pla·​ton·​ic plə-ˈtä-nik How to pronounce platonic (audio)
capitalized : of, relating to, or characteristic of Plato or Platonism
: relating to or based on platonic love
also : experiencing or professing platonic love
: of, relating to, or being a relationship marked by the absence of romance or sex
platonically adverb

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Two Meanings of Platonic

The two most common senses of platonic come from the same source, yet are different enough in meaning that it is rather important to distinguish between them. The original sense relates to the ancient Greek philosopher, Plato, or to his philosophy. It will always be capitalized. A secondary meaning that also stems from the name of the philosopher describes something (such as feelings or a relationship) that is characterized by an absence of romance or sex (a platonic relationship in this sense might simply be called a friendship). This sense alludes to Plato’s belief that love between people could be so strong as to transcend physical attachments.

Example Sentences

Whereas in the more northerly clime of England the courtly lover of Malory and the Round Table tended to platonic adoration from afar, the Parisian woman already expected—and received—more earthly devotion. Alistair Horne, Seven Ages of Paris, 2002 Relax. The Three Phils are strictly platonic. Yet three-pal business relationships are just as vulnerable to messy implosions as their romantic counterparts. Anne Marie Cruz, ESPN, 7 Feb. 2000 … before concluding that your PC is for work and not pleasure, try hooking up a couple of first-rate speakers and then planting yourself in the platonic ideal of the chair. Fortune, Summer 1998 They had a platonic friendship, not a romantic one. Our relationship was strictly platonic.
Recent Examples on the Web As for the question that many have wondered over the years — was the relationship strictly platonic or was there more? Tatiana Siegel, Variety, 26 Jan. 2023 Despite rumors to the contrary, a source told People in November that the relationship between Valente and Bündchen is strictly platonic and professional. Carrie Wittmer, Glamour, 18 Jan. 2023 While Superbad mostly explores platonic bromances/friendships, there's certainly enough modern and self-aware teenage courtships to make this a more than worthy entry on our list. Milan Polk, Men's Health, 11 Jan. 2023 It’s all about connections, even the platonic kind. Meredith Goldstein,, 25 Dec. 2022 Each had attended with platonic dates — she with one of his friends, and he with one of hers — and hung out in the same group. Rosalie R. Radomsky, New York Times, 9 Dec. 2022 Many co-buyers Koonce has worked with are platonic friends who have been living together for years. Nerd Wallet, oregonlive, 7 Dec. 2022 In the final season, after surviving yet another life-threatening injury, JJ and Spencer aired out their feelings and decided to remain platonic friends and colleagues. Olivia Mccormack, Washington Post, 24 Nov. 2022 In recent years, Pitt and Aniston have become platonic friends. Jessica Sager, Peoplemag, 27 Sep. 2022 See More

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

Word History


Latin platonicus, from Greek platōnikos, from Platōn Plato

First Known Use

1533, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of platonic was in 1533

Dictionary Entries Near platonic

Cite this Entry

“Platonic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Feb. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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