This Is Where the Term "Crush" Actually Came From

This Is Where the Term "Crush" Actually Came From

Spoons are involved.

By Jen Glantz

The word crush is one we toss around quite a lot. You can have a crush on a person you’ve never met in real life or a person you may never meet in your lifetime (like a celebrity). Crushes can also be that person who sits in the cubicle next to you, that you see every single day, but only recently discovered you have a tingling sort of feeling whenever they speak to you or walk by. You can even have a crush on a person that you met five minutes ago. Either way, we’ve all used the word to describe someone who makes our heart race, anywhere between twenty and twenty-five hundred times in our lives.

But have you ever thought about the word itself and what it means or where it came from?

According to, the word crush means to press or squeeze with a force that destroys or deforms. Which is certainly how it can feel to have a crush on a person who doesn’t feel the same way about you.

But it begs the question of how that word has evolved into being the main description we use when we express how we feel about a person who has a hold on our heart?

According to Warren Clements, a writer for The Globe and Mail, the romantic sense of the word crush was first recorded in the 1884 journal of Isabella Maud Rittenhouse, a teacher who kept a diary that was later published. She used the word crush to refer to the infatuation someone had for another person.

A slang expert named Eric Patridge, suggests that crush might have come from the word mash, which in 1870 was a popular way of saying you were “head over heels in love” and to crush something, was to mash it. 

So where did mash come from? Well, Ernest Weekley’s 1921 Etymological dictionary of modern English wrote that mash was regarded as a “spoon-diet,” which drew a link to the word spoony. Since the 1820’s, to be “spoony on someone,” meant that you had eyes for them and hoped they’d consider you in the future.

So whether you want to be old school and throw it back to the word spoony, or mash, or just simply stick with the word crush, when you’re feeling something unusual for a person you adore, call it whatever you want, just don’t wait to long to do something about it, or you may end up crushed.

P.S. It’s real-life confession time! Watch Bravo’s new digital series, Secret Crush, to see what happens when real people reveal their secret crushes — will they fall in love … or fall flat on their faces?

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