courtly love


: a late medieval conventionalized code prescribing conduct and emotions of ladies and their lovers

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web The name for our modern holiday comes from St. Valentine of Terni, a third-century Roman saint, who has become linked with the idea of courtly love. Leada Gore |, al, 14 Feb. 2023 Ser Criston Cole could have walked right off the page of one of these tales, but his view of courtly love presents a more honest, uncomfortable reality: male entitlement, and the anger that swiftly comes when a woman steps off her pedestal and tries to exert her own will. Philip Ellis, Men's Health, 21 Sep. 2022 Indeed, the rituals of courtly love were used to break Anne. Tina Brown, New York Times, 15 Dec. 2022 Her insistence that Christian woo her with wit isn’t a coquette’s trick of putting her beau through the ritualized paces of courtly love but a smart woman’s search for a partner, a worthy match. Alexandra Schwartz, The New Yorker, 18 Apr. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'courtly love.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1702, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of courtly love was in 1702

Dictionary Entries Near courtly love

Cite this Entry

“Courtly love.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Jun. 2023.

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