Valentine’s day is coming up, offering a wonderful chance to express affection and appreciation for those in committed relationships. Idioms for romantic love will abound on the internet this week, so having one more from me seems superfluous. Moreover, love is not limited solely to lovers. Casual friends and even strangers in the street can benefit a bit of loving kindness, whether it comes in chocolate, an open door, or just a smile. For this upcoming week, I intend to be actively loving as much as possible to everyone I meet (even those students with off-task behaviors in class!).  With that in mind, I thought I would examine 5 love idioms  that can apply to all areas of life, not just romantic devotion.

Labor of Love

A labor of love is a something done for pleasure or enjoyment, not financial reward.  Often, this phrase is applied to volunteer work.  For example, building houses for the homeless is a labor of love because the builders are not getting paid for their work. Even it someone is getting a monetary recompense, it may be a labor of love if the reward does not fully meet the cost of the effort.  Teaching, in many ways, is a labor of love in the United States.

Cupboard Love

Cupboard love is an expression that means love given because of a reward. Thus, an animal may love you because you are the one who feeds it or an employee may love you because you are the one who signs the paychecks. Many students have cupboard love for their professors, but some have genuine affection shown by coming back semesters or even years later and checking in with their professors.

Somebody Up There Loves Me


Somebody up there loves me this is a reference to a higher power giving favor to someone resulting in good results. This higher power can be a heavenly intervention, or it can be a worldly power.For example, it has rained all week, but for my party, the sun was shining. Similarly, I forgot to study for the test, but then my professor called out sick today! Apparently, somebody up there loves me!

Tough Love

Tough love is an expression used when being strict or stern for a good intention. The intention behind the action is very important. It could be used, for example, when the result is less than someone hopes but it is for a good reason.  In the classroom, a student might complain that he got a zero on an assignment for plagiarizing, but such extreme measures are a form of tough love. If one doesn’t learn that cheating is unacceptable, sooner or later when caught, the result could be catastrophic!

No Love Lost

No love lost between them means to have extremely negative feelings toward or even be enemies with another person.  It is a rather strong meaning, signifying more than mere dislike. One could say that there is no love lost between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for instance. 

As we have seen, love is an English word with many meanings used with altruistic activities, selfish motivations, anonymous good will, strong actions, and even enemies! Of course, there are all the other beautiful loving phrases not covered here! Let’s all love language this week!