Love. Hate. Bollox.

It’s a thin line between love and hate.


What makes hate a unique emotion – and why that matters is an article by PhD candidate Cristhian A Martínez. I don’t think it does matter. I never thought it did. Like love, its counterpart, hate is nonsensical.

Love and hate are almost archetypal. In some ways, they are opposite ends of a spectrum, if not for the challenge of love having several other contexts that don’t serve to anchor the other end.

Hate and the love that opposes it are trebled versions of dislike or disdain and like or affinity. Both of these terms are hyperbole meant to elicit an emotional response. As such, they are abused to this end.

As Cristhian notes, hate is used as a qualifier—hate speech, hate crime, and other things people want to punctuate. It’s exclamatory. We might have rather presented it as !speech or crime! or perhaps borrow from Spanish, ¡speech! perhaps stylise it in all caps to double down on the effect ¡CRIME!

In any case, the intent is to manipulate emotions. Perhaps the intent is similar to the Spinal Tap parody of turning the volume to 11 — on a scale or 0 to 10. Hate is off-the-charts loathing. Perhaps it denotes a pathological response almost paralleling evil, another nonsense word.

Synonyms are detest, abhor, loathe, and so on. Hate seems to be just a smidge harsher.

I’d say that English has more than its fair share of nonsensical terms, but other languages have words to serve the same archetypal role. In French, there is a similar superlative— je le hais.

I don’t really have much more to add. I was just triggered by this piece, and I felt compelled to comment. Much language usage seems to be phatic, but in this case, I suppose emphatic is the word for the day.

* Thin Line Between Love and Hate is a song I first heard as a cover by Chrissy Hynde on the first Pretenders album, but it was first performed (perhaps even written by) The Persuaders, a fact I discovered searching for the video to insert here. The original sounds good, too. I just wanted to find the one who introduced me to it.

Cover image:

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