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What's the deal with "limerence"?
November 19, 2012 3:54 AM   Subscribe

What's the deal with "limerence"?

I feel like I see this word at least once a day on Metafilter, and I've literally never encountered it anywhere else. I just polled a couple of highly educated non-mefite friends and they had never heard it before. I'm not complaining really, just curious how a lexical meme like this gets started on Metafilter.

I think I remember seeing an FPP about it that introduced me to the word and may have been the beginning of its ubiquity here, but the only one I can find is this which feels too recent. Was there something earlier? Was there an off-Mefi article or book that popularized the word? And are there other examples of an unusual word that's become similarly popular here, to the point where we assume other mefites know it when we wouldn't make that assumption in different company?
posted by pete_22 to MetaFilter-Related at 3:54 AM (260 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

It doesn't seem to be a new term. So it's not quite a neologistic meme as such, and I wouldn't attribute it specifically to MeFi.
posted by solarion at 4:01 AM on November 19, 2012


Possibly AskMe is just the only place you spend a lot of time where there's a huge group of people talking 24/7 about relationship issues, which is where the term would crop up.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:01 AM on November 19, 2012 [23 favorites]


OED has the below to say, looks like someone wanted a name for the particular phenomenon back in 1977 and used this because they liked the sound of it.

Pronunciation: Brit. /ˈlɪm(ə)rəns/ , U.S. /ˈlɪmər(ə)ns/ , /ˈlɪmr(ə)ns/ Forms: 19– limerance, 19– limerence. (Show More)
Etymology: < limer-, apparently an arbitrary element (compare quot. 1977) + -ence suffix. Compare limerent adj.In form limerance after -ance suffix.


The state of being romantically infatuated or obsessed with another person, typically experienced involuntarily and characterized by a strong desire for reciprocation of one's feelings but not primarily for a sexual relationship.

It has been suggested that this state results from fluctuations in the levels of various neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine.1977 D. Tennov in Observer 11 Sept. 3/9, I first used the term ‘amorance’ then changed it back to ‘limerence’... It has no roots whatsoever. It looks nice. It works well in French. Take it from me it has no etymology whatsoever.

1981 L. Lochhead Grimm Sisters 31 From limerance and venery She flinched as at fire.

1993 C. Birch Regaining Compassion for Nature i. 23 Real love, as distinct from limerence, does not destroy the freedom of the beloved. It does not violate the beloved's individual and social existence.

2001 Weekend Austral. (Nexis) 10 Feb. 18 Limerance isn't about reality, but a love state triggered by a rush of brain chemicals.
posted by biffa at 4:09 AM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah it's mainly an AskMe thing, but even in the context of online relationship advice, it seems to crop up a lot more here. I've never seen Dan Savage use it, for example, or Emily Yoffe...
posted by pete_22 at 4:09 AM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


It looks like the very first time it was used on the site was 2003, by y2karl, in a Metafilter comment linking to a book review of "Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love," by Dorothy Tennov.
posted by taz (staff) at 4:13 AM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Limerence is the new bacon.
posted by R. Mutt at 4:17 AM on November 19, 2012 [28 favorites]


Yeah, but unlike the columnists, an important function of AskMe is to enable people to say, "Look at me, I know a thing!" In this case, a useful and uncommon word is a fun thing to know and people are going to want to show it off. It's the mass of people + the subject that makes it happen, I think.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:19 AM on November 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


I first encountered the term back in the early 1980's. So, not new. I don't hear it much, though.
posted by rmd1023 at 4:44 AM on November 19, 2012


It's the dark, dark hand of languagehat behind this, I tells ya. I feel it in my waters.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:52 AM on November 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah; I noticed it appearing with more frequency at the end of last year, at which point it was new to me too.

I think that in this era with people churning out a gazillion short written messages every day and able to immediately look things up in online dictionaries and Urban Dictionary the cycles of trends and fashions in wording—both neologisms and revenant vocabulary—come much more quickly. You can use an arcane term and be confident that if the reader doesn't know it off the top of their head they can look it up quickly.

But also, the fiendish machinations of languagehat are a possibility.

I feel like a few years ago there was a similar uptick in the use of "bespoke".
posted by XMLicious at 4:57 AM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


There was a young man from the internets
Who was struck by the fancy term limerence
At first he was piqued
By its usage unique
But was left with a sense of indifference
posted by Elmore at 5:06 AM on November 19, 2012 [61 favorites]


I prefer original lemonrence myself, but you know, hipsters gonna hip.
posted by Segundus at 5:22 AM on November 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


Damn, Elmore, I was just writing that, or something like it....
posted by HuronBob at 5:35 AM on November 19, 2012


There was a young man from Nantucket
With limerence so hard he need tuck it
in a AskMe x-rated
until finally sated
and returned on the previous night
posted by DU at 5:35 AM on November 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think I love you. But I want to know for sure.
posted by OmieWise at 5:51 AM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Dear AskMe, your answer dispense:
Is it love - or just limerence?
I paid a five-buck fee
To ask you - so, fuck me,
Please don't just sit on the fence.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 5:51 AM on November 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


Because trust certain people to use a wanky, show-off word like "limerence" when "crush" pretty much covers it, in spite of what some defenders of the word say.
posted by Decani at 5:51 AM on November 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


Yeah, but unlike the columnists, an important function of AskMe is to enable people to say, "Look at me, I know a thing!"

s/AskMe/MetaFilter as a whole
posted by fleacircus at 5:53 AM on November 19, 2012


Because trust certain people to use a wanky, show-off word like "limerence" when "crush" pretty much covers it, in spite of what some defenders of the word say.

u r rite words same + 2 fanC = bad + show bad man
posted by OmieWise at 6:00 AM on November 19, 2012 [19 favorites]


But what about limerence in a liminal state?
posted by roboton666 at 6:03 AM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Decani I have a limerence on you.
posted by griphus at 6:04 AM on November 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Limerence is more than a crush, as it tends to be mutual, and its an attempt to describe an objectively verifiable state of mind rather than a nebulous feeling.
posted by empath at 6:04 AM on November 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


(for the poets, I would just offer deliverance and belligerence as two other rhymes)
posted by pete_22 at 6:11 AM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


A couple all schmooped in romance
By their lemon tree's fruit are entranced
but the scene turns hardcore
thanks to lemon-stealing whores
and they spew forth a tirade of lemonrants.

(via)

("limerence" was definitely a term en vogue back 10+ years ago on the Usenet relationship support boards.)
posted by drlith at 6:22 AM on November 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Because trust certain people to use a wanky, show-off word like "limerence" when "crush" pretty much covers it, in spite of what some defenders of the word say.

They're actually different words with different meanings, especially contextual ones. Some people just like subtlety. Others, not so much.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:23 AM on November 19, 2012 [39 favorites]


Limerencewind is the love equivalent to the number zero.
posted by SpiffyRob at 6:29 AM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Limerence is a beautiful word. "Crush" doesn't begin to convey the same mental state.

Speaking personally, crushes are a dime a dozen and not nearly as obsessive as the romantic and erotic intoxication of really falling in love, which happens far more rarely in this life.

To me, "Limerence" always entails some level of reciprocal feeling, expressed on some level. It cannot exist as a one-way feeling, unlike a "crush" (which may be mutual but unspoken, of course). It may be more intensely aspirational or eroticized for one partner than the other, but it develops only when attraction is mutually acknowledged.

Plus, neurotransmitters FTW. And songs. And everything else beautiful about life.
posted by spitbull at 6:32 AM on November 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Limerencewind" sounds like a euphemysm for anxiety-farting on a date.

Not that it is a phenomenon I am at all familiar with, of course.
posted by griphus at 6:32 AM on November 19, 2012 [9 favorites]


And are there other examples of an unusual word that's become similarly popular here, to the point where we assume other mefites know it when we wouldn't make that assumption in different company?

I would say that the term "gaslighting" also comes up way more often in human relations AskMe than it does in the general population; it's pretty much guaranteed to be used at least once in any bad relationship thread, whereas I've only ever heard it once in my day-to-day life.
posted by Ragged Richard at 6:36 AM on November 19, 2012 [11 favorites]


Wait. How do you "objectively verify" it?
posted by thelonius at 6:36 AM on November 19, 2012


It is a new word, not so much a new concept. It used to be called "lovesickness". In medieval times it was a medical diagnosis. The cure was to, where appropriate, to arrange for the object of the limerence to shag the sufferer's brains out, which tended to be kill or cure, for obvious reasons, especially if the limerent object felt the same way after all. If inappropriate (say the limerent object was married) a prostitute would be hired instead.

Nowadays the cure is to go on MeFi and have people tell you to get therapy to cure the pathology of having strong feelings, which are strictly for adolescents and stalkers.

I like the medieval doctors' idea best.
posted by tel3path at 6:38 AM on November 19, 2012 [29 favorites]


Limerence is more than a crush, as it tends to be mutual, and its an attempt to describe an objectively verifiable state of mind rather than a nebulous feeling.
posted by empath


Or what empath eponysterically said.
posted by spitbull at 6:39 AM on November 19, 2012


Well, you know how it is - Mefites love to appear intellectual. You should try an experiment: come up with another useful but little-known word and casually use it on an AskMe - I'm betting that with only rudimentary work (ie, linking to that post from time to time) you can make it the new limerance.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 6:42 AM on November 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


Thanks to twitter, we can't say "twitterpated" anymore without some confusion. So limerence it is!
posted by Eideteker at 6:44 AM on November 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


They're actually different words with different meanings, especially contextual ones. Some people just like subtlety.

Indeed. And precision. I first understood limerence as a scientific term for the biological aspects of romantic love. I know that some sort of scientific literature is where I first encountered it -- and this was in the 90s. It has its uses.

And are there other examples of an unusual word that's become similarly popular here, to the point where we assume other mefites know it when we wouldn't make that assumption in different company?

Cis-gendered comes to mind. I wouldn't call it popular, though -- unlike limerence, it lacks elegance either in definition or pronunciation. In my humble opinion, that is.
posted by y2karl at 6:46 AM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I looked up this word a while ago, after reading it here. I'm not going to make a judgement though, as I admit I still don't really understand what it means.
posted by Jehan at 6:49 AM on November 19, 2012


Limerence might be bad, but it's a lot healthier than being a werewolf and imprinting on human/vampire hybrid child of the human, now vampire, girl you use to be hot for.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:51 AM on November 19, 2012 [16 favorites]


I would say that the term "gaslighting" also comes up way more often in human relations AskMe than it does in the general population; it's pretty much guaranteed to be used at least once in any bad relationship thread, whereas I've only ever heard it once in my day-to-day life.

To me, "limerence" (which word I've never heard anyone say out loud, and only know from once having ended up at the relevant article on a random journey through the Wikipedias a few years back) has definite sensory associations, evoking a sort of dim, vaguely oscillating glow, just how I'd imagine literal gas light to be (though I'm not sure I've ever seen it).

"Limerence" is an excellent word; it gave me that sort of glowing-candle feeling as soon as I read it, before I'd even looked at the Wikipedia article and found out what it denotes.

"Gaslight" is a similarly beautiful-sounding, though less mysterious, word. It's harder to enjoy, because the obvious literal meaning interferes with the purely sonic* qualities, somewhat. I was surprised to find that it refers to something so nasty.

Limerence limerence limerence!

*I'm not sure "sonic" is right here, since I'm talking about the experience of imagining what a written word might sound like if said aloud. I still don't even know for certain how to pronounce "limerence".
posted by kengraham at 6:53 AM on November 19, 2012


Forgive me, but, very roughly, is it a bit like saying a couple is "lovestruck". They don't just have affection for one another, but a real emotional need to be with and get love from the other?
posted by Jehan at 7:21 AM on November 19, 2012


> Yeah, but unlike the columnists, an important function of AskMe is to enable people to say, "Look at me, I know a thing!"

Unlike?
posted by jfuller at 7:31 AM on November 19, 2012


There was a young lover named Heim
who was dreamily rinsing his lime.
Thus absorbed with this citrus,
he became rather witless
and didn't pay his lime rent on time.
posted by Iridic at 7:59 AM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was under the impression (opposite of some here) that Limerence indicates a certain lack of mutuality--that it's a bad thing because it's based on nothing more than chemistry of attraction, where if you just love the shit out of someone at first contact who loves you back that's healthy and great.

In any event--I hate this word, maybe because of the imprecision I see in usage coupled with the smug understanding that there's something wrong with love at first site. Or because I am a dead husk of flesh whose soul has long long ago flown into the darklands.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:08 AM on November 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


Limerence is a specialized term for a particular kind of falling in love: the dazzling, obsessive, cupid-struck-me kind of falling in love. Dorothy Tennov, a relationship researcher, invented the term. It really didn't catch on; psychologists typically call it passionate love or early-stage romantic love. Not everyone who says they are "in love" experiences limerence, though many do.

