Printable Version
Pronunciation: lim-ê-rêns Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)

Meaning: (Psychology) The emotional state of being in love: a heightened state of awareness and energy obsessively focused on the object of affection.

Notes: We could easily argue that today's Good Word is not a legitimate word at all: it appears in only a few dictionaries and, as the Word History will show, was created out of thin air. It does appear in psychological literature, though, and it does fill a gap: English has no noun corresponding to the phrase "fall in love with". The state of being in love with someone (as opposed to loving them), is limerence. A person who is in love is limerent and a limerent.

In Play: We are no longer limited to the worn-out verb phrase "fall in love" any more; today's Good Word provides us with a noun and adjective: "In his heightened state of limerence for Jean Poole, Randy Farmer became useless at work." The creator of today's Good Word uses it to distinguish "being in love" from "love" itself (click here for details): "After a few years of their marriage wore away his limerence for Jean, Randy found that loving her was more difficult."

Word History: Of all the words that have emerged under questionable circumstances, it is a shame that the noun for "being in love" does not have a history as romantic as its meaning. We have reviewed words with no known origins before; however, we know the source of this word. It was made up by psychologist Dorothy Tennov in 1977 for her 1979 book Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love. Unlike the Australian geologists, Bear and Thomas, who invented the beautiful word petrichor, Tennov intentionally concocted a word with no historical connections whatever. (Wouldn't French have been a lovely source for this sense?) This leaves us with nothing to say about its cultural origins except: 'tis a pity. (I'm sure we all love Barbara Grace a little more for suggesting this Good Word with its most unusual origin.)

Dr. Goodword,

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