10 Romantic idioms for Valentine’s Day
BY OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS ELT
The birds are tweeting, the skies are blue and love is in the air. Why? It’s Valentine’s Day of course!
Valentine’ Day is celebrated on the 14th of February and is a day to display romantic love and celebrate friendship. The occasion first became associated with romantic love when Geoffrey Chaucer based many of his stories in the Canterbury Tales around ‘courtly love’ in the 14th century.
These days lovers will typically show their affection with chocolates, flowers and greeting cards with sweet sentiments.
So, what better way to put you in the mood than with some expressions all about love?
Here is our pick of 10 idioms, plus a quiz at the end to see how much you’ve learnt!
1. Match made in heaven
A match made in heaven refers to two people who are perfectly suited to each other. It’s also now used to refer to any two things that go well together – fish and chips, now that’s a match made in heaven!
“Ajmal and Safie really are a match made in heaven. I can’t wait for their wedding!”
2. Puppy love
Puppy love is a feeling of love that a young person has for somebody else. Adults often use the phrase to show they don’t think it’s very serious. The term was made popular in the 70’s by Donny Osmond who sang a song of the same name at just thirteen years old.
“Sarah has a cool new boyfriend, but it’s just puppy love.”
3. Head over heels
The phrase “head over heels” is often used in combination with the verb “fall”. The literal and original meaning is that you are falling over yourself in a somersault. Now, it’s more commonly used to say you are completely and totally in love.
“As soon as I saw her, I fell head over heels.”
4. Love at first sight
Perhaps this one translates into your own language, as it’s been around since ancient Greek times. It means an instant feeling of love, when you see someone for the first time. However, many people believe this is actually a feeling of instant attraction, not love.
“When Sam met Alexa it was love at first sight. They got married 6 months later!”
5. Love is blind
If you are blinded by love, you don’t see the faults or the imperfections of who you love. This expression is first found in Chaucer’s Merchant’s Tale, which he wrote in the year 1405. In old English, the expression was ‘For loue is blynd alday and may nat see.’
But it didn’t become commonly used until Shakespeare used it again in the 1500’s.
“He’s so lazy, but she still loves him.”
“Well, they say that love is blind!”
6. Old flame
A person you loved in the past is an old flame. This could be an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend or a former lover.
“I bumped into an old flame at the supermarket last week. It was very awkward!”
7. Carry a torch for somebody
If you carry a torch for somebody, you are in love with them. However, this phrase suggests that this love only goes in one direction—or the other person doesn’t know about your feelings. It comes from the idea of keeping a fire burning and may relate to the Greek and Roman concept of a wedding torch, where a bride would carry a torch made of Hawthorne on the day she got married.
“I’ve always carried a torch for my next-door neighbour, but we’re just friends really.”
8. Kiss and make up
After an argument, people normally kiss and make up. This means to become friendly again and forgive each other. It’s typically used for a romantic couple but can also be used figuratively for two friends who’ve fallen out.
“He was angry at me all day, but we eventually kissed and made up.”
9. Wear your heart on your sleeve
If you show your emotions freely you wear your heart on your sleeve. Meaning they are visible for anyone and everyone to see!
“Rachel is so sweet, she really does wear her heart on her sleeve.”
10. Tie the knot
An informal term or a euphemism for getting married. Originally it was an actual knot used in marriage ceremonies, which was seen as a symbol for unity.
“Jackie and Alex finally tied the knot, I’m so happy for them!”
A romantic quiz for Valentine’s Day
Let’s see how much you’ve learnt!
carries a torch, puppy love, head over heels, tie the knot, match made in heaven
Use the words above to fill the gaps in the sentences below. You may need to change the form of the word. If you get stuck, use the descriptions above.
1. Michael has a girlfriend, but his mum thinks it’s just _____________________ .
Answer: puppy love
2. Olivia ___________________ for someone, and she’s finally going to tell them.
Answer: carries a torch
3. The happy couple are going to _____________________ this year.
Answer: tie the knot
4. Alex and Hannah both love ice skating, they are a _______________________.
Answer: match made in heaven
5. Harry and Sarah have been dating for a year and they are _________________ in love.
Answer: head over heels