And it is definitely measurable (this is a link to a scale that essentially measures limerence, though it calls it by a different name).

By limerence Tennov meant a kind of intensely focused attraction state whose object was a single person, and, which, though it was connected and intertwined with sexual attraction, could not necessarily be reduced to it.

She noted that limerence appeared to be a kind of syndrome, usually one that typically lasted between 6 months and 3 years. Limerence involves the deep desire to be with, constantly think about, and be loved by the object of one’s limerence.

She further characterized it as including obsessive, intrusive thinking about the beloved, an acute longing for reciprocation, a dependency of moods on the beloved’s actions, its limitation to one person at a time, the relief of anxiety via fantasizing about the beloved’s actions, a fear of rejection, possible shyness in the beloved’s presence, an intensification of the love (to a point) through adversity, acute sensitivity to any possibly approving or rejecting action of the beloved, literal physical heartache, buoyancy when reciprocation seems evident, a general intensity of feeling that leaves other concerns in background, and a "remarkable ability to emphasize what is truly admirable in [the beloved] and to avoid dwelling on the negative, even to respond with a compassion for the negative and render it, emotionally if not perceptually, into another positive attribute."

Limerence is more than a crush, as it tends to be mutual

It is more than a crush, but it definitely does NOT have to be mutual, and very frequently is not. Everything ever written about agonizingly unrequited love is about agonizingly unrequited, non-mutual limerence.
posted by shivohum at 8:13 AM on November 19, 2012 [20 favorites]


Limerence can be mutual or non-mutual. Where it's non-mutual, or "unrequited", it hurts, and is difficult to detach from, therefore is a bad thing.

Where it's mutual but neither will reveal feelings or act (say because one sufferer is married) double bad.

Where it's non-mutual but acted upon and the love is requited, party time. At least for a while. The limerent party may or may not obsess over the limerent object to the point of turning them off. Or it might go just fine.

Where it's mutual and acted upon, party time. At least for a while. Perhaps the couple will descend into a folie a deux of mutual obsession and drive each other over the edge, or perhaps they will just wake up one day and see each other for the sad sacks they are, leaving no genuine mutuality underneath all the illusions. Or maybe they will live happily yet realistically ever after.

Just say no to love, kids.
posted by tel3path at 8:32 AM on November 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


It is fun to watch new words emerge into common usage.

In this particular case I'd imagine that a lot of the advice givers are, like me, from the first generation for which serial monogamy is simply a fact of life. All the advice we were given by our elders was about marriage and making it last, and the process of falling in love was regarded with a youthful haze and was covered with phrases like "honeymoon period" and our own "twitterpated".

Now we're the elders and falling in love is obviously not something you do once in your youth. We're surrounded by a glut of people falling in and out of love, and much like the canard about Eskimos and words for snow we're developing a far more detailed vocabulary to cover the situations we find ourselves in.

Will "limerance" last? Who knows. But as I say it is fun to watch words emerge to meet a common need.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:35 AM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I had heard it in the real world, but my wife is a psychiatrist.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:08 AM on November 19, 2012


As someone who goes through this every few years and doesn't seek it out, I was thrilled to find out there was a word for it.

I get a crush on the guy at the coffee shop and I may blush if he asks me the time or comments on what I am reading. I may walk into the coffee shop and think: "I sure hope that cute guy is here today" and feel a little warm and silly. Maybe I'll go in a time or two more than I ordinarily would. I may even get excited about asking him out and be sad if he says no or glow a bit if he says yes.

Limerence is a different thing entirely. It is (perhaps literally) crazy. You hear things that aren't there in conversation and turn every single thing that happens into something fraught with oh-so-much meaning and secret intentions. Every touch, action, or glance becomes full of meaning that only you (and your poor object) understand. You understand because you spend almost all your time analyzing and rationalizing it to the n-th degree.

It is totally delightful and at the same time even more delusional, obsessive, and painful. You spend your time boring and annoying your friends with endless analytical questions about what this-or-that means. The slightest things set you off into fantasy land. If you don't get control of yourself, you end up making a mess of everything.

The only way out of it is a kind of hyper-rationality and solid question-answer stuff. The second I start to feel it I start to pull back and think about what actually happened.

  • Rational: "he took something from my hand and looked me in the eye saying 'Thank-You' before walking away"

  • Crush: "I liked it when he brushed my hand as he said 'Thank-You'. What a nice smile. I hope he didn't notice my blushing."

  • Limerence: "as he took the thing from my hand he hesitated slightly as he always seems to do and brushed the top of my knuckles for the slightest moment before he raised his head and met my eye with those clear blue eyes which he seemed to close ever so slightly as he smiled and murmured 'Thank-You' slowly turning - did he hesitate again? - then walking away as if to preserve the moment of our contact."



  • So yes, I think it helps to have a separate word that kind of supersedes "crush".
    posted by Tchad at 9:15 AM on November 19, 2012 [14 favorites]


    Your limericks while cute should be banned;
    they don't answer the question at hand:
    Is limerance a crush,
    or a hormonal rush,
    or a citrusy floor cleaner brand?
    posted by jph at 9:15 AM on November 19, 2012 [52 favorites]


    I was going to make a list once, of particular terms that are alwaysalwaysalways trotted out on Ask in a way I find unbearably predictable. ("Limerance is the new bacon" is a good way of describing the brand of annoyance I'm taking about.)

    "Limerance" was high on that potential list, especially if it's simultaneously linked to the Wikipedia article. Extra points if the answerer assumes that someone who has been active on Metafilter for some time, has probably never encountered the concept or the word -- obviously possible, but as you've noticed, that would be difficult.

    It's not the existence of the concept that's the problem, it's the "oooh ooh me I know the answer!" aspect. And I don't know what I was going to do with this list, except maybe get someone help me make a new set of Ask Metafilter answer dice. Then I dropped the list idea, because lord, who cares, and I shouldn't indulge this part of my soul.
    posted by Coatlicue at 9:17 AM on November 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


    "Limerance" has upticked in other forums over the last few years. On SomethingAwful its become almost a joke that it will inevitably appear in anyone's account of their tumultuous special snowflake romantic problems.

    I'm unpersuaded that it's a term that says anything we couldn't say before. At most, it seems to function as a superlative: It wasn't a just crush, there was limerance!
    posted by outlier at 9:21 AM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I am in a swoony kind of love with this thread.
    posted by iamkimiam at 9:23 AM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Yeah it's mainly an AskMe thing, but even in the context of online relationship advice, it seems to crop up a lot more here. I've never seen Dan Savage use it, for example, or Emily Yoffe...

    Wouldn't this require Emily Yoffe to, you know, give something resembling advice?
    posted by GenjiandProust at 9:26 AM on November 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


    Advice, horribly judgmental lectures that belittle people? Tomato, tomahto.
    posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:31 AM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

    I'm unpersuaded that it's a term that says anything we couldn't say before. At most, it seems to function as a superlative: It wasn't a just crush, there was limerance!
    I'm getting that impression too. I've read the thread through and can't see that it's anything more than another word for "lovesick" or "lovestruck". Those words aren't going anywhere soon, so I'm putting "limerence" down as a junior synonym.
    posted by Jehan at 9:36 AM on November 19, 2012


    I'm unpersuaded that it's a term that says anything we couldn't say before.

    Neither is "email". It's just that saying "email" is easier than typing in the entire Webster's definition every time you want to say something.
    posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:38 AM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Ok, now that we have that sorted out, what's the deal with "octoroon"? I mean, how would you even know? and who needs a word for this? Sheesh.
    posted by GuyZero at 9:42 AM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


    If you want to read a note-perfect description of limerence avant le mot, read Goethe's Sorrows of Young Werther. It's definitely a dangerous state to be in, if it isn't reciprocated. Oh, and even if you don't give a hoot about limerence you should read Young Werther because it's amazing.
    posted by Kattullus at 9:52 AM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Ok, now that we have that sorted out, what's the deal with "octoroon"? I mean, how would you even know? and who needs a word for this? Sheesh.

    In some places, 1/8 African ancestry was the dividing line between who was legally considered white and who was legally considered black, until the One-Drop Rule became more standard in the 20th century. That's nothing compared to the detailed racial classification charts created in Latin America to let you know exactly where you stood in society based on the ethnicities of your grandparents.

    Basically, the word is a relic of the more explicitly codified racism of the 19th century.
    posted by Copronymus at 10:10 AM on November 19, 2012


    Young Werther was the first book that made me want to slap the protagonist so hard he'd come out the back cover and land in the Asian Cooking section of the library. Which is to say that it evokes passions.
    posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:13 AM on November 19, 2012 [15 favorites]


    The first time I tried to read Young Werther I got so annoyed I quit. The second time, a decade later, I got sucked into it. I'd read a few chapters and then I'd just sit and stare into space thinking about what I'd just read.
    posted by Kattullus at 10:20 AM on November 19, 2012


    In his speech at my wedding in 2009, one of my close college friends said this:
    "Part of loving another person is the element of time--of change--and our ability to love constantly, even increasingly, as the object of our love grows and changes and surprises us, or even confounds us.

    The truth is that I wish I had met Phoebe and Jordan before they met one another. I wish I had seen them when their dreams for one another were new. I think that watching their love take root and bloom must have been like watching the sun rise to illuminate a landscape--making its beauty more apparent, more defined, and more real with subtle, gradual light. . . .

    Phoebe wrote to me to warn me about love. She wrote: 'Part of loving is dependence, which is a weakness, and relinquishing control, which is scary, too. You cannot be a rock. And rocks are cool. And you cannot be an island.'

    But Phoebe isn't a rock. Jordan is not an island. Phoebe and Jordan are independent, self-sufficient, and brilliant people who are set aglow in the light of an unfathomable--love. They have been lucky enough to find one another and potent enough to fall in love-to let that first limerence evolve into the enduring romance we're celebrating today."
    He's not a mefite and not particularly active on other forums. In fact, we both started using the term around 2003, when we met in a Philosophy of Sex & Love class, and after college, when we wrote letters to one another and he navigated love quandaries that he was experiencing, we used it often. How else can one delineate the evolution from one type of mutual feeling to another? It's the perfect term for it. Maybe thinking so makes me a special snowflake (and we are certainly over-educated show-offs), but words are useful. Precise words, even better.
    posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:20 AM on November 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


    Werther can just go fuck himself, and I say that with all due respect.
    posted by drlith at 10:21 AM on November 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


    Werther's life would've been a lot better if he'd been happy just fucking himself. That said, the book is very critical of its main character, in my reading.
    posted by Kattullus at 10:45 AM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

    He's not a mefite and not particularly active on other forums. In fact, we both started using the term around 2003, when we met in a Philosophy of Sex & Love class, and after college, when we wrote letters to one another and he navigated love quandaries that he was experiencing, we used it often. How else can one delineate the evolution from one type of mutual feeling to another? It's the perfect term for it. Maybe thinking so makes me a special snowflake (and we are certainly over-educated show-offs), but words are useful. Precise words, even better.
    "Limerence" doesn't seem all that precise. Even in this thread alone, some have said that it must be a shared feeling, others that it can be non-mutual. Many have said (including me) that they don't really understand what the word means, and that there are already words for similar things. Some dictionaries don't even have the word. It seems like we're replacing a wealth of words for talking about love with a single ambiguous term. Narrowing a wide "livedness" of language with a bookword that few really grasp isn't progress. Instead it's a real step backward, rubbing out and breaking up our shared language for no overall gain.

    Shall we replace "soulmate" or "lovemate" with "co-limerent" while we're at it? Or "honeymoon" with "limerent period"? Or "falling in and out of love" with "punctuated limerency"?

    "My love, let us stoke once more the fires of our...limerence." Err.
    posted by Jehan at 10:47 AM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


    "Limerence" doesn't seem all that precise. Even in this thread alone, some have said that it must be a shared feeling, others that it can be non-mutual. Many have said (including me) that they don't really understand what the word means, and that there are already words for similar things.

    It is precise. It refers to the sexually and emotionally charged feelings one experiences at the beginning of a romantic relationship. Note that this is different from a "crush" because no romantic relationship is necessitated for a crush ("crush" is also somewhat pejorative, usually used to refer to teenagers, sometimes used to refer to teenagers' feelings about Hollywood actors). I'd agree that the feelings don't have to be mutual, but they exist as a result of an interaction. It's best understood when contrasted with the mellower types of lasting love that may or may not arise out of it. My husband and I both once experienced limerence; we're still in love, but we're no longer riding high on the wave of chemically-induced emotions.

    Shall we replace "soulmate" or "lovemate" with "co-limerent" while we're at it? Or "honeymoon" with "limerent period"? Or "falling in and out of love" with "punctuated limerency"?

    Oh noes, god forbid! Seriously, there are problems with many of the terms you use--"soulmate" implies one thinks that a soul exists. Lovemate is cheesy and I've never actually heard it used. "Honeymoon" implies a legal marriage. "Falling in and out of love" may refer to the beginning and end of other types of loving relationships, even platonic loving relationships.
    posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:54 AM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


    It's not a new term, but it seems Metafilter likes certain words and makes them a bigger part of its lexicon than the general public.

    See: gaslight, trigger, snowflake. Metafilter didn't invent the non-stardard uses of those three words, but you do seem them here quite a bit more than you would probably ever hear in your day-to-day life.
    posted by spaltavian at 11:00 AM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


    "lexicon"
    posted by griphus at 11:00 AM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Just like any other group of people who hangs out together a lot, certain words become the chosen argot of the crowd. So it is in AskMeFi human relations questions. Using those terms shows that you have been around and can at least pretend that you know what you're talking about. If you see an answer in the human relations section saying

    "This sounds like you have been engulfed by limerence and it is blinding you to the fact that you are in an abusive relationship! He's gaslighting you. Read The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker!"

    Then we can all have a knowing look amongst ourselves and pat each other on the back for being so relationship savvy.

    On the other hand, when you come over to MetaTalk, there is a different argot and you'd be expected to make a post like:

    "omg, jessamyn, that FPP was so eponysterical! Reminded me of the Fedora Guy and the taters girl situations, only mixed up and gone all pear-shaped."

    Even within one website we have different dialects. When in Rome and all that.
    posted by treehorn+bunny at 11:03 AM on November 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


    It seems to me like the use of words that come out of therapeutic or philosophical spheres on metafilter is the result of people assuming that they're speaking to people with a similar degree of (formal or informal) education. They might be jargon, but jargon has its uses--for delineating small but significant differences between terms in order to reflect small but significant differences between concepts. The price for this precision is losing outsiders (not everyone at my wedding understood my friend's speech), but what you gain in exchange is deeper understanding among people who already understand the lexicon (I sure as hell did).
    posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:07 AM on November 19, 2012


    I've heard "limerence" outside Mefi (and before I read it here) but maybe that's because I read psychology stuff. I definitely first saw "gaslighting" here though.

    It does drive me nuts every time I see "limerance" on Ask--at least spell your fancy word right, please?
    posted by mlle valentine at 11:14 AM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I'd read a few chapters and then I'd just sit and stare into space thinking about what I'd just read.

    I should mention that Werther was also indirectly responsible for me abandoning my literature degree.

    Like you, I actually thought about the book and reached my own conclusions. These were significantly different than one of the standard interpretations that my literature professor favored. Contrary to where you think this story is going I got flying colors on my papers and essays regarding the book.

    Following that I realized "Wow, you really can just make up any old bullshit and it will fly" and bailed to go do a Computer Science degree which both paid better and had right and wrong answers.
    posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:15 AM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


    I think "limerence" was fairly well defined by Dorothy Tennov, but there is a general distrust of romance and romanticism on MeFi, and a tendency to condemn attraction itself as pathological or sinful (though of course sometimes it is, just not all the time).
    posted by tel3path at 11:16 AM on November 19, 2012

    It is precise. It refers to the sexually and emotionally charged feelings one experiences at the beginning of a romantic relationship. Note that this is different from a "crush" because no romantic relationship is necessitated for a crush ("crush" is also somewhat pejorative, usually used to refer to teenagers, sometimes used to refer to teenagers' feelings about Hollywood actors). I'd agree that the feelings don't have to be mutual, but they exist as a result of an interaction. It's best understood when contrasted with the mellower types of lasting love that may or may not arise out of it. My husband and I both once experienced limerence; we're still in love, but we're no longer riding high on the wave of chemically-induced emotions.
    No it's not precise. You say that the feelings don't have to be mutual. Another commenter here says they do. That smacks of imprecision and ambiguity. Is the other commenter wrong? And if they are, doesn't their wrongness suggest that the word is hard to understand, thus another source of ambiguity?

    Besides, can anybody actually say whether this isn't just another word for lovestruck?
    posted by Jehan at 11:18 AM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I don't think I have heard either "lovestruck" or "limerence" ever said aloud.
    posted by griphus at 11:19 AM on November 19, 2012


    Unless maybe it is pronounced funny? I thought "segue" was a little-used word pronounced "seeg" for years.
    posted by griphus at 11:20 AM on November 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


    And just as "gaslight" has specific meaning, it also tends to be overused to cover all forms of emotional manipulation. "Gaslighting" is to rearrange items in someone's (emotional or physical) reality for the specific purpose of making them doubt their own grasp of reality (sanity). Most emotional manipulation depends on making the victim doubt themselves, but only some of it has that as an immediate goal.

    Similarly, to be "limerent" is to be lovesick, but not all love is sick, not all healthy relationships are boring, and not all sick lovers are limerent. Edward Cullen isn't limerent, for example, but obsessive and controlling.
    posted by tel3path at 11:23 AM on November 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


    No it's not precise. You say that the feelings don't have to be mutual. Another commenter here says they do. That smacks of imprecision and ambiguity. Is the other commenter wrong? And if they are, doesn't their wrongness suggest that the word is hard to understand, thus another source of ambiguity?

    Words can have precise multiple meanings. Some people who use words might also be wrong.

    Besides, can anybody actually say whether this isn't just another word for lovestruck?


    And if it is? Sometimes you want a word that is more clinical than colloquial, particularly when a word like "lovestruck" has with it negative connotations (like "crush," it's often used dismissively) or feels dated. It's okay to have multiple terms for the same thing.
    posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:24 AM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Here you go, griphus: Love Struck Baby.
    posted by notyou at 11:27 AM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


    No it's not precise. You say that the feelings don't have to be mutual. Another commenter here says they do. That smacks of imprecision and ambiguity. Is the other commenter wrong? And if they are, doesn't their wrongness suggest that the word is hard to understand, thus another source of ambiguity?

    The fact that someone uses a word incorrectly doesn't make the word itself imprecise.

    The wikipedia entry covers the word quite well, and makes clear that there are different types of limerence (with their own qualifiers attached) that cover both one way and two way situations.

    A word like "lovestruck" on the other hand has no such distinctions.

    Attachment theory provides a lot of precise words to cover various types of bonding. It's not surprising that they're escaping into common parlance.
    posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:32 AM on November 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Isn't the limerence when you want the other person to squeal like a pig?
    posted by Kabanos at 11:35 AM on November 19, 2012 [4 favorites]

    Words can have precise multiple meanings. Some people who use words might also be wrong.
    Hahahaha! A word is precise yet has multiple meanings! Are you just defending this word for devilment now? (And I notice you're not actually willing to say that the other commenter is definitely wrong. Why?)
    And if it is? Sometimes you want a word that is more clinical than colloquial, particularly when a word like "lovestruck" has with it negative connotations (like "crush," it's often used dismissively) or feels dated. It's okay to have multiple terms for the same thing.
    So it does mean "lovestruck"? Thank you! That's very kind of you to admit.
    posted by Jehan at 11:41 AM on November 19, 2012


    I wouldn't use it to mean "lovestruck," because love and limerence aren't interchangeable. Speaking casually, it wouldn't be an unreasonable substitution, but if I were attempting to precisely define a situation, then no, they're not the same.
    posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 11:45 AM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Jehan, it seems perfectly clear that you know what the word means at this point. It's fine if you don't like it; that doesn't mean that there aren't reasons to use it, though.
    posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:45 AM on November 19, 2012


    griphus - when I think of "lovestruck", I think of Dire Straits' "Romeo and Juliet" - "A lovestruck Romeo sings a streetsus serenade..."
    posted by rmd1023 at 11:54 AM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

    Jehan, it seems perfectly clear that you know what the word means at this point. It's fine if you don't like it; that doesn't mean that there aren't reasons to use it, though.
    Actually, I don't know what the word means precisely. Yet I'm told that the word is good because it is precise. It seems as though the folk who like the word "limerence" are deceiving me, or deceiving themselves. There's a weird undercurrent in English language use, which is almost classist, where existing and known words are deprecated and torn down, replaced with obscure and "educated" words which are held to be superior. I'm sure that's not the case here, as most people on Metafilter are pretty reflective about their prejudices.
    posted by Jehan at 12:01 PM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Actually, I don't know what the word means precisely.

    Did you read the Wikipedia entry?
    posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:07 PM on November 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


    Actually, I don't know what the word means precisely. Yet I'm told that the word is good because it is precise.

    People in this thread have recommended reading Tennov's book and the wikipedia article. Either would be more informative than any summary definition given in this thread, I'm sure, and would help you tease out the finer points.

    There's a weird undercurrent in English language use, which is almost classist, where existing and known words are deprecated and torn down, replaced with obscure and "educated" words which are held to be superior.

    Again, as I said upthread this is admittedly jargon. Jargon is useful to those speaking to the similarly educated, and the risk is losing those who are not. I'd imagine that those who use it are okay with that risk--they're talking to those in their in-group, not to outsiders.

    For me, much of my use of this word rather than "lovestruck" (which, I'd agree with restless_nomad isn't really right, either) is a desire to avoid pejorative phrasing. It feels kinder to instead reach for clinical terms. This isn't to attach superlatives to my own relationship, but to avoid imparting the impression that I'm dismissing the relationships of others.

    If you think we're doing this to be superior, well, that's up to you.
    posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:12 PM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


    griphus - when I think of "lovestruck", I think of Dire Straits' "Romeo and Juliet" - "A lovestruck Romeo sings a streetsus serenade..."


    I think this is the first time I realized that the Indigo Girls covered that song -- even though I was aware of both versions. Between this and finding out that Miss Alli is Linda Holmes, my brain cannot handle what Metafilter is giving me over the past 48 hours.
    posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:18 PM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


    (In hindsight, of course, now that the hole is filled in, it seems stupid with both examples that I didn't know already.)
    posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:20 PM on November 19, 2012


    It's not the existence of the concept that's the problem, it's the "oooh ooh me I know the answer!" aspect.

    Nthing this. Also the way people insist on "Nthing" things is pretty annoying, especially when n is 2, or even 1.
    posted by grobstein at 12:22 PM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


    And just as "gaslight" has specific meaning, it also tends to be overused to cover all forms of emotional manipulation. "Gaslighting" is to rearrange items in someone's (emotional or physical) reality for the specific purpose of making them doubt their own grasp of reality (sanity). Most emotional manipulation depends on making the victim doubt themselves, but only some of it has that as an immediate goal.

    Yeah, I wasn't sure whether or not get into this, but it does seem as though 'gaslight' has become a word that, in the context of AskMe, is used to stand in for any kind of dishonesty at all. But I can understand how that might happen. It's a cool word, and once you learn it, I wouldn't blame you for wanting an excuse to use it. But there are many, many ways that people lie and manipulate each other in relationships, and I'd be willing to bet that the percentage of these that constitute actual gaslighting is vanishingly small.
    posted by Ragged Richard at 12:26 PM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


    "Star-crossed limerents"?

    There's a weird undercurrent in English language use, which is almost classist, where existing and known words are deprecated and torn down, replaced with obscure and "educated" words which are held to be superior.

    Is it really just an English thing and a matter of conveying education, though? I would think that in general, since humans extrapolate the meaning of unfamiliar words from context, picking a more obscure word or creating a neologism is frequently an attempt to prompt the listener/reader to more closely analyze the speaker's/writer's message and consequently pay more attention to it and better remember it or create some related effect like trying to get the recipient to discriminate between similar messages.

    It seems to me like that would be why marketers do that sort of thing, or artists who are attempting to appear edgy and fresh. So I think the phenomenon you're describing is part of the same continuum.
    posted by XMLicious at 12:31 PM on November 19, 2012


    There's a weird undercurrent in English language use, which is almost classist, where existing and known words are deprecated and torn down, replaced with obscure and "educated" words which are held to be superior.

    I also think there's an element of enjoying novelty on the user's part and then having those once novel uses incorporated in individually ordinary usage. When I was in college and learning new word and concepts all the time and part of suddenly having these new ways of thinking in my vocabulary is that I was applying them in places where previously I would have said something else. Over time I liked some of these usages such that they became part of my day-to-day vocabulary, which is why to this day you'll here me talking about things losing their Asabiyyah. It was a fun concept to play with when I first learned about it, and I find useful as a way to think about things.

    Similarly, there are words I hear on Metafilter that I like or find useful (gaslighting* is one) and thus I start seeing ways to use them (both in Metafilter and the real world). It's hard not to use a word you like once you have it because you'll see reason for using it everywhere. I think this can have classist effects, but it's not really meant maliciously.

