carry a torch for

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Alternative forms[edit]


carry a torch may derive from the Greek wedding torch tradition

From the metaphor of a burning flame, to keep a fire burning.

The association of a torch with love may date to the Greek and Roman tradition of a wedding torch,[1] lit in the bride’s hearth on her wedding night, then used to light the hearth in her new home. Such a torch is associated with the Greek god of marriage Hymenaios.


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carry a torch for (third-person singular simple present carries a torch for, present participle carrying a torch for, simple past and past participle carried a torch for)

  1. (idiomatic) To love or to be romantically infatuated with, especially when such feelings are not reciprocated.
    • 1955, "Books: Mixed Fiction" (review of The Twelve Pictures by Edith Simon), Time, 6 June:
      Brunhilde, a kind of earth-mother goddess, carries a torch for her lost love.
    • 2006, Jeannette Walls, "Are Simpson and Lachey still in love?,", 20 April:
      Lachey, for his part, seems to still carry a torch for his estranged wife.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Often used to characterize a situation in which a romantic relationship has ended, but where one partner still loves the other.
  • Considered by some to be dated,[2] but still in wide usage.

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