Words: flame, n.
Friday 24 September 1999
In 1831 Thackeray lamented, "I was in love with two young ladies - but the day dream hath passed away, & I am left without a flame." In fact, Elvis's "(Marie's the Name of) His Latest Flame" goes back to the 14th century when flame meant passion itself before - with Cowley - becoming the object of passion. The OED's last citation is a later, 1840 one by Thackeray, and calls our use of it jocular - but Otto Harbach's lyric for "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" is far from it.
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