Love Birds – Saying—Its Meaning & Origin

Meaning:

A pair of people who have a shared love for each other.

Example: Do you see those people over there kissing by the tree? It looks like we have a some love birds here in the park.

Synonyms / Related Phrases:
Lovey-dovey
Head over heels
Love at first sight
Two love-birds sitting on a branch together.

Origin Of ‘Love-Birds’

What are love-birds? They are small parrots that are very fond of their mate. These birds got their name from the strong affection they show to their partner. Oftentimes, they will sit next to one another for lengthy periods of time. Aw, that’s adorable!

Well, it would seem that at some point, people who were showing affection towards one another began being compared to a couple of lovebirds. So this became a metaphor, but when did that happen?

It’s hard to say. However, an early example of this phrase can be seen in print from the Burlington Hawk Eye newspaper, 1897:

“The two Norwegians sat on a chest side by side, alike and placid, resembling a pair of love-birds in a perch.”

​In this quote, it’s not exactly used as a metaphor. The newspaper just says that there were people who resembled the birds. The earliest example I could find of the expression used as a metaphor, where people are being directly called lovebirds, is around the year 1852. It’s in a novel called Bleak House by Charles Dickens:

​”Mr. Guppy, going to the window tumbles into a pair of love-birds, to whom he says in his confusion, ‘I beg your pardon, I am sure.’ “

So, here’s the thing. In this quote, I’m not entirely sure if what Mr. Guppy bumped into was an actual pair of birds, or if he tumbled into a pair people being called love-birds. I’d assume they were people because he apologized afterwards.


Example Sentences

  1. I see Martha and Phillip holding hands together whenever they are walking through the park. They are two love-birds, and I think they’ll be married for a long time.

Note: This site has the meanings for hundreds of common idioms. But as for their origin, well, did you know this isn’t always clear cut thing? So what’s usually provided when that happens are explanations that may be plausible to how a phrase originated, but not necessarily so. If no explanations are given, there will typically be a quote of the expression. These quotes can give you an idea for how old an expression is.