    *Although I agree that it is misused often to mean simple manipulation.
    posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:50 PM on November 19, 2012


    it does seem as though 'gaslight' has become a word that, in the context of AskMe, is used to stand in for any kind of dishonesty at all

    I think it's still used a bit more specifically than that, if not as specifically as the original meaning - so, "my partner says s/he's not sleeping with my best friend" doesn't get called gaslighting, but "my partner says s/he's not sleeping with my best friend, and I'm being totally irrational by calling this behaviour suspicious" does. So not quite the same as outright manipulating someone's physical reality to make them question their sanity, but still in the same general area of making someone doubt their own experience.

    ('Limerence' has too much of a "tell me more about this human thing called 'love', Captain" vibe to be a useful part of my vocabulary, but if it works better for others then, hey, to each their own.)
    posted by Catseye at 12:53 PM on November 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


    I can think of only one other place where I've come across "limerence," and that was in the late 1990s in an MFA writing program. But it's just not a topic that would come up in my daily life... which is a good thing, I believe.
    posted by The corpse in the library at 1:00 PM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Just now seeing this and wanted to add that I have used limerence in an answer to an Ask, but I did not learn the term from Metafilter and wasn't aware that we use it more often than is apparently normal.
    posted by pecanpies at 1:01 PM on November 19, 2012


    At night, the ice weasels come.
    posted by drjimmy11 at 1:03 PM on November 19, 2012 [10 favorites]


    "tell me more about this human thing called 'love', Captain"

    Oh my god does anyone have Shatner on speed-dial? I need a spoken word cover of "Addicted to Love" and I need it bad.
    posted by griphus at 1:04 PM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


    "You like. To think. That you're immune, to the stuff..."
    posted by Catseye at 1:06 PM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I kinda despise the widespread use of the term 'limerance', as well as the desire to reduce romantic love to some bullshit neurons firing -- a 'stage' of the relationship that I'll obviously get over.

    Fuck psychology.
    posted by Afroblanco at 1:14 PM on November 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Rox... anne. You don't have to
    Put out the gas.
    Light.
    Those days are...
    Over!
    You don't have to sell
    Your luminescence to the
    Night.
    Rox-
    ANNE!!!
    You know my limerence for the Enterprise!!!
    Don't stalk the holodeck for phonies.
    We don't care if it's wrong or if it's right.
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:16 PM on November 19, 2012 [12 favorites]


    I learned this word in a college Human Relations psychology class. It is handy and expresses something that no other single word expresses. It's definitely been adopted as part of the MeFi lexicon - probably because of the degree of time we spend discussing aspects of early relationships in AskMe.
    posted by Miko at 1:26 PM on November 19, 2012


    Limerence is not the same as limericks.
    posted by Cranberry at 1:28 PM on November 19, 2012


    How many limericks does it take to get to the Limerence center of a Schmoopy PopTM?
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:32 PM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I heard the term back in college (which is a pretty long damn time ago now) and associate it with a certain kind of liberal arts education myself. It's certainly commonplace enough... Google give 220,000 results, and AskMe turns up by the third page so fair cop, I guess. It strikes me as a word you might well come up with a need for when you want to dive steeply into plate-of-beans territory on your love life, which is AskMe all over. It also strikes me as kind of a dumb, made-up word with the backhanded agenda of putting L*O*V*E on a pedestal.
    posted by nanojath at 1:33 PM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


    I kinda despise the widespread use of the term 'limerance', as well as the desire to reduce romantic love to some bullshit neurons firing -- a 'stage' of the relationship that I'll obviously get over.

    Funny, it's so comforting to me to understand the chemical interactions of our brains. We no longer have to be victim to our feelings but can understand them in the context of our bodies as machines! Amazing machines that do exactly what they're supposed to, especially making us fuck like bunnies to perpetuate our species. Knowledge like that adds magic to the world for me, rather than taking it away, because it's so much cooler than just rainbows and sparkles.
    posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:35 PM on November 19, 2012


    But the word "lovesickness" expresses the same concept equally well!

    The reason no-one likes it is because it includes the word "love", which as Afroblanco points out, is popularly reduced to some bullshit neurons firing.

    If I'm lovesick, I'm in love, and it's making me sick. My feelings are real, my suffering is real, and I'm just one in a long line of sufferers throughout history.

    If I'm limerent, I'm simply suffering from the illusion that I have feelings when really it's just a bunch of bullshit neurons firing. But at least it excuses my perversity in having feelings [for a guy like that | at all] instead of what I'm supposed to have, which is therapy. Or perhaps an absorbing hobby.[1] Because what we all dream of, in life, is walking off into the sunset with our perfect stamp collection.




    [1] Spend too much time counting telegraph poles, and people say "you really need to get laid". Spend too much time writing love sonnets, and people say "you obviously are escaping unfulfilment in other areas of your life and really need a hobby".
    posted by tel3path at 1:38 PM on November 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


    I kinda despise the widespread use of the term 'limerance', as well as the desire to reduce romantic love to some bullshit neurons firing ...


    I understand your point -- but it is nice to have something that's shorthand for "You're thinking with your genitals/love organ/not rationally."*

    Which reminds me of, perhaps, the best line on Bob's Burgers last night. (That actually probably isn't true, it's just a relevant one.)

    Creepy landlord guy: “Just like I'm going to get into Shelby's parts. Her ladyparts.”
    Gene: “Which are the ladyparts?”
    Tina: “The vagina and the heart.”

    posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:38 PM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


    If I'm lovesick, I'm in love, and it's making me sick. My feelings are real, my suffering is real, and I'm just one in a long line of sufferers throughout history.

    If I'm limerent, I'm simply suffering from the illusion that I have feelings when really it's just a bunch of bullshit neurons firing. But at least it excuses my perversity in having feelings [for a guy like that | at all] instead of what I'm supposed to have, which is therapy. Or perhaps an absorbing hobby.[1] Because what we all dream of, in life, is walking off into the sunset with our perfect stamp collection.


    That seems like a weird way of thinking about it, but then I'm a physicalist. What's more real than feelings caused by neurons firing in the brain?
    posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:41 PM on November 19, 2012


    Come on, you know there's a reason people are reluctant to say "lovesick" in an environment where people in FWD relationships come here to beat themselves up for catching "the dreaded feelings".

    It's usually used in a way that is at once sympathetic and dismissive. The same way that teenagers get their feelings and problems mocked and trivialized solely because they're teenagers, by adults who comfort themselves with the thought that they're above it all. Saying "you're limerent" is hardly better than saying "it's puppy love" or "aww, but it is so important to them at that age, isn't it?"
    posted by tel3path at 1:54 PM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


    I actually agree that lovesick is much more insulting. Which is why I don't use it. As someone who had all sorts of TERRIFYING FEELINGS when she was younger, I actually found it really empowering to learn about the physical and chemical reasons for the emotions I was feeling (kind of like how comforting a concrete diagnosis can be for an illness, I guess). They weren't abnormal, or something to sneer at or look down on--I wasn't "sick" or "struck" but rather undergoing really normal processes for someone whose parents had an insecure attachment style.

    I think it's significantly better than saying "it's puppy love," really.
    posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:00 PM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


    That really is the bottom line here, isn't it? Intellectualization can draw attention away from sources of pain, but they are, in the end, sources of pain.

    We all have to make it through the night, and if the word "limerent" does that for some people, who am I to say it's not a useful word? But it is about detachment - that's why it works.
    posted by tel3path at 2:15 PM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]



    But the word "lovesickness" expresses the same concept equally well!


    "Lovesick," to me, suggests a person swooning on a velvet fainting couch somewhere. If I think about it a little more, it also suggests the sort of person who would purchase a velvet fainting couch for the express of having it around to swoon upon.

    The word "limerance" obviates the fainting couch aspect and replaces it with medicalization. Which is useful: When we talk about these sorts of feelings in AskMe, usually it's because they're some aspect of a problem to be solved. Treating them as something clinical, something that's expected, tangible, explicable, and measurable is great. It takes away a lot of their grand, mythic importance and reduces them to what they really are: A common and expected part of everyday human life. And for people who are facing tough or scary decisions, it can be quite a boon not to have to worry about destiny, fate, True Love, and the like.

    Tel3path: I'd stay it's partly about detatchment, but it's mostly about demystification.
    posted by palmcorder_yajna at 2:20 PM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


    When describing the color blue, hey, I can just leave it there. Look -- it's blue.

    Or I can say that it's turquoise blue. Or cobalt blue. Cerulean. Ultramarine. Hows about phthalo blue, red shade or green. (Myself, I prefer red shade, mostly; it makes me happy.) Cyan. Indigo. There's just lots of blues, all of them blue, each one describing a subtly different color, or a vastly different color.

    I want to have the names of as many of them as I can, so I can talk about them to others, articulate information that maybe would not come across if I was limited strictly to the word blue.
    posted by dancestoblue at 2:27 PM on November 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


    I'd agree with you, if love weren't a common and expected part of everyday human life. One can also experience lovesickness without also thinking in terms of destiny, fate, or even True Love.

    In the end, I'd rather "marry" than "pair-bond" and I'd rather be "disappointed in love" than be "temporarily blinded by hormones". I do see what you're saying, but I think that clinical terms coming from the mouth of someone not qualified to use them, is also often pretentious.

    I would quite like a velvet fainting couch though. But when I get it, anyone speaking of their "intense but temporary and illusory limerence" for me will be summarily kicked out of it.
    posted by tel3path at 2:30 PM on November 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


    That really is the bottom line here, isn't it? Intellectualization can draw attention away from sources of pain, but they are, in the end, sources of pain.

    I don't think it draws attention away from it. In fact, I'd generally say that learning about this stuff has forced me to take a very intense look at my own life and my behavioral patterns. Like palmcorder_yajna says, it's about demystification. And in order for something to be demystified, you pretty much need a deeper understanding of it.

    I think it's weird to suggest that those who have a better vocabulary for these things are afraid of them. I'd disagree, pretty strongly, that metafilter is a romance-averse place or a place that's anti-love or feeling. I think the comfort with which people here want to discuss the fine differences between, say, limerence and a crush, is a pretty good illustration that many of us have felt these things.

    I would say that society generally doesn't have a great attitude toward early, intense love, and I think that's where we get a lot of these phrases--"crushing" and "lovesick" and "lovestruck" all suggest a violence and inevitability, and a passivity on the part of the person experiencing it. When really, it's all pretty normal, and these things can be understood even if they don't necessarily need to be "cured."

    To backtrack a bit:

    The reason no-one likes it is because it includes the word "love", which as Afroblanco points out, is popularly reduced to some bullshit neurons firing.

    The reason no one likes it is because it includes the word "sick."
    posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:31 PM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Of course we're afraid of these things. It's normal. Intense feelings are frightening and intellectualization is one way of dealing with fear.

    I actually do understand all these concepts, and my own life and behavioral patterns, quite well. However, limerence, or as I call it lovesickness, does include a feeling of sickness. In my experience, it feels like having an arrow in my chest - not literally of course because I'm sure an actual arrow would hurt more than I can imagine - but it *feels* like having a literal, painful thing lodged in the chest. There was also the feeling of having all my energy drained, combined with rapid weight loss. I have no doubt that a real physiological process was taking place and I certainly perceived it as sick even as it was happening.
    posted by tel3path at 2:38 PM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


    It's interesting... there seems to be these two divergent threads in the use of language - one saying we should simplify and use as few complex words as possible because the only reason to use complex and rare words is to show off, and the other saying that preciseness is its own reward and having a lot of synonyms is a good thing due to the variable connotations. I'm definitely on the latter side, largely because I think the motivations ascribed to some people with large vocabularies (that we like to "show off") is inaccurate.

    I have had people accuse me of trying to make them feel stupid when I spoke, and I literally could not figure out which words they didn't know and they refused to tell me because they claimed I should know. I like more words because I think both the connotation and the denotation is important, and because I spent too long as a poet and we tend to treat words like candy - I like my candy box full to the brim and spilling over the sides, each subtly different, and I like to select them like one might jewels in a necklace, each precisely placed for maximum effect.

    I suppose I get why this is showing off; to an extent one wants ones creations admired, and so there's a public sharing and a private glee at positive responses, but the bliss in language is part of the message, not a substitute for it.
    posted by Deoridhe at 2:43 PM on November 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


    I feel like I see the term "limerence" being used a lot among polyamorous people, where they distinguish between the primary person they're "in love" with and the new person they meet whom they've started a relationship with and are feeling that flush of endorphins you feel when you meet someone you're romantically involved with (what people normally call "falling in love"). So when monogamous people ask poly people, "who do you deal with when you fall in love with that person who's not your primary partner?" the response is, "Oh... that's just limerence and we know not to attribute too much to it."

