What Does the Word ‘Valentine’ Mean in English?

Unravel the meaning and history of the word ‘Valentine’ in English. From its origins in ancient Rome to modern times, learn how this word has come to symbolize love and affection globally.

The Origin of ‘Valentine’

The word ‘Valentine’ has roots dating back to ancient Rome and Christianity. Derived from the Latin word ‘Valentinus’, which is a derived form of ‘valens’ meaning ‘worthy, strong, powerful’, the term was often used as a personal name in the Roman Empire. In particular, Valentine was the name of several Christian martyrs in the early centuries AD, making it a significant term in Christian history.

‘Valentine’ in the Context of Love

Over the centuries, the association of ‘Valentine’ with romantic love began through a popular medieval legend. It narrates the tale of Saint Valentine of Rome, who, defying the emperor’s orders, secretly performed weddings for soldiers forbidden to marry. Since his day of martyrdom on February 14 became associated with love and romance, he was posthumously named the patron saint of love, and the day was commemorated as Valentine’s Day.

‘Valentine’ in Modern Times

In modern times, a ‘Valentine’ typically refers to a person to whom a love interest is expressed on Valentine’s Day, or the card or gift given to express that sentiment. According to statistics from the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 145 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday after Christmas.

  • Over half of the U.S. population celebrates Valentine’s Day by purchasing a greeting card.
  • Women buy approximately 85% of all valentines cards.


From its ancient roots to modern popular culture, the word ‘Valentine’ represents an enduring sentiment, the expression of love and affection. It has come a long way from being a personal name to signifying the celebration of love globally. However, it’s important to remember that the heart of Valentine’s Day still lies in the act of expressing love and care, irrespective of the method used.

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