Green’s Dictionary of Slang

sweetie n.

also sweety

1. an attractive young woman.

[US]M. Thompson Hoosier Mosaics 32: ‘Jimminy, but ain’t she a little sweety!’ exclaimed the latter, pinching Bill’s arm as they passed, and glancing lovingly at Minny.
[US]Wash. Times (DC) 6 July 5/4: ‘Hello, Susie!’ called one [...] ‘Oh, there’s our sweetie in pink’.
[US]O.O. McIntyre New York Day by Day 14 Sept. [synd. col.] The ‘sweeties’ are enjoying their freedom and have nice pudgy bank accounts.
[US]T. Gordon Born to Be (1975) 77: Every niggah in St. Paul had a sweetie of some kind; sweetbacks had chains of them.
[UK]Picture Post 13 Nov. 27: Candy Queen Doreen, accompanied by the other two ‘sweeties’, will have a wonderful time this winter socially.
[US]C. Bukowski Erections, Ejaculations etc. 70: You’re SUCH a sweetie.
[US]College Sl. Research Project (Cal. State Poly. Uni., Pomona) [Internet] Sweetie [...] 2. An extremely good looking guy or girl.

2. a beloved child.

[Aus]E. Dyson Fact’ry ’Ands 190: Wicked gentleman steal mummy’s ickle sweetie away.
[US]D. Parker ‘Little Curtis’ in Parker (1943) 108: She pinched Curtis’s cheek. ‘You sweetie, you!’.
[US](con. 1960s) R. Price Wanderers 139: ‘It was Ray.’ ‘How’s my sweetie.’.

3. (orig. US) a boy- or girlfriend.

[US]Noble Sissle ‘Jazzola’ [lyrics] Just take your sweetie sweet / Out for a jazzy treat, / And she’ll love you like she never did before.
[US]Rosa Henderson ‘Let’s talk About My Sweetie’ [lyrics] You talk about your sweetie, / Stop talkin’ ’bout your sweetie, / Let’s talk about my sweetie now!
[UK]E. Glyn Flirt & Flapper 26: Flapper: Dough’s what [...] we have to give to the boys sometimes — at least the Grandmas do, if they want a sweetie.
[US]W. Smith Bessie Cotter 18: You can tell that sweetie of yours not to come around during business hours.
[US]R.L. Bellem ‘Cooked!’ Dan Turner - Hollywood Detective Jan. [Internet] Lola, your wife, has told me all about your quarrel with your sweetie.
[UK]J. Cary Horse’s Mouth (1948) 56: Gazing down at his sweetie.
[US]B. Hecht Sensualists (1961) 22: Sovey was trying to get her back as his sweetie.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Mama Black Widow 181: I’ll bet your little sweetie thinks so too.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Airtight Willie and Me 151: Be my sweetie true and make me feel good.
[SA]Constitutionally Speaking (S. Afr.) 26 Oct. [Internet] My sweetie says only those who indigenously understand Afrikaans can really understand its meaning.

4. a term of address, not necessarily implying intimacy.

[UK]D. Cotsford Society Snapshots 76: Lady Bobo.Where’s my luck gone to, I should like to know? Lady Baba. Where indeed, poor sweetie . . . It is rather diskie for you? . . . Never mind .
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘The Faltering Knight’ in Rose of Spadgers 23: Like some poor, love-sick softy ’oo gets switched / Fer tellin’ ‘sweetie’ ’e don’t like ’er ’at.
[US]D. Parker ‘Big Blonde’ in Penguin Dorothy Parker (1982) 199: Nobody wants to hear other people’s troubles, sweetie.
[NZ]F. Sargeson ‘That Summer’ in Coll. Stories (1965) 158: You get your money’s worth sweetie, Ted said.
[US]R. Chandler Long Good-Bye 103: You got told wrong, sweetie. The bank owns the place.
[UK]N. Dunn Poor Cow 69: Drop your straps sweetie. That’s it, bless you.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Mama Black Widow 82: Throw ’em away, sweety.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 148: Oh, Chuck, how are you, sweetie?
[US](con. 1950s) D. Goines Whoreson 114: The term ‘sweetie’ was mostly reserved for tricks ... as long as they spent cash money.
[UK]S. Berkoff Decadence in Decadence and Other Plays (1985) 7: Sweety you do look nice.
[UK]K. Sampson Powder 22: Anything you want, sweetie.
[US]C. Hiaasen Nature Girl 211: Sweetie, I’d need a miracle.

5. used ironically to mean an unpleasant person, e.g. He’s a real sweetie; also as adj., unpleasant.

[US]Edwardsville Intelligencer (IL) 14 Sept. 4/4: The Flappers’ Dictionary [...] Sweetie: Anybody a flapper hates.
[UK]C. Wood Fill the Stage With Happy Hours (1967) Act IV: Molly – thank you very much. You really are a sweetie.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 25 Feb. 1: They were not cool, not sweetie.

6. a pleasant person.

[US]E.S. Gardner ‘Bird in the Hand’ in Goulart (1967) 266: I ain’t going to be a sweetie, and I ain’t goin’ to reform.
[UK]K. Williams Diaries 1 Nov. 81: I don’t like this man produces, David Godfrey. Everyone says he’s a ‘sweetie’ etc. and I always distrust this kind of thing.
[UK]H.E. Bates When the Green Woods Laugh (1985) 257: Oh! you’re a sweetie.
[Aus]A. Buzo Rooted I iii: Isn’t she a sweetie? A real darling.
[UK](con. 1940s) O. Manning Danger Tree 110: A little sweetie of a nurse.
[UK]M. Amis London Fields 304: ‘You have to realize,’ I said, ‘that I was a tremendous sweetie before all this started.’.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 19 June 20: Despite his bear-like manner, Sir Robin was a sweetie.

7. an effeminate homosexual.

[US]Baker et al. CUSS 207: Sweetie An effeminate male.

In compounds

sweetie-pie (n.) (also sweetie-pops, sweet-pie, sweetycakes, sweety pie, twinklepie) [praising the beloved as ‘good enough to eat’]

a general term of affection; a girlfriend.

R.E. Connell Sin of M. Pettipon 74: [to a dog] ‘Don’t you mind the nassy man, sweetie-pie,’ she cooed.
Wodehouse Sam in Suburbs 137: We’ll have to let Chimp in on it after all, sweetie-pie.
Wodehouse Money for Nothing 76: ‘Hello, sweetie-pie,’ said Miss Molloy.
[US]W. Winchell On Broadway 31 Jan. [synd. col.] Helen Winthrope Weyant (the actress who inherited all that Colonel Rupert coin) wasn’t his sweetiepie.
[UK]V. Davis Phenomena in Crime 138: He called them by endearing names. Sweetie-Pie and Ducksy-Wucksy were his favourites.
[US](con. 1920s) ‘Harry Grey’ Hoods (1953) 109: Whitey [...] has always been my sweetie pie.
[US]‘Hal Ellson’ ‘Cool Cat’ in Tell Them Nothing (1956) 78: She’s a sweet-pie, the kind I like.
[UK]F. Norman Bang To Rights 11: How yer going sweety pie?
[UK]Wodehouse Jeeves in the Offing 23: Reggie Herring? He’s a sweetie-pie, isn’t he?
[SA]R.M. Kavanagh Survival in Kavanagh S. Afr. People’s Plays (1981) 165: Don’t call me a drunkard, my skat, sweetypie.
[US]C. Hiaasen Skin Tight 292: His lover, his baby doll, his sweetie pie, his sugar bunny, his punkin.
[US]W.T. Vollmann Whores for Gloria 76: Can you believe that, twinklepie? [Ibid.] 109: Well, sweetycakes, what kind of dreams exactly do you have?
[UK]Indep. on Sun. Rev. 6 Feb. 24: Nice bosoms, sweetie-pops.
[UK]Observer Screen 13 Feb. 22: Ronnie, he is saying, was a deranged psycho, whereas his twin brother was a sweetie-pie.