pas·​sion ˈpa-shən How to pronounce passion (audio)
plural passions
often capitalized
: the sufferings of Christ between the night of the Last Supper and his death
: an oratorio based on a gospel narrative of the Passion
Bach's St. Matthew Passion
obsolete : suffering
: the state or capacity of being acted on by external agents or forces
moldable and not moldable … and many other passions of matterFrancis Bacon
: emotion
his ruling passion is greed
passions plural : the emotions as distinguished from reason
a study of the passions
: intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction
with enough passion to make a great poetW. B. Yeats
: an outbreak of anger
a crime of passion
: ardent affection : love
He had never felt such passion for any woman but her.
: a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept
a passion for chess
a passion for opera
: sexual desire
a look of passion in her face
: an object of desire or deep interest
passionless adjective
Choose the Right Synonym for passion

passion, fervor, ardor, enthusiasm, zeal mean intense emotion compelling action.

passion applies to an emotion that is deeply stirring or ungovernable.

gave in to his passions

fervor implies a warm and steady emotion.

read the poem aloud with great fervor

ardor suggests warm and excited feeling likely to be fitful or short-lived.

the ardor of their honeymoon soon faded

enthusiasm applies to lively or eager interest in or admiration for a proposal, cause, or activity.

never showed much enthusiasm for sports

zeal implies energetic and unflagging pursuit of an aim or devotion to a cause.

preaches with fanatical zeal

synonyms see in addition feeling

Examples of passion in a Sentence

If anyone had asked me what my passions were, I would have said building fires, climbing cliffs, going on long hikes in the woods … Paul Theroux, Newsweek, 6 Aug. 2001
The gods themselves had passions and frailties—these are the stuff of the myths. James Salter, New Yorker, 4 Aug. 1997
The skin is dry and as chaste and beautiful as old paper. But I remember the passion inspired by those fingers, their gifted, sly, infinitely provocative caresses and gestures. Richard Selzer, Discover, February 1994
Polo was the Khan's passion. He cared for little else, and when his armies moved, he moved with them, because he couldn't stand to be without the game. Hunter S. Thompson, Rolling Stone, 15 Dec. 1994
Everyone could see the passion in his approach to the work. a controversy that has stirred passions in Congress Her performance is full of passion and originality. She spoke with passion about preserving the building. The crime was committed in a fit of passion. Music has always been his passion. She developed a passion for opera. a student with a passion for literature See More
Recent Examples on the Web Step 1: Purpose Profiling Engage in a dialogue: Initiate honest and deep conversations with employees to uncover what ignites their passion. Ira Wolfe, Forbes, 28 Nov. 2023 From their passion for collecting albums and musical equipment to their unwavering support of Black artists, Giants offers a rare look into the Deans’ expansive collecting history. Okla Jones, Essence, 28 Nov. 2023 His and Sedgwick's passion has also been carried on to their daughter Sosie, 31, and son Travis, 34. Ingrid Vasquez, Peoplemag, 28 Nov. 2023 Along the way, Nguyễn documented some of the menu research and development and posted mouthwatering previews, creating content that channeled her passion and ultimately resonated with diners. Tiffany Tse, Los Angeles Times, 24 Nov. 2023 After former First Lady Rosalynn Carter died at home in Plains, Georgia, locals remembered her kindness and passion for their community. Brandee Gruener, Southern Living, 22 Nov. 2023 And sometimes, like Andre, an artist may decide to pursue their next passion altogether. Andre Gee, Rolling Stone, 22 Nov. 2023 Audiences in Torun are serious about their passion for film – and their opinions. Will Tizard, Variety, 20 Nov. 2023 The Seidler Equity Partners co-founder's passion for the sport began at a young age. Ingrid Vasquez, Peoplemag, 15 Nov. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin passion-, passio suffering, being acted upon, from Latin pati to suffer — more at patient

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of passion was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near passion

Cite this Entry

“Passion.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


pas·​sion ˈpash-ən How to pronounce passion (audio)
often capitalized : the sufferings of Jesus between the night of the Last Supper and his death
plural : the emotions in general
: strong feeling or emotion
: great affection : love
: a strong liking
: an object of desire or deep interest

Legal Definition


pas·​sion ˈpa-shən How to pronounce passion (audio)
: intense, driving, or overpowering feeling or emotion
especially : any violent or intense emotion that prevents reflection see also heat of passion

More from Merriam-Webster on passion

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