We all have it. Whether it’s a passion for words, for our lover, or a favorite food.
But what does it mean? To be passionate? Or to have a passion for something? Or to live passionately? How and why do we say these things?
Before we get to that, let me first explain the meaning of the word passion.
If you google PASSION, the dictionary will give this definition:
- Passion: strong or barely controllable emotion.
But how did it get that definition? Let’s go old school. Back to Latin School. Well, briefly.
Passion comes from the Latin word “passio” which means “suffering.”
Passio is a deponent word in voice (in 3rd conjugation of Patior). If you’re not familiar with Latin (and let’s face it, I’m not very familiar with it, but I did a bit of research while writing this), there is an Active and Passive voice. And there still is in writing today. And deponent, in Latin, means “laying aside, putting down” and comes from the verb deponere; de- ‘down’ and ponere ‘place.’ This is active in action, but passive in meaning. So our active and passive grammar comes from this verb, which essentially ‘laid aside’ the passive sense (but remained active by doing just that).
Active voice expresses what the subject of the verb does (I am well. I love.). Whereas the Passive voice expresses what is done to the subject of the verb (I am loved.)
Voice being briefly explained, passio is a passive word in form, but active in meaning. It means to allow, permit, suffer, or endure. You are actively suffering through something, actively enduring something.
What I find fascinating about this Latin verb is not the passive and activeness, but the definitions, to which I give the first dictionary entry below for each.
- Allow: to give (someone) permission to do something.
- Permit: give authorization or consent to someone to do something.
- Suffer: to experience or be subjected to (something bad or unpleasant).
- Endure: to suffer patiently.
Now, you may be thinking, what is so fascinating about these definitions. Those four words are the meaning of the root of the word passio (a conjugation of the main verb patior)…. Remember the definition of Passion that the google dictionary gives: strong or barely controllable emotion.
How is it that our strong or barely controlled emotion comes from a word that essentially means to suffer or endure? How could something that incites a fire in us, cause us to suffer?
Could it be that we are so passionate about something, that we have so much emotion for something—writing, yoga, painting, woodworking, dancing—that we’re willing to suffer for it? Or through it? When was the last time you thought about doing something or did something so passionately or with so much passion, that you suffered through it? Did a tough hot yoga class leave you feeling refreshed and more calm? Did finishing that woodworking piece leave you with a sense of accomplishment?
I can remember I was passionate about writing my first book. I allowed someone else to edit my book. I permitted someone else to make and suggest changes. I suffered through the first draft for the craft—learning and developing my writing style. I endured critiques and an editor telling me what was wrong with my writing so I could learn. I allowed, permitted, suffered, and endured so I could finish the book. That was my outcome.
My passion is writing. And still is.
Taking a side step back to Latin… another definition (from Cambridge Dictionary) of deponent comes from the world of Law and means: someone who states in writing or by speaking as a witness in a court of law that something is true.
Since Passio comes from the root verb meaning to allow, to permit, to suffer, to endure… what is your passion? What are you willing to suffer through because you want the outcome?
And are you willing to put it down on paper? Write your passion down where you can see it every day.
And be willing to suffer—no, I’m sorry, I mean to endure patiently through the process to get to your outcome.
Be passionate, my lovely’s.