Using dear as a substitute for a person's name is commonly heard in families or in certain informal situations. It's also a term used by women much more than men, especially older women talking to younger men or women.

Richard
Occasionally -- not often -- a warm, motherly or grandmotherly person will address her loved ones -- in the plural as "dears."

It's much more usual for people to use the singular, "dear," for one of their loved ones, along with "darling," "sweetheart," and "honey." All of these are used as romantic pet names, too.

Rachel

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