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 ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus