Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0: Valentine's Day Edition

Every Wednesday, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 features handy tips to enhance all of our writing, from daily emails to articles to books. After all, everyone needs to write, right?


Yesterday was Valentine’s Day, so while you’re coming off from your sugar high, I thought I’d share some words associated with the holiday and their correct spelling and/or usage.

Valentine’s Day

Yes, there is an apostrophe in Valentine’s Day. It comes from the original St. Valentine’s Day, which mandates the possessive, as do some unhealthy relationships.

Also, please do not say Valentimes, as I’ve heard mispronounced so often throughout my life. It’s just not right.


Merriam-Webster offers three definitions for the word “valentine.” The first is “a sweetheart chosen or complimented on Valentine’s Day.” Next is “a gift or greeting sent or given especially to a sweetheart on Valentine’s Day; especially a greeting card sent on this day.” Lastly, it can mean “something (as a movie or piece of writing, expressing uncritical praise or affection.”

Do not use valentine card or valentine’s. Those would be wrong.

Instead, it’s Valentine’s Day cards or simply valentines.


One word, double t.

It can mean the literal “throb of a heart” or “a sentimental emotion,” but it’s more likely to be used when discussing the third part of the definition, “a usually renowned man (as an entertainer) noted for his sex appeal.”

The first known usage of the word was in 1796. Wonder if it was describing this strapping lad to the left?

Perhaps he could make a few ladies swoon at an assembly?

Nah, it was probably the corsets.

Puppy love

Always two words to describe the “transitory love or affection felt by a child or adolescent.” Puppy love is infinitely superior to its synonym calf-love, which does not seem very appealing. Also, why is calf-love hyphenated, while puppy love isn’t?

Oh, English, you silly bastard of a language!


Here’s one I didn’t know. Truelove (one word) is a noun for “meaning one truly beloved or loving,” as in the following example.

Frank was married to his truelove, Sophie, for over sixty years.

I always thought it was two words. Oops.

The example is true, by the way. My grandparents, Frank and Sophie, were married for so long, he only lasted three months after her death until he died himself. They still held hands every day, and he told me when they would come to a stoplight, he would lean over and kiss “his bride,” as he used to call her, every time.

Trivia Question

Which one of these is an obscure word that means “of or relating to, or expressing, sexual love”?

A. amatorial
B. amaurotic
C. professorial
D. philosophical

Scroll down to see the answer.

Bonus Fact

Did you know the word “sweetheart” has been around for more than 700 years?

Trivia Answer

A. amatorial


Merriam-Webster online has been the source for today’s post. If you haven’t been on there for awhile, check it out. There are so many interesting things and fun vocabulary quizzes. It’s a word nerd’s dream.


A professional writer/editor for almost 30 years, Karen Wojcik Berner's wide and varied experience includes such topics as grammar, blog content, book reviews, corporate communications, the arts, paint and coatings, real estate, the fire service, writing and literature, research, and publishing. An award-winning journalist, her work has appeared in several magazines, newspapers, and blogs, including the Chicago Tribune, Writer Unboxed, Women's Fiction Writers, Naperville Magazine, and Fresh Fiction. She also is the author of three contemporary women's fiction novels and is a member of the Chicago Writers’ Association. For more information on Karen, please visit www.karenberner.com.


Mel Parish said…
Fascinating! Thanks, Karen.

Popular posts from this blog

What To Do With 'W'

Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0: Single Quotation Marks Within Double Quotes: Where Does the Period Go?

Five Fun Facts About Ralph Waldo Emerson