Lately, I've been researching to write a German character who was raised in Stuttgart. While I've come to a basic understanding of how some diminutives work (appending "-le" rather than "-chen" or "-lein"), I cannot always be sure if I've gotten the correct answer or if there are better-sounding alternatives. For example, I've used "bärle" before following this rule, but I have very little knowledge of if it's widely used or even correct!

If the Swabian community could provide me with common terms of endearment (particularly for lovers of any gender, for children, for friends) with some explanation about said terms, I would appreciate it. If there are lists or a resource online from which I can draw, I will also gladly accept it. Resources seem either very hard to find, or I have been looking in the wrong places.

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    What is your final goal, how intense do you plan to use those words? Don't use them wherever you can, they are only funny or authentic if they appear seldom, at least not everywhere. Otherwise this kind of speach sucks, probably even to the most native swabian.
    – puck
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 14:46
  • Hello my friend @puck! I do not intend to use this in great amounts. Scattered here and there, to a realistic extent. I do not enjoy in fiction when authors replace a word in each sentence (exaggeration but it does happen!) with a character's native language. I do not believe anyone speaks like this – I am natively Vietnamese living in America with Vietnamese as my own first language, and I have not encountered this in the way some authors portray! I will use it sparesely, but I wanted a selection of terms I could pick from before adding them in. Thank you for the question! Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 17:52

2 Answers 2


The german expression for this kind words is Kosenamen.

  • Schätzle: from Schatz, treasure, target anyone
  • Spätzle: from Spatz, sparrow, target anyone
  • Bärle: from Bär, small bear, target mostly male
  • Mäusle: from Mäuslein, small mouse, target: anyone
  • Herzle: from Herzchen, little heart, target: anyone
  • Scheißerle: the one who poops, target: probably anyone
  • Butzale: baby, target: babies
  • Diggerle: from Dicker, target: mostly male and children, eventually with some additinal weight
  • Schneggle: from Schnecke, small snail, target: anyone
  • Schnuggi: from Schnuckelchen (origin sheep), someone to cuddle with, target: anyone
  • Käferle: from Käfer, bug, target: probably mostly children
  • Häsle: from Hase, bunny, target: female and children

Cancelled, because it is probably newly imported (neigschmeckt):
- Zuckerschnütle, from Zuckerschnute, sugar mouth, target: probably mostly female ()

There is no clear rule what you can use on who though. There are also more animals that can be used.

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    "Hosenscheißerle" for small kids
    – Iris
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 8:34
  • @iris ... but pronounced rather Hoosascheißerle Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 9:15
  • Als Säule genannte Ulknudel frag ich mal, ob Spätzle wirklich nur von Vögeln hergeleitet ist? Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 16:32
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    @LangLangC Die Alternative wäre dann hier de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sp%C3%A4tzle . Die Frage ist dann woher das als Kosename kommt und ob die Vögel bzw. Teigwaren dann nicht doch den gleichen Ursprung haben.
    – Javatasse
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 18:44
  • Bingo! Die Etymologie ist sowieso seltsam. Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 19:32

I generally agree with the list given by Javatasse in another answer here. However, here is one thing I think should be said in addition. It does not relate to Javatasse's list as such but to the concept of terms of endearment and the use of such terms in Swabian everyday practice.

The issue is that these terms, although technically existing, in my experience are not really used, perhaps with the exception of those referring to little children, like Hoosascheißerle. In fact, Swabian everyday communication is not verbose. Swabians typically do not talk much, and if, then not with expressions of affection. There is even a proverb in Swabian

Nix gsait isch gloobat gnua!

translating into "Nichts sagen ist genug gelobt" or "Saying nothing is enough praise". Which refers to a very common habit of bruddla (speaking with disgruntlement), or in other words: the protoypcial Swabian would complain about something not being up to his expectations (the soup being saltless, or whatever), but he would just say nothing if it is good or even perfect. And his enviroment would understand that, with nothing being said, a high form of praise had been uttered.

If this is true, the claim that prototypical Swabians (= users of Swabian dialect, not using only the language as such but also attoning to common cultural traits) would simply not use terms of endearment fits well into the picture. They may, however, very well use curse words and insults.

For the character in your novel, film script or whatever you are writing, this would have important implications: You may let him say terms of endearment, but this would not be realistic. It would simply be a translation of words and behaviour from another cultur (Russian perhaps, as there terms of endearment are very common) and giving it a Swabian paint in terms of pronunciation or special words. But it is a bit like letting a sailor speak in hexameters. They simply do not do that.

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    I disagree to the statement, that these words are not really used. In private a Schwabe can be very endearing. A Schwabe might cutify his entire environment by adding the -le ending to everything (Brötle, Würschtle, Audole). The grocery store guy in my village used to call all children "Schätzle", even young teens. Very embarassing! It is true that a Schwabe is very thrfty with praise, expecting perfection as the normal, but that is only in career or skill realted matters, like school, work or painting the fence of your own garden.
    – Javatasse
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 10:29
  • @Javatasse It is of course possible that there are sectors of Swabian society where terms of endearment or pet names are in actual use. I can self-evidently only report of sectors of society I had access to in terms of participating observation. As a result of these observations I would say that things like Bärle or whatever are not used seriously (non-jokingly). - Oh, by the way, my observation is restricted to the region of Upper Swabia. I am not so familiar with the Unterland. Perhaps people there refer to each other with pet names more readily? Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 10:48
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    I disagree, too. Terms of endearment are used within the family, in loving relationships and in close friendships. In my teens Schnuggi and Schneggle were often used as nicknames between female friends.
    – Iris
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 11:44
  • @Iris Really? And not using it ironically, as a joke? But for real, serious, direct addressing somebody? Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 12:10
  • Yes, really. I can't write swabian, but something like "Ach, Schneggi, das wird schon wieder" oder "Schnuggi, du fehlst mir"
    – Iris
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 12:14

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