Love is one of the most frequently used words in the English language. You can feel love for a romantic partner, for a parent, a child, an elderly neighbor, the world in general, a favorite food, a multitude of inanimate objects, and even yourself.

Each of these forms of love carries different meanings and nuances in our lives. Considering how many variations of love are possible, it’s no wonder that we also have so many words to describe this emotion.

Cherish

To cherish is to hold dear; to cling to inveterately. If you cherish someone or something, you never want to let it go. Sounds like love to us.

If you tell someone you cherish them, it will certainly capture their attention better than if you just say “I love you.” If you mention in casual conversation that you cherish your calculator, though, your co-workers might raise an eyebrow. Whereas you can get away with, “I love this calculator!” Go figure.

Adore

Adore is appropriate to describe feelings of high esteem, respect, and honor. Adore is the verb tense of adoration, which is frequently used in a religious context since it has a connotation of worship.

It’s just as acceptable to say you adore your boss, as it is to say you adore that new pair of expensive stilettos from Bloomingdales. Just don’t expect a raise to help pay for the shopping extravagance.

Desire

Desire is a form of love commingled with the physical act. To express desire for someone implies that you want to bring the relationship to a carnal level.

Be careful with this word. Use it and you could find yourself entwined in a lusty affair that is far removed from the more innocent expressions of love. Still, it’s certainly worth trying if you’re not having much luck at the local bar. “I desire you” is a lot better than, “So, do you come here often?” Try using a French accent. That helps, too.

Fancy

The most commonly used definition of fancy is whimsical in nature, or having to do with fantasy. Perhaps that’s why it’s an appropriate substitute for the word love:

He: “I fancy you.”

She: “In your dreams!”

Yearn

If you yearn for someone, you have a strong desire for them; often so strong that all semblance of logic is thrown out the window. It’s that feeling when your brain shuts down and your heart rules your actions. That’s yearning.

The next time you feel inclined to utter the word “love,” substitute “yearn” instead. You’ll get a nice reaction, we promise. Just be prepared to drop whatever it is you’re doing and demonstrate your “yearning.”

Passionate

You already know what passion feels like. Passion is hot, driven and seemingly insatiable. That’s the kind of love in swashbuckler movies, the kind of love that won’t be denied, despite any obstacles.

Telling someone you feel passionate about them is like releasing the hounds. Essentially, you’ll be throwing caution to the wind, which is the very epitome of what love is.

Ardor

The word ardor derives from Old French for “inflamed,” and “heat.” Unfortunately, it must have lost something in the translation. Today, ardor doesn’t really carry the same depth of emotion as some other substitutions for the word love.

Still, you can say that you have ardor for someone and they’ll get the picture that you have feelings for them. It’s a safe play that won’t land you in hot water if your ardor is unrequited. Heck, maybe they won’t even know what ardor means and you can offer to show them.

Hanker

To hanker for a person or a thing is to really, really want it…desperately. It’s to have “an incessant longing.” If you’ve ever loved someone and wanted them so badly you can’t even breathe, that’s hankering.

Now, you really have to live in a certain region to get away with using hanker. You can’t picture a New Yorker using hanker, can you? But you can easily imagine an innocent Southern boy telling his girl that he hankers for her as they lean against the back of his pickup truck staring up at the stars. Then she looks into his eyes and smiles….they move closer, their lips touch…ah, sweet love.