The meaning of platonic

Platonic Definition & Meaning - Merriam-Webster

pla·​ton·​ic plə-ˈtä-nik 



capitalized : of, relating to, or characteristic of Plato or Platonism



: relating to or based on platonic love

also : experiencing or professing platonic love


: of, relating to, or being a relationship marked by the absence of romance or sex


: nominal, theoretical





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The two most common senses of platonic come from the same source, yet are different enough in meaning that it is rather important to distinguish between them. The original sense relates to the ancient Greek philosopher, Plato, or to his philosophy. It will always be capitalized. A secondary meaning that also stems from the name of the philosopher describes something (such as feelings or a relationship) that is characterized by an absence of romance or sex (a platonic relationship in this sense might simply be called a friendship). This sense alludes to Plato’s belief that love between people could be so strong as to transcend physical attachments.

Example Sentences

Whereas in the more northerly clime of England the courtly lover of Malory and the Round Table tended to platonic adoration from afar, the Parisian woman already expected—and received—more earthly devotion. —Alistair Horne, Seven Ages of Paris, 2002 Relax. The Three Phils are strictly platonic. Yet three-pal business relationships are just as vulnerable to messy implosions as their romantic counterparts. —Anne Marie Cruz, ESPN, 7 Feb. 2000 … before concluding that your PC is for work and not pleasure, try hooking up a couple of first-rate speakers and then planting yourself in the platonic ideal of the chair. —Fortune, Summer 1998

They had a platonic friendship, not a romantic one. Our relationship was strictly platonic.

Recent Examples on the Web However, his bond with Meri, 51, is more of a platonic friendship. —Dory Jackson, Peoplemag, 2 Dec. 2022 Jay’s sister is back, this time with her platonic friend. —Mike Hughes, The Enquirer, 19 Nov. 2022 On one of their first real dates at a Memphis restaurant after nearly a year of platonic friendship, they were approached by a man asking for leftovers. —Nancy Dillon, Rolling Stone, 17 Oct. 2022 The pair had dated but split up two weeks prior to this date and had maintained a platonic friendship. —Bradford Betz, Fox News , 13 July 2022 Campari, the sharply bitter, candy-red Italian liqueur, is often thought of as the original aperitivo, and the Americano—Campari, sweet vermouth, and soda water—is its platonic ideal. —Jason O'bryan, Robb Report, 23 Nov. 2022 Fight over who gets the last bite of the crispy com chay with Vietnamese sausage, the platonic ideal of fried rice dishes. —Nikita Richardson, New York Times, 22 Nov. 2022 The pair reconnected in person a year later on Barrymore's show, exchanging heartfelt sentiments — but remaining platonic. —Jessica Sager, Peoplemag, 29 Nov. 2022 However, by August 2022, things started to look a lot less platonic with a joint family vacation in a tropical location. —Whitney Perry, Glamour, 27 Nov. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'platonic. ' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Latin platonicus, from Greek platōnikos, from Platōn Plato

First Known Use

1533, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler

The first known use of platonic was in 1533

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“ Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jan. 2023.

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Platonic Definition & Meaning | Dictionary.

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[ pluh-ton-ik, pley- ]

/ pləˈtɒn ɪk, pleɪ- /

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of, relating to, or characteristic of Plato or his doctrines: the Platonic philosophy of ideal forms.

pertaining to, involving, or characterized by Platonic love as a striving toward love of spiritual or ideal beauty.

(usually lowercase) purely spiritual; free from sensual desire, especially in a relationship between two persons of different sexes.

(usually lowercase) feeling or professing platonic love: He insisted that he was completely platonic in his admiration.



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Origin of Platonic

First recorded in 1525–35; from Latin Platōnicus, from Greek Platōnikós, equivalent to Platōn-, stem of Plátōn Plato + -ikos, -ic


Pla·ton·i·cal·ly, adverban·ti-Pla·ton·ic, adjectivepost-Pla·ton·ic, adjective

Words nearby Platonic

platitudinal, platitudinarian, platitudinize, platitudinous, Plato, Platonic, Platonically, Platonic love, Platonic or platonic, Platonic solid, Platonic year Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What else does

platonic mean?

Platonic characterizes a close but non-sexual relationship between people. It’s especially used in reference to two people of opposite sexes who have a strong, deep friendship.

Where does

platonic come from?

The concept of platonic goes back to Florentine scholar Marsilio Ficino in the 15th century. He spoke of amor platonicus (“platonic love”), a kind of divine, soul-connected love. It was based on ancient Greek philosophy of Plato, who saw the love of beauty itself as a higher, more ideal form of love than of the flesh. Ficinio’s platonic love was a Christian take on Plato’s ideas.

Platonic popped up again in the 1630s in England, where there was a renewed interest in Plato’s teachings. Platonic love was viewed as a relationship devoid of sensual desires, instead grounded in the intellectual connection between two people. Over time, the idea of platonic love evolved into a friendship lacking a sexual component, especially due to social circumstances.

In its contemporary sense, platonic love involves a close friendship between two people where there doesn’t exist sexual desire. It originally referred to a relationship between a man and a woman, but has since expanded to include people of all genders. Many, however, like to argue that true platonic friendship can’t exist, as sexual attraction will always creep in between people.

In the 2000s, the term was used by the online classifieds website Craigslist in a section titled Strictly Platonic, meant for posts involving people seeking friendships. But people misused and abused it, and the section was removed in 2018 along with all the other categories found in the personals section due to sex-trafficking concerns.

Platonic friendships appear in popular culture, though fans like to point out sexual tensions or even ship them. Examples include Joey and Phoebe from the 1990s sitcom Friends, and Harry and Hermione from the young adult book and movie series, Harry Potter.

How is

platonic used in real life?

Platonic is widely used to describe a type of friendship devoid of sex (e.g., We’re not dating. We just love hanging out. It’s platonic).

Platonic soulmates are a blessing

— T (@sheistaitum) September 16, 2018

Common phrases include platonic relationship, platonic love, platonic friendship, platonic crush, and platonic soul mate.

Greatest platonic relationship in the history of TV.

— Sayyaf (@sayyaf_10) May 28, 2020


This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.

How to use Platonic in a sentence

  • Reality as ConsciousnessThis view can be seen as a middle way between the Platonic and Aristotelian tradition.

    The Universe Knows Right from Wrong - Issue 89: The Dark Side|Philip Goff|September 9, 2020|Nautilus

  • Only the unworldly could still think this was, at its worst, only an unseemly platonic relationship rather than a serious bonding.

    Queen Victoria’s Secret Scottish Sex Castle|Clive Irving|August 17, 2014|DAILY BEAST

  • In high school, Tsukuru was one of five platonic but intimate friends who did everything together and thought as one.

    Haruki Murakami's Weird, Wonderful World|Malcolm Jones|August 15, 2014|DAILY BEAST

  • She uses the celebrations of holy matrimony as a way to chronicle her own relationships, both romantic and platonic.

    The Summer’s Juiciest Beach Reads: Hillary’s New Memoir And More|Emily Shire|May 21, 2014|DAILY BEAST

  • But when pressed on the nature of their relationship—which Stiviano has characterized as platonic—Sterling clammed up.

    Donald Sterling’s Insane Attempt at Damage Control Fails Miserably|Nina Strochlic|May 13, 2014|DAILY BEAST

  • I remembered the usual termination of Platonic liaisons, and thought how disgusted I had been whenever I heard of one.

    Read ‘The King in Yellow,’ the ‘True Detective’ Reference That’s the Key to the Show|Robert W. Chambers|February 20, 2014|DAILY BEAST

  • True, she had taken a lively interest in all her brother's curates, but it was always a professional interest and purely Platonic.

    The Pit Town Coronet, Volume I (of 3)|Charles James Wills

  • The two minds, not hearts, were at once united; but this platonic union soon led to one more tender.

    Madame Roland, Makers of History|John S. C. Abbott

  • The single bright ray across her life was an absolutely platonic love for her cousin Charles Grandet.

    Repertory Of The Comedie Humaine, Complete, A -- Z|Anatole Cerfberr and Jules Franois Christophe

  • This is obviously the Platonic doctrine of two right keys, holding the mean between high and low.

    The Modes of Ancient Greek Music|David Binning Monro

  • The manner in which Aristides introduces his information about the Platonic Modes is highly suspicious.

    The Modes of Ancient Greek Music|David Binning Monro

British Dictionary definitions for Platonic


/ (pləˈtɒnɪk) /


of or relating to Plato or his teachings

(often not capital) free from physical desirePlatonic love

Derived forms of Platonic

Platonically, adverb

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

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Platonic love: what is it, signs and causes

. Is there any benefit from such a relationship? RBC Life figured out what platonic love really is and what forms it has acquired in the modern world. nine0011


  1. What it is
  2. Signs
  3. Types
  4. Causes
  5. Pros
  6. How to maintain
  7. Can it become romantic
  8. What is platonic love

    Platonic love is feelings based on spiritual intimacy with a partner, the similarity of interests with him, but at the same time completely excluding sexual intercourse. [1]

    The first mention of this kind of love appeared around 400 BC in the dialogue "Feast" of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato. He distinguished between the love of bodies - earthly, carnal, based on sexual desire, and the love of souls - heavenly, pure and ideal. Plato presented the path to "high" relationships in the form of a ladder, the first step of which is eros, that is, physical love, and the last step is spiritual love, which brings one closer to the divine. [2] [3] Subsequently, by the name of Plato began to be called relationships based not on attraction to the body, but attraction to the soul. nine0011

    The cult of platonic love developed in chivalric romances. Their main character, as a rule, has special feelings for a lady, often married, with whom she can never be together. The knight idealizes the object of his love, defends the honor of his beloved, tries to earn her favor. He unquestioningly fulfills any order of the lady and at the same time does not count on physical intimacy with her.

    The love of a knight is inextricably linked with tragedy: this plot is repeated many times in literature (Tristan and Isolde, Lancelot and Guinevere). Love had to be perfect: without betrayal, deceit, cooling, therefore, according to the plot, the main characters often died. [4]

    In modern times, psychologists separate platonic love from carnal, romantic love, which is characterized by passion, physical intimacy or desire. [5]

    It is understood that these are lofty feelings, in which there are many heart-to-heart conversations, association of interests, similar views on life, the world, each other. These are feelings when intimacy is not so important to people. Most often, a person experiencing platonic love tends to idealize his partner as someone very close, pure in thought. nine0011

    Oksana PalekhovaPsychotherapist, founder of the counseling center "School of Emotions"

    This is love for the sake of love. If in partnership people are able to add a platonic component, they will achieve the ideal. There will be understanding, mutual respect, admiration, sincere faith in the humanistic nature of a person, his abilities and capabilities, and there will be no place for jealousy, oppression, consumer use, tyranny.

    Marta SmelovaPsychotherapist of online psychotherapy service Zigmund.Online

    Differences from romantic love

    Both romantic and platonic relationships can involve close friendship and love. However, in the first case, one of the partners or both will desire physical contact: hugs, kisses or sex. In the second case, the participants in communication will not need this: they are drawn to each other only on a spiritual, and not on a physical level. [6]


    In romantic love, there may be a desire to protect a partner from communicating with another, jealousy is associated with this, says psychologist Marta Smelova. When platonic jealousy is absent, the same person may have several close relationships. nine0011

    Romantic love can be tender and passionate, sensual and demanding, pragmatic and all-consuming. It may contain an idealization of a partner, a number of requirements for him, and it is always about finding a certain compromise, especially if the partners are not alike, their ideas about relationships and the world are different.

    Platonic love is unconditional love, when your spiritual connection is valued by you more than the material components of life. nine0011

    Julia KaminskayaPsychotherapist of Zigmund. Online online psychotherapy service

    Signs of Platonic Love

    The psychotherapist of the online psychotherapy service Zigmund.Online Yulia Kaminskaya identified the following signs of a platonic relationship:

    1. Lack of sexual intercourse.
    2. Shared values ​​- partners have a similar view of the world and the same beliefs.
    3. Mutual respect for personal boundaries - such relationships are incompatible with exactingness. nine0004
    4. Lack of expectations, partner idealization and depreciation.
    5. Moral support - partners do not judge each other.
    6. Security and the ability to be as open as possible - partners trust each other with secrets.

    Types of platonic love


    If friends do not consider each other as romantic partners in life, but at the same time they have a lot in common, understand and support each other, we can talk about platonic love. If one of the participants in the conversation wants to reach a new level of relationships, then the feelings have grown into romantic ones. nine0011

    Platonic love can be people who consciously choose friendship and support without further desire to cross the boundaries of what is permitted.

    Marta Smelova Psychotherapist of Zigmund.Online online psychotherapy service

    For such relationships with colleagues in English, there is the concept of work spouse, that is, "working spouse". Partners emotionally support each other, care, that is, they form bonds similar to marital ones, but without a romantic component. [7]


    In some cases, platonic love can occur between spouses. According to psychotherapist Yulia Kaminskaya, such a marriage is based on mutual respect, support for each other, spiritual closeness and ... the absence of sexual communication.

    This could be a marriage between asexual people who are not physically attracted to each other. It could be a relationship between polyamorous people who value spiritual connection but are open to romantic encounters with other people. Platonic relationships can grow out of romantic ones, when mutual respect and support is more important than sexual attraction. nine0011

    Julia KaminskayaPsychotherapist of Zigmund.Online online psychotherapy service

    A vivid example of a platonic marriage is the relationship after the wedding of Alexander Blok and Lyubov Mendeleeva. The poet confessed to his wife that he considers her a saint, the embodiment of eternal femininity and loves so much that he cannot have sexual intercourse with her. At the same time, Blok did not deny himself sexual contact with other women. [8]

    Celebrity crush

    According to the psychotherapist of the Zigmund.Online online psychotherapy service, Marta Smelova, unrequited celebrity fans also experience platonic love. Psychotherapist Oksana Palekhova believes that this feeling applies to fictional characters as well. However, support and trust in this case is out of the question. nine0011

    Long distance relationships

    According to psychotherapist Oksana Palekhova, one of the most common forms of platonic love is long-distance relationships. In this case, the participants in the conversation could get to know each other on the Internet, never see each other, but at the same time become very close on a spiritual level, as frank as possible with each other. At the same time, such love can be considered platonic until the partners are waiting for a meeting with each other and physical contact.

    nine0010 Shutterstock

    If long-distance relationships are caused by temporary separation (a long business trip, studying in different cities), and before that the partners experienced a romantic interest in each other, then there is no question of platonic love.

    Reasons for platonic love

    Platonic love is most often a conscious choice. A person finds a partner who does not interest him from a physical point of view, but shares with him his interests, views of the world.

    nine0010 At the same time, sometimes platonic love is a forced choice. The psychotherapist of the online psychotherapy service Zigmund. Online Marta Smelova listed such cases:

    1. Asexuality or reduced libido.
    2. Religious beliefs.
    3. Psychological problems (eg traumatic sexual experience).
    4. Physical limitations (illness).
    5. Lack of physical attraction due to too much age difference with partner.
    6. nine0197

      The benefits of platonic love

      Having social support from family, platonic friends and other loved ones is vital to mental health. Emotionally supportive partners increase self-esteem, a sense of significance, and help to cope with stress. [9]

      Research by the American Psychological Association has also found physical benefits of platonic love. According to scientists, this type of relationship can reduce the risk of disease, depression and improve immunity. [10]

      Psychotherapist Oksana Palekhova identified several advantages of platonic love:

      1. Checking the senses. Deprived of physical attraction, platonic relationships reveal the true intentions of a partner.
      2. Rapprochement on an emotional level. Platonic relationships will allow partners to better understand each other.
      3. Calm. Platonic relationships are characterized by low levels of stress, as they usually do not end in an abrupt breakup.
      4. Absence of high expectations, disappointments and obligations in comparison with romantic love. nine0004

      Platonic relationships are good for health, they warm, fill with meaning, such feelings successfully fight against the feeling of loneliness. People, realizing that they have someone close and similar in values, are more motivated to live and strive to please others, and also recover faster and live through negative periods of life.

      Oksana PalekhovaPsychotherapist, founder of the counseling center "School of Emotions"

      How to Maintain a Platonic Relationship

      Lack of commitment, high expectations, mutual understanding and respect for personal boundaries - what is especially valued in a platonic relationship. To maintain a strong spiritual connection, you must adhere to several rules.

      1. Do not flirt with your partner. Since platonic relationships are based solely on spiritual intimacy, there is no romantic interest in them.
      2. Respect your partner's opinion, even if it differs greatly from yours.
      3. nine0003 Avoid physical contact: avoid things like holding hands, kissing. [6]
      4. Never compare your platonic partner with a romantic one, otherwise you will start to perceive the former in a different status. [11]
      5. Be honest: if you have a physical interest in your partner, honestly tell him about it, psychologist Oksana Palekhova advised.

      Can platonic love grow into romantic

      When one of the participants in the communication begins to feel this, it is necessary to honestly warn the partner so as not to destroy the union. If the second does not reciprocate, it is important to outline the boundaries in the relationship and respect them during further communication.

      Learn more