What is love? That depends on who you ask.
The ancient Greeks defined four types of love–agape, philia, storge, eros–and our modern dictionary reflects these distinctions with multiple definitions of the word:
1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person;
2. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend;
3. sexual passion or desire.
Accurate, but not exactly stirring. When scientist Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster) hurtles through deep space in the movie Contact and is overcome with emotion at the vastness and beauty of the cosmos before her, she exclaims, “They should have sent a poet.” That’s how I feel about defining love. We should leave it to the poets, philosophers, and other deep thinkers like these:
“To love is to will the good of another.” – St. Thomas Aquinas
“Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.” – H. L. Mencken
“Love is a single soul inhabiting two bodies.” – Aristotle
“Love is life. All that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love. Everything is united by it alone.” – Leo Tolstoy
“To love is to be delighted by the happiness of another.” – Gottfried Leibniz
“Love is the only gold.” – Alfred, Lord Tennyson
“Love is a mutual self-giving which ends in self-recovery.” – Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
“Love is like quicksilver in the hand. Leave the fingers open and it stays. Clutch it, and it darts away.” – Dorothy Parker
“Love is most nearly itself when here and now cease to matter.” – T. S. Eliot
“Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself. Love possesses not nor would it be possessed. Love is sufficient unto love.” – Kahlil Gibran
“Love looks not with eyes, but with the mind.” – William Shakespeare
“Love is, above all, the gift of oneself.” – Jean Anouilh
And, finally, from Urban Dictionary, a definition more practical than poetic:
“Love: nature’s way of tricking people into reproducing.”
Which of these is closest to your definition of love? What is your definition of love? What definitions would you add to this list?