Friday, February 12, 2016

Valentine's Day and the Etymology of Love

With Sunday being Valentine's Day, we thought we'd look at our 5 favourite love words, their etymology, and the words and languages they evolved from. Without further ado, here they are.

Adore

If you're familiar with the French language, you can probably guess where this word comes from. In Old French, the word was aorer, which came from the Late Latin adorare, which meant to worship. Without being blasphemous, if you adore someone, you basically do worship them.

Hug

While the origins of hug are unknown, it is known that it didn't originally mean the same as it does now. At the beginning of the 17th century it referred to a wrestling move, but later referred to squeezing someone with affection. In many English-speaking countries, "hugs" are often represented by the letter "O" in greeting cards.

Kiss

A kiss was called a coss in Old English, and evolved into cuss in Middle English. As a verb, it was cyssan in Old English. Just like "hugs", "kisses" are often represented by the letter "X" in greeting cards and messages.

Love

The most important word for Valentine's Day is love. Even though love is written identically as both a noun and a verb in modern English, in Old English the verb was lufian and the noun was lufu.

Romance

The story of romance is a fascinating one. The word originally comes from the Vulgar Latin term romanice, which was used to describe writings in Romance languages. This word became the noun romanz in Old French, which meant a "verse narrative".

The term became romance in Middle English around the start of the 14th century, when it described a vernacular story telling the tale of knights and heroes. Even though most of these stories were in French, there were still some in English. It wasn't until the mid-17th century that the word's meaning changed to mean "a love story".

As a verb, romance originally was the corresponding Old French verb romancier, which meant to "narrate in French".

What are your favourite Valentine's Day words? Tell us about them in the comments below.