noun pas·sion \ ˈpa-shən \
|Updated on: 5 Aug 2018

Definition of passion

1 often capitalized
a : the sufferings of Christ between the night of the Last Supper and his death
b : an oratorio based on a gospel narrative of the Passion
  • Bach's St. Matthew Passion
2 obsolete : suffering
3 : the state or capacity of being acted on by external agents or forces
  • moldable and not moldable … and many other passions of matter
  • —Francis Bacon
4 a (1) : emotion
  • his ruling passion is greed
(2) passions plural : the emotions as distinguished from reason
  • a study of the passions
b : intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction
  • with enough passion to make a great poet
  • —W. B. Yeats
c : an outbreak of anger
  • a crime of passion
5 a : ardent affection : love
  • He had never felt such passion for any woman but her.
b : a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept
  • a passion for chess
  • a passion for opera
c : sexual desire
  • a look of passion in her face
d : an object of desire or deep interest


play \ˈpa-shən-ləs\ adjective

Examples of passion in a Sentence

  1. 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 TherouxNewsweek6 Aug. 2001
  2. The gods themselves had passions and frailties—these are the stuff of the myths. —James SalterNew Yorker4 Aug. 1997
  3. 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 SelzerDiscoverFebruary 1994
  4. 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. ThompsonRolling Stone15 Dec. 1994
  5. Everyone could see the passion in his approach to the work.

  6. a controversy that has stirred passions in Congress

  7. Her performance is full of passion and originality.

  8. She spoke with passion about preserving the building.

  9. The crime was committed in a fit of passion.

  10. Music has always been his passion.

  11. She developed a passion for opera.

  12. a student with a passion for literature

Recent Examples of passion from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'passion.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of passion

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

Synonym Discussion of passion

passion, fervor, ardor, enthusiasm, zeal mean intense emotion compelling action. passion applies to an emotion that is deeply stirring or ungovernable.
    • was a slave 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

PASSION Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of passion for English Language Learners

  • : a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something

  • : a strong feeling (such as anger) that causes you to act in a dangerous way

  • : a strong sexual or romantic feeling for someone

PASSION Defined for Kids


noun pas·sion \ ˈpa-shən \

Definition of passion for Students

1 : a strong feeling or emotion
  • He spoke with passion.
2 : an object of someone's love, liking, or desire
  • Art is my passion.
3 : strong liking or desire : love
  • She has a passion for music.

Law Dictionary


noun pas·sion \ ˈpa-shən \

legal Definition of passion

: intense, driving, or overpowering feeling or emotion; especially : any violent or intense emotion that prevents reflection — see also heat of passion

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