Origin of romance

1250–1300; Middle English romaunce Romanic language, composition in such a language < Old French, derivative of romanz, romans (adj.) Romanic < Vulgar Latin *Rōmānicē (adv.) in a Romance language, derivative of Latin Rōmānicus Romanic
Related formsro·manc·er, noun

Synonyms for romance




Music. a short, simple melody, vocal or instrumental, of tender character.
Spanish Literature. a short epic poem, especially a historical ballad.

Origin of romance

1595–1605; < French < Spanish: kind of poem, ballad < Old French romanz romance1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for romance

Contemporary Examples of romance

Historical Examples of romance

  • Seasickness takes away all the romance that poets have invested it with.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • I was full of romance and hope; now I've no romance, little hope, and some wrinkles.

  • But Mr. Thomson's contributions may fairly be said to have exhausted the "romance" of the road.

  • That was why Tillie's romance had only paraded itself before her and had gone by.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • A year ago her half promise to Joe had gratified her sense of romance.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

British Dictionary definitions for romance


noun (rəˈmæns, ˈrəʊmæns)

a love affair, esp an intense and happy but short-lived affair involving young people
love, esp romantic love idealized for its purity or beauty
a spirit of or inclination for adventure, excitement, or mystery
a mysterious, exciting, sentimental, or nostalgic quality, esp one associated with a place
a narrative in verse or prose, written in a vernacular language in the Middle Ages, dealing with strange and exciting adventures of chivalrous heroes
any similar narrative work dealing with events and characters remote from ordinary life
the literary genre represented by works of these kinds
(in Spanish literature) a short narrative poem, usually an epic or historical ballad
a story, novel, film, etc, dealing with love, usually in an idealized or sentimental way
an extravagant, absurd, or fantastic account or explanation
a lyrical song or short instrumental composition having a simple melody

verb (rəˈmæns)

(intr) to tell, invent, or write extravagant or romantic fictions
(intr) to tell extravagant or improbable lies
(intr) to have romantic thoughts
(intr) (of a couple) to indulge in romantic behaviour
(tr) to be romantically involved with
Derived Formsromancer, noun

Word Origin for romance

C13: romauns, from Old French romans, ultimately from Latin Rōmānicus Roman



denoting, relating to, or belonging to the languages derived from Latin, including Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Romanian
denoting a word borrowed from a Romance languagethere are many Romance words in English


this group of languages; the living languages that belong to the Italic branch of the Indo-European family
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 romance

c.1300, "a story, written or recited, of the adventures of a knight, hero, etc.," often one designed principally for entertainment," from Old French romanz "verse narrative" (Modern French roman), originally an adverb, "in the vernacular language," from Vulgar Latin *romanice scribere "to write in a Romance language" (one developed from Latin instead of Frankish), from Latin Romanicus "of or in the Roman style," from Romanus "Roman" (see Roman).

The sense evolution is because medieval vernacular tales usually told chivalric adventures full of marvelous incidents and heroic deeds. In reference to literary works, often in Middle English meaning ones written in French but also applied to native compositions. Literary sense extended by 1660s to "a love story." Meaning "adventurous quality" first recorded 1801; that of "love affair" is from 1916. Romance novel attested from 1964. Cf. Romance (adj.).


late 14c., "recite a narrative," from Old French romancier "narrate in French; translate into French," from romanz (see romance (n.)). Later "invent fictitious stories" (1670s), then "be romantically enthusiastic" (1849); meaning "court as a lover" is from 1938, probably from romance (n.). Related: Romanced; romancing.



mid-14c., "French; in the vernacular language of France" (contrasted to Latin), from Old French romanz "French; vernacular," from Late Latin Romanice, from Latin Romanicus (see Roman). Extended 1610s to other modern tongues derived from Latin (Spanish, Italian, etc.); thus "pertaining to the languages which arose out of the Latin language of the provinces of Rome." Cf. romance (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

romance in Culture


In traditional literary terms, a narration of the extraordinary exploits of heroes, often in exotic or mysterious settings. Most of the stories of King Arthur (see also Arthur) and his knights are romances.

The term romance has also been used for stories of mysterious adventures, not necessarily of heroes. Like the heroic kind of romance, however, these adventure romances usually are set in distant places. William Shakespeare's play The Tempest is this kind of romance.

Today, a novel concerned mainly with love is often called a romance. Romances are frequently published in paperback series.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.