Putting the ‘Valentine’ into the day

In case you missed it, it’s Valentine’s Day. So how about a bit of word fun with a look at the origin of ‘Valentine’?

The Online Etymology Dictionary says that the word ‘Valentine’ dates back to the 15th century and means, unsurprisingly, a “sweetheart chosen on St Valentine’s Day”.

The word is thought to come from Valentinus, which was the name of at least two early Italian saints (maybe more). However, no-one is really sure which exact person is honoured.

The name Valentinus comes from Latin valentia, meaning “strength, capacity”. This is itself from valens, “healthy, strong”.

In Spanish, Valentine is Valentín (pretty similar). This term is actually thought to come from the English word, as the tradition arrived in Spain from England in the 16th century.

However, there’s also a Spanish word valentía (almost identical to the original Latin), which translates into modern English as “bravery, courage”.

Which seems pretty appropriate, as you need both traits to either woo your secret crush or brave the hordes in the card shops…

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