Meanings: “Love”

June 12, 2013

“Love” is an essential four letter Anglo Saxon word. The Etymology.com entry is below.

Today is a good day to think about loving because it is the anniversary (the 46th) of the Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia, which brought an end to miscegenation laws in the United States.  The plaintiffs were Mildred and Richard Loving, an inter-racial couple who were convicted in Virginia of violating the state’s anti-miscegenation law. At the time of the decision, sixteen states still had miscegenation laws.

love (n.) Look up love at Dictionary.com

Old English lufu “love, affection, friendliness,” from Proto-Germanic *lubo (cf. Old High German liubi “joy,” German Liebe “love;” Old Norse, Old Frisian, Dutch lof; German Lob “praise;” Old Saxon liof, Old Frisian liaf, Dutch lief, Old High German liob, German lieb, Gothic liufs “dear, beloved”).

The Germanic words are from PIE *leubh- “to care, desire, love” (cf. Latin lubet, later libet “pleases;” Sanskrit lubhyati “desires;” Old Church Slavonic l’ubu “dear, beloved;” Lithuanian liaupse “song of praise”).

“Even now,” she thought, “almost no one remembers Esteban and Pepita but myself. Camilla alone remembers her Uncle Pio and her son; this woman, her mother. But soon we shall die and all memory of those five will have left the earth, and we ourselves shall be loved for a while and forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.” [Thornton Wilder, “Bridge of San Luis Rey,” 1927]

Meaning “a beloved person” is from early 13c. The sense “no score” (in tennis, etc.) is 1742, from the notion of “playing for love,” i.e. “for nothing” (1670s). Phrase for love or money “for anything” is attested from 1580s. Love seat is from 1904. Love-letter is attested from mid-13c.; love-song from early 14c. To fall in love is attested from early 15c. To be in love with (someone) is from c.1500. To make love is from 1570s in the sense “pay amorous attention to;” as a euphemism for “have sex,” it is attested from c.1950. Love life “one’s collective amorous activities” is from 1919, originally a term in psychological jargon. Love affair is from 1590s. The phrase no love lost (between two people) is ambiguous and was used 17c. in reference to two who love each other well (c.1640) as well as two who have no love for each other (1620s).

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About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
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