Carry a Torch (for someone)

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Meaning of Idiom 'Carry a Torch'

To carry a torch for someone means to continue to feel love for someone who does not return your love, and to suffer the pain of this unrequited love.

Usage

"There is no use trying to fix Bobby up with anyone. He's still carrying a torch for Victoria."

"Have you gotten over Thomas yet or do you still carry a torch?"

Origin

Love has, since antiquity, been seen as a flame or as something that inflames the heart. There are many theories as to how a torch came to be associated with love, and torches are said to have been a part of Greek wedding ceremonies. Cupid, or Eros to the Greeks, is depicted as carrying, along with his bow and quiver of arrows, a torch, which he used to "inflame the passion between two lovers." Hymen, as well, the God of marriages, carried a torch (bridal torch). This, perhaps, it the simplest explanation for the idiom 'carry a torch.' Despite the possible ancient origins, the idiom itself is not thought to have appeared in print until the 1920's.

The idiom is also the origin of the special name we give songs about lost lovers or unrequited love: Torch songs.

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