Russian Terms of Endearment

Posted on July 18th, 2011
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Russian Terms of Endearment - Russian diminutives and nicknamesThere are many different forms of endearment in the Russian language, including a rather unusual combination of species of animals and birds, plants, and other quite entertaining words… Let’s talk about them today.

In addition to this lesson, you can also watch these videos:
1.  Learn Romantic Phrases in Russian Video Lesson and learn how to say “I love you” and other romantic phrases in Russian.
2. Diminutive Nouns in Russian – video lesson to learn how to form diminutive masculine and feminine nouns in Russian.
3. Watch these videos to learn how to say “I like you” and “I love you” in Russian.

Russian forms of endearment express affectionate feelings towards a person, an animal or an object. Interestingly, various spectrums of nouns that do not necessary have the same meaning in their original use, are used as terms of endearment in Russian. Here are a few examples: солнце (the Sun), заяц (hare), котёнок (kitten).

More so, diminutive forms of Russian nouns can also express terms of endearment. Here are a few examples: солнышко, зайка, котик, рыбка. You can use these terms of endearment when addressing your loved ones.

Diminutive forms of nouns in Russian are usually formed with suffixes that add an affectionate and sweet meaning to the word.
Here are a couple of examples for you to get a sense of the diminutive forms of nouns in the Russian language:

Let’s compare this sentence:
Маша, садись на стул и кушай кашу. (Nominative case: Маша, cтул, каша.)
to
Машенька, садись на стульчик и кушай кашку. (Nominative case: Машенька, cтульчик, кашка.)

Both sentences can be translated as:
Masha, sit down and eat your kasha (cereal or porridge).

As you can see, both sentences carry the same meaning, they express request. However, the second sentence sounds much warmer and sweeter than the first one, because it is filled with affectionate names. The girl’s name Маша becomes Машенька (diminutive form), стул becomes стульчик (diminutive form), and каша becomes кашка (also diminutive form).

Both sentences could be used by Masha’s Mom, asking her to take a seat and eat her kasha, however, any listener can feel Mom’s love and affection in the second sentence.

Here is another example.
Please compare:
Я люблю чай с конфетами и печеньем. (Nominative case: Чай, конфета, печенье.)
to
Я люблю чаёк с конфетками и печенюшками. (Nominative case: Чаёк, конфетка, печенюшка.)
Both sentences can be translated as:
I love tea with candies and cookies.
And again, while both of the sentences make a statement, the second sentence sounds more affectionate than the first. You can tell that the speaker is being nice and sweet and is certainly in a good mood.

Here is a tip:
You can easily tell a speaker’s mood not only from the intonation, but also from the use of the diminutive forms of words. The use of the diminutive forms of words shows that the speaker is in a good mood, however, if the speaker is angry or upset or feels indifferent about the person they are speaking to, it is highly unlikely that he would use the diminutive forms of the words.

Diminutive Forms of Russian Nouns

While different parts of speech (nouns, adjectives, verbs, and numerals) can acquire a diminutive form, today we will only talk about the nouns.
Diminutive form of nouns in Russian are formed by adding suffixes to the stem of the noun. Here are some of the most popular suffixes:

-ик, -ок, -ек, -чик, -чек, – ошк-, – ёшк-, -ушк-, – юшк-, – ышк- , -очк-, -ичк-, -ечк-, -oньк-, -еньк-

Let’s take a look at a few examples of the diminutive forms of nouns:

Стол – Столик (table)
Ключ – Ключик (key)
Свитер – Свитерок (sweater)
Ветер – Ветерок (wind)
Окно – Окошко (window)
Гнездо – Гнёздышко (nest)
Корова – коровушка (cow)
Соловей – Соловушка (nightingale)
Кот – котик (cat)
Юбка – Юбочка (skirt)
Палец – Пальчик (finger)

It’s interesting that very often one noun can have many diminutive forms. For example, for the word “Mom” you might hear the following diminutive forms:
Мама – мамочка, мамуля, мамуся, мамулечка.

Here are a few examples for word “Dad” : Папа – папочка, папуля, папуся, папулечка.

More often than not you can use your own imagination to create diminutive forms of nouns in Russian to express your own loving feelings and affection to anyone you are speaking with. For example, from the noun кот (cat) you can form the following diminutive forms:
Котик, котюся, котюня, котюша, кися, кисюня …..

Just let your imagination flow…  :-)) as long as you are being affectionate in your speech, your party will be very impressed with your Russian language skills!

Let’s Speak to the Loved Ones

To all men out there, if you learn these phrases and use them with the girl of your dreams, she’ll be yours forever! :inlove: :kissed: :kissing:

Below are a few words and phrases – Russian terms of endearment, you can use them with the person you have feelings for.
Please note: You can add the pronoun моя  to all of the words below to make them sound more personal. For example, you can say: моя милая or милая моя.

Nouns:
Котёнок [ka-TYO-nak] kitten
Котик [KO-teek] the diminutive form of cat
Солнышко [SOL-nish-ka] the diminutive form of sun
Рыбка [RIP-ka] the diminutive form of fish
Рыбочка [RI-bach-ka] another diminutive form of fish
Зайка [ZAY-ka] the diminutive form of hare, bunny
Зайчик [ZAY-cheek] another diminutive form of hare, bunny
Птичка [PTEECH-ka] the diminutive form of bird
Ласточка [LAS-tach-ka] swallow
Голубка [ga-LOOP-ka] my dove (although, it’s a little old fashioned now…)
Голубушка [ga-LOO-boosh-ka] my dear
Принцесса [prin-TSE-sa] princess
Красавица [kra-SA-vee-tsa] beauty
Красотуля [kra-sa-TOO-lya] beauty
Радость [RA-dast’] joy
Лапушка [LA-poosh-ka] darling, sweetheart
Лапочка [LA-poch-ka] darling, sweetheart
Cчастье [SHAS-t’ye] happiness

Adjectives:
Милая [MEE-la-ya] darling, sweetheart
Любимая [lyoo-BEE-ma-ya] someone who is loved
Золотая [za-la-TA-ya] golden
Единственная [ye-DIN-stvi-na-ya] my only one
Единственная и неповторимая [ye-DIN-stvi-na-ya ee ni-pav-ta-REE-ma-ya] my one and only
Дорогая [da-ra-GA-ya] dear
Сладкая [SLAT-ka-ya] sweet
Сладенькая [SLA-din’-ka-ya] diminutive form of the adjective “cладкая”, it also means sweet
Долгожданная [dal-gazh-DAN-na-ya] my long-awaited
Нежная [NYEZH-na-ya] tender
Ласковая [LAS-ka-va-ya] tender, sweet

A few more phrases that you could use to address your loved ones:

Жизнь моя [ZHEEZN’ ma-YA] my life
Душа моя [doo-SHA ma-YA] my soul
Мой славный котёнок [MOY SLAV-neey ka-TYO-nak] my sweet kitten
Моя нежная девочка [ma-YA NEZH-na-ya DYE-vach-ka] my tender girl
Моя радость дорогая [ma-YA RA-dast’ da-ra-GA-ya] my dear joy

What are your favourite Russian terms of endearment? You can share them by leaving a comment below.

In my next article, I will talk about the diminutive forms of Russian names. Stay tuned!

Have fun learning Russian! :waving:

Viktoria.

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Comments

  1. Cassie

    I loved how you explained all of this with grammar. It really helped!!
    My boyfriend is Russian and he says a lot words to me that you used. I’ve been learning Russian for about a year now so i’m conversational but i’m still far from fluent. My problem has been expressing myself back to him cause i don’t want to use the wrong gender. I use some easy ones that i know but i want to be able to say more. Could you explain how a female can use affectionate words to a man in the correct gender?
    Thank you so much!!

  2. William Morgan

    Hello, and thank you so much for providing this wonderful information! I came to it, honestly, by searching for “Russian terms of endearment”. Your site was one of the first I noticed.

    The reason I am searching is because I have a coworker originally from Russia who is due to have a baby boy soon. She is 43, and for some reason, I have taken to calling her “Little Mother” whenever we speak. It is a complete term of endearment, but I wanted to see if I could find how to spell, and say it in Russian. And the information on your site has actually provided me with excellent, excellent understanding of the language itself. I know from another American co-worker who learned to speak Russian, that expressions of self are quite different, and more expressive in the Russian tongue than American English. So when I call my friend “Little Mother”, it is with complete affection in the sense of nurturing, compassion, empathy and tenderness. Obviously all of that is in my heart when I speak that title to her, and that is why I am searching for a Russian phrase that might denote it all somehow. If you know of any phrases that might be appropriate, I would greatly, greatly appreciate you for it. I already do because of your site.

    Thank you so much!

    • Viktoria

      Hi William,

      Thank you for the kind words. I’m happy to hear that you found the article helpful.

      To answer your question, depending on how close you are, you could probably use these terms of endearment: “мамочка” [MA-mach-ka] it’s a diminutive from “мама” and means Mom, or “маленькая мамочка” [MA-lyen'-ka-ya MA-mach-ka] – little Mom.

      I hope this helps!

      Viktoria.

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