"Pumpkin" as a term of endearment

How long have English speakers used “pumpkin” as a term of endearment?

(For example: “‘I love you, pumpkin.’ ‘And I love you, honey-bunny.’”)

More specifically, would it be an anachronism for an American in the 1850s to call his sweetie, “pumpkin”?

I believe it’s pronounced “pumbi-wumbi-umpkin”
I think I can understand “honey-bunny”. It’s both sweet and cute. But pumpkin??? A nasty tasting gourd. How did anyone ever eat it before pumpkin pie was invented?

According to the OED, the phrase 'some punkin," meaning “a person of importance,” dates from 1846. It would seem that this is the origin of “pumpkin”=“sweetie.”

However, pumpkin was also used to mean “a stupid person” during the same time frame (first cite, 1830). It would seem unlikely that it would be used as a term of endearment at that time.

I have an aunt that insists on using that term of endearment and pronounces it “pun’kin”. :rolleyes:

And, I know a couple that use “gorda/gordo” as terms of endearment for each other. :rolleyes: Oh yes, it’s so cute that you call each other “fat”.

(Gourd - gorda/gordo - same train of thought - sorry.)

As to the OP, I don’t know if such a term was used in the 1850s. Maybe someone who does will be along shortly.


Or someone will post before I hit submit reply. :rolleyes: :smiley:

This term is not generally used in NZ, Australia or Britain.

Ahem… we did name one of our kittens Punkin, purely for the cutesy-wutesy factor. I wouldn’t say it’s entirely unused in Oz.

Yes it is!!

Sheesh, such a negative vibe in a thread about a tearm of endearment that I hold…well…dear.

Before he passed away, my Dad always called me ‘Pumpkin’, because I was an October baby.

I also don’t think pumpkins taste “nasty”.

And if you’re going to scratch your head over a term of endearment, how about the French “mon petit chou”, or “my little cabbage”? Though I admit that it sounds quite lovely in French.

Not to mention my Yorkshire favourite, “Duck”. I’ve never worked it out.

Yes it may be used but it is not commonly used as in the US.

It depends on where you are in England. You’d never ever hear it where I am now, for instance. But in other areas, it’s common.

I was sometimes called “Pun’kin” by my dad. And my cat is “Pumpkin.” One of us is plump and red-haired. The other likes to sleep all day. We can’t tell which is which. My husband knows but isn’t telling.

I wonder if that is where the word bumpkin originates.

Everything does. :slight_smile:

Which prompted James Thurber to say, “I’m having all my books translated into French. They lose something in the original.”

A vote from Indiana: my grandmother always calls the youngest child in the family “punkin.” This, for the record, is how she pronounces “pumpkin” in all contexts.

For example?

South Yorkshire?

You sure about that - my in-laws are from Yorkshire and would never use the term.
My family are mostly from the South and Birmingham, they would never use the term. If it was in common use in Britain, surely it would have come to NZ and Australia too?

GorillaMan, please respect that MelCthefirst has full authority to speak generally for all the peoples of New Zealand, Australia, and Britain- there was a vote. Please stop being insubordinate.

Apologies, my mistake. I’ll take his word on his inlaws’ behaviour above my own experience.