AskDefine | Define kiss

Dictionary Definition



1 the act of caressing with the lips (or an instance thereof) [syn: buss, osculation]
2 a cookie made of egg whites and sugar
3 any of several bite-sized candies
4 a light glancing touch; "there was a brief kiss of their hands in passing"


1 touch with the lips or press the lips (against someone's mouth or other body part) as an expression of love, greeting, etc.; "The newly married couple kissed"; "She kissed her grandfather on the forehead when she entered the room" [syn: buss, osculate]
2 touch lightly or gently; "the blossoms were kissed by the soft rain"

User Contributed Dictionary

see KISS



  • , /kɪs/, /kIs/
  • Rhymes with: -ɪs


cyssan, from *kussja-, from *kus- (probably imitative). Cognates include Dutch kussen, German küssen, Swedish kyssa. However, the oldest attested record for the word, is the Ancient Greek κύσσω (kysso) poet. form of κύσω (κύσο) “to kiss” (Homer, Odyssey, 16.15: kusse de min kephalen... “he kissed his forehead”; Aristophanes, Clouds, 56.81: kuson me... “kiss me...”, etc.), from κυνέω (kyneo) "to kiss".


  1. To touch with the lips or press the lips against, usually to express love or affection or passion, or as part of a greeting, or as part of sexual activity.
  2. To touch lightly or slightly.
    His ball kissed the black into the corner pocket.
    The nearside of the car just kissed a parked truck as he took the corner at high speed.
  3. Of two or more people, to touch each other's lips together, usually to express love or affection or passion.


  • to kiss each other (3)
  • to kiss one another (3)


to touch with the lips
to touch lightly
to touch each other’s lips


  1. A touch with the lips, usually to express love or affection, or as a greeting.
  2. A candy or sweet wrapped in paper with twisted ends.
touch with the lips
candy or sweet




Extensive Definition

A kiss is the touching of one person's lips to another place, which is used as an expression of affection or to show respect, and as a greeting or a farewell; kissing can be used to express romantic affection or sexual desire. The word comes from Old English cyssan "to kiss", in turn from coss "a kiss". It is generally considered one of the strongest ways to show affection.

Biology and evolution

Anthropologists have not reached a consensus as to whether kissing is a learned or an instinctive behavior. Kissing may lead to sexual behaviors. It may be related to grooming behavior also seen between other animals, or arising as a result of mothers premasticating food for their children. When mammalian mothers kiss infants, their bodies automatically recognize biological dangers to their offspring, and their bodies add resistant proteins to their milk. Kissing allows prospective mates to smell and taste each other's pheromones for biological compatibility. Women are subconsciously more attracted to men whose major histocompatibility complex portion of their genome is different from their own, leading to offspring with resistance to a greater number of diseases due to heterosis, and thus having a better chance of survival.
This explains why couples are more likely to bond if they have the right "chemistry." Also, a study by researchers at University at Albany found that women use kissing as a tool to find the right father for their children and to judge men on the quality of the first kiss that they share.
Non-human primates also exhibit kissing behavior. Other than primates there are also animals, particularly many species of birds that exhibit beak-to-beak and mouth-to-mouth behavior which is typically interpreted by observers as kissing. Dogs, cats, and other animals display licking and grooming behavior among themselves, but also towards humans or other species. This is sometimes interpreted by observers as a type of kissing, but some may see this as anthropomorphising the actions of animals.

Kissing as affection in different cultures

In modern Western culture, kissing is most commonly an expression of affection. This is unlike many parts of the world where kissing may have different meanings. Some literatures even suggest that a significant percentage of humanity do not kiss. An anomaly is India, where public kissing was once quite popular, as evidenced by the common portrayal of kissing apsaras and people in motifs commonly used around palaces and temples. British rule, and a Victorian ethics system pushed public kissing into a taboo act. However, post-independence, public kissing is not uncommon in India.
In Middle Eastern countries until recent times, kissing was only considered proper when between two men, two women, or parents kissing their children. Kissing was not looked upon as a sexual expression in the Middle East.
In Sub Saharan African, Asiatic, Native American and Polynesian cultures, kissing was relatively unknown until introduced by European and Western influence.
With the Andamanese, kissing was only used as a sign of affection towards children and had no sexual undertones.
In Eastern European countries until recent times, kissing between two men on the lips as a greeting or a farewell was as normal as the modern Western handshake . This custom has nearly died out due to Western influence. In the past, kissing wasn't considered sexual in Slavic and Muslim countries. Between people of close acquaintance, a reciprocal kiss often is offered as a greeting or farewell. This kind of kiss is typically made by brief contact of puckered lips to the skin of the cheek or no contact at all, and merely performed in the air near the cheek with the cheeks touching. Such kissing is a common greeting in European and Latin American countries between a man and a woman or between two women but also by two men in parts of Europe, the Middle East and Latin America, such as Argentina. However, in most Western societies, it is often more acceptable for women to kiss each other than for men to kiss each other. People sometimes kiss children to comfort them or show affection, and vice versa. This usually takes place on the forehead or cheek.
As an expression of romantic affection or kissing involves two people pressing their lips together, usually with much more intensity, and for a considerably longer period of time. In more passionate kissing couples may open their mouths, suck on each other's lips or move their tongues into each others' mouths (see French kiss). Sexual kissing may also involve one person kissing another on various parts of the body (see Foreplay).
In some countries kissing booths exist; often at carnivals a person kisses people for money.

