Why do Brits call strangers ‘love’ ‘dear’ or ‘duck’?

How often have you been called ‘dear’ or ‘darling’ or ‘love’ by a complete stranger since being in the UK? Probably too many times to count, right. Have you found it odd and maybe even uncomfortable? Well, we agree it is a quirk we Brits have.

On one side we have a reputation of being ultra-reserved and on the other hand being overly-friendly, calling virtual strangers love, sweetheart and such like. There is also a common belief the further north you go the friendlier the people are and quite frankly, the weirder the terms of affection become.

If you are new to the UK I can assure you that when someone in Newcastle calls you ‘their pet’ or someone in the Midlands says to you “ay up me duck” don’t worry, too much, they are perfectly sane people using socially-acceptable terms of endearment.

Basically just like the word ‘mate’, ‘sir’ or ‘madam’ as examples, there are many words Brits use to refer to people they are interacting with but who they are not familiar with.

You would probably expect a shop assistant to call you ‘sir’ or ‘miss’ when serving you, but it is also socially acceptable for the assistant to call you ‘darling’, ‘dear’ or ‘love’. Don’t be offended… it is just normal.

Other terms of endearment include ‘petal’, ‘flower’, ‘chick’, ‘chuck’, ‘me duck’, ‘me duckie’, ‘guy’, ‘son’ or even ‘treacle’. It all depends on your age in comparison to the person talking to you as well as the geographical location.

For example, if you give your seat to an elderly lady on the bus she is more likely to say “thank you petal.” Whereas if you were in a pub in the West Midlands trying to order a drink from the bar, the barmen would most likely say “what’ll it be duck?”

So next time when you get called a peculiar name in public just remember it is a cultural term of endearment. Simply smile, remember to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and everything will go swimmingly as the Brits say.

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