In terms of courtly love, you have:

  • The lover (person in love)
  • The beloved (object of the lover's affection)
  • The courtier (the pursuer of the beloved; alt. term for a lover)

The lover or courtier would pursue the beloved, who would appear chaste in public but secretly swoon over the lover, and the two would profess their love in private. Most texts on courtly love also refer to the person "who scorns the lover's advances", but don't give this person (usually a woman) a title.

I am looking for a word that fits in this nomenclature to refer to this person (man or woman):

the scorner of the lover's love.

The word that I'm using is "shrew", but that doesn't quite fit the gender neutral requirement. As well, a shrew is just a bad-tempered woman, not necessarily someone who scorns love. I don't like "scold" for the same reason.

What word could fit in this sentence:

His love wants a living kiss, but she is a _______ who will never requite.

I am happy with a neologism if it fits.

  • 1
    Courtly love theory is love-o-centric.
    – tylerharms
    Commented Dec 19, 2013 at 14:46
  • 1
    Keep an eye peeled for Joyce's "love loves to love love."
    – tylerharms
    Commented Dec 19, 2013 at 14:54
  • 1
    A single word isn't necessary. Other locutions like 'object of desire' and 'reluctant' or other combinations describing the situation would work. Adjectives, like 'cold' or 'unreceptive' might work. But this is going down a male-centric direction (like shrew). Maybe she's just not that in to you.
    – Mitch
    Commented Dec 20, 2013 at 13:26
  • 1
    @Mitch You seem to have got it: the-just-not-that-in-to-you ! I might even use it to politely curse someone.
    – Kris
    Commented Dec 20, 2013 at 15:09
  • 1
    In this day and age the word "stalked" is your best bet. Commented Dec 24, 2013 at 17:48

9 Answers 9


The non-requiter. See definition of requite:

verb [with object] formal

  • make appropriate return for (a favor, service, or wrongdoing): they are quick to requite a kindness
  • return a favor to (someone): to win enough to requite my friends
  • respond to (love or affection); return: she did not requite his love
  • Definitially, this works. I may accept it, but I'd like to see if any non-agent noun options filter in. If also, because with the sentence I have, this is repetitive. See the comment that Kris guy made above :)
    – tylerharms
    Commented Dec 19, 2013 at 17:56
  • It does not have the flow nor the recognition factor jilter has in my opinion. Did you just noun it now?
    – mplungjan
    Commented Dec 19, 2013 at 18:38
  • 1
    @tylerharms Have you tried His love wants a living kiss, but she is one who will never requite.?
    – Kris
    Commented Dec 20, 2013 at 6:34
  • @Kris It's not a categorical term, like lover and beloved.
    – tylerharms
    Commented Dec 20, 2013 at 6:38
  • @tylerhams; @Kris: I happen to like the use of 'one' very much. It fits nicely (sound-wise) into your sentence and really allows it to flow. And besides, a phrase like 'a spurner who'll never requite' sounds a bit tautologous. If you've identified her as a spurner, that means she's already rejected him and so, will never (or at least, will not at this moment) requite. Commented Dec 25, 2013 at 3:25

If you are willing to accept neologisms how about...

  • Non-committer, a person who fails to commit him or herself to another person. From the verb, commit = To pledge or obligate one's own self: She felt that she was too young to commit fully to marriage.

  • Decliner could be used for a person who refuses a marriage proposal or the manifestations of affection and love from somebody. (This word actually exists) From the verb, decline to withhold consent

  • Deamorer a person who hesitates to accept an offer of love
    From Latin amare to love; dēmorārī "to loiter, linger," from morārī "to delay", from mora "a pause, a delay"

  • 5
    +1 for "deamorer". This fits the nomenclature well. Declinist, however, sounds too professional.
    – tylerharms
    Commented Dec 20, 2013 at 9:21
  • @tylerharms I hadn't thought about that show, you're right though, people will automatically associate the two. I originally wanted to suggest decliner, so I'll edit my post.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Dec 20, 2013 at 9:26
  • @Mari-LouA You got sumting 'gainst de 'cliner? ;) Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 23:12

If you want a word to describe matters of doomed love, I think Thomas Hardy has your needs covered. To wit, his poem "He Abjures Love": To abjure is to renounce.

The noun form would be abjurer (or "abjuror"). If you want a word that specifically describes a woman, it could be written as:

His love wants a living kiss, but she is an abjuress who will never requite.

If you want something more gender-neutral:

His love wants a living kiss, but she is an abjurer who will never requite.

  • 1
    I am looking for a gender neutral term, and so I would prefer abjuror.
    – tylerharms
    Commented Dec 26, 2013 at 22:55

Perhaps spurner

a person who rejects (a person or thing) with contempt

It is not clear whether your concept includes the contempt aspect of this term, but many a rejected lover feels contempt, even if the object of affection intends none.

  • A rejected lover may feel contempt, but also the rejecter/spurner/jilter in denying love.
    – tylerharms
    Commented Dec 19, 2013 at 14:41
  • 1
    I also suggested that
    – mplungjan
    Commented Dec 19, 2013 at 18:34

How about Jilter

It does seem to be a noun

Spurner can be found too, but I have more problems with that than a jilter

  • +1 It works. And if it's the case that an agent noun is the only option, I like this better than spurner.
    – tylerharms
    Commented Dec 19, 2013 at 14:17
  • @Kris did this comment belong to the rejecter answer?
    – mplungjan
    Commented Dec 19, 2013 at 18:35
  • 3
    "jilter" carries connotations of having once encouraged or accepted the love of another.
    – DWin
    Commented Dec 19, 2013 at 20:37

A rejecter is one who rejects.

  • Could also work, but jilter hones in a little better. A rejecter could reject for reasons other than "scorn of the lover". It could be circumstantial.
    – tylerharms
    Commented Dec 19, 2013 at 14:38

The person being loved, him or herself, could be referred to as the lover’s “unrequited love.” Context will have to make clear that “love” here refers to the person being loved, rather than the emotion of love (that is unrequited), but in most cases I think it should be clear.

Here comes my unrequited love.


She sat, staring at her unrequited love’s hair.

Certainly sounds much better to my ear than other options I see.

  • I wouldn't be comfortable using this term without the possessive pronoun, which makes it difficult to use as a class title.
    – tylerharms
    Commented Dec 20, 2013 at 6:36

I offer up loveless, to be used nominally.

In the same sense that "humorless" connotes someone lacking the faculties of humor, and "soulless" a person lacking the nobility of soul, a loveless would be

a person lacking the faculties of love and therefore the abilities to requite it.

The given sentence would read,

His love wants a living kiss, but she is a loveless who will never requite.


It is folly to seek a noun for every variety of human response or condition. My suggestion: "His love wants a living kiss, but she is unloving and will never requite."

  • It might be, but the courtly love tradition operated firmly in the realm of titles and categories so that those who knew of such things could categorize people, situations, and the like.
    – tylerharms
    Commented Dec 26, 2013 at 22:53

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