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Posted: Thu Feb 13, 2020 9:05 pm
• valentine •
-lên-tayn • Hear it!
Part of Speech:
A loved one to whom a special card of love is sent on St. Valentine's Day, February 14. 2.
The card itself or some other gift given on St. Valentine's Day to someone beloved.
The day celebrating love remains a proper noun, St. Valentine's Day or Saint Valentine's Day. The noun valentine, as defined above, has long since become a common noun. The verb valentine, once used to describe birds serenading a prospective mate, has fallen by the wayside. The same is true, alas, of the blend Valentide, made from valentine and tide in the spirit of Christmastide. So we are left to send valentines to our valentines on St. Valentine's Day.
May today be a lovely day. A Valentine's Day present is shortened to just valentine
these days: "That thoughtful guy, Amos, gave his wife a red lawnmower for a valentine." Since this word is so closely associated with St. Valentine's Day, the range of its possible uses is limited. Its association with the courtship of birds (See History
), though, suggests we might revive the verb in figurative expressions like this one: "Fenwick seems to have valentined Maudy into marrying him."
February 14 was originally a Roman feast day celebrating the beginning of the mating season of birds (hence the association with love). Chaucer was still aware of this for, in Parliament of Foules
(1381), he wrote: "For this was on seynt Volantynys day Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make" (For this was on Saint Valentine's Day when every bird comes there to choose his mate). The celebratory day somehow became associated with a saint named Valentine in the 3rd century, a priest and physician killed during the persecution of Christians by Claudius II. The connection between the two remains murky. (May everyone reading this be loved by someone special today.)
Posted: Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:04 pm
What, no history of the name "Valentine"? That's my favorite part of the Good Word!
Posted: Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:50 pm
From etymonline.com, the Online Etymology Dictionary. (Note this source disagrees with the Roman Lupercalia connection mentioned by the good doctor Goodword.)
mid-15c., "sweetheart chosen on St. Valentine's Day," from Late Latin Valentinus, the name of two early Italian saints (from Latin valentia "strength, capacity;" see valence). Choosing a sweetheart on this day originated 14c. as a custom in English and French court circles. Meaning "letter or card sent to a sweetheart" first recorded 1824. The romantic association of the day is said to be from it being around the time when birds choose their mates.
For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd cometh there to chese his make.
[Chaucer, "Parlement of Foules," c. 1381]
Probably the date was the informal first day of spring in whatever French region invented the custom (many surviving medieval calendars reckon the start of spring on the 7th or 22nd of February). No evidence connects it with the Roman Lupercalia (an 18c. theory) or to any romantic or avian quality in either of the saints. The custom of sending special cards or letters on this date flourished in England c. 1840-1870, declined around the turn of the 20th century, and revived 1920s.
To speak of the particular Customs of the English Britons, I shall begin with Valentine's Day, Feb. 14. when young Men and Maidens get their several Names writ down upon Scrolls of Paper rolled up, and lay 'em asunder, the Men drawing the Maidens Names, and these the Mens; upon which, the Men salute their chosen Valentines and present them with Gloves, &c. This Custom (which sometimes introduces a Match) is grounded upon the Instinct of Animals, which about this Time of the Year, feeling a new Heat by the approach of the Sun, begin to couple. ["The Present State of Great Britain and Ireland" London, 1723]
Posted: Wed Mar 04, 2020 12:45 am
Please don't play Dr Goodword and etymonline against each other. There is enough in every good word to go around.
Posted: Wed Mar 04, 2020 9:09 pm
Don't be so harsh, Phillip! bnjtokyo's contribution is a useful and interesting one. The more ideas the merrier, surely?
Posted: Thu Mar 05, 2020 12:46 pm
I hope the smiling emoji is proof of my benign nature.
Posted: Thu Mar 05, 2020 8:04 pm
It's certainly a strong indication! I was myself merely attempting to add to the gemütlich.
Posted: Fri Mar 06, 2020 3:36 am
this is a great forum.
Posted: Sat Oct 24, 2020 12:10 am
And that surely is the final word on this conversation!
Posted: Sat Oct 24, 2020 6:55 pm
I have a visual guide for the optimal length of a GW and often feel I haven't enough space to bring in all that has been said and written about a word. I often think of continuing the discussion here. In fact, that was the original motivation for opening the Agora.
I don't mind contrary opinions being expressed. Linguistics is a messy science that seldom experiences universal agreement.
Posted: Sat Oct 24, 2020 8:14 pm
Dear Dr Goodword:
Did you read jacobcak545's post in this Valentine thread? I find such posts annoying. I wish such posts could be removed promptly people who persist in posting such trash could be blocked.
Posted: Mon Nov 16, 2020 5:56 pm
As a further comment on Valentine I offer this concoction by a woefully uninformed young lady.
"If you will be my Valentine,
I will be your concubine."
Posted: Tue Nov 17, 2020 12:47 pm