Origins of Love: Words of Affection for Valentine’s Day and Beyond

As the world collectively prepares for the whirlwind romances around 2022’s Valentine’s Day, we wanted to offer you all new words to fall in love with using. There are so many beautiful, underused or rare terms for one of the greatest feelings of our humanity: love. While these beautiful nuances are hard to describe in words, these terms try to encapsulate every experience in the spectrum of romance. In this post, we introduce you to rare and richly culturally-based terms for love, affection, longing, and everything in between.  


Kilig is a term based out of the Tagalog language, popularized in the Philippines. While this word originated from the Eastern world, the word had also been added to the Oxford dictionary as of 2016. The term is translated to describe the feeling of joy that can be felt at the first spark of romance, or when something amazing comes into your life. This could apply to anything, such as a person, relationship, pet, or some other beautiful event. Romanization can make even the most mundane events unforgettable and beautifully comforting, which is what this word strives to highlight by capturing the initial feeling of the human response.  


This word has a Chinese origin and encapsulates the belief in a higher power or in a universal connection. In an ancient belief that is similar to the “crimson thread theory,” this word describes the relationship and bond between two people who are destined to be together through the fates, the universe, or a global higher power that transcends our simple humanity. Yuanfen is never used lightly, and can be used synonymously with the term “soulmates.”  


As you may suspect, this term is French in origin and is based on the fleeting, intoxicating burst of joy that you can experience when closing the distance between yourself and your lover. This is exacerbated after any event of absence that caused longing in your heart. The base roots are Latin-based, using the infamous “re” prefix – which in French, means again. It is as if this word describes the reunification or the clashing of two destined souls once again in this universe, finding a home in each other even after periods of extended separation.  


Saudade is a Portuguese word that seeks to honor what once was. For many lovers, this concept is both romantic and tragic — and is something that many can empathize with if they’ve had at least one “great” love. This describes the strength, love, and bond that you can hold space for in your heart even after the permanent departure of a loved one  — whether it’s from death or a dissolution of the relationship. Despite the inference that the love is still kept and preserved, there is not an assumption that your heart, soul, or mind has moved from that person or this place  — it’s as if your love is frozen in time, in some other place, and honored over the course of your lifetime as a permanent love.