1650s, "of the nature of a literary romance, partaking of the heroic or marvelous," from French romantique "pertaining to romance," from romant "a romance," an oblique case or variant of Old French romanz "verse narrative" (see romance (n.)).
Of places, "characterized by poetic or inspiring scenery," by 1705. As a literary style, opposed to classical (q.v.) since before 1812; it was used of schools of poetry in Germany (late 18c.) and later France. In music, "characterized by expression of feeling more than formal methods of composition," from 1885. Meaning "characteristic of an ideal love affair" (such as usually formed the subject of literary romances) is from 1660s. Meaning "having a love affair as a theme" is from 1960. Related: Romantical (1670s); romantically; romanticality. Compare romanticism.
1827 as "an adherent of romantic virtues in literature," from romantic (adj.). Earlier "a feature suggestive of romance" (1670s).
Old English lufu "feeling of love; romantic sexual attraction; affection; friendliness; the love of God; Love as an abstraction or personification," from Proto-Germanic *lubo (source also of Old High German liubi "joy," German Liebe "love;" Old Norse, Old Frisian, Dutch lof; German Lob "praise;" Old Saxon liof, Old Frisian liaf, Dutch lief, Old High German liob, German lieb, Gothic liufs "dear, beloved"). The Germanic words are from PIE root *leubh- "to care, desire, love."
The weakened sense "liking, fondness" was in Old English. Meaning "a beloved person" is from early 13c. The sense "no score" (in tennis, etc.) is 1742, from the notion of playing for love (1670s), that is, for no stakes. Phrase for love or money "for anything" is attested from 1580s. The phrase no love lost (between two people) is ambiguous and was used 17c. in reference to two who love each other well (c. 1640) as well as two who have no liking for each other (1620s, the usual modern sense).
To fall in love is attested from early 15c.; to be in love with (someone) is from c. 1500. To make love is from 1570s in the sense "pay amorous attention to;" as a euphemism for "have sex," it is attested from c. 1950. Love affair "a particular experience of love" is from 1590s. Love life "one's collective amorous activities" is from 1919, originally a term in psychological jargon. Love beads is from 1968. Love bug, imaginary insect, is from 1883. Love-handles "the fat on one's sides" is by 1967.
"Even now," she thought, "almost no one remembers Esteban and Pepita but myself. Camilla alone remembers her Uncle Pio and her son; this woman, her mother. But soon we shall die and all memory of those five will have left the earth, and we ourselves shall be loved for a while and forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning." [Thornton Wilder, "Bridge of San Luis Rey," 1927]
Old English lufian "to feel love for, cherish, show love to; delight in, approve," from Proto-Germanic *lubojanan (source also of Old High German lubon, German lieben), a verb from the root of love (n.). Weakened sense of "like" attested by c. 1200. Intransitive sense "be in love, have a passionate attachment" is from mid-13c. To love (someone) up "make out with" is from 1921. To love and leave is from 1885.
This truth came borne with bier and pall,
I felt it, when I sorrow'd most,
'Tis better to have loved and lost,
Than never to have loved at all —
[Tennyson, "In Memoriam"]
also lovebird, 1590s, small species of West African parrot, noted for the remarkable attention mating pairs pay to one another; figurative sense of "a lover" is attested from 1911.
Hold hands, you lovebirds. [Emil Sitka]