The Stack Overflow programmers survey is asking at one point to select on a scale from agreeing over neutral to disagree how much it fits to given statements.

One statement is "I love my boss". On the one hand it feels like clicking anything else then "Disagree Completely" would express, I would pursue a romantic relation to my boss.

While on the other hand selecting "Disagree Completely" looks to me like it will be analyzed later as "x% say the person they are working for is an unstandable a***ole". But that's not what I would want to express. I really love to work for my boss and I really love the relaxed way he leads the company. But I can't see by the statement without any context a way of interpreting it differently from the first case.

  • 6
    It's an idiom/slang meaning you really like your boss. You can love your boss without being in love with your boss.
    – Peter
    Jan 14 '16 at 12:13
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    Interesting context question. A lot depends a lot on how you say it (spoken). At face value, you are right to be concerned, additional context is always good to avoid ambiguity and misinterpretation. On a survey, I wouldn't worry about it, talking to your friends may be a different matter... Using loving would push you much more in the romantic direction, in fact, it could be taken to mean you are already in a relationship.
    – Peter
    Jan 14 '16 at 12:24
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    The OP is asking for the meaning of the verb "love" in this context. I thought that was exactly the sort of question this site was created to answer. That seems a very straight-forward question to me.
    – Jay
    Jan 14 '16 at 20:12
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    The word "love" in English has a variety of meanings. Yes, it can refer to romantic attraction. But it is also used to describe any strong approval. It is quite common to say, "I love my sister" without in any way implying incest. Or, "I love my dog" without implying a weird relationship. People often say, "I love chocolate", "I love baseball", etc. "I love my boss" would normally be understood to mean that you think he is a very good person to work for, not any sort of romantic attraction.
    – Jay
    Jan 14 '16 at 20:15
  • 1
    I love my boss. He pairs well with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.
    – Paul
    Jan 15 '16 at 4:06

In that context, we can assume that love means like.

The American Heritage Dictionary

v. loved, lov·ing, loves

6. To like or desire enthusiastically: loves swimming.


Interesting question... Some languages don't even make the love/like distinction.

Generally, if you use a word that represent a role rather than naming an individual, you are representing that you appreciate the way that person carries out that role. However, if you specifically name a person, then that would imply a depth of love that goes beyond and is independent of the role.

Of course if you say "I love my wife" or "I love my sister", then the (entrenched) expectation of your love for that person is correspondingly greater than for "I love my boss".

Still it pays to be careful, and if confiding to a close friend who wouldn't recognize the name of your boss, in this context it would override this general pragmatic rule as you don't have the choice of naming the referent.

To give a different (and famous) example that illustrates this interaction of entrenchment and knowledge:

I've never met my uncle Phil.

[next day] My new boss turns out to be my long lost uncle Phil - he asked about my family because he recognized my surname.

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