We explain what it means to love and what are the multiple meanings it can have. In addition, we tell you how it is different from loving.

A boy shows his younger brother a book.
You can love family and friends, but you can also want to get something.

What does it mean to want?

Want is a verb endowed with many meanings, so much so that in the Dictionary of the Spanish Language it has at least ten meanings. In its original context, in the Latin of Roman Antiquity, it was the word quaereretranslatable as “seek”, “pretend” or even “ask”, a meaning that is more or less preserved to this day.

Thus, in its most usual and general sense, the term is understood want as a synonym for wishing, wanting or longing. That is, as an expression of a desire that one has, whether it is “wanting to eat something,” “wanting to go to the movies,” “wanting to run away,” or even “loving someone,” that is, feeling attracted to someone. that person, wanting to have them close. This last sense, however, linked to love (and used in the same way as the verb love) emerged late, in the 12th century.

It is an extremely versatile verb, with which various degrees of inclination, tendency, purpose or probability are expressed. Therefore, the degree of desire or intention that is transmitted through the verb to want is not always the same. When it is said, for example, that “John wants quit smoking”, it is stated that Juan intends to quit smoking, that is, that he has proposed to do so, whether or not he is making the effort required to do so. While the question “What want of the life?” It refers to what existential expectations one has, what purposes or plans one has for the future.

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There are even more diverse cases. The expression “what want What do I say to you?” serves to indicate resignation or lack of alternatives, while “want Let me teach you a lesson?” It is an invitation to fight, and “I think wants “rain” implies that the sky looks rainy.

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Difference between loving and wanting

The meaning of the verb “want” as a synonym for loving or feeling affection is relatively recent in the history of this word. It arose in the Middle Ages from the use of the word desire to express erotic or loving feelings. Thus, desire or love came to designate interpersonal attraction. Over time, his sense weakened until want It ended up becoming a verb that expresses a mild or moderate degree of attraction, especially compared to the intensity of the verb “to love.”

In this way, it is possible to love a friend for whom one does not feel any erotic or romantic inclination, or to love a family member in the sense of valuing their company and wishing them well. While the verb “to love” retains its original intensity, and is reserved for people with whom someone falls in love or for whom they feel deeply attracted or twinned.

It is important to note, however, that these are general trends in the use of both verbs, but in colloquial language they can be used in other ways. For example, the expression “Ana wants with Pedro” should be interpreted as the expression of a sexual desire, while “No one tells you will love like your mother” represents the pure and absolute love of a mother. This is because The use of both words responds to the considerations of the time about love and attractionconcepts that are historically and culturally determined.

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More in: Love


  • “Querer” in the Language Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy.
  • “Etymology of wanting” in the Online Spanish Etymological Dictionary.
  • “Want or love?” by Julio Talledo at the University of Piura (Peru).