The other day, as I was folding the never ending laundry, I was watching a crime show. One of those real life ones where the true story of a (crazily stupid) group of people was being profiled. The law enforcement person was discussing the crime: a woman set her husband up to be murdered by her teenage lover and his BFF. They went to the movies and afterwards she told her husband she wanted to go to the local park to have a "romantic encounter." Now, this is not the first time I have heard this phrase used as an euphemism for sex. But for whatever reason, it struck me that this was an odd use of the word romantic. Of course this got me thinking.......
Off the top of my head I came up with four different definitions of the word romantic. There is the one that involves images of flowers and moonlight. Another that calls up the word love. The third one is an idealized notion and lastly, according to law enforcement, is sex. To see how close to accurate my various understandings of this word was, I then hit up Merriam Webster. They list six definitions; besides the ones that I came up with the dictionary associates hero and imaginary with this word. Okay. I can see those.
I then took a side trip to look up the definition of romance since the 1st definition listed under romantic was "consisting of or resembling a romance." Number one definition of romance is the literary one; associated with romance novels or medieval tales which often include heroes and adventure. There is also the romance with a capital 'R' for the Romance languages. Interestingly the 4th definition given for this word is "love affair." Since this was in blue indicating a hyper link I clicked on it. Finally, I was brought to a definition that meant a sexual relationship, usually between people not married to each other.
So how did the word romantic evolve into meaning sex? How come law enforcement and any other entity that uses that phrase "romantic encounter" just don't say sex? What's wrong with using the word sex? These words aren't synonyms for one another.
No wonder people confuse sex with love.