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  1. any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate.
  2. strong amorous feeling or desire; love; ardor.
  3. strong sexual desire; lust.
  4. an instance or experience of strong love or sexual desire.
  5. a person toward whom one feels strong love or sexual desire.
  6. a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything: a passion for music.
  7. the object of such a fondness or desire: Accuracy became a passion with him.
  8. an outburst of strong emotion or feeling: He suddenly broke into a passion of bitter words.
  9. violent anger.
  10. the state of being acted upon or affected by something external, especially something alien to one's nature or one's customary behavior (contrasted with action).
  11. (often initial capital letter) Theology.
    1. the sufferings of Christ on the cross or His sufferings subsequent to the Last Supper.
    2. the narrative of Christ's sufferings as recorded in the Gospels.
  12. Archaic. the sufferings of a martyr.

Origin of passion

1125–75; Middle English (< Old French) < Medieval Latin passiōn- (stem of passiō) Christ's sufferings on the cross, any of the Biblical accounts of these (> late Old English passiōn), special use of Late Latin passiō suffering, submission, derivative of Latin passus, past participle of patī to suffer, submit; see -ion
Related formspas·sion·ful, adjectivepas·sion·ful·ly, adverbpas·sion·ful·ness, nounpas·sion·like, adjective

Synonym study

1. See feeling.

Synonyms for passion

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Antonyms for passion

1. apathy. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for passion

Contemporary Examples of passion

Historical Examples of passion

  • He grew pale with passion, turned on his heel, and strode away.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • Malbone, greedy of emotion, was drinking to the dregs a passion that could have no to-morrow.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • It swept him away; this revival of passion was irresistible.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • There is no passion in your veins; it is only a sort of sympathetic selfishness.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • It is but a feeble destiny that is wrecked by passion, when it should be ennobled.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

British Dictionary definitions for passion


  1. ardent love or affection
  2. intense sexual love
  3. a strong affection or enthusiasm for an object, concept, etca passion for poetry
  4. any strongly felt emotion, such as love, hate, envy, etc
  5. a state or outburst of extreme angerhe flew into a passion
  6. the object of an intense desire, ardent affection, or enthusiasm
  7. an outburst expressing intense emotionhe burst into a passion of sobs
  8. philosophy
    1. any state of the mind in which it is affected by something external, such as perception, desire, etc, as contrasted with action
    2. feelings, desires or emotions, as contrasted with reason
  9. the sufferings and death of a Christian martyr

Word Origin for passion

C12: via French from Church Latin passiō suffering, from Latin patī to suffer


  1. the sufferings of Christ from the Last Supper to his death on the cross
  2. any of the four Gospel accounts of this
  3. a musical setting of thisthe St Matthew Passion
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for passion

late 12c., "sufferings of Christ on the Cross," from Old French passion "Christ's passion, physical suffering" (10c.), from Late Latin passionem (nominative passio) "suffering, enduring," from past participle stem of Latin pati "to suffer, endure," possibly from PIE root *pe(i)- "to hurt" (cf. Sanskrit pijati "reviles, scorns," Greek pema "suffering, misery, woe," Old English feond "enemy, devil," Gothic faian "to blame").

Sense extended to sufferings of martyrs, and suffering generally, by early 13c.; meaning "strong emotion, desire" is attested from late 14c., from Late Latin use of passio to render Greek pathos. Replaced Old English þolung (used in glosses to render Latin passio), literally "suffering," from þolian (v.) "to endure."

Sense of "sexual love" first attested 1580s; that of "strong liking, enthusiasm, predilection" is from 1630s. The passion-flower so called from 1630s.

The name passionflower -- flos passionis -- arose from the supposed resemblance of the corona to the crown of thorns, and of the other parts of the flower to the nails, or wounds, while the five sepals and five petals were taken to symbolize the ten apostles -- Peter ... and Judas ... being left out of the reckoning. ["Encyclopaedia Britannica," 1885]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper