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20 Quotes That Define Love

“The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves,” writer Victor Hugo declared, joining the ranks of generations of great thinkers who have espoused the virtues of this all-important emotion. Yet what, exactly, is love?

Trying to define love is no easy task, as it can take many forms, and everyone experiences it differently. Plato said, “‘Love’ is the name for our pursuit of wholeness, for our desire to be complete.” The ancient Greeks even had different words to describe the many expressions of love, including storge, the love or natural affection for family; ludus, the flirtatious, playful love of youth; philia, the platonic love between friends; philautia, the love of self; eros, a sensual and passionate love of romance; pragma, a mature, enduring love; and agape, an unconditional, divine love.

Artists, philosophers, and psychologists from time immemorial have found different ways to describe the experience of love. In writing about her love for actor Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn said, “Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get — only with what you are expecting to give — which is everything.” But no matter what we call it, love — in all its many forms of expression — is a fundamental human emotion that connects us all and reminds us that we are not alone. These quotes offer heartfelt, and humorous, definitions of that wonderful, maddening, comforting four-letter word: love.

Love, what is it but space and time rendered perceptible by the heart.
Marcel Proust

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Love is the expansion of two natures in such fashion that each includes the other, each is enriched by the other.
Felix Adler, philosopher

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Love is all there is, it makes the world go ‘round / Love and only love, it can’t be denied
Bob Dylan

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Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh.
W.H. Auden, poet

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Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.
Ursula K. Le Guin, author

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We miss so much out of life if we don’t love. The more we love the richer life is — even if it is only some little furry or feathery pet.
Lucy Maud Montgomery, author

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In dreams and in love there are no impossibilities.
János Arany, poet

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Love is the force that transforms and improves the Soul of the World.
Paulo Coelho

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Love is a great beautifier.
Louisa May Alcott

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Love does not rule, it cultivates.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, poet

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Your first love has no beginning or end. Your first love is not your first love, and it is not your last. It is just love. It is one with everything.
Thích Nhất Hạnh

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I was in love, and love makes all men frantic.
Euripides, Greek playwright

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Love is the ultimate outlaw. It just won’t adhere to any rules. The most any of us can do is to sign on as its accomplice.
Tim Robbins

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Love is the substance of all life. Everything is connected in love, absolutely everything.
Julia Cameron, author

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A person in love is humble. A person who loves has, so to speak, forfeited a part of his narcissism.
Sigmund Freud

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Love unlocks doors and opens windows that weren’t even there before.
Mignon McLaughlin, journalist and author

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True love is radical because it requires us to see ourselves in all people. Otherwise, it isn’t love. Love is revolutionary because it has us treat ALL people as we would ourselves — not because we are charitable, but because we are one.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

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For Love is ever the beginning of Knowledge, as fire is of light.
Thomas Carlyle, author

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Love is basic for the very survival of mankind. I’m convinced that love is the only absolute ultimately; love is the highest good.
Martin Luther King Jr.

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Love is the answer / And you know that, for sure
John Lennon

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Photo credit: Volanthevist/ Moment via Getty Images

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About the Author
Kristina Wright
Kristina is a coffee-fueled writer living happily ever after with her family in the suburbs of Richmond, Virginia.
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