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The meaning and origin of the expression: No love lost

No love lost

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What's the meaning of the phrase 'No love lost'?

'There's no love lost between them' is used to describe a relationship between two people who dislike each each.

When someone refers to someone else and says 'there's no love lost' it means 'I'm not going to waste any love on him/her'.

What's the origin of the phrase 'No love lost'?

No love lost'No love lost' is an unusual expression in that it has had two contradictory meanings, which are:

1. 'I don't like that person and he/she doesn't like me'.

No love is lost because there was none there to begin with.

2. 'I love my partner and my partner loves me'.

The love that is expressed isn't wasted or 'lost' as it is returned by the other.

An early example of the first form is found in a publication by the English author John Taylor - Travel of a Twelve-pence, 1622:

They love me not, which makes 'em quickly spend me. But there's no great love lost 'twixt them and mee, We keepe asunder and so best agree.

The second form is found in a pamphlet by the English dramatist Cyril Tourneur entitled Laugh and lie downe: 1605:

She tooke his purse and his jewels, and kissed his brest, and said... there shall be no love lost... be not jealous of my lookes to any other, for you onely shall have my love

What is odd is that, although both forms exist in literature until the 20th century, the second form has now died out and 'no love lost' is always used to refer to people who dislike each other.

Other 'no' phrases:

No dice

No holds barred

No laughing matter

No man is an island

No more cakes and ale?

No names: no pack-drill

No quarter given

No rest for the wicked

No room to swing a cat

No truck with

No way, Jose

Gary Martin - the author of the website.

By Gary Martin

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

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