In the English Language, We Only Have One Word to Express the Many Different Kinds of  “Love”… LOVE



Love is a complicated thing.

Love is a complicated feeling.

Love is a complicated word.



Do you find it a challenge to say the word “love?” Do you refuse to say “I love you?” This may be because of the intensity of meaning that you feel the word holds. It might be because you find it easier to express your love through actions and not words, because using the word “love” makes you feel vulnerable, because you are unable to express your emotions, or because you simply don’t understand the true meaning of the word.

Do you use the word “love” often? Do you have no problem saying “I love you,” “I love this,” or “I love that?” This may be because you feel passionately about things, because you see the importance of every moment and surround yourself with only the things that bring you joy and you want to express that joy, or because you experience life with an overabundance of love in your heart. There are people that might find this ease of use of the word “love” as annoying or obnoxious. They see the overuse of the word as a fad. They think that saying it too often makes it a superficial statement, that it loses its value, and that the true meaning of the word is diminished. But does using the word often make it meaningless? 

Maybe these usage dilemmas are brought about because the English language uses the word “love” for a multitude of meanings. 

English uses adjectives, adverbs, or descriptions to distinguish between the various types of love:

  • Brotherly Love
  • Interpersonal Love
  • Intimate Love
  • Erotic Love
  • Platonic Love
  • Familial Love
  • Religious Love
  • Divine Love
  • Romantic Love
  • Unrequited Love
  • Sexual Love
  • Parental Love
  • Love for animals, your pets, or other creatures
  • Love for inanimate objects
  • Love for an activity
  • Love for a sensory experience
  • Love for a cause or an idea
  • Love for a leader or teacher
  • Love for your country… etc.

Yes, there are synonyms for the verb “love”:  admire, adore, cherish, desire, worship, etc.

And there are synonyms for the noun “love”:  passion, affection, attachment, devotion, fondness, infatuation, etc.

But none of them are absolute representations of “love” or are truly directed at discerning between the different contexts that love can take and the different emotions that we feel. 

Other languages, such as Greek and Turkish, account for these various meanings and contexts to a certain extent, but not English. Greek has four explicit words for love : agápe (brotherly love), éros (romantic love), philía (platonic love), and storgē (“affection” such as parental love). In Turkish there are words for love such as: aşk (romantic love felt with one lover), sevda (passionate love), and sevgi (love for a friend).

There are so many uses, meanings, conditions, and complicated feelings associated with love that creating a precise definition for our one word “love” is rather difficult.

So next time you say, or don’t say, that beautiful four letter word “LOVE,” perhaps you will realize what a complex word/feeling it really is!


(Adapted from the original post from November 10, 2010)

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