The anatomy of kissing

Kissing is a complex behavior that requires significant muscular coordination; in fact, a total of thirty-four to thirty-six muscles working cooperatively. The most important muscle involved is the orbicularis oris muscle, which is used to pucker the lips and informally known as the kissing muscle. The tongue can also be an extremely important part of the kiss. Lips have many nerve endings so they are sensitive to touch and bite.

Kissing body parts

Kissing lips is common, as are other body parts such as the cheeks, forehead, neck, hand, etc. Kissing the hand is common practice when proposing marriage. Intimate and passionate kissing of private body parts is common during foreplay.

Symbolic kissing

A kiss can be "blown" using actions of the hand and the mouth. One person kisses their fingers and then pretends to blow it to the other person. This is used to convey affection, usually when parting or when the partners are physically distant but can view each other. Blown kisses are also used when a person wishes to convey affection to a large crowd or audience. In written correspondence a kiss has been represented by the letter 'X' since at least 1763.

Screen kiss

A screen kiss is one portrayed in a film (the equivalent act in a play is known as a stage kiss). The plot of a film or play may involve characters falling in love with each other, but the actors playing the roles might not have any personal relationship with each other whatsoever, though it has been known to happen that real-life lovers will star in films together.
Stage and or screen kissing may be performed by actually kissing, or by creating the illusion of actual contact. Methods involved in the faking of a stage/screen kiss include using one's thumbs as a barrier for the lips, and turning so that the respective audience is unable to fully see the kiss itself.

Disease transmission

Diseases which may be transmitted via kissing include mononucleosis and herpes, in which the infectious organism is present in saliva. Research indicates that contraction of HIV via kissing is extremely unlikely, however a woman has been infected with HIV by kissing in 1997; both the woman and infected man had gum disease (so transmission most likely was through the man's blood, not saliva).

Notable kisses

In history

  • At the Diocleia festival at Megara in honour of Diocles, lover of Philolaus, a kissing contest was held in which boys would kiss a male judge, who awarded a laurel wreath to the boy he deemed the best kisser.
  • The Romans distinguished three types of kiss: osculum, a friendship kiss on the cheek; basium, a kiss of affection on the lips; and suavium (also known as savium), a lovers' deep kiss.
  • Lord Nelson, British naval commander, famously requested "Kiss me, Hardy", as he lay dying (although they were not, as often reported, his last words).

In religion

  • Muslims may kiss the Black Stone during Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca).
  • In the gospels of Matthew and Mark (Luke and John omit this) Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss—an incongruous instance of a kiss intertwined with betrayal.
  • The holy kiss or kiss of peace is a traditional part of most Christian liturgies, though usually replaced with a handshake today in Western cultures
  • The pope will kiss the ground on arrival to a new country.
  • Visitors to the pope traditionally kiss his ring.
  • Jews will kiss the Western wall of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, and other religious articles during prayer such as the Torah, usually by touching their hand, Tallis, or Siddur (prayerbook) to the Torah and then kissing it. Jewish law prohibits kissing members of the opposite sex, except for certain close relatives. See Negiah.
  • Eastern Orthodox Christians often kiss the icons around the church as entering, they will also kiss the cross and / or the priests hand in certain other customs in the Church, such as confession or receiving a blessing.
  • Catholics will kiss rosary beads as a part of prayer, or kiss their hand after making the sign of the cross.
  • Hindus and Sikhs sometimes kiss the ground of a temple.

In folklore

  • Both the fairytales "Sleeping Beauty" and "Snow White", and the Greek myth of Pygmalion and Galatea, a romantic kiss is used by a male to awaken or breathe life into a female.
  • In modern American versions of the fairytale "Frog Prince", it is the male who is transformed into the prince from the frog kissed by the beautiful female princess.
  • It is commonly believed in Ireland that kissing the Blarney Stone will result in being blessed with the 'gift of the gab', which is the ability to talk one's way out of trouble.

