The History and Origins of Cringey Nicknames

In an engaging episode of the PBS series Otherwords, Dr. Erica Brozovsky, PhD, delves into the etymological origins of affectionate nicknames commonly shared between couples and families. These seemingly quaint terms of endearment have actually been woven into the fabric of language for centuries. Surprisingly, many of these terms still resonate with us today.

“The Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary” offers a fascinating glimpse into the longevity of these expressions, documenting their use in the English language for over a millennium. Although certain antiquated pet names like “Heartikin” and “Lamb Chop” have faded into obscurity, others have stood the test of time. For instance, the term “darling,” which first appeared in written records around 888 CE, remains a beloved term of endearment in contemporary vernacular.

This historical perspective not only enriches our understanding of the language but also connects us more deeply to the affectionate expressions that have endured throughout the ages.

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