Platonic

[ pluh-ton-ik, pley- ]
/ pləˈtɒn ɪk, pleɪ- /

adjective

of, relating to, or characteristic of Plato or his doctrines: the Platonic philosophy of ideal forms.
pertaining to, involving, or characterized by Platonic love as a striving toward love of spiritual or ideal beauty.
(usually lowercase) purely spiritual; free from sensual desire, especially in a relationship between two persons of the opposite sex.
(usually lowercase) feeling or professing platonic love: He insisted that he was completely platonic in his admiration.

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Origin of Platonic

1525–35; < Latin Platōnicus < Greek Platōnikós, equivalent to Platōn-, stem of Plátōn Plato + -ikos, -ic

OTHER WORDS FROM Platonic

Pla·ton·i·cal·ly, adverban·ti-Pla·ton·ic, adjectivean·ti-Pla·ton·i·cal·ly, adverbpost-Pla·ton·ic, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

VOCAB BUILDER

What else does platonic mean?

Platonic characterizes a close but non-sexual relationship between people. It’s especially used in reference to two people of opposite sexes who have a strong, deep friendship.

Where does platonic come from?

The concept of platonic goes back to Florentine scholar Marsilio Ficino in the 15th century. He spoke of amor platonicus (“platonic love”), a kind of divine, soul-connected love. It was based on ancient Greek philosophy of Plato, who saw the love of beauty itself as a higher, more ideal form of love than of the flesh. Ficinio’s platonic love was a Christian take on Plato’s ideas.

Platonic popped up again in the 1630s in England, where there was a renewed interest in Plato’s teachings. Platonic love was viewed as a relationship devoid of sensual desires, instead grounded in the intellectual connection between two people. Over time, the idea of platonic love evolved into a friendship lacking a sexual component, especially due to social circumstances.

In its contemporary sense, platonic love involves a close friendship between two people where there doesn’t exist sexual desire. It originally referred to a relationship between a man and a woman, but has since expanded to include people of all genders. Many, however, like to argue that true platonic friendship can’t exist, as sexual attraction will always creep in between people.

In the 2000s, the term was used by the online classifieds website Craigslist in a section titled Strictly Platonic, meant for posts involving people seeking friendships. But people misused and abused it, and the section was removed in 2018 along with all the other categories found in the personals section due to sex-trafficking concerns.

Platonic friendships appear in popular culture, though fans like to point out sexual tensions or even ship them. Examples include Joey and Phoebe from the 1990s sitcom Friends, and Harry and Hermione from the young adult book and movie series, Harry Potter.

How is platonic used in real life?

Platonic is widely used to describe a type of friendship devoid of sex (e.g., We’re not dating. We just love hanging out. It’s platonic).

Common phrases include platonic relationship, platonic love, platonic friendship, platonic crush, and platonic soul mate.

Note

This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.

Example sentences from the Web for platonic

British Dictionary definitions for platonic

Platonic
/ (pləˈtɒnɪk) /

adjective

of or relating to Plato or his teachings
(often not capital) free from physical desirePlatonic love

Derived forms of Platonic

Platonically, adverb
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