    I dislike the term because of the effort to detach yourself from you feelings. Plus it has overtones of the guy in the fedora trying to trivialize those kinds of strong feelings you have in a relationship or demonstrate that he's in touch with the sort of people who use the term limerence.

    There's too much cultural baggage with the term for me, which is why I avoid it. It's not a technical/diagnostic term used in any professional context, so it doesn't convey more specific information. And it doesn't get used much among mainstream people, so it doesn't help me communicate, outside of MeFi and a few other forums where it's thrown around.
    posted by deanc at 2:46 PM on November 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


    I don't think it's because folks are trying to show off or impress others ('look at me! I've got a giant vocabulary!'); rather, I think it's a desire to use precise language, to make sure their comments are taken as the poster MEANS them to be taken, and is actually a reflection of the general Metafilter ethos.

    This isn't some random website that welcomes trolls or fighting-for-the-sake-of-fighting; it's a COMMUNITY, dang it, a community that strives to help each other in a civilized manner. The problem is, it's harder to include all of the nuances of, say, emotions, in a purely WRITTEN communication. So one of the results of that effort to clearly and precisely communicate an idea, is a tendancy to use bigger and fancier words than you'd find in a lot of other places.
    posted by easily confused at 2:48 PM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


    I would like to thank JPH for being one of the few mefites in this thread to understand the critical number of syllables required in a limerick.

    Regarding limerance, I think part of its popularity on askme can be put down to the context it is used in, namely, telling people their feelings are temporary, not unique, and somewhat expected.

    Using an term like limerance could be viewed medicalising what others might call a crush, or lovestruck, or whatever. Using a term that is fairly uncommon I think is an attempt by posters to put the feelings outside of the person - "this is not your true self, it's just the limerance"; "In three months once this limerance has passed you'll realise how full-on you are being". etc etc.

    I think as term it's used to isolate a set of behaviours and thought patterns, and encourage askers to see them in a broader behavioural context. The term objectifies the feelings, which I think is often the goal where it's used.
    posted by smoke at 3:05 PM on November 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


    I don't really care if people want to use limerance, or whatever, to describe love. It does seem odd that people clamp onto Tennov's idea over Lee's Love Styles or Sternberg's Triarchic Theory of Love. Both of which are interesting and fleshed out ideas on love.
    posted by P.o.B. at 3:06 PM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


    In the end, I'd rather "marry" than "pair-bond"

    Whereas I'm perfectly happy to be pair-bonded. As members of a bonded pair, Sauce Trough and I are in glad company with the noble prarie vole, and certain very dashing chichlids, and all of the marvelous gay penguins of the world. If anything, it increases my appreciation for my relationship. And in some small way, it lets me use my relationship as a window through which to appreciate the natural world.

    (Of course, we've also been known to coo "Oxytocin! So much oxytocin!" at the dog while we pet her. So maybe we're just broken. Oh well. At least we're broken together.)
    posted by palmcorder_yajna at 3:34 PM on November 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


    "Gaslighting" is to rearrange items in someone's (emotional or physical) reality for the specific purpose of making them doubt their own grasp of reality (sanity).

    Can we clear this up? There are several things that are included in the term that people seem to miss and therefore are not able to grasp what it really means.

    "Gaslighting" is abuse. It is an approach to a relationship through power which requires regular lying in a frequent and systemic way as to impose that power. It is NOT simply lying to get someone to believe a false reality. Santa Claus is not gas lighting. Parents sometimes lie to their children for all kinds of reasons, but when the lying is consistent and in a fashion as to mitigate loss of any kind of perceived primacy of power, then it becomes abusive and in turn is gaslighting. When you look at it through a lens of power then it shouldn't be a surprise to see some men approach relationships with women in this way. "Me alpha, you beta. I'm first, you're second. I'm right, you're wrong. I say, you do."
    posted by P.o.B. at 3:37 PM on November 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


    A Limerenk

    There once was a man from Nantucket
    We never kissed but, he was so goddamn beautiful.
    Once he brushed my hair dry on a boat, after a whale splashed us.
    Actually, I think he was married.
    posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:02 PM on November 19, 2012 [10 favorites]


    I'm just waiting for the day that we get a post about a showrunner suggesting limerence as the basis for an episode.
    posted by unliteral at 4:04 PM on November 19, 2012


    Santa Claus is not gas lighting.

    I dunno. I think there's an argument to be made that parents hold out Santa as some sort of beneficent judge of moral character who keeps children in check by only doling out gifts to those who please him 9and indirectly, parents).

    A better argument is that Santa isn't gaslighting because it's pretty easy to figure out that it's not true.
    posted by GuyZero at 4:04 PM on November 19, 2012


    Another Limerank

    I once knew a guy named Dave.
    Who kept my heart in a cage.
    I tried and I tried
    but he never noticed me.
    Oh Dave. Dave. Dave. Dave. DAVE!
    posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:05 PM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I dunno. I think there's an argument to be made that parents hold out Santa as some sort of beneficent judge of moral character who keeps children in check by only doling out gifts to those who please him 9and indirectly, parents).

    You could make that argument, but it's still not gaslighting. "Santa Claus is a guy who gives gifts to good children" is not gaslighting in and of itself. You could use Santa to gaslight, but it would be in the service of redefining what that "goodness" means. The aftereffect of gaslighting is for one to question the rightness of their own perceptions, which then produces anxiety and other problems. Typical Santa Claus stories do not do that.
    posted by P.o.B. at 4:24 PM on November 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


    We overthink here, and language specificity is an important part of overthinking.
    posted by davejay at 4:26 PM on November 19, 2012


    Santa Clause isn't gaslighting because the goal isn't to make the child doubt their own sanity and be institutionalised, after which Charles Boyer can search for the jewels without let or hindrance.

    It's a lie told in order to elicit good behaviour in return for the promise of a later reward. Since the reward typically materialises, it's not entirely deceptive. The deception is about the existence of an omniscient supernatural being, whom the parents know to be nonexistent in reality, and who observes the child's behaviour at all times in order to calibrate the reward. The child is encouraged to believe something that isn't true, but not to wonder if they're crazy or not. It's also about creating a false reality which some parents believe is quintessential to "having a childhood", so I guess it has something in common with gaslighting in that way. But unlike gaslighting, when the doubt begins, the game ends.
    posted by tel3path at 4:33 PM on November 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


    I think if people keep in mind gaslighting is describing abuse rather than specific acts, it may be a bit clearer.
    posted by P.o.B. at 4:51 PM on November 19, 2012


    After thinking about it, I realized I know the precise difference between limerence and lovestruck. It's simple! Lovestruck is the one that's on my desk.
    posted by Wolfdog at 6:06 PM on November 19, 2012


    Perhaps we can just mark this as "resolved" now.
    posted by Wolfdog at 6:08 PM on November 19, 2012


    griphus: ""Limerencewind" sounds like a euphemysm for anxiety-farting on a date.

    Not that it is a phenomenon I am at all familiar with, of course.
    "

    No, Limerencewind is a bumbling wizard that's appeared in a few of Terry Pratchett's Discworld series books.
    posted by ShawnStruck at 7:14 PM on November 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


    Will no one speak up for infatuation as the more common technical word for this? Here's the entry from the Encyclopedia of Human Relations, which lists limerence as a (dorky, pretty much AskMe-only) synonym.

    OK, I may have embellished a little.

    But I think you have to admit Young Werther had some nice scenery descriptions and one hell of a twist ending for 1774.

    posted by Monsieur Caution at 7:24 PM on November 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


    The difference between love and infatuation is that love is returned. And when love comes back to you, it's somehow greater than it was when you gave it. And when you give it back again, it's somehow even greater than it was when you got it back in the first place. And on and on ad infinitum. It's a totally generative process. Took me 33 years to learn that.

    Fuck 'limerance'.
    posted by Afroblanco at 7:28 PM on November 19, 2012


    I had to look up the meaning of this word after seeing it first in AskMe, too, for what it's worth. And since I live in Japan and don't speak English with anybody around me on a day-to-day basis, this thread has been enlightening indeed.

    When I first looked up the word, I thought I could use it sometime as a fairly precise translation of the Japanese word "koi 恋," a concept that leans towards "crush" or "infatuation" or "puppy love" than "love," which is "ai 愛." But, to borrow Afroblanco's comment above as an example, even if the "infatuation" of koi is reciprocated, it could still be considered koi and not ai. So koi can't really be translated into English by using just one of the various other words used in the comments above to pinpoint the meaning of "limerence," and is one of those words that has to be translated using different terms or phrases on a case-by-case basis. Which is a pain because Japanese people use koi A LOT.

    But now that I know that I wasn't the only one who didn't know its meaning and that it's not a very common word after all, I can't really start using all the time it to replace my various efforts to translate koi. Oh well. But it sounds so close...
    posted by misozaki at 7:51 PM on November 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


    Infatuation/limerence totally can be returned. It usually isn't, because random chance.

    But if you're lucky, that's what the first 6 months to 2 years of a relationship is, and you've got that long to figure things out before you stop getting big hits of dopamine (etc.) and settle in to a lifelong pattern sustained by feelings of trust and bonding with occasional highs from doing especially nice things with your partner or for some reason seeing them in a nice light and enjoying a little of that original sparkle again.

    Unfortunately, AskMe is littered with the bones of limerence lost, because people typically have no idea how important it is to establish habits of being excellent to each other during the time they're forgiving all faults thanks to infatuation.
    posted by Monsieur Caution at 8:04 PM on November 19, 2012 [10 favorites]


    Limerence is one of my favorite words, because I was limerent, and by discovering that there was a set of described conditions of which I was not a lone sufferer, I learned I hadn't gone insane.

    I hear mutual limerence can be a lot of fun. Doing it solo is The Worst Thing.
    posted by girih knot at 8:18 PM on November 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


    Limerence pops up in, of all things, a Michael Haneke film review today in the Guardian.
    posted by mykescipark at 9:23 PM on November 19, 2012


    From that article: calling Anna Karenina "literature's most illustrious limerent" makes me appreciate the word much more.
    posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:30 AM on November 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


    I'm not a big fan of the word. In theory it could be useful, but in practice I don't think I've ever seen a usage where "love", "crush" or "infatuation" wouldn't have been better.

    I find "gaslighting" even worse though. In theory it originally referred to making physical changes to the environment to make someone think they're going crazy. But in Ask MeFi it seems to have gradually mutated to "having a different memory of an event" , or even "having a different interpretation of an event".

    "I think my partner was flirting, but they say they were just being friendly."
    "You're being gaslighted, DTMFA right now!"
    posted by TheophileEscargot at 3:37 AM on November 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


    I'm not a big fan of the word. In theory it could be useful, but in practice I don't think I've ever seen a usage where "love", "crush" or "infatuation" wouldn't have been better.

    The thing is that people use those words in very different ways. A LOT of people who have "crushes" or even claim to be "in love" do not have, have never had, and perhaps never will have, the overwhelming sense that the other person is almost supernaturally significant, the divine madness that leads people to do stupid things because this person somehow embodies a Something More that must be had.

    Nor is this necessary for long-term relationships, or even necessarily healthy. Not at all. For a lot of people, "I have a crush on someone" means that they are sexually attracted to them. "I am in love with this someone" means that they are attracted to them, like them, need them, and want to have a long-term relationship with them. That's not limerence. It is partly a matter of degree, but at a certain point the difference of degree becomes a difference in kind.
    posted by shivohum at 8:23 AM on November 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Let's stop pretending the word has an agreed upon definition and set about figuring out how it can be useful.

    I nominate this definition: Limerence -- N. The state of romantic obsession that occurs AFTER one has had sex with someone based on extremely powerful chemical reactions to good sex. It may or may not be mutual and may or may not cause problems later on in a relationship.

    Because this phenomenon doesn't yet have a name.
    posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:33 AM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


    It sounds more authoritative than "the hots".
    posted by Pudhoho at 8:42 AM on November 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


    The thing is that people use those words in very different ways.

    People seem to be using "limerence" in very different ways too. If the word is meant to aid communication, it's doing a remarkably bad job.
    posted by outlier at 8:44 AM on November 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


    People seem to be using "limerence" in very different ways too. If the word is meant to aid communication, it's doing a remarkably bad job.

    Well, yeah, maybe that's an inevitability when dealing with terms for psychological states. Limerence certainly does have a specific scientific definition, but people are not bothering to look that up, and instead are sort of using it whenever it feels right and to "join the club." Sort of the way that people use the phrases "begging the question" or "no true scotsman" or "trolling."

    The state of romantic obsession that occurs AFTER one has had sex with someone based on extremely powerful chemical reactions to good sex.

