Pop Culture dictionary


or platonic relationship or platonic love [pluh-ton-ik]

What does platonic mean?

Platonic characterizes a close but non-sexual relationship between two people. These two people, based on their sexual preferences, could have a sexual relationship but currently only have a very strong, deep friendship.

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Related words
friends with benefits, best friend, open relationship, gurlfriend, plenty of fish, nice guy, single white female, Netflix and chill
Examples of platonic
My bed and some platonic cuddles sound great right about now
@erikctitus, September 2018
Today the hosts consider whether men and women can truly be platonic friends. First, one woman writes that her boyfriend believes that "attraction will eventually get the better" of any straight male and female friends.
Dear Sugar Radio, NPR, November 2016
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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.

That’s deep.

Platonic popped up again in the 1630s among English royalty, who’d gained a renewed interest in Plato’s teachings. England’s most elite came to see platonic love 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 circumstance … like being poor.

In its contemporary sense, platonic love is close friendship between two people where there doesn’t exist sexual desire. It originally referred to a man and a woman, though, rightfully, expanded to two gay men or women as well. Many, however, argue that true platonic friendship can’t exist, as somewhere down the line, one, or both people, will have sexual desires for the other. Cynics … or realists?


In the 2000s, the term was used by the online classifieds website Craiglist in a section titled Strictly Platonic, meant for postings involving people seeking friendships. People, inevitably, 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.


Who uses platonic?

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 soulmate.

Platonic can also be used to characterize an action as non-sexual in nature.

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This is not meant to be a formal definition of platonic like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of platonic that will help our users expand their word mastery.