I learned from an earlier thread that the word, love, is not an action verb in English, it is a stative verb. I learned love from the ancient Greek word, Agape, which is to give without expectation of receiving anything return. A common definition of agape is 'unconditional love,' but if love is a stative verb, and all states are conditional, then 'unconditional love' does not accurately reflect agape. Is there a single English word or phrase that accurately reflects that definition of agape, an action verb, or should I use agape instead?

Furthermore, 'without expectation' is a bit impossible, since everything we do includes some degree of expectation. For example, if I agape someone, there is a good chance it's because it is emotionally pleasing to me (unconscious)...and thus, I get something in return. So, I'm not asking for 'no' return, I'm asking for 'no conscious expectation' of return.

Edit: I'm looking for the action verb.

He _____ her with affection.


She ____ him with admiration.

  • Could you explain this statement a little more: [1] if love is a stative verb, and all states are conditional, then 'unconditional love' does not accurately reflect agape. To begin with, what do you mean by all states are conditional? (I might as well tell you where I'm going with this question: I'm suspecting that you are equivocating two different meanings of the word conditional in [1]. But I can't be sure one way or the other because I don't fully understand what [1] is saying.) Feb 19, 2021 at 5:26
  • @linguisticturn there are two types of conditions, causal and existential. Love doesn't appear out of nowhere, it's caused by something, and that something is conditional. Existential conditions include everything going on now, and as it relates to 'states' or feelings, that includes not only what someone values, it also includes whatever triggers it existentially, and that whatever is conditional. Does that help? Feb 19, 2021 at 16:01
  • @linguisticturn I understand that Agape means to value something irregardless of the conditions, but that is not the same thing as 'feelings,' which my friends here have convinced me is what the word 'love' is...a stative verb. When we feel love with no conditional triggers, it taps directly into the underlying value, and when we act based on that feeling/motivation, we are not loving unconditionally, we are loving based on the condition of consciously and intentionally focusing on the underlying value INSTEAD of any conditional triggers. That is very intentional (action verb), not stative. Feb 19, 2021 at 16:07
  • I'm still not following completely, but let me just address one thing. You seem to be reading some philosophical import to a verb being stative or dynamic. I am very skeptical about any claim that a grammatical property of a word can reveal any sort of deep philosophical meaning of the concept the word expresses. I bet e.g. that anything that can be said using active verbs can be said (perhaps awkwardly) using stative ones. Example: I am now running, which employs a dynamic verb par excellence, may be expressed as e.g. I am now in a state of rapid locomotion, which is definitely stative. Feb 19, 2021 at 20:36
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    So are you really looking for an English word that means agape (or, rather, the related verb agapao)? That famously doesn't exist, as generations of biblical scholars and interpreters can attest. As Acccumulation pointed out in their answer below, the word usually used is charity. It is all kinds of imperfect, but even C. S. Lewis couldn't do better. Feb 20, 2021 at 2:56

5 Answers 5


The term "charity" largely means what you're looking for, but again it's a noun rather verb.

There's "no strings attached"

Without conditions or restrictions, as in They give each of the children $10,000 a year with no strings attached. This expression dates from the mid-1900s, although string in the sense of “a limitation” has been used since the late 1800s.


The phrase "left hand doesn't know what the right is doing" has come to be used to refer to dysfunction, but originally it's from Matthew 6:3

But when thou doest alms, let not thy
left hand know what thy right hand doeth:

This is talking about giving to charity without feeling that you're owed anything due to it.

  • Thanks @accumulation. Charity meets a need...something they can't satisfy themself, and implies a superior position. What I'm looking for is more benevolent, motivated by a wide range of emotions, from compassion to gratitude or pleasure...but most of all, I'm looking for the action verb. "He _____ her with affection," or "She ____ him with admiration." Aug 19, 2020 at 3:48
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    @Christopher "Charity" has acquired a negative connotation of condescension, but that's not its original meaning. Aug 19, 2020 at 21:58

I have no verbs to offer. However, you may consider the adjective selfless:

Having, exhibiting or motivated by no concern for oneself but for others (WordHippo)

You could say:

He lavished her with selfless affection. (you could also use loved her)

In your other sentence, I think the adjective sincere would imply "without any thought at the back of her mind":

She overwhelmed him with sincere admiration.


Edit: I'm looking for the action verb.

He gave her with affection freely.


She gave him with admiration freely.

To give. of itself, does not imply a motive.

freely = OED:

1.a. Of one's own accord, spontaneously; without constraint or reluctance; unreservedly, without stipulation; readily, willingly.

1774 Story Aeneas & Dido Burlesqued 45 I'd freely give a golden guinea If I could have a pickaninny.

1862 J. Ruskin Unto this Last 82 He may either give it us freely, or demand payment for it.

  • Freedom is not the same thing as expecting nothing in return. I can give freely but expect something in return--technically that is 'exchanging' or seducing, manipulating or encouraging, but most people don't recognize 'giving' is giving, not any of those things. I deal with marriage counseling and other intimate relationships where exchanges are either implied or expected, so I'm looking for a way for people to distinguish between giving with, and without expectation of any kind. When we marry for..."until death do us part," it's for life...not until someone doesn't give enough back.... Feb 19, 2021 at 21:27

In amorous (or platonic) relationships, the verb that usually goes with love is requite.

To respond to (another) or do something to or for (another) in return for that person's action or emotion:

"If he love me to madness, I shall never requite him."



But i can see that requite doesn't meet your requirements.

I therefore suggest shower, which AHD defines as—

To give or bestow something liberally or abundantly

To give something in great abundance to: showered their children with affection.

This verb fits the bill quite nicely.

  • Showered was the word I thought of, but it doesn't include the element of being without expectation of receiving; it doesn't say anything about whether something is expected.
    – Stuart F
    Oct 25 at 13:10
  • requite:- He repaid her with affection and She repaid him with admiration don't seem to fit with the question.
    – Greybeard
    Oct 25 at 13:39

Almost like altruism but I suppose that doesn't strictly concern love, nor is a verb: 'the principle or practice of unselfish concern for or devotion to the welfare of others' Perhaps there isn't one verb but you could maybe use selflessly...

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    Oct 25 at 13:42
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