a. Strong or powerful emotion: a crime of passion.
b. A powerful emotion, such as anger or joy: a spirit governed by intense passions.
a. A state of strong sexual desire or love: "His desire flared into a passion he could no longer check" (Barbara Taylor Bradford).
b. The object of such desire or love: She became his passion.
a. Boundless enthusiasm: His skills as a player don't quite match his passion for the game.
b. The object of such enthusiasm: Soccer is her passion.
4. An abandoned display of emotion, especially of anger: He's been known to fly into a passion without warning.
a. The sufferings of Jesus in the period following the Last Supper and including the Crucifixion, as related in the New Testament.
b. A narrative, musical setting, or pictorial representation of Jesus's sufferings.
6. Martyrdom: the passion of Saint Margaret.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Medieval Latin passiō, passiōn-, sufferings of Jesus or a martyr, from Late Latin, physical suffering, martyrdom, sinful desire, from Latin, an undergoing, from passus, past participle of patī, to suffer; see pē(i)- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Synonyms: passion, fervor, fire, zeal, ardor
These nouns denote powerful, intense emotion. Passion is a deep, overwhelming emotion: "There is not a passion so strongly rooted in the human heart as envy" (Richard Brinsley Sheridan).
The term may signify sexual desire or anger: "He flew into a violent passion and abused me mercilessly" (H.G. Wells).
Fervor is great warmth and intensity of feeling: "The union of the mathematician with the poet, fervor with measure, passion with correctness, this surely is the ideal" (William James).
Fire is burning passion: "In our youth our hearts were touched with fire" (Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.)
Zeal is strong, enthusiastic devotion to a cause, ideal, or goal and tireless diligence in its furtherance: "Laurie [resolved], with a glow of philanthropic zeal, to found and endow an institution for ... women with artistic tendencies" (Louisa May Alcott).
Ardor is fiery intensity of feeling: "When ... Moby Dick was fairly sighted from the mast-heads, Macey, the chief mate, burned with ardor to encounter him" (Herman Melville).
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.