin, but would you mind not wiping your nose on my sheets?"

8. Chuck

Origin: Middle English

Definition: The cluck of chickens. "Hen-pecked" wasn't a thing yet.

Sample sentence: "What do you want to do for spring break, my chuck?"

9. Tib

Origin: 14th century English

Definition: This means a calf — which was a big compliment at the time, calves being both very expensive and very cute. 

Sample Sentence: "No, tib, those jeans look great on you, Cheryl's just being a wench."

10. Nykin

Origin: Late 17th century English

Definition: This one appears to be fairly general in meaning — it was first used in a play in 1693, and quietly disappeared. For all we know, it was something the play's author, William Congreve, made up — but "kin" was a common suffix in 13th-16th century English to make something sound small and cute.

Sample Sentence: "Awww, you look like such a nykin in that Ewok hoodie."

11. Cynamome 

Origin: Middle English

Definition: Calling somebody your sweet cinnamon (as Chaucer does in The Miller's Tale) is a pretty guaranteed way to get into their trousers. 

Sample Sentence: "You're my sweet cynamome, and not just because I like your buns."

12. Pigsney 

Origin: Middle English

Definition: This is from Chaucer's Miller's Tale too — "She was a prymerole, a piggesnye" — and literally means a pig's eye, but as the centuries went on it became an insult, so use this one with care.

Sample Sentence: "Pigsney, I'm home!"

13. Flitter-Mouse

Origin: Early 17th century English

Definition: This was a Ben Jonson speciality: he uses it in The Alchemist in 1610, and it appears to be a translation of the German Fledermaus, or bat.

Sample Sentence: "Oh, flitter-mouse, I wish you wouldn't worry so much about the apocalypse."

14. Hurle Bawsy 

Origin: 16th Century Scottish English

Definition: This adorable and confusing term comes from a Scottish (very lewd) poem, "In Secret Place This Hyndir Nycht," by William Dunbar. It means an unweened calf.

Sample Sentence: "Don't be jealous, everybody knows you're my hurle bawsy."

15. Mitting

Origin: 14th century English

Definition: This translates literally as "darling."

Sample Sentence: "Mitting, could you not flush? I'm trying to shower."

16. Nug 

Origin: 14th century English

Definition: What this has to do with love is anybody's guess, but this word used to mean a rough unshaped piece of wood.

Sample Sentence: "Listen, nug, why don't we just stay in and watch Netflix?"

17. Paraquito 

Origin: 14th century English

Definition: If this one sounds familiar, you're right; it's another word for parakeet.

Sample Sentence: "I'm sorry, paraquito, I guess I'm just sad that Leonard Nimoy died."

18. Golpol 

Origin: 16th century English

Definition: Not gal-pal, as you might be expecting; instead, this is a shortening of gold-poll, meaning golden-head.

Sample Sentence: "That platinum wig looks so cute on you! You're my golpol!"

19. Powsoddy 

Origins: Scottish English

Definition: This one's my favorite. It's an obsolete word for a Scottish pudding which is made with rum, sugar, nutmeg, and toasted bread, or possibly by stewing sheep's brains, which is an alarming bit of leeway. 

Sample Sentence: "Do it for me just this once? Please, powsoddy?" 

20. Turtle 

Origin: 15th century English

Definition: Before you get sentimental, this isn't actually about the reptile. Turtle doves were the epitome of loyal romantic love; to call somebody your turtle usually meant you were married. So don't break this one out until you've ordered the invites, guys.

Sample Sentence: "I take you to be my lawful wedded turtle."

Images: stupidstyle/Etsy; Giphy, Daily Waffle.

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