Lexicon Valley

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.