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I am not very sure if the word crush ("an intense and usually passing infatuation") can be used between two strangers.

For example, a man sees a beautiful woman for the first time in his life. Could he have a crush on the woman? It seems to me that the word crush is too strong.

If I want to express a feeling in the heart–some small movement in the heart caused by seeing the woman–what word would I use? It's just a temporary flash in the heart. It seems the heart is moved by some force.

How does English address such feelings other than by saying: "I had a temporary heart-moving crush on you"?

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3  
Jennifer Paige would say (or sing) it's just a little crush. –  Zairja Oct 14 '12 at 15:49
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I don't know why you wouldn't just say "I have a crush on you". It would then be understood that you have felt something for that person that wasn't 'love', but it was an attraction. –  Souta Oct 14 '12 at 22:05
    
I know you're not looking for "crush", so I'm not adding an answer, but I hear "bit of a crush" and "a little crush" quite often. –  Matthew Frederick Oct 15 '12 at 3:17
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9 Answers 9

up vote 14 down vote accepted

I'm not sure which scenario you want answered. But, you could say something along the lines of:

  • My first sight of her made my heart flutter.
  • My first sight of her set my heart aflutter.
  • My first sight of her left me momentarily breathless.
  • I had a thing for you when I first met you ...
  • I had a little crush on you when I first met you ...

You can also exercise your imagination and use a little wordplay to convey similar sentiments. For example, hearts can take huge, little, and tiny leaps of joy, start beating loudly or faster, pulses can race, etc., etc.

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+1 for focusing on the heart of the question. –  deadly Oct 16 '12 at 8:55
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You can just say you felt an attraction to her.

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+1 keeping it simple and right –  Souta Oct 14 '12 at 21:59
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How about "thrill"? American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, reads: " v. To cause to feel a sudden intense sensation; excite greatly. v. To give great pleasure to; delight. See Synonyms at enrapture. v. To cause to quiver, tremble, or vibrate. v. To feel a sudden quiver of excitement or emotion. v. To quiver, tremble, or vibrate. n. A quivering or trembling caused by sudden excitement or emotion. n. A source or cause of excitement or emotion."

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I like to think of that momentary spark as someone being struck by Cupid's arrow.

The origin of the power of Cupid's arrow comes from Greek mythology, from the story of Apollo and Daphne: http://www.online-mythology.com/apollo_daphne/

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Based on comments, it appears that sparked my fancy might be a good fit for this sudden warmth towards someone that doesn’t quite reach the mindless madness of a full crush.

Here are a few other somewhat related possibilities that come to mind:

  • have a touch of ardor for
  • an endearment
  • a fancy
  • feel disposed towards
  • have a feeling for
  • have some fondness for
  • have a hankering for
  • inclined towards
  • have an itch for
  • have a longing for
  • be partial to
  • puppy love
  • hold in high regard
  • take a shine to
  • have a soft spot for
  • have a strong fondness for
  • tenderness
  • have a thing for
  • have a weakness for
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8  
while a good list, most don't seem to fit the scenario of instant attraction to a total stranger, as OP described. –  Kristina Lopez Oct 14 '12 at 16:55
    
That's a keeper! –  Kristina Lopez Oct 14 '12 at 17:12
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Should be noted that sparked my fancy would be quite specific to UK English and would be considered uncommon in US English. –  zooone9243 Oct 14 '12 at 17:55
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@tchrist Well I suppose I'm just speaking from personal experience and hear UK English speakers use fancy to mean fondness or like much more than US English speakers. I may be wrong though. –  zooone9243 Oct 14 '12 at 18:28
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Perhaps

My heart went pitter-patter as she walked into the room.

This onomatopoetic term is also often spelled pitapat.

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I am glad to see thrill brought forward, and surprised not to see some other very common ways we describe the strange, seemingly magical spark we sometimes feel upon meeting a new person. We often say we are:

  • thrilled
  • charmed
  • enchanted
  • delighted

We sometimes admit these feelings upon being introduced, using expressions such as:

  • I am thrilled /delighted to meet you.
  • Charmed, I’m sure.
  • Enchanté. (the well known French expression)
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I've read the term "butterfly crush" used in similar context.

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In Nigeria, some people say:

You dey give me fish brain

personally I agree with Will Hunting, but I'd say exactly what I felt to a lady, e.g.

There's something different about you, whenever I see you, my heart just misses a beat.

Also note that people usually find it interesting when you recreate a scene in their mind rather than telling them stories and thus leaving the meaning of your words to their own imagination :)

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I guess that "fish brain" stands for feeling dazed or not being able to use one's rationality (or reason), but what does dey stand for? +1 anyway. –  Paola Nov 4 '12 at 20:49
    
:) It's just another way to say, 'You are giving me fish brain' it's called pidgin English. –  Chibueze Opata Nov 4 '12 at 23:37
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