14 Terms of Affection from Across the U.S.
By Angela Tung
Looking for a way to spice up your love language? Snuggle up with these 14 idioms, slang terms, and sayings from the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) on how to get it on all over the United States.
1. HOTTER THAN DUTCH LOVE
Used in the North to mean hot weather or a hot relationship. Also used, according to quotes in DARE, in regards to coffee or “when somebody can’t figure out what is going on at a neighbor’s house, for a gathering that looks hotter’n Dutchlove." Why Dutch love is particularly passionate isn’t clear. There’s also the inexplicable Dutch kiss, which involves holding onto either both ears or an ear and the nose of the kissee.
2. CUPID’S CRAMP
A term that means amorous infatuation. According to a 1961 book called The Old-Time Cowhand, “If there was a pretty daughter the whole range would soon be sufferin’ with Cupid’s cramp.”
Yet another way to say infatuated. Betwattled also means “confused, distressed, bewildered, stupid.” A 1927 quote describes it as an “excellent and common term” that refers to when a person is so in love he or she is “unable to use good judgment." Still more terms for “infatuated” include beany, cranky about, struck on, and case, as in “to have a case on someone.”
4. DROP ONE'S WING
This saying meaning to make affectionate advances or to flirt with may be heard in Georgia. Comparable is to wing down, which is British English dialect and means to court or pay attention to.
In the south Appalachians, flirting might be called feisting, which also involves strutting and moving “so as to draw attention to oneself.” Feist may be related to the energetic and excitable feisty, which comes from the American English feist, a small dog.
To gallant in the South and South Midland means to court or flirt, or to escort (someone). According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), an earlier adjectival sense of gallant is gorgeous or showy, and comes from the Old French galant, meaning "courteous."
Engaging in some public display of affection? You’re honeyfuggling. Some might say it means to make “too much of a show of affection in a public place." Honeyfuggle has a slew of other meanings as well, including to swindle or dupe; to flatter; to “snuggle up to”; and to lure or entice. The term might be a variance of connyfogle, an English dialectal that means to hoodwink or coax with flattery.
8. LOLLYGAG (AROUND)
Another term for out-in-the-open hanky-panky, as well as to neck, flirt, or gush. To lollygag around can also mean to loiter or chatter idly. As a noun, lollygag can refer to nonsense or idle talk, and can also be used as a term of disparagement. The plural, lollygags, means "airs, affections, love-making."
9., 10., AND 11. QUAKER FIP, DUTCH NICKEL, AND YANKEE DIME
All terms for kisses, and all based on old-timey stereotypical beliefs about thriftiness. It was believed Quakers, the Dutch, and Yankees (that is, northerners) were so frugal, they’d rather drop a peck on the cheek than respectively, a fip (which is a small thing or trifle), nickel, or dime.
Fip, by the way, is a shortening of fippenny bit, a six-cent coin “that circulated in the eastern U.S. before 1857,” according to DARE. For Quaker fip (also called Quaker nickel) DARE has quotes from Illinois and Ohio, and for Dutch nickel, Texas, Kentucky, and Missouri. Meanwhile, Yankee dime is primarily used in the South and South Midland, especially Alabama.
This kissing word is chiefly used as a noun in the Midland states and as a verb in the South Midland. The OED describes a buss as “a loud or vigorous” kiss, and says it might be imitative in origin.
While schmutz might be more known for its Yiddish or German meaning (dirt or filth), in the Pennsylvania-German area it means to kiss. According to a book called Ferhoodled English: Curious and Amusing Pennsylvania Dutch Talk, while “‘Knoatching und Schmutzing’ may not sound very romantic to us,” to the “young folks in the Pennsylvania Dutch country it means hugging and kissing.” Schmutz meaning to kiss comes from the Pennsylvania-German schmutze, “to kiss,” while schmutz meaning dirt comes from the German schmutzen, "to make dirty." It's not clear if the two are related.
This rather old-fashioned—and revolting—idiom for kissing might have been heard back in the day in Kentucky, Tennessee (“coupled with neck-sawing,” whatever neck-sawing is), and Georgia. In John Bartlett’s Dictionary of Americanisms (1877), “a friend” informs the editor that “he first heard it at Princeton College, in 1854, and thinks it may be a Jersey word.”