Making Love (sometimes also “lovemaking”), is a euphemistic phrasal verb used to describe the act of sexual intercourse.
Origin and History
The phrase originates from the translation of similar phrases in Old Occitan and Middle French, which date back as far as the 12th century. According to references cited in the Old English Dictionary, it was first recorded in literature of the mid-1500s, used to refer to the actions and behaviors associated with courtship, from flirting and wooing a prospective love interest to professing one’s love to and for another.
Generally, it referred to the paying of “amorous attention” to the object of one’s desires. It was first used to describe having sex in 1622, a trend that grew substantially in popularity via 20th century literature and continues to this day.
Some may still use it to refer to other courtship rituals, however it is generally considered an archaic use of this phrase. Currently, making love is almost exclusively used in reference to engaging in sexual intercourse, and further suggests a deeper intimacy than other more forthright descriptions of sexual activity
While the definition is still literally “to have sex,” the connotation of this now cliché phrase is one of emotional connection. Where “having sex” can describe any iteration of sexual activity, “making love” tends to suggest a deeper emotional and/or spiritual bond between partners, where the love shared is emphasized during the act.
Making Love versus Having Sex
Making love typically implies that the people participating in the act share a romantic and intimate bond. When people are on this shared level of mutual love and affection, it can translate to a more physically and emotionally passionate style of sexual expression between them.
The actions taken throughout a lovemaking session lend themselves to increased intimacy during and after the exchange. When sex takes on the flavor of making love, one can often expect to experience things like deep kissing, intense eye contact, prolonged embraces, words of love and affection, sensual touch, a generally unhurried pace, and cuddling as aftercare. This level of intimacy can be reached both between new partners and within long established relationships.