What does the word “limerence” mean?

Reading time: Just over 1 minute

Increase your vocabulary and you’ll make your writing much more precise. That’s why I provide a word of the week. Today’s word: limerence…

I often discover some interesting books on the “Quick Reads” shelf of my local library. The loan period is just one week — and the overdue fines significant ($1/day) — but the shelf usually contains ultra-hot books. Many of them don’t interest me — e.g. anything by John Grisham, for instance — but occasionally I stumble across a popular title I’d never heard of.

Thee Rosie Effect by Australian writer Graeme Simsion (pictured above) was one such discovery. I chose it partly because one of my daughters had her friend named Rosie over for lunch that day, and I thought it would be amusing to walk into the house carrying a book with her name in the title. Sure enough, she shrieked when I showed it to her. “Oh, the book is so funny,” she exclaimed.

I don’t normally take my reading recommendations from 19-year-olds, but Rosie was right. The book was hilarious. The story of a man on the Asperger’s spectrum, who is married to an academic, the novel charts the course of the couple’s first pregnancy. All of the actions are understated and quite hilarious. (I know several people with Asperger’s/Autism and I don’t think any of them or their families would find the book offensive.)

The book also gave me my word of the week, the noun, limerence. Here’s how the author used it:

Love was a continuous state. There had been no significant change since we were married — perhaps a diminution in limerence, but it seemed unhelpful to provide Rosie with progress reports on that.

I hadn’t seen the word before and that’s likely because it wasn’t invited until 1979, by psychologist Dorothy Tennov, in her book Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love. The term refers to the state of mind resulting from a romantic attraction to another person typically including obsessive thoughts and fantasies and a desire to  have one’s feelings reciprocated.

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