• love •
lêv • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, Verb
Meaning: 1. A deep affection and respect for. 2. A sexual passion for someone or something. 3. Zero points in tennis scoring.
Notes: We picked this Good Word for today to make sure you are ready for tomorrow, St. Valentine's Day. If you play tennis, you will have the occasion to use love frequently. This lovely word is used in scoring tennis matches, where it has the unfortunate meaning of "nothing, zip, zilch, nada". Tennis scores are love, 15, 30, 40, game, rather than 0-1-2-3-4, win, and a tie is a deuce, probably because players often say that when they tie.
In Play: The first two meanings of today's Good Word remind us that there is an easy 'love' and one that requires concentration: "The harder a couple works at loving each other, the deeper and more essential the relationship becomes." The second kind doesn't last as long or run as deep: "Phil Anders is a man who loves to love; he just doesn't know how."
Word History: Today's lovely word started out in Old English as lufu but, as many folks do, it improved with age. It is based on a root with sticking power: we see its original [l] and [b] in German Liebe, Russian ljubov, and Latin libido "pleasure". There once was a time when "love it or leave it" would have been redundant, since leave comes from the same parent word. "By your leave" once meant "by your pleasure", when love was associated with pleasure. The story of the tennis term is even more interesting. It is an English rendition of French l'œuf 'the egg', in a sense akin to English goose egg. The shift to love is the result of a process known as folk etymology, the conversion of an unfamiliar foreign word into a recognizable one in the native language.
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