Is there an expression to refer to an argument / word fight between lovers (or any two people who are an item, whether married or single)? I'm thinking about those arguments that arise from small things and seem to raise hell for a few hours, or a few days, and end up vanishing into thin air because they were really about something silly or insignificant (or, more likely, because of some insecurity blowing insignificant matters into ungodly proportions).

Something in the sense of: They couldn't live apart for five seconds, constantly declaring their undying love, and yet every other week there they were in the throes of yet another 'lover's argument'.

  • lovers' quarrel is the most common term for this.
    – Drew
    Commented Oct 3, 2016 at 3:57
  • Some just call that "generating an excuse for make-up nookie..." ;-) Commented Oct 3, 2016 at 19:06
  • Spat is often used in this context
    – Unrelated
    Commented Dec 19, 2016 at 19:32

2 Answers 2


How about lover's squabble?

From Dictionary.com and Merriam-Webster:

squabble: a petty quarrel

squabble: a noisy altercation or quarrel usually over petty matters

NOTE on @k1eran's answer:

Interestingly, Dictionary.com and Merriam-Webster define tiff as follows:

tiff: a slight or petty quarrel

tiff: a small fight or argument about something that is not important

So, according to Dictionary.com and Merriam-Webster, squabble and tiff mean more or less the same thing.

Turning to Oxford Dictionaries, one finds the following:

squabble: a noisy quarrel about something trivial

tiff: a petty quarrel, especially one between friends or lovers

lovers' tiff: a trivial or short-lived dispute between lovers (as noted by @k1earan)

I wonder why the definition of tiff in Oxford Dictionaries references friends/lovers while the definitions in Dictionary.com and Merriam-Webster do not.

  • As suggested by @deadrat, a lovers' spat conveys the same meaning. According to Dictionary.com, a spat is a petty quarrel. Lovers' quarrel also works, but lacks the explicit reference to petty. Commented Oct 3, 2016 at 3:45
  • I was really divided. I ended up choosing yours because you listed the definitions for several possibilities. Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 10:04

lovers' tiff

(also lover's tiff) NOUN A trivial or short-lived dispute between lovers. — OD

EDIT I ran the ngram using options from other answer and comments and as deadrat commented lovers' quarrel is the most used, those of course they don't all mean exactly the same thing.

Also for simplicity, and on principle, I ignored ones with lover's not lovers'.

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  • 6
    Also lovers' quarrel (more popular) and lover's spat (less popular). For what it's worth, I think tiff conveys the ephemeral and unseriousness the best.
    – deadrat
    Commented Oct 2, 2016 at 20:51

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