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Swedish Terms of Endearment and Affection

As you are getting closer to your Swedish friends, you may want to know how to address them in a loving and friendly manner.

Since the Swedish language doesn’t really have any informal or familiar way to address others through grammar, the right nickname can really help set the tone.

This article will cover the most common Swedish terms of endearment both for platonic as well as for romantic relationships.

Common Swedish terms of endearment

There are a few terms of endearment in Swedish that are commonly used with friends, family, and even strangers regardless of gender.

« Hjärtat »

« Hjärtat », the Swedish equivalent of “Sweetheart”, is one such term. This sweet nickname can be used by almost anyone but is especially common for older ladies to use when addressing a younger person, male or female.

« Vännen »

« Vännen » directly translates to “The friend”, and is also pretty popular to use with just about anyone. Other cute and useful terms include « goding », basically meaning “a good one” and « sötis », the Swedish version of “cutie”.

« Snygging »

« Snygging » is a casual and fun way to address someone who is handsome or beautiful, and it is a good place to start when hitting someone up. You might use one of these sentences to start a conversation with a local hottie:

  • “Hej snygging, kan jag bjuda dig på en drink?”
    (“Hello handsome/beautiful, can I buy you a drink?”)
  • “Du är en riktig snygging.”
    (“You’re a real beauty/You’re really handsome.”)
  • “Tjena snyggingen, vad heter du?”
    (“Hey there handsome/beautiful, what's your name?”)

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Swedish terms of endearment for girls and women

If you’re looking to get your hands on some sweet nicknames you can use on a girl, you might want to jot down your favorites from this list of common ones.

  • « Gumman »
    (“Honey”. This common term of endearment has a double meaning, which is why you’ll want to be careful with how you use it. On top of being a way to address a girl you’re fond of, it is also a rather rude way of saying “old woman”. To avoid any misunderstandings, you will only want to use it on younger girls.)
  • « Fina du »
    (“Beautiful”. This literally translates to “Beautiful you” and is a common way to address a girl, but most commonly used by girls to address other girls.)
  • « Sötnos »
    (“Sweetheart”, “sweet cheeks”. The direct translation is “sweet nose”. This is a cute and affectionate way of addressing a close friend or your partner.)
  • « Princessan »
    (“Princess”)
  • « Bruden »
    (“Girl”)
  • « Pralin »
    (“Praline”, a type of confection.)

Swedish terms of endearment for boys and men

Here are a few common terms of endearment you can use with boys and younger men.

  • « Gubben »
    (“Honey”. The male equivalent of “gumman”. Just as with “gumman”, you will only want to address younger boys this way due to the double meaning.)
  • « Broder »
    (“Brother”. An affectionate way to address someone of approximately your own age.
  • « Mannen »
    (“The man”. A casual nickname most men really enjoy being called.)
  • « Hunk »
    (“Hunk”)

Swedish nicknames and terms of endearment for romantic partners

Once you are in a relationship with a Swede, you may start calling them these cutesy nicknames. Here are a few words you might use when addressing a significant other in Swedish.

  • « Babe »
    (“Babe”)
  • « Älskling »
    (“Loved one”)
  • « Gullet »
    (“Cutie”)
  • « Skatten »
    (“Treasure”)
  • « Raring »
    (“Darling”)
  • « Käraste »
    (“Most beloved”)
  • « Hjärtevännen »
    (“Lover”)

Terms of endearment for children

Here are some of the common Swedish nicknames you might give a child. Some of these also work on adults but can be considered derogatory depending on the context and how close you are to the person you’re addressing.

  • « Lillen/Lillan »
    (“Little one”. Note that “lillen” is masculine, “lillan” is feminine.)
  • « Busunge »
    (“Little rascal”)
  • « Grabben »
    (“Little guy”)
  • « Gullunge »
    (“Cutie pie”)
  • « Pyret »
    (“Little creature”)
  • « Busfrö »
    (“Troublemaker”)

Playful terms of endearment

In this section we want to touch on some playful terms of endearment that Swedes use – these are more used to tease someone in a friendly way. Be careful not to overuse them, or you may come across as mean. As long as you only use them sporadically in a friendly manner it’s all in good fun.

  • « Surpuppa »
    (“Grumpy cocoon /sour cocoon”. Something you might call someone holding a grudge or being grumpy.)
  • « Knasboll »
    (“Goofball”)
  • « Godbit »
    (“Treat”. This term of endearment isn’t poking fun at anyone, but might be used to compliment someone while joking around.)

The definite form of a noun in the Swedish language

You may have noticed that many Swedish nicknames (grabben, gumman, skatten, etc.) end with -en or -an. This is because that is the most common suffix for establishing that a word is in a definite sense, much like adding the prefix “the” before a noun in English.

In nicknames in particular, it is common to use a definite form of a noun since you are addressing that one specific person. In many cases, removing the suffix of a nickname (take skatten – without the suffix, it would be just skatt) works, but sometimes it sounds odd or stale. As you get more familiar with the language, you will just get a feel for what sounds right and what doesn’t.

Swedish phrases for expressing your affection

If you find that a cute nickname isn’t enough to express your fondness, you might want to try one of these Swedish phrases to express your fondness.

  • “Jag tycker om dig.” (I am fond of you.) This is a charming way of expressing your affection and can be used both platonically and romantically.
  • “Jag diggar dig.” (I dig you.) A more casual way of saying you enjoy spending time with someone. This is modern language, so you’ll want to avoid using it with any older generation.
  • “Jag älskar dig.” (I love you.) A simple, meaningful, and timeless sentence.
  • “Du betyder allt för mig.” (You mean everything to me.) Not a phrase to be taken lightly – don’t use this phrase with a casual friend or someone you have just started dating.

When do Swedes use terms of endearment?

Swedes may come across as cold because of their reserved nature. Despite that, most Swedes have a bit of a sweet side and thoroughly enjoy using cute and cheesy nicknames in their close relationships.

Close friends often also call each other by different terms of endearment. Especially among girls, it’s very common to make good use of different Swedish terms of endearment.

Another common context would be flirting at a bar or club. Although Swedes are typically reserved in other contexts, this is the scene where you really get to shine with your newly learned words.

Social media is also a common place where Swedes tend to get a bit bolder with their compliments and nicknames, and so can you – just don’t overdo it.

A word of advice: Alternative ways of expressing your affection

Swedes are oftentimes a bit awkward with affection, whether they are on the giving or receiving end. Especially as you are first getting to know them!

In the beginning, it may be better to show your affection in actions rather than verbally expressing it. You can do this by inviting them out or over, offering to pay for them (although most Swedes will want to split the bill), and otherwise inviting them to spend more time with you.

Asking questions, remembering details about their lives, and following up later are also important things you can do to show that you care without making anyone uncomfortable.

By showing that you are interested rather than directly telling them, most Swedes will slowly open up to you. Once you both have gotten more comfortable with each other you can start bringing in the mushy nicknames. Just don’t try to not rush it.

Conclusion

Despite the at first seemingly cold nature of Scandinavians, Swedes use plenty of sweet nicknames when addressing those they are close to. In fact, most like it a lot. It just takes a little bit of time to get there!

Especially when addressing friends, you’ll want to keep in mind that the commonly used terms vary depending on the age, the context, and more. The best thing to do is just to listen in and see how your particular friend group usually addresses each other.

That being said, don’t be too scared to mess up. Everyone makes mistakes when learning a new language, and with a little practice, you’ll soon be sailing smoothly!