1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Irish
  4. >
  5. Terms of Endearment


Terms of Endearment

Hello, I would like to get a few terms of endearment translated from English, if one of you wouldn't mind helping me out. But I'll also need pronunciation given as well. I apologize in advance.

I have googled it, and while I have gotten some translations, I can't find how to use it in a sentence accordingly. I don't want to use it in a way that wouldn't make sense. And I'm not looking for the entire sentence to be translated, just the term of endearment.

  1. My love. Sentence: Hello, my love.

  2. Sweetheart. How are you doing, sweetheart?

  3. Sweet girl. Hello, sweet girl. OR Hello, my sweet girl.

I realize that the translations won't be exact, since Irish tends to translate into English with a more literal meaning. But if I wanted to greet my husband with "my love" or "sweetheart," or if he wanted to greet me as, "sweet girl," how could it could be translated in the closest way possible and also used correctly in a sentence?

To be honest, I'm unsure if that made sense or not, I hope that it did. If not, let me know and I'll try to elaborate further.

There's also a few terms of endearment I've found and would like to use, but again don't know how to fit it into an English sentence (while keep the Irish term of endearment.)

  1. Críona, meaning (my) heart. I think this literal meaning is beautiful and would love to use it. But if I were to say, "Hello, my críona." Would that make sense? Or would I say, "Hello, críona."?

  2. Leannán, meaning lover. However, when I inserted it into google translate (which I try to avoid using at all costs) it translates "leannán" into sweetheart. So again, would I be able to say, "Hello, leannán," and have it make sense?

Thank you in advance, and I hope that this all made sense.

July 16, 2018



Críona, meaning (my) heart. I think this literal meaning is beautiful and would love to use it. But if I were to say, "Hello, my críona." Would that make sense? Or would I say, "Hello, críona."?

"críonna" means "wise". "My heart" would be "mo chroí", and this can also be used in the sense of "my love": "is mo chroí thú" - you are my love. But if you want to address somebody with "my love", you need the vocative: "a chroí": "Hello, a chroí!" There are also the expressions "a stór mo chroí" (treasure of my heart) and "a ghrá mo chroí" (love of my heart) - both in the vocative form.

See also here:


The terms starting with "A" at the beginning indicate the vocative form, ie. those you can use when directly addressing someone.

For pronunciation, you can use:


BTW: Please delete your email from your post. It's for your own protection and against the forum rules.


Thank you so much, this was very helpful. And I've deleted my email, I didn't realize it was against forum rules, but thank you for that as well. I appreciate the links you provided.

Thank you, again!(:


Note that Irish pronunciations can be dialect-specific, so any pronunciations given may be typical only in a particular region of Ireland.

As Jileha noted, Irish has a vocative case, which is used for addressing people/animals/things. But since you’d noted that you want to use the Irish terms of endearment only in English sentences, it’s arguable whether the Irish vocative should be used in a “Hello, …” English greeting, since English uses its nominative case for all vocative uses. (The Irish vocative would be used in an analogous Irish greeting, although the vocative declension is not used in some circumstances, including terms of endearment.)

The word leannán can mean “lover”, “sweetheart”, “spouse”, “concubine”, and even “affliction”. As a term of endearment, it would likely be preceded by mo (“my”) in the nominative case:

Case Term of endearment Pronunciation Meaning
nom. mo leannán muh lan-ahn my lover/sweetheart/etc.
voc. a leannán a lan-ahn lover/sweetheart/etc.*

(The o in mo and the vocative particle a are both unstressed, like the “a” in “above”.) When it isn’t a term of endearment, e.g. when you need to talk to an affliction ;*) , the typical vocative form a leannáin (pronounced “a lan-ahnya”) would be used instead.

The English term of endearment “sweet girl” doesn’t have a direct Irish translation that preserves the endearment meaning. Its closest analogue might be cailín bán (pronounced “colleen bahn”), “fairhaired girl”:

Case Term of endearment Pronunciation Meaning
nom. mo chailín bán muh kholleen bahn my fairhaired girl
voc. a chailín bán a kholleen bahn fairhaired girl*

(The “kh” in “kholleen” represents the ch sound of German Bach.) Although cailín bán isn’t a literal translation of “sweet girl”, its meaning as an endearment is similar. As it happens, cailín bán is also used figuratively to mean “stoat”, with bán meaning “white”, perhaps in reference to its winter coat. When addressing a stoat, the usual vocative form a chailín bháin (pronounced “a kholleen vahnya”) would be used. Aren’t languages fun?

* — for addressing

EDIT: Clarified vocative usage.


Good response, Jileha. Just one small correction: 'is tú mo chroí' rather than 'is mo chroí thú' (identification rather than classification). Thanks for that explanation, Scilling. Sometimes 'bán' is used in a figurative rather than literal sense and in those cases it's not declined for case e.g. in Connemara, you'll sometimes hear the vocative phrase 'a mhac bán' (and not 'a mhic bháin') because it's not referring to a literal 'son'; it a figurative use. In Donegal, the most common term of endearment is 'a thaisce' (prounounced as 'a thaiscidh').


Thanks for the correction. I copied that phrase and should have verified it, particularly since so many of assumed Irish terms of endearment end up as tattoos on somebody's body:


Learn Irish in just 5 minutes a day. For free.