    Except that it often happens well before sex.
    posted by shivohum at 8:52 AM on November 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


    roboton666: But what about limerence in a liminal state?

    GOOOO LIMINAL STATE BOBCATS!
    posted by komara at 9:18 AM on November 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


    There's a weird undercurrent in English language use, which is almost classist, where existing and known words are deprecated and torn down, replaced with obscure and "educated" words which are held to be superior.

    As someone who was often teased and seen as weird when a child for using 'big words', this sentiment can frankly masticate my pernieum. Words are good; mocking other people for using words you don't know is less useful than, say, using the google to see what it means.

    Maybe it;s just more of an internet word, though, like cis-gender, brony, haul/hauling (for shopping), trolling (in its definition of being needlessly controversial or contrary rather than the current use of bullying somebody) or trigger - words which get me blank looks if I use them in day to day life (I work in a job where My Little Pony can come up in conversation during the course of a work day easily enough). I've heard it elsewhere before I came here, can't remember where, but definitely online. And it's a pretty sounding word, so I can live with it.
    posted by mippy at 9:29 AM on November 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


    You should try an experiment: come up with another useful but little-known word and casually use it on an AskMe - I'm betting that with only rudimentary work (ie, linking to that post from time to time) you can make it the new limerance.

    That's so fetch.
    posted by flabdablet at 3:40 PM on November 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


    "Limerence" is like "USian": a reminder that although this is one of the smarter communities on the web, with great discussions, the desire by some members to go out of their way to show how smart/what a good person they are can make reading threads here excruciatingly painful.
    posted by MattMangels at 7:14 PM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Limerence Front. it's a put on
    posted by Sailormom at 7:49 PM on November 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


    You can't see me, but I'm shaking my fist at you right now, Sailormom. I'm also grinning, but don't think that means you're safe.
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:14 PM on November 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Dammit Sailormom, I was just gonna post the same thing.

    Dammit IRFH, I was just gonna post the same thing.
    posted by not_on_display at 9:12 PM on November 20, 2012


    My niece and I went through this whole exercise with "ratchet" the other day. Words change, gotta keep up people!
    posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:55 PM on November 20, 2012


    Come on, you know there's a reason people are reluctant to say "lovesick" in an environment where people in FWD relationships come here to beat themselves up for catching "the dreaded feelings".

    "Four Wheel Drive relationships?" If it's in the back of your jeep, it's a "quickie".
    posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:54 PM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Fetch is right up there with 'snap!' for me. And naming your children after fruit, landmarks, and adjectives.
    posted by iamkimiam at 1:02 AM on November 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


    "Limerence" is like "USian": a reminder that although this is one of the smarter communities on the web, with great discussions, the desire by some members to go out of their way to show how smart/what a good person they are can make reading threads here excruciatingly painful.

    I both read the word and heard it used correctly in spoken conversation sometime in the 1990s, nearly a decade before I ever went online. It is not an uncommon word. Its use denotes one has the vocabulary of the average well read person or maybe knows someone who attended maybe a year or two of college in the last twenty years. Some people actually like to learn new words so as to express themselves better. Jeez, when did that become a thoughtcrime ? Man, where is General Diana-Moon Glampers when you need her ?
    posted by y2karl at 1:47 AM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Its use denotes one has the vocabulary of the average well read person or maybe knows someone who attended maybe a year or two of college in the last twenty years.

    You know, people like to say things like this on MetaFilter a lot to make things seem, I don't know, casual or something, but it's almost always just not true. I am more well-read than the average person, know many people who are more well-read than the average person, attended not two but four years of college (as did almost everyone I know) and I have never heard limerence before this thread. My browser's spellcheck doesn't even recognize it (nor does it recognize "spellcheck").
    posted by adamdschneider at 7:12 AM on November 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


    And I see that I twisted "average well-read person" into "as well-red as the average person," but my point stands nevertheless.
    posted by adamdschneider at 7:14 AM on November 21, 2012


    It is not an uncommon word. Its use denotes one has the vocabulary of the average well read person or maybe knows someone who attended maybe a year or two of college in the last twenty year

    I completely disagree, and would echo MattMangels' take. Both limerence and USian are entirely subcultural. Being well-read myself, outside of blogs and comment sections, I've never seen "limerence" or "USian" anywhere in print. I don't think I've ever heard "limerence" spoken, and while I can imagine certain friends of mine saying it (and can guess who would know what it means), I also know that it wouldn't be understood if I used it in front of most of my peers. You can be college educated and extremely well-read and never come across these terms. By contrast, cis-gender at least has use inside academic gender studies.
    posted by deanc at 7:58 AM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


    You people are such cislimerencians.
    posted by the quidnunc kid at 8:02 AM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


    MattMangels, does it really get your goat when someone says "USian"? I'm seriously asking. I use it fairly reflexively because people from South & Latin America have mentioned that it's annoying when people in the US just use "American" to mean "from the US". Originally it was a choice and now it's a habit. I use it in Wikimedia circles without trouble and I've seen others there do so as well.

    PhoBWanKenobi, thank you for sharing that wedding speech. It was really lovely.

    A friend of mine was going through a hard time psychologically, and knowing that she was limerent and reading books about limerence were the main reasons she was able to work through it. I don't think she's on MetaFilter. This was maybe a year or two ago.

    Also, there used to be a lovely jewelry shop in Belgrave, near Melbourne in Australia, called "Limerence" and it's where I got a really nice brooch and necklace made from the insides of old watches made by Depths of the Never Never.
    posted by brainwane at 8:04 AM on November 21, 2012


    You know, people like to say things like this on MetaFilter a lot to make things seem, I don't know, casual or something, but it's almost always just not true. I am more well-read than the average person, know many people who are more well-read than the average person, attended not two but four years of college (as did almost everyone I know) and I have never heard limerence before this thread.

    Agreed. I'm (if I may be immodest) pretty damn well educated, I've got a college degree and a graduate degree from good schools. I'm also 95% sure I learned the word limerence on Metafilter. I'm fairly sure that if I used the term around my well educated friends, the understanding rate would be low.

    I also think there's a tendency for people who are well educated to have been the type of people who used "big" words as kids and got made fun of for it, and subsequently feel like they shouldn't have to "dumb down" their vocabulary for other people. I understand that feeling, but part of the point of word choice is to be understood. It's certainly not the whole point and there are times that using words because of their precision or aesthetic features is a totally valid choice. That said, there are also times you have to take into account whether or not the average person is going to understand you. Limerence is a word that a lot of people aren't going to understand, which is a factor to consider when using it.
    posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:04 AM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


    MattMangels, does it really get your goat when someone says "USian"?

    It is insulting and incorrect to use the term 'USian'. The proper demonym is 'American'. Calling us 'USians' is tantamount to Republicans calling the Democratic Party the 'Democrat' party. Or linux users referring to Microsoft as 'Micro$oft'. Or that hoary old favorite from the zine age, 'Amerikkka'.

    If you use 'USian', you're Getting it Wrong on purpose, in order to grind some personal ax against the USA. When I see someone use 'USian', it's a big red flag indicating that I can't take the speaker seriously. (or perhaps I should put scare quotes around 'speaker', since nobody actually says 'USian' out loud, only online --and from what I can tell, only on Metafilter -- where they can get away with being obtuse without any fear of real-life social reprisal)

    Don get me wrong, there's plenty wrong with this country -- and some of the people in it -- but for chrissakes, at least get our name right.
    posted by Afroblanco at 8:19 AM on November 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


    This is an interesting discussion, but I don't think anyone has mentioned the thing about the word "limerence" that most sticks out to me: it's a way of making clinical and technical what is usually a very immediate and personal kind of feeling. It's a distancing device.

    Someone will come onto AskMe and talk about their super-strong lovey feelings; answers that describe that as "limerence" are partly trying to bring those feelings down to earth. This is not a life moment of transcendant meaning, it's a known mental condition, susceptible to study and so on. It's minimizing.

    Not to say that that's incorrect, or not appropriate in an advice context. It may be both. But that is the big rhetorical significance of "limerence" to me, and it also explains why you might want to choose it instead of something like "lovestruck" (which seems to rely on romantic conceptions of love).
    posted by grobstein at 8:50 AM on November 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


    MattMangels, does it really get your goat when someone says "USian"?

    I can't speak for MattMangels, but I absolutely find it grating.
    posted by adamdschneider at 9:15 AM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


    By contrast, cis-gender at least has use inside academic gender studies.

    The word limerent arrived to us from academic study of Attachment Theory, so I'm not sure there's much difference in that regard.
    posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:41 AM on November 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


    There is definitely a story in the Google trend map though.
    posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:46 AM on November 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Calling us 'USians' is tantamount to Republicans calling the Democratic Party the 'Democrat' party

    I come from foreign places o'er the seas so please permit me to ask: why is calling the "Democratic Party" the "Democrat Party" insulting? Does the mere contraction give off an offensive vibe, or is it used as a "code" to imply the speaker cannot be bothered to use (or respect the use of) the official name, or is there some other background to it? Is it offensive to speak of supporters of the party being "Democrats" (or is there a subtle difference between party and supporters that I don't understand)? I ask this humbly from a position of ignorance, not snark.
    posted by the quidnunc kid at 9:57 AM on November 21, 2012


    Yes.
    posted by jph at 10:00 AM on November 21, 2012


    Thanks, jph. But do I take it that the party name is in issue, or is it irritating when people speak of "democrats" (being supporters thereof)? And secondly, do you find it offensive if it is said out of ignorance (eg, by a foreigner without any apparent intent to criticise)?
    posted by the quidnunc kid at 10:17 AM on November 21, 2012


    komara: roboton666: But what about limerence in a liminal state?

    GOOOO LIMINAL STATE BOBCATS!


    I did not get the joke in that liminal comic until I googled it.

    So, for me, the comic was....

    (wait for it)


    ....subliminal!

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
    posted by misha at 10:19 AM on November 21, 2012


    I actually consider it closer to saying "Dumbocrats" or "Repugs," honestly. Ho, ho, aren't you clever.
    posted by adamdschneider at 10:19 AM on November 21, 2012


    I come from foreign places o'er the seas so please permit me to ask: why is calling the "Democratic Party" the "Democrat Party" insulting?

    Here's another good analysis.

    And secondly, do you find it offensive if it is said out of ignorance

    No. But when an an American politician says it, you can be pretty sure they're doing it on purpose.
    posted by Afroblanco at 10:32 AM on November 21, 2012


    Not offensive if said out of ignorance. And "Democrats" is the proper plural term for people who identify with the party (just as "Republicans" and "Greens" and "Socialists" and "Libertarians" are the terms used to describe people who identify with the other parties here in the US).

    It is the use of "the Democrat Senator" or "the Democrat Party" which is annoying/offensive because it is done consciously and specifically for the reasons you stated. It is akin to consciously mispronouncing someone's name because you do not afford them appropriate respect to pronounce their name properly.

    The Wikipedia article points to a pretty plausible reason for its evolution - the idea that the party doesn't have exclusive rights to the concept of "democracy." Of course this sentiment is particularly offensive coming from the party that specializes in voter disenfranchisement.

    Ultimately the concept of "democracy" is still a very potent one here in America, even if it is nebulous, ill-defined and frequently sacrificed (by both parties) at the altar of our polity in favor of the issue du jour. And so it makes sense that one party would wish to align itself with that concept, while the other would wish to prevent such an identity from taking too firm a hold in the public consciousness.
    posted by jph at 10:46 AM on November 21, 2012


    I learned the word limerence in an upper-level psych class. This was more a matter of one of my professors thinking it was a fun word that somebody had made up, rather than a particularly useful one (it wasn't a technical term we had to memorize). I've never used it in conversation, or on the internet, because I'd be concerned that people wouldn't know what it meant. I just filed it away as a neat word I'll probably never actually use.

    Obviously the word is spreading now. It interesting to me that people seem to be making some kind of distinction between limerence and "really being in love with somebody". In my understanding, limerence was a broader term than 'being in love', 'having a crush' on someone, or 'infatuated'. I wonder if some people have picked it up via therapy or psychological counseling and the if divergent definitions have to do with how it was applied in their particular context. (One person was in counseling and talked about having a crush on someone and their counselor talked to them about "limerence", so to them "limerence" means "crush". Another person was having relationship problems and still loved and was really attached to their SO, but was outside of the early "limerent" phase of the relationship, so they have different definition.)

    Limerence is fun word, and obviously some people like it. They're going to have fun with it. And they'll eventually settle on what it means (although this will probably be somewhat different than the original definition). It suggests "glimmer", "shimmer" and "luminous", which are metaphorical ways of describing how someone who's in love or has a crush on someone sees the object of their affection.

    Some leakages of of psychological terms into popular vocabulary really annoy me because people will stubbornly insist that their really inaccurate description of someone's personality is an actual diagnosis of a psychiatric disorder. Limerence doesn't bother me at all, and I'm glad other people like it.
    posted by nangar at 11:04 AM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Let me hereby proclaim that I, too, am a college-educated, readin', writin', Giganto-vocabulary person, gestated in geekdom, born into bookishness, reared in reading, alienated in adolescence, and as mired in mental health issues as any typically talented (yet woefully misunderstood) genius could ever hope to be.

    Lest my Mefi street cred still be called into question, I hold a degree in Education with a minor in English literature in composition*, and though I am intimately acquainted with the mental health profession**, I first heard the term "limerance" here on Metafilter, never see it anywhere else except sites linked by Mefites from Metafilter, and don't at all care for the term.

    I find it interesting that even shivohum, who supports the use of the word limerance and believes it has a very specific, scientific meaning, noted that,"It really didn't catch on; psychologists typically call it passionate love or early-stage romantic love". The limerance scale linked to in shivohum's comment refers to "passionate love", not limerance.

    I put several terms into the Google Trends tracker linked above, including limerance, passionate love, smitten (a personal favorite), and obsession. I tried putting in "crush", but ran into a snag because of its alternate meanings; cases of people being crushed in nightclubs, under cars, etc. skewed the results. Nevertheless, with the exception of Aaron Sorkin's pet term, "ensorcelled" (a lovely word, used to good effect in The West Wing), every single one of the words I tried was more popular than 'limerant'.

    Which doesn't make it wrong, of course, but I'd say it belies y2karl's contention that "It is not an uncommon word. Its use denotes one has the vocabulary of the average well read person or maybe knows someone who attended maybe a year or two of college in the last twenty years".

    It IS an uncommon word. There are other words that seem to work just as well. Even the mental health community feels "passionate love" does the job better. If you want to use the word, fine, but don't suggest that those who oppose it do so because they are less well-read or less educated than you are. That's not only insulting, it's not even credible.

    --
    *full disclosure: not at all prestigious state university.
    **I've been in therapy for years, so I am quite familiar with "the lingo", as we in the mental health community like to call it.****
    ***Seriously, I have taken both psychology and child psychology coursework as well.
    posted by misha at 11:16 AM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Ultimately the concept of "democracy" is still a very potent one here in America, even if it is nebulous, ill-defined and frequently sacrificed (by both parties) at the altar of our polity in favor of the issue du jour. And so it makes sense that one party would wish to align itself with that concept, while the other would wish to prevent such an identity from taking too firm a hold in the public consciousness.

    What I find interesting about this is that the word republic can and, once upon a time, had similar rhetorical power (the Grand Army of the Republic, for example), but that word has lost that resonance in the broader culture so there's no Democratic motive to call Republicans "Repubs" or similar. It retains some importance, but mostly in very conservative circles.
    posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:25 AM on November 21, 2012


    is it irritating when people speak of "democrats" (being supporters thereof)?

    Well, Republican politicians are more apt to talk about "the Democrats" in sweeping terms than the reverse. While that can be offensive, when you add the deliberately incorrect identifier on top of that, you reach the level of the only proper response being a punch in the face. So I think in some ways the Democrat[ic] thing is a line in the sand. It's got a context.

    In my opinion it is also ugly sounding in itself. Referring to groups of people like that gives it a whiff of bigotry, like saying, "That's shaped like a Chinaman hat." Not as bad as that, but it's a whiff of the same smell.
    posted by fleacircus at 11:51 AM on November 21, 2012


    misha wrote...
    Lest my Mefi street cred still be called into question

    You got through an entire self-description without using the phrase "special snowflake".

    You, madam, are no Mefite.
    posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:56 AM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


    the word republic can and, once upon a time, had similar rhetorical power

    We can thank Star Wars for ruining that word for everyone. I can't possibly be the only one who hears Darth Vader's theme play when I hear that word...
    posted by jph at 12:07 PM on November 21, 2012


    misha, you might find more hits searching "limerence" (Tennov's spelling).
    posted by Sidhedevil at 12:13 PM on November 21, 2012


    does it really get your goat when someone says "USian"?

    It doesn't particularly offend me but it does set off my "short-lived slang" detector. So does "cis". I can see the use of having short terms for both concepts, but frankly those two particular words are awkward to use and IMHO unlikely to see widespread adoption.
    posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:25 PM on November 21, 2012


    We can thank Star Wars for ruining that word for everyone. I can't possibly be the only one who hears Darth Vader's theme play when I hear that word...

    Not that I would want to imply anything good about Republicans but the Republic was generally the side of the good guys in Star Wars. The New Republic was the polity founded by the Rebels and For over a thousand generations the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic. Before the dark times. Before the Empire.

    Darth Vader was with the Empire, which destroyed the Old Republic after a coup d'etat and tried to scuttle the New Republic before it could solidify.

    But you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy than the GOP.
    posted by XMLicious at 12:34 PM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


    "lovesickness" "lovestruck" "soulmate" "lovemate" "honeymoon"

    On a separate note, I give you Metafilter's Seven Stages Of Break-up Grieving:

    - Like Dude, wow. Just ... wow.
    - Is this like, for real?
    - This is way harsh.
    - Are we like, done, or can we still sleep together?
    - Sorry, dude.
    - This is a bummer.
    - It's cool.
    posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:36 PM on November 21, 2012


    I guess this is where I have to go ahead and admit that I have never actually seen Star Wars. So yeah. Sorry for that mischaracterization. Oops.

    But I know what a Wookie is...
    posted by jph at 12:40 PM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


    It doesn't particularly offend me but it does set off my "short-lived slang" detector. So does "cis".

    It might be a new application but "cis" is just about the furthest thing from newfangled slang: a couple of the provinces of the Roman Empire were called "Transalpine Gaul" and "Cisalpine Gaul" based on where they were in relationship to the Alps.
    posted by XMLicious at 12:41 PM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I have never actually seen Star Wars.

    Way to make the baby Anakin cry.
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:42 PM on November 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Some data based on search results for "limerence" in Ask MetaFilter comments. The earliest comment in those results is from 2004.

    2004: 1 comment
    2005: 0 comments
    2006: 1 comment
    2007: 3 comments
    2008: 3 comments
    2009: 18 comments
    2010: 27 comments
    2011: 37 comments
    2012: 62 comments (to date)
    posted by mbrubeck at 12:50 PM on November 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


    But I know what a Wookie is...

    How you doin'.
    posted by adamdschneider at 12:51 PM on November 21, 2012


    My belated thanks to those of you who answered my questions!
    posted by the quidnunc kid at 2:26 PM on November 21, 2012


    USian doesn't "get my goat" so much as it marks the speaker as either a militant Canadian or that sort of person who takes care, even when not in mixed company, to use terms like "American football". It's a kind of false sensitivity/cosmopolitanism. When in fact, when you're on the other side of the world, and you're speaking with someone who doesn't speak English, and you can only speak a few phrases in his language, when he asks where you're from, you get a quizzical look if you answer "The United States," but when you say "America", his eyes light up and he understands what you're talking about.
    posted by deanc at 2:30 PM on November 21, 2012


    First person who used it in an AskMe comment: noted trend tracker waxpancake. Years before anyone else.
    posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:16 PM on November 21, 2012


    Huh, I'm from the USA and I started using USian ages ago - though I think USAnian is a bit easier to say and I'm making the mental switch these days. Unfortunately, USAnist just has some unfortunate connotations, though it is damn fun to say, and the parallel to Islamist instead of Muslim kinda makes me smile.

    I guess this means that I'm actually Canadian, or something, despite being born and raised in the USA, because I call myself a USAnian.

    ...is this like the "the other side of the card is lying" double sided card trick?
    posted by Deoridhe at 3:32 PM on November 21, 2012


    That fact that USAnian actually is easier to say is a sure sign that you've crafted a terrible sounding word. Even leaving aside the sneering condescension I hear in USian, it's just about the worst sounding ever.
    posted by Bulgaroktonos at 4:00 PM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Do people actually *pronounce* USian? If I were reading it aloud I'd pronounce it "american".
    posted by vibratory manner of working at 5:32 PM on November 21, 2012


    Zombie Frank Lloyd Wright says "USonian or GTFO."
    posted by Sidhedevil at 6:25 PM on November 21, 2012


    I was born and raised in the United States as a daughter of immigrants from India. If I were talking aloud to people from the other side of the world then I would simplify my wording radically in general, including saying "American" when I mean "from the United States of America," because it's better for them to understand me than to be properly respectful of people from Latin and South America. When I'm speaking aloud to fluent English speakers and I want to say "pertaining to the United States" I say "from the US" or similar, most of the time.
    It is insulting and incorrect to use the term 'USian'. The proper demonym is 'American'. Calling us 'USians' is tantamount to Republicans calling the Democratic Party the 'Democrat' party. Or linux users referring to Microsoft as 'Micro$oft'. Or that hoary old favorite from the zine age, 'Amerikkka'.
    Honestly, this is the first time I'd ever run into people thinking it's *insulting* to call UnitedStatesers "USians" instead of "Americans." And I don't think your comparisons hold, since "USian" isn't insulting but simply a more specific description, like "cisgender" (which I also use). But I'll try to cut back on MetaFilter since people are so unhappy with it.

    It would be nice to have a one-word adjective or noun that refers to people from the US and not from Canada, Latin America or South America; they're American too. Is there a term that exists and that doesn't rub folks the wrong way as much as USian does?
    posted by brainwane at 7:08 PM on November 21, 2012


    Gringo.
    posted by flabdablet at 8:07 PM on November 21, 2012


    I think it's insulting because it's refusing to use the term that people use to identify themselves. I'm an American; I'm never going to self identify as a USian. It's basically exactly like when people say "Xtian" instead of Christian. It refuses to accept people's self-identification and substitutes a similar, but different word. That fact that it's also mostly used by people who are not favorable toward the group as issue doesn't help. I also think it's incredibly problematic to say a term is not insulting when people identified by that term have said that they're insulted by it.

    I'm also genuinely curious; do people in Canada and Latin America self-identify as "Americans" to any meaningful degree? As a (United States of)American, I don't see myself as "someone from the continents that both happen to be called American" in any real way. I'm part of a large number of groups, but that's not really one of them. Is it the case that someone from Canada thinks of themselves in that way? I genuinely don't know.
    posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:26 PM on November 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


    I agree with Bulgaroktonos on this, it's kinda insulting because it's not using the word people in the US describe themselves, and the whole USian discussion seems to be accusing people from the US of appropriating "American" from others like Canadians or Latin Americans who want to identify as only "americans" when that really doesnt seem to be the case. Inventing a case for US privilege and arrogance for using the word when that's not really the right way to frame the discussion.
    posted by sweetkid at 8:54 PM on November 21, 2012


    Sidhedevil: misha, you might find more hits searching "limerence" (Tennov's spelling).

    I actually did search with that spelling, but had a typo in my post.
    posted by misha at 9:09 PM on November 21, 2012


    I'm also genuinely curious; do people in Canada and Latin America self-identify as "Americans" to any meaningful degree?

    I have never seen nor heard of anyone from Canada identifying as anything other than "Canadian". I rather doubt people from Central or South American generally think of themselves as anything other than "Colombian," "Brazilian," etc., either.
    posted by adamdschneider at 9:14 PM on November 21, 2012


    I'm from the US. I both identify as and regularly describe myself as USian. I've used the term online & I've used it when I speak for years.

    USian is more precise than "American" since the country is the "United States of America" - that is, a part of a whole, not the whole itself. The term is more inclusive than "American". These are the reasons why I use it. I'm not using it to agitate or insult anyone. I don't care if you use it or not.

    I use "Xmas" and "Xian" because that's my casual shorthand. "X" to represent "Christ" has a long history - here's Wikipedia on the matter. C. S. Lewis used the term "Xtian".

    If you decide "it's a big red flag that [you] can't take [me, the speaker] seriously" because I use the term - whatever. People judge other people over lots of things large and small, and in my personal rubric this is akin to people who get all wound up if you say "Happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Xmas".
    posted by flex at 9:48 PM on November 21, 2012


    The term is more inclusive than "American".

    How is it "more inclusive"? What does it include that "American" does not?

    It's funny that you bring up Xmas, because the long history it has is precisely what USian lacks, nor did they come about for remotely similar reasons.
    posted by adamdschneider at 10:00 PM on November 21, 2012


    I guess I just generally get annoyed by people who try to change the way I think by making up new words or placing old words off-limits. It's sort of like a really lame form of mind control that doesn't work on me.
    posted by Afroblanco at 10:58 PM on November 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Back in the old days when dinosaurs roamed the Usenet, folks on alt.folklore.urban used "USAnian" and "UKoGBaNIan" to refer to citizens of the US and of the UK, respectively. There's no one-word nym for citizens of the UK, either.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 3:13 AM on November 22, 2012


    How does "British" not work for that?
    posted by flabdablet at 3:44 AM on November 22, 2012


    Well, the Northern Irish, Scotch and Welsh might take issue with it.
    posted by griphus at 5:34 AM on November 22, 2012


    In South America, Americans are called the incredibly awkward "Estadosunidense", which is basically "Unitedstatesian"
    posted by empath at 6:10 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


    British people, as a rule, don't refer to themselves as 'Brits' either. They might say 'English', 'Scottish' etc., or 'from Britain', but they'd rarely be heard saying 'I'm a Brit'.

    'British' doesn't bother me - though I'm English, I know someone from NI who would take umbrage even if in jest - but referring to an English accent, and an RP English accent at that, as 'a British accent' is inaccurate at best and incredibly irritating at worst. I'd always be confused when I read reference to 'spoke with a British accent' in books, because there is no such thing as a 'British accent' and I didn't know whether to imagine it as Scottish, northern, whatever. It took me ages to realise what (primarily) Americans meant when they referred to a British accent.

    'American' here means a person or thing from the US.
    posted by mippy at 6:22 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


    USian vs Brit
    posted by flabdablet at 6:49 AM on November 22, 2012


    There's no one-word nym for citizens of the UK, either.

    Ukers.
    posted by adamdschneider at 7:03 AM on November 22, 2012


    Those of you who say "USAnian" or some version thereof: how do you pronounce it? "Oooo-sayn-eye-an?" Or like the runner Usain Bolt's first name?
    posted by The corpse in the library at 7:25 AM on November 22, 2012


    I prefer Usonian, if we're forced to use something other than American. It sounds prettier, and it has a decent pedigree.
    posted by empath at 7:31 AM on November 22, 2012


    ✝tian
    ✡ish
    ⚜becois
    ☬khism
    ☸ddhist
    ☪slim
    ☄'s Gate
    ★merican
    posted by XMLicious at 7:40 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


    GOOOO LIMINAL STATE BOBCATS!

    Their mascot is most entrancing. Or spooky.
    posted by filthy light thief at 8:58 AM on November 22, 2012


    deanc --- there's militant Canadians?!? I'll be darned. I thought you guys just hid up there in the Frozen North trying to pretend there WEREN'T all of us millions of weirdos just south of your border.
    posted by easily confused at 9:58 AM on November 22, 2012


    there's militant Canadians?!?

    They're REALLY polite.
    posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:22 AM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


    So in my experience of being in various countries in South America, I have been called an "estadounidense" in exactly one context---when meeting with people about politics. Otherwise, always "americana".

    Anyway, in my head, "USAnian" rhymes with "moose pay knee can" and "UKoGBaNIan" rhymes with "nuke toe pub bay knee can" but I have never said either word out loud, preferring "I'm from the US" and "mippy's from the UK" in actual speech.

    I almost never need to write the word "American" anyway. "US politics" and "popular culture in the US" and "processed orange cheese" all do fine and are quite precise.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 11:29 AM on November 22, 2012


    "What do we want?"

    "Whatever you're having is fine!"

    "When do we want it?"

    "No hurry!"
    posted by Sidhedevil at 11:30 AM on November 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


    I dunno, I think the USian thing is irritating but whatever. The more pressing point is that whenever someone uses it, at least a couple of people say "I really don't like that; I feel it's belittling/inaccurate/weird/irritating/whatever; I prefer to be called "preferred term (usually 'American')." And the USian User pretty much says "well, I think it's better," which is pretty rude. There are people right there telling you that they wish you wouldn't do that and your response is...?
    posted by GenjiandProust at 12:54 PM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


    A cursory skim of this thread has left me wanting limericks written by Werner Herzog.
    posted by elizardbits at 1:03 PM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Thanksgiving seems like a better day for Haiku. So here's your Thanksgiving Day Werner Herzog Haiku:

    chaos and murder
    common denominator
    of the Universe
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:11 PM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I have been called an "estadounidense" in exactly one context---when meeting with people about politics

    In Central America, that was what they generally referred to me as if it came up, but I think most Americans prefer to call themselves Americano even in Spanish, and they know that so they may do it to be polite. But if you read the papers and magazines or listen to people talk about Americans, they usually say Estadounidense. At least in Central America.

    For example:

    http://www.laprensa.com.ni/2012/11/06/voces/122794-obama-o-romney-cual
    Por el supuesto impacto sobre Nicaragua, mucho interés ha despertado quién será el próximo presidente estadounidense, si el republicano Mitt Romney o el mandatario Barack Obama.
    Granted, that's political, but a quick search of Americano in the same paper only turned it up talking about the Americas as a continent, and people complaining about Americans misusing the term.

    Americano actually can refer to spanish speakers from the Americas as opposed to Spain, so it's actually not very precise, and definitely more confusing than the Canada/America split, since Canadians rarely if ever refer to themselves as Americans.
    posted by empath at 1:14 PM on November 22, 2012


    Thanks, empath! Most of my time in South America has been in Argentina and Chile so far, so the data points from Central America are most welcome.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 1:49 PM on November 22, 2012


    Wait, el próximo presidente estadounidense = the next president of united states is not equal to USian. It's native english speakers who use the term USian, and I would be really surprised if an American has any problems if someone says that they're from the "U.S." "United States" or "the States". USian is a ridiculous derivation of an acronym meant as a jab at the apparent hegemonic use of "America" to represent the US. Which I get is problematic, but having random internet people using words that are really loaded for no other reason than they are really loaded is certainly just as problematic.
    posted by P.o.B. at 1:59 PM on November 22, 2012


    More examples of usage if you care to look.

    Compare
    posted by empath at 2:02 PM on November 22, 2012


    Of USian? Because I don't see that.
    posted by P.o.B. at 2:05 PM on November 22, 2012


    Just got back from Peru and Panama where "America", "United States" and "Estados Unidos" were all acceptable.

    However, usually I just went straight to the point and said I was from California. Everybody knows where that is.
    posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:19 PM on November 22, 2012


    As I said, I'm going to cut back on using "USian" on MetaFilter since some other folks here feel unhappy with it. I'll substitute "from the United States" or a similar locution. If anyone discovers a reasonable one-word replacement for "USian" after this thread is closed, please memail me.

    I thought I was being precise
    Both rational and fairly nice
    But I hear consensus
    That I'm building fences
    With my little lexical vice
    posted by brainwane at 4:10 PM on November 22, 2012


    "If anyone discovers a reasonable one-word replacement for "USian"

    How about "American"?
    posted by cj_ at 5:26 PM on November 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


    As I said, I'm going to cut back on using "USian" on MetaFilter since some other folks here feel unhappy with it. I'll substitute "from the United States" or a similar locution. If anyone discovers a reasonable one-word replacement for "USian" after this thread is closed, please memail me.

    Seriously, American is just fine. I'm super politically sensitive but I really can't see anything wrong, offensive or imprecise in using American to describe citizens of the US.
    posted by sweetkid at 5:51 PM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I will give you my personal guarantee that no one will ever interpret "American" as "from one of the two land masses known as North America and South America".
    posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:31 PM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


    How about we call ourselves "Worlders", per the "World Series"? That would also get rid of the cognitive dissonance for me when the "World News" comes on in the evenings and it's entirely about the U.S.
    posted by XMLicious at 6:42 PM on November 22, 2012


    Great, now I just need a guarantee that whenever you say "USian" that it is so precise everyone will totally understand what you are talking about and you will never have to explain why you are saying it. No one will then question said precision even though they know exactly what "American" means because it has been in use for hundreds of years as a self signifier. Everyone who hears "USian" will be so delighted with the precision that you will not need to actually explain the precision in light of those hundreds of years use of "American", and no one will want to attempt to understand the explanation is that you are saying it because it really has to do with the problems arising from usage of "American" rather than actually being precise. NOPE, no one will even raise an eyebrow EVER, because it is so precise.
    posted by P.o.B. at 7:10 PM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Somebody needs some more tryptophan.
    posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:17 PM on November 22, 2012


    Somebody needs to cough up that guarantee.
    posted by P.o.B. at 7:21 PM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Here you go.
    posted by Pudhoho at 10:01 PM on November 22, 2012


    It only counts if the cat is USian.
    posted by P.o.B. at 10:06 PM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


    P.o.B., will you allow me a little artistic license in using "precise" in that limerick to rhyme with "nice" and "vice"? Not sure what the equivalent of "causa metri" is when it comes to rhyming. "Causa rhymi?" I was kind of hoping a limerick would lighten the mood. :(

    (Or maybe you were responding more to others' talk of precision throughout the thread?)
    posted by brainwane at 4:34 AM on November 23, 2012


    If you use 'USian', you're Getting it Wrong on purpose, in order to grind some personal ax against the USA.

    Indeed. "USese" is the preferred nomenclature.
    posted by kengraham at 5:56 AM on November 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


    It really hasn't been shown that we actually need a surgically precise word for everything. Language doesn't work that way. If you don't understand who someone is, can't distinguish their appellation from the guy next door's, or would like to do them the courtesy of calling them what they'd like to be called, just ask for clarification. People are generally happy to help you make the distinctions you need.
    posted by Miko at 7:06 AM on November 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I'm surprised no one has mentioned that this is all the fault of They Might Be Giants - specifically, their song Contrecoup:
    This song was first recorded in 2005 when John Linnell was challenged by the radio show The Next Big Thing to create a song using the almost-forgotten words contrecoup, craniosophic, and limerent. [source]
    "Contrecoup, on the rebound /
    Contrecoup hurt me again /
    And the second was worse by far than the first /
    'Cause it made me limerent"

    so obviously this is the source of all our problems. Case closed!

    /dusts hands
    posted by komara at 7:25 AM on November 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


    "USese" is the preferred nomenclature.

    "USese motherfucker! Do you speak it!?!"
    posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:44 AM on November 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


    I love this thread. After I took limeonaire as my username 12 years ago, "lime" words started to stick out to me. Limerence was one that was particularly apropos in a teenage context. That, and limaçon...
    posted by limeonaire at 10:03 AM on November 23, 2012


    It only counts if the cat is USian.

    But, but, what if it is a Myanmarese Cat ??
    posted by y2karl at 1:08 PM on November 23, 2012


    Americat!
    posted by Sidhedevil at 1:22 PM on November 23, 2012


    They prefer Feline-American.

    Well other people's do anyway. Mine prefers that I call it "Master".
    posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:11 PM on November 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Americat!

    Well, downunder, or so I would assume, ocicats are ocicats.
    posted by y2karl at 12:27 AM on November 24, 2012


    It does drive me nuts every time I see "limerance" on Ask--at least spell your fancy word right, please?

    I don't think it's in everyone's computer dictionary, so it doesn't always get the red underline. If that helps you, you know, on your path to forgiveness.
    posted by NoraReed at 2:55 AM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Tell me of the waters of your homeworld, USian.
    posted by adamdschneider at 12:16 PM on November 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


    "USian" always finds a way to unlock the barn door and get ALL my goats. I know people may not have malicious intentions in using it, but it screams "LOOK HOW MUCH EFFORT I AM PUTTING IN TO NOT OFFEND PEOPLE!"

    I grew up in San Francisco so it's not like I'm unfamiliar with liberal/social justice linguistic traditions, yet I have NEVER heard "USian" in real life.
    posted by MattMangels at 6:25 PM on November 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


    I live in Mexico. Just for the record: I'm an estadounidense. A Canadian is a canadiense. Each term is both a noun and an adjective. They're not weird or politically loaded terms, though they might look like a mouthful.

    In casual speech, I sometimes hear "americano" used by Mexicans to refer to an American-seeming foreigner, but it's much more likely to be "extranjero." The newspaper always uses "estadounidense" or "canadiense" if it's not calling us "extranjeros."

    A "gringo" comes from the US only, not Canada or Europe. It's not a polite term and is more likely to be used by gringos to refer to themselves than to be used by Mexicans, unless the Mexicans are annoyed.

    I'm not saying that USian needs to be a word. I'm just obsessively pointing out Spanish linguistic details.
    posted by ceiba at 9:27 AM on November 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


    How do you pronounce USian?
    posted by TwelveTwo at 9:38 AM on November 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


    oosh-yin
    posted by adamdschneider at 10:21 AM on November 25, 2012


    you-ess-ee-an
    posted by Kattullus at 10:35 AM on November 25, 2012


    ah-psy-un but I prefer say-un. You know, like Dragon Ball.
    posted by P.o.B. at 1:41 PM on November 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


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