Limerence is basically a word coined in 1979 by American psychologist Dorothy Tennov. It's a very obscure term, even among psychologists. In fact Tennov's followers in 2010 remarked how few professional clinical psychologists even were aware of the concept. Nevertheless the Wikipedia article on it is about 3300 words long. The word basically means a crush/infatuation with someone that is often unrequited and obsessive.

Whenever I look up the word, its etymology is usually given as:

coined by Dorothy Tennov (1928–2007), American psychologist

This doesn't help that much.

Wiktionary gives the etymology of:

From arbitrary first element +‎ -ence.

This makes no sense to me. The website Wordnik gives an etymology, which purportedly is sourced from Wiktionary, and says:

The coinages are arbitrary; there is no specific etymology.

This has me confused, as I don't understand what these mean.

  • 1
    The etymology of the work grok is that it comes from Robert A. Heinlein's book A Stranger In a Strange Land. He made it up. There is no reason to suppose that every word has more of a reason behind it than "I threw some letters together that looked good." Nov 12, 2018 at 8:22
  • This is tricky. >2m Google hits, but no dictionary definition that I can find other than in UD. Quasi off-topic. May 13, 2022 at 16:07

1 Answer 1


I found a blog with the following quote:

But here’s the thing. This beautiful word has no etymology. None at all. In the words of its creator: “I first used the term ‘amorance’ then changed it back to ‘limerence’… It has no roots whatsoever. It looks nice. It works well in French. Take it from me it has no etymology whatsoever.” (Tennov in the Observer 11 Sept. 1977)

Its official etymology is therefore “limer” (arbitrary syllable) + “ence”.
Link to blog

Well this was rather anticlimactic, but this account squares with the etymology given in Wiktionary or Wordnik, that is, it's based on a made-up word part with the -ence morpheme attached to it. It was completely made-up by the originator back in the late 70s.

  • "It works well in French. " See the etym. of the Fr. root limer here: (2.) en.wiktionary.org/wiki/limer#Etymology Huh?
    – Kris
    Nov 12, 2018 at 8:46
  • @Kris Haha, but she said it had no root urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=root Great, just when I was happy that I found out she made up the entire word, now I want to know if she was aware of the French slang, or if it even existed in 1978. Oh well, I ain't going to research that.
    – Zebrafish
    Nov 12, 2018 at 18:51

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