Head over heels! (Love idioms)

by Kate Woodford

LWA/Dann Tardiff/Blend Images/Getty
LWA/Dann Tardiff/Blend Images/Getty

With Valentine’s Day almost upon us, our attention at About Words has turned to love, or more specifically, the various phrases and idioms that we use to describe romantic love. If love is on your mind, read on…

We’ll begin this post with the start of romantic love. When you fall in love, you start to love someone romantically: They met in the spring of 2009 and fell madly in love.

If you start to love someone from the first time you see them, you may describe the experience as love at first sightAl and I met in a friend’s kitchen and it was love at first sight for both of us.

To describe the same experience of immediate, very strong, romantic love for someone, you may say that they sweep you off your feet: The first time I met her, I was completely swept off my feet. Meanwhile, although this phrase describes a slightly less intense feeling, if you take a shine to someone you have just met, you start to like them immediately: I think Karl’s taken a bit of a shine to your sister.

An idiom that is used to describe great strength of feeling, rather than the start of that feeling is head over heels. If you describe yourself as head over heels (in love) with someone, you mean you are completely in love, with very strong feelings: The actor is reportedly head over heels in love with his co-star.

In a relationship, if someone loves and admires their partner very much, it is sometimes said that they worship the ground that they walk on: I’ve never known anything like it – he worships the ground she walks on.

Sadly, in the real world not all couples get to live happily ever after (=happy together for the rest of their lives). Love sometimes ends. If you break someone’s heart, you make them very sad, usually because you have stopped loving them: She was crazy about Daniel and it broke her heart when he left her.

Sometimes, a person has strong feelings for someone who does not love them. For this sad situation, we use the phrase unrequited love: James was very keen on a woman that he worked with but sadly, it was a case of unrequited love.

Meanwhile, someone who is said to carry a torch for a person, loves or admires them over a long period, even when the person does not realise this: He’s been carrying a torch for Rebecca for years.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

32 thoughts on “Head over heels! (Love idioms)

  1. jamal halaseh

    You said (…They met in the spring of 2009 and fell madly in love.)
    why not :they met in the spring of 2009 and have madly fallen in love ?

    1. Harumi

      Hi, Jamal! That’s because 2009 is a specific point in time, and when we mention a specific time we always use the Simple Past! Hope it helps!

      1. Kate Woodford

        Hi! Yes, Harumi is absolutely right. You might say ‘They’ve fallen in love’ with no time reference, but that would mean they have recently started to love each other. But yes, when you mention a time in the past, as Harumi says, you need the past simple. Best wishes to you both!

    2. Lulu

      because it is the Past Simple Tense (spring, 2009). never use the Present Perfect with particular time in the past. fell in love refers to spring 2009 when they met.

  2. Chirag

    Very Nice Article!
    With moot point being, anyone who gives it a read, being able to realize the meaning of at least one of these idioms, having encountered the situations these idioms represent somewhere in their life
    Loved it!!

  3. Anil Kumar BK

    They met……… and fell in love sounds more immediate and natural, and falling in love with sb itself is the focus here, not the effects of it (have fallen in love)

  4. Khadoos

    I shown her every idiom. I opened my heart with all piousness and devotion . But it proved to be in vain.

    I will not have any regret in future. All I would say is….You are special for me and very special. Any thing for you. If she come across to this then be sure that he was always her.

  5. Anil Kumar BK

    They met in the spring of 2009 and have madly fallen in love SINCE is possible, if you are keen on that ‘have’

  6. mohd Ahrar

    One of the finest articles I read about idioms on love. Please keep writing on other related idioms in future as well.

  7. Pingback: Head over heels! (Love idioms) – Cambridge Dictionary About words blog (Feb 08, 2017) | Editorial Words

  8. ipekk

    It is nice that i learnt about the idiom carry a torch for sb. Nice to have found out another way to express oneself really :()

  9. Dhiraj Sharma

    This reminds me Shakira’s song- Whenever, whenever. She has used this idiom in this song.. 🙂

    Whenever, wherever
    We’re meant to be together
    I’ll be there and you’ll be near
    And that’s the deal my dear
    There over, hereunder
    You’ve got me head over heels
    There’s nothing left to fear
    If you really feel the way I feel

    Thank you Kate for explaining its meaning. I have also read your other articles about Phrasal verbs and idioms, they are amazing and informative.

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