In art

In film

  • The Kiss, an 1896 short film, features the first known screen kiss, a forty-seven second recreation of a stage kiss from the musical The Widow Jones. The movie was considered scandalous at the time of its release but has since entered film history as one of the most memorable early films.
  • The Kid is a 1921 film, in which a tramp, Charlie Chaplin, kisses a child, Jackie Coogan. This scene is the first in film history in which a man kisses a boy on the mouth.
  • Chaplin also employed the "insulting kiss" in at least one film, a device that Bugs Bunny would later copy, countless times, to distract Elmer Fudd and other threatening characters.
  • In the 1955 film Lady and the Tramp, the canine characters Lady and Tramp unexpectedly kiss while simultaneously eating a spaghetti noodle from opposite ends, their lips meeting in the middle. Homages to and parodies of this scene have appeared in several movies, including Hot Shots! Part Deux.
  • In The Princess Bride, the narrator comments on Westley and Buttercup's kiss: "Since the invention of the kiss, there have been five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind."
  • In the 1989 animated disney film, The Little Mermaid, Sebastian sings "Kiss the Girl" to Ariel and Prince Eric in an attempt to break the spell that was cast upon her which prevented her from speaking.
  • In The Godfather: Part II, Michael Corleone gives, in Havana, an unnaturally aggressive kiss on the mouth to his brother Fredo, effectively telling him that he is disowned from the family because he betrayed its interests. Michael has Fredo killed.

In theatre

  • In William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet, Romeo first greets Juliet with an exchange of metaphors stating that he wants to kiss her. Romeo starts by comparing Juliet to a shrine that his "unworthiest hands" are defiling by touching, and his lips to "two blushing pilgrims" who want to make it up to her. Juliet retorts that Romeo, as a pilgrim, should not degrade his hands as "hand-to-hand is holy palmers kiss," meaning they Juliet (saint) and Romeo (pilgrim) can "kiss" hand to hand. Romeo asks why pilgrims and saints can't use their lips, and Juliet responds that saints must use them in prayer. Romeo then gets his kisses by saying that their lips should do what praying hands do (come together). Juliet gives in, but playing the saint, she will not move.

In photography

  • Alfred Eisenstaedt's 1945 LIFE magazine photograph of a sailor stamping a masterly kiss on a nurse in New York City's Times Square was taken Aug. 14, 1945, V-J Day. This photo is considered one of Times Square's most iconic photographs. In 2007, a Houston forensics expert verified the identity of the sailor as Glenn McDuffie, who had claimed to be the individual in the photo for many years.
  • The French photographer Robert Doisneau shot a couple kissing by the Hotel de Ville (Paris) in 1950. The photo, later called "The Kiss," is now considered a classic, a fact one couple alleging to be the subjects of the photo attempted to exploit in their unsuccessful 1990s lawsuit against the photographer.
  • Tanya Chalkin's Kiss, a black-and-white photo of two young women embracing, has become something of a pop culture icon in recent years.

World records

  • The longest recorded kiss took place in New York City on December 5, 2001, between Louisa Almedovar and Rich Langley. It lasted 30 hours, 59 minutes and 27 seconds.
  • On September 1, 2007, 6980 couples kissed for 10 seconds in Tuzla, Bosnia erasing the previous Guinness World kissing Records of the Philippines and Hungary (for synchronised osculation in 2004 with 5327 Filipino couples, overtaken by Hungary in 2005 with 5875 couples; Filipinos came back in February this year with 6124 couples but the Hungarians responded in June with 6613 couples). The record now awaits official certification.


Related links

wikiquote Kissing
kiss in Tosk Albanian: Kuss
kiss in Arabic: تقبيل
kiss in Asturian: Pucu
kiss in Belarusian: Пацалунак
kiss in Bulgarian: Целувка
kiss in Catalan: Petó
kiss in Min Dong Chinese: Cṳ̆ng-chói
kiss in Czech: Polibek
kiss in Welsh: Cusan
kiss in Danish: Kys
kiss in German: Kuss
kiss in Modern Greek (1453-): Φιλί
kiss in Esperanto: Kiso
kiss in Spanish: Beso
kiss in Basque: Musu
kiss in Persian: بوسه
kiss in Finnish: Suuteleminen
kiss in French: Baiser
kiss in Western Frisian: Tút
kiss in Hebrew: נשיקה
kiss in Croatian: Poljubac
kiss in Hungarian: Csók
kiss in Armenian: Համբույր
kiss in Icelandic: Koss
kiss in Italian: Bacio
kiss in Inuktitut: ᑯᓂᑉᐳᖅ/kunippuq
kiss in Japanese: 接吻
kiss in Korean: 입맞춤
kiss in Kölsch: Buz
kiss in Lithuanian: Bučinys
kiss in Macedonian: Бакнеж
kiss in Malayalam: ചുംബനം
kiss in Dutch