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What does it mean for a person to be romantic?

According to WordNet, the adjective romantic means:

adj 1: belonging to or characteristic of Romanticism or the
       Romantic Movement in the arts; "romantic poetry" [syn:
       romantic, romanticist, romanticistic]
2: expressive of or exciting sexual love or romance; "her
   amatory affairs"; "amorous glances"; "a romantic adventure";
   "a romantic moonlight ride" [syn: amatory, amorous,
   romantic]
3: not sensible about practical matters; idealistic and
   unrealistic; "as quixotic as a restoration of medieval
   knighthood"; "a romantic disregard for money"; "a wild-eyed
   dream of a world state" [syn: quixotic, romantic, wild-
   eyed]

Let's consider the meaning in the Item 2 only. Then, according to the definition, I believe that "a romantic person" or a person that is "romantic" can mean a person who express his/her emotion related to love, or, who excite this kind of emotion in others.

Which of the two above is more likely/common usage?

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  • Both. Anything other questions about the word or its definitions?
    – user6951
    Nov 27, 2014 at 3:04

1 Answer 1

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Let's consider the meaning in the Item 2 only. Then, according to the definition, I believe that "a romantic person" or a person that is "romantic" can mean a person who express his/her emotion related to love, or, who excite this kind of emotion in others.

Which of the two above is more likely/common usage?

"He is romantic."

That sentence implies to me, first and foremost, that he does romantic things, that is, it describes a person's actions. Those romantic things might include buying gifts, reciting poetry, or passionately confessing one's love.

It's common, but not necessary, that such actions excite emotions in other people too, usually in the person to whom the romantic actions are directed, but possibly in an observer as well. It's also possible that the romantic actions have no effect, or a negative effect.

In most cases, though, the actions and their effect go hand in hand for the person saying "X is romantic"

But it's quite possible to imagine the sentence "He's so romantic" being uttered in an adoring, smitten tone by one person, and in a disgusted, turned off tone by another (eg, someone who finds traditionally romantic gestures "cheesy" or cloying).

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  • Do you mean that the word romantic's literal meaning is the first one, and that it implies the second?
    – Pteromys
    Nov 27, 2014 at 5:43
  • Yes, I'm saying that's a helpful way to think about it, if you are trying to understand its typical use and the way it "feels" to a native speaker (at least to me). Of course, the "literal" definition is just the dictionary one you pasted in, but that doesn't give you a feel for the word.
    – Jonah
    Nov 27, 2014 at 15:31

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