10 Best Words for Valentine’s Day

By Angela Son on February 14, 2013

Courtesy of denverchiropractor.com

A surprising number of people are unaware of the origin of the Valentine’s Day.  This holiday—which I would argue for the most romantic holiday in America—is named after St. Valentine, a Catholic martyr.

It is unknown as to why we celebrate today under his name.  The most widely circulated story is that St. Valentine was a priest in Rome who was beheaded on February 14, 278 for having assisted the martyrs in the persecution of the emperor Cladius II.  However, as there are more than one martyre named Valentine in the history of Christianity, there are many hypotheses as to who the “real” St. Valentine is.

Courtesy of denverchiropractor.com

(1) Romantic

Some of the many definitions of romantic the Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.) provides are, “generally having to do with idealized or sentimental love,” “demonstrating feelings of love and tenderness,” and “desirous of or wanting love and romance.”

I think that this is one of those words that people define slightly differently.  A clear definition of what a romantic gesture constitutes depends on whom you ask.  For instance, some would call handing a chocolate to their family member for Valentine’s romantic, whereas others would disagree and say the word has to do only with their lover.  Surely lexicologists, philosophers and psychologists have defined romantic in their own terms, but I like the definition the American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald gives the best:

“I’m a romantic; a sentimental person thinks things will last, a romantic person hopes against hope that they won’t.”

(2) Love-knot

I don’t blame you if you have never heard of this word.  Originated from Middle English in the 15th century, love-knot refers to either an ornamental love-token that is a symbol of true love, or a union based on love in a figurative sense.

(5) Crush

“I have a crush on you.”

Referring to intense infatuation, often for someone unattainable or inappropriate, this word has now evolved into a girl crush, man crush, and friend crush, all of which are rooted in veneration at some level and lack the sexual connotation.  I have a huge girl crush for Peony Lim, a fashion blogger with a classical sense of style.

(3) Aphrodisiac

Power is an aphrodisiac, as Henry A. Kissinger says, and chocolate and wine also are an aphrodisiac.

Etymologically rooted in word venereal, aphrodisiac refers to anything that induces sexual desire, such as a food, drink, drug, or preparation.  The Greek mythology also holds that Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, gave the Greeks the words ‘aphrodisia,’ which means heterosexual pleasure.

(4) Cupid

Son of Aphrodite, Cupid is the god of love often represented in paintings as a naked, winged boy with a bow and arrows.  The word cupid is a personified version of the original Latin word cupido, which means love or desire.

(6) Paramour
Borrowed from Old French word par amour, ‘by love,’ this word has a Middle English origin to mean sexual desire, a love affair, and the object of a person’s love affair.

In contrast to the meaning of ‘an illicit lover,’ paramour referred to the Virgin Mary when addressed by men, and Jesus Christ when addressed by women in the 15th to 16th century.  The knights labeled their lover as a paramour and an object of chivalrous admiration.

(7) Moonstruck

This word has two definitions, literal and figurative.  Moonstruck means “physically harmed or affected as a result of exposure to moonlight,” or “distracted or dazed as the result of some mental obsession, especially a romantic infatuation.”  It is funny to note the word used to mean insane or deranged (archaic now).

(8) Lovebirds

Did you know that this word, which often refers to a couple or two affectionate lovers, comes from an actual type of birds?  The word is originated from small, short-tailed African parrots in the genus (family) Agapornis, and they are noted for the affection that pairs show one another.

(9) Lasso

As many of you know, lasso means a rope with a noose at one end, used for catching cattle or horses.  As many of you know, this word has nothing to do with Valentine’s Day, except that you can say, “I’m going to lasso your heart like a rodeo.”  I just love that phrase.

(10) Lovelorn

It is a pretty uncommon word.  But if you think about the word forlorn, which means unhappy, desolate, or hopeless, you could easily guess that lovelorn means “unhappy as a result of unrequited love or the loss of a lover.”


Definitions are taken from Oxford English Dictionary and New Oxford American Dictionary.


Angela is a student journalist in love with languages, travel and music. She blogs at The Uloop News about the English language, gender, fashion, and travel experiences. Her works have appeared in Art Animal magazine, Smashion blog, What the F magazine, and The Michigan Daily.

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