Question: gender neutral terms of affection for friends

Lee asks…

More than one good friend, since I asked people to use gender-neutral pronouns etc for me, have asked me about terms of affection/endearment.

I spent ages looking but can’t find ideas anywhere that aren’t about pronouns to use for partners/spouses, or unborn-baby nicknames.

I would like to be able to offer these people some gender-neutral options to try out. Suggestions? Ideas? Something I missed in my searches? Any help would be greatly appreciated :)

Please post your response in the comments below.

» Ask Genderfork «

Posted by on November 29th, 2013 at 08:00 am

Category: questions 24 comments »

24 Responses to “Question: gender neutral terms of affection for friends”

  1. Claire

    Sweetheart, sweetie, darling, buddy. Depends how close the friend is though.


  2. Anonymous

    That statement re-minded of a old start star trek next generation episode. Of a race of androgynous or gender neutral people. That are not male or female. Maybe are both. Or became both! The crew had trouble using the proper pronouns too. For this race too! Maybe with in time we will too.


  3. Anonymous

    I have a person with whom I am very close. We are pretty much as close as two folks can be friend-wise…and we just call each other “friend.” Maybe it’s too plain or sappy for some, but it works for us. I am nonbinary, and my friend identifies as male. When we see each other, we just act like puppies who haven’t seen each other in a long time and bounce around together…We just run over to each other and say, “Hey, friend!” It has to be done with a good measure of affection, or else it sounds robotic and weird, but it can work.


  4. Anonymous

    Buddy, mate, dude can work if you’re friends. If you’re in a relationship with someone then I guess that’s between you and them, but baby can work – I’m genderqueer and I’ve used that before in the past :)


  5. Anonymous

    Buddy, mate, chap, a super friend, great friend, awesome friend.


  6. dz

    Homie :)


    Skye replied:

    Growing up in Los Angeles, California, I heard “homie” all the time :-) It’s a perfect gender neutral term for friends! People also used to say “home slice” and the odd one “home skillet”… never figured out why “home skillet” became popular…


  7. Charlotte d'Arcangelo

    I’m not sure why the traditional ones can’t be used. Pal, bud, whatever.


  8. T

    I use “honey” or “hun” or “sweetie” for just about anyone. “Friend” is another good one. “Creature” is silly and playful.


  9. Anonymous

    I think “sweet pea” is cute and endearing.


  10. R

    Ditto on honey and sweetie. In the South, women refer to EVERYONE as Sweetie or Sweets in an informal interaction. I’ve been called Buddy, Friend, Pal, and a few of my very close, long time friends call me Sib, which is short for sibling.


  11. jessica

    babe. I call everyone babe. “hey babe”
    just be flirty with alll of your friends


  12. Anonymous

    In the south, where I live, “hon,” as short for “honey” works for both male and female or neither. My MtF friend says “hon” and “babe” all the time to both men and women.


  13. Ryan

    In the American South, it’s generally acceptable for anyone to refer to anyone they’re particularly close to as “pumpkin” or “dear” or “hon” or “sweetie”. Women do it more than men, but I’ve seen men do it, too. Some of my older relatives will call me things like “sugarpea” or “butternut”. One time a former partner started calling me “honeybun” so I started calling her “enchilada with adobo sauce” and “coconut cashew curry”. Silly, but oddly effective.

    Personally I don’t like “babe” because I’m an adult, not a baby, but it is a common one that most people understand.


    Skye replied:

    “Enchilada with adobo sauce” would be an ideal comeback to whoever calls me “babe” in future! I hate being called “babe”!


  14. Anonymous

    “love” is sweet and friendly/sentimental; i use it with both friends and romantic interests


  15. Gerard

    Your highness, your grace. Flattering and regal. Gender neutral


    Aboo replied:

    Highness is actually a feminized term with the -ess suffix. Think of words like actress, waitress…so actually not gender neutral.


    tigr replied:

    Um, well, HRH stands for both “His Royal Highness” and “Her Royal Highness”, depending on the incumbent, so I think that’s pretty good evidence for “highness” being, in fact, gender neutral! (Same goes for lots of adjective-made-nouns using -ness)…


    Anonymous replied:

    This is not correct. I’m a linguist. The suffix is actually -ness and in this context comes from an Old English suffix denoting “the state of being” when attached to an adjective in order to make it a noun — like playfulness and helpfulness. Nothing female about it.


    Annie replied:

    Okay but now I really want to see someone call a prince “Your Royal Highnor” vis a vis “actor/actress” XD


  16. Anonymous

    I like using names of plants, fruits, and vegetables. Like pumpkin, melon, sweet pea, sweet potato, buttercup, etc.


  17. Anonymous

    I get called cream puff, star child, and other cute little names. It really depends on interests and preferences and such. :)


  18. Anonymous

    As someone with many nonbinary and gender neutral friends I have a list of names that includes but is not limited to: buddy, bud, pal, your majesty, your liege, your royal highness, trashbag, comrade (in russian accent), pardner (in cowboy accent), mate (in australian accent), bread, etc.


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