Words Made with Love

I couldn’t resist the madness of Valentine’s Day and prepared a list of words that originate from love. In my defense, these are not just words about love and romance, these are words that literally have the root -люб-, i.e., love. And all the words are verbs, so once again you’ll learn how prefixes change the meaning of verbs (falling in and out of love is a question of prefix choice!) and how perfective and imperfective verbs are related. So, this vocabulary post is more than just a calendar reminder, it’s a grammar lesson that you can use to expand your vocabulary.

Image by Erik Mclean

The basic verb for to love is любить. In Russian it is also the verb for to like. You can любить a spouse, a cat, or macaroni and cheese. And in the case of mac and cheese, it wouldn’t even mean a food addiction (that would be обожать), just the fact that you don’t mind mac and cheese from time to time.

— Ты любишь рок-музыку? Do you like rock music?
Шутишь? Я её обожаю! You’re kidding? I love it!

By adding the prefix по- to любить you make the verb perfective and say that you have fallen in love: полюбить.

— Он полюбил Марию и её изумительные борщи. He fell in love with Maria and her marvelous borscht.

Another way to say to fall in love is to use the verb влюбиться. As you can see, there is a prefix в- and a postfix -ся. The reflexive -ся here doesn’t mean “to love thyself”, but just to fall in love.

— Я опять влюбился по уши, как мальчишка! I fell in love again like a boy!

When someone tries to win the love of another person, that is, to make that person fall in love, that is влюблять, with the prefix  в-.  If it’s the result of cold-blooded planning, it’s not a good thing, but the verb itself can simply mean that someone has charisma and easily wins everyone’s admiration.

— Он всегда всех в себя влюбляет, стоит ему только показаться и сказать пару слов! He always makes everyone fall in love with him, just by showing up and saying a few words!

There is a special verb in Russian for looking at someone or something with adoration, for enjoying the view: любоваться. For example, a strict mother can say to her daughter:

— Ты любуешься на себя в зеркало каждые десять минут! You admire yourself in the mirror every ten minutes!

And the perfective verb for it would be налюбоваться – to have enough of the pleasant view. Very often it goes with не могу (I can’t), which means “I can’t take my eyes off…”. 

— Не могу налюбоваться на твоего щенка – он такой смешной! I can’t get enough of your puppy – he’s so funny!

To talk about falling out of love, use the verb разлюбить. The prefix раз- works similarly to the English prefixes “un-” or “dis-“.

— Я разлюбила свои дни рождения, когда стала взрослой. I fell out of love with my birthdays as an adult.

Now a little bit of advanced vocabulary.

The verb облюбовать with the prefix об-, around, means to choose, to take a fancy to, to develop a taste for.

— Кот облюбовал мой мотоцикл, и спит теперь на нём каждый день! The cat has taken a liking to my bike and now sleeps on it every day!

The verb that belongs to the clerical vocabulary: прелюбодействовать, which means to commit adultery, to adulterate, to fornicate. The prefix пре- means “over-” and the second root “-действ-” means “to make”. In other words, it is about making too much love (which, according to Freddie Mercury, will kill you).

— Потому что сказано в священных книгах: не прелюбодействуй! Because it says in the holy books, Thou shalt not commit adultery!

And finally, the verb that deals with love in its intellectual expression: любопытствовать, to be curious, to pry. This word is formed by adding the root люб-, love, to the root пыт-, an ancient word for “to ask, to request information”. Basically, любопытствовать means “to love to ask questions” – isn’t that what curiosity is all about?

— Ты любопытствуешь, потому что тебе интересно, или просто из вежливости? Are you curious because you’re curious, or just out of politeness?

I hope you enjoyed this vocabulary and word building lesson! Don’t forget to download the flashcards! Happy Valentine’s Day!