pla·​ton·​ic plə-ˈtä-nik How to pronounce platonic (audio)
Platonic : 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.

Examples of platonic in a Sentence

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 Along with being a Noname concert, the event is the platonic ideal of a neighborhood block party: communal joy, reveling in the experience of simply being outside. Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, Pitchfork, 18 Sep. 2023 People have built entire careers on stating, with utmost confidence, that one pizzeria’s strikingly good slice is two iotas closer than another’s to the Platonic ideal. Helen Rosner, The New Yorker, 27 Aug. 2023 Some women are sending their nudes to platonic friends, and even strangers. Nicole Schmidt, Glamour, 24 Aug. 2023 Words are not Platonic ideals with a separate existence. John McIntyre, The Christian Science Monitor, 15 Aug. 2023 The new app follows the successful BFF mode that’s been available within the Bumble app since 2016, which features three modes for romantic relationships (Date), platonic friendships (BFF), and business connections (Bizz). Dominique Fluker, Essence, 31 July 2023 Drag renditions of the doll, expertly re-sculpted, painted, adorned and posted on Instagram, can seem like Barbie’s final form: the platonic ideal of a woman born to be in the spotlight. Anne Branigin, Washington Post, 15 July 2023 Others believed that Getty and George’s relationship was purely platonic. Thomas Harding, Town & Country, 29 Aug. 2023 The new moon in Cancer on the 17th brings up feelings around give and take, especially around your relationships, both platonic and romantic. Jacqueline Tempera, Women's Health, 30 June 2023 See More

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

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 1 Oct. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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