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See also: Darling


Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English derelyng, from Old English dīerling (darling, favorite, minion; also household god), corresponding to dear +‎ -ling.



darling (plural darlings)

  1. A person who is dear to one.
    Mary, the youngest daughter, was always her mother's darling.
    • 1959, Georgette Heyer, chapter 1, in The Unknown Ajax:
      But Richmond, his grandfather's darling, after one thoughtful glance cast under his lashes at that uncompromising countenance appeared to lose himself in his own reflections.
  2. A kind, sweet, or lovable person; sweetheart.
    The girl next door picks up all my shopping for me. She is such a darling.
  3. An affectionate term of address.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:sweetheart
    Pass the wine, would you, darling?
    • 1969, Paul McCartney (lyrics and music), “Oh! Darling”, in Abbey Road, performed by The Beatles:
      Oh! Darling, please believe me / I'll never do you no harm
    • 1972, Joni Mitchell (lyrics and music), “A Case of You”, in Blue:
      Oh, I could drink a case of you, darling / Still I'd be on my feet
  4. A favourite.
    1. (obsolete) A royal favourite, the intimate companion of a king or other royal personage, often delegated significant political power.
    2. The favourite child in a family.
      • 1941, Theodore Roethke, “Feud”, in Open House; republished in The Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke, 1975, →ISBN, page 4:
        Exhausted fathers thinned the blood,
        You curse the legacy of pain;
        Darling of an infected brood,
        You feel disaster climb the vein.
    3. (by extension) A person or thing, now often a woman, who is very popular with a given group of people.
      a media darling
      a darling of the theatre
      • 2011 December 15, Felicity Cloake, “How to cook the perfect nut roast”, in Guardian[1]:
        One of the darlings of the early vegetarian movement (particularly in its even sadder form, the cutlet), it was on the menu at John Harvey Kellogg's Battle Creek Sanitarium[sic], and has since become the default Sunday option for vegetarians – and a default source of derision for everyone else.

Derived terms[edit]



darling (comparative darlinger, superlative darlingest)

  1. Dear; cherished.
    She is my darling wife of twenty-two years.
  2. Charming, very cute.
    Well isn't that a darling little outfit she has on.

Usage notes[edit]

darlinger is rarely used.