Attila the Term of Endearment

Known as the Scourge of God, Attila is an unlikely beginning point for one of the most common terms of endearment.

The leader of the Hunnic Empire from 434 until his death in 453, Attila is known for his unparalleled cruelty and recklessness. Despite his successes as a leader, he was a lonely man who needed companionship; companionship that he believed he had found in Honoria, sister of Valentinian III who was one of the last Western Roman Emperors.

In 450, Honoria wrote a letter to Attila promising him half of the Western Empire along with her hand in marriage. Throughout the correspondence to follow, Honoria would frequently refer to Attila as “hun.” Word of the contents of the letters got out, leading to the popularity of the term hun along with its now romantic connotations.

A coin bearing the image of the sumptuous Honoria.

Attila never met Honoria. He was turned back after an ill-planned invasion of Italy in an attempt to take her to his empire. Opposing forces and disease reduced Attila’s army into almost nothing compared to what it had been at the outset of the invasion.

Records give no hints about the fate of Honoria, however, we do know that while at a feast Attila suffered a nosebleed, choked, and died.

Although the two lovers died apart from each other and in a degree of obscurity, their love continues on. It thrives each day as people express their feelings with that special someone. The expression of that love is often the simple phrase with which Honoria would always sign her letters: “Love you, hun.”

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3 Responses to “Attila the Term of Endearment”


  1. 1 Jim October 13, 2008 at 8:31 am

    “Sumptuous” Honoria – that’s the real nugget in the article.

  2. 2 Luke R October 13, 2008 at 8:58 am

    How are you not writing for The Onion?

  3. 3 B. Martinez October 18, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    the last paragraph really pulled at a heart string. That is simply romantic. I will now use the term with an added measure of thoughtfulness and reflection.


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