"Making love"

David Bergdahl einstein at FROGNET.NET
Wed Apr 10 17:39:49 UTC 2002

I think you'll find that it means "courting"--see the OED: the current sense is only explicitly present in 1950 in the cites.

g. to make love: to pay amorous attention; now more usually, to copulate. [After F. faire l'amour or It. far l'amore.] Const. to.

  1580 LYLY Euphues (Arb.) 290 A Phrase now there is which belongeth to
your Shoppe boorde, that is, to make loue. 1590 SHAKES. Mids. N. I. i. 107 Demetrius..Made loue to Nedars daughter. 1602  Ham. V. ii. 57 Why, man, they did make loue to this imployment. 1605  Macb. III. i. 124 Thence it is
That I to your assistance doe make loue. 1605  Lear V. iii. 88 If you will marry, make your loues to me. 1663 COWLEY Hymn to Light ii, Thou golden Shower of a true Jove! Who does in thee descend, and Heav'n to Earth make love! 1712 ADDISON Spect. No. 517 2 The Widow Lady whom he had made love to. 1768 STERNE Sent. Journ. (1775) I. 31 (Remise Door) You have been making love to me all this while. a1845 HOOD Poems (1846) I. 213 Oh there's
nothing in life like making love. 1860 Sat. Rev. IX. 306 How often..do we make love to the charms of cousins and avuncular expectations. 1950 M. PEAKE Gormenghast xxix. 173 One of the Carvers made love to her and she had
a baby. 1966 AUDEN About House 15 Stocktaking, horseplay, worship, making love. 1967 B. WRIGHT tr. Queneau's Between Blue & Blue xiv. 151 When you make love on a bunk,..the man has to bump his head. 1971 Daily Tel. 15 Jan.
17/1 Couples who make love frequently are more likely to have sons than those who do so less often.

--On Wednesday, April 10, 2002 11:11 AM -0500 "Majors, Tivoli" <MajorsT at MSX.UMSL.EDU> wrote:

> Hi all!
> I got a query today from a collegue who teaches 19th century fiction. Her
> students are concerned about the use of the phrase "making love" in the
> fiction of that era. Today, the students are quite taken aback by the term
> because of its link to sexual activity, but my collegue says that in the
> 19th century fiction, the term was quite innocent with a meaning akin to
> "romantic activity" instead of anything sexual.
> Does anyone know approximately when this shift in meaning occurred or do
> you have any other information relating to this phrase?
> As always, any information is much appreciated!
> Tivoli Majors
> UM-St. Louis, Dept of English

Mein Leben ist nicht diese steile Stunde
daran du mich so eilen siehst.
        --Rainer Maria Rilke

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