On Valentine's Day, We Look for Love (in the Dictionary)

A Blog About Language
Feb. 14 2014 5:53 PM

On Valentine's Day, We Look for Love (in the Dictionary)

What is the meaning of love?

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

As usual on Valentine's Day, many of us wondered about the nature and meaning of love and so, naturally, consulted Merriam-Webster for guidance.

Although look-ups of love spiked today, we can only guess that most were interested in more of a philosophical interpretation than a strict dictionary meaning, which goes something like:

strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties, or
attraction based on sexual desire, or
unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another.

Because such definitions inevitably contain a Spock-like quality, the "Seen & Heard" section on our love page received a lot of less official and more poetic offerings:

"We all have a spirit, a soul. Love is what keeps it alive."
"Love defined in one word is forgiveness."
"Physical attraction + deep respect for yourself and the other individual."
"It is the strongest force in the world yet the most humble"

On the other hand, at least one visitor who answered the question "What made you want to look up love?" wasn't especially moved. "English paper" was the rather matter-of-fact response.

However you choose to define it, we hope you had a lovely Valentine's Day!

See what else is spiking at Merriam-Webster.com.

Peter Sokolowski is Editor-at-Large at Merriam-Webster.



Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

The U.S. Is So, So Far Behind Europe on Clean Energy

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

Even if You Don’t Like Batman, You Might Like Gotham

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

John Oliver Debunks the Miss America Pageant’s Claim That It Gives Out $45 Million in Scholarships

Trending News Channel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Over There
Sept. 22 2014 1:29 PM “That’s Called Jim Crow” Philip Gourevitch on America’s hypocritical interventions in Africa.
Sept. 22 2014 1:37 PM Subprime Loans Are Back! And believe it or not, that’s a good thing.
Sept. 22 2014 2:55 PM Nuptial Expert Sarkozy Worries About Gay Marriage and the Family
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 12:29 PM Escaping the Extreme Christian Fundamentalism of "Quiverfull"
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 3:16 PM Watch the Best Part of Beyoncé and Jay Z’s On the Run Tour
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 12:14 PM Family Court Rules That You Can Serve Someone With Legal Papers Over Facebook
  Health & Science
Sept. 22 2014 12:15 PM The Changing Face of Climate Change Will the leaders of the People’s Climate March now lead the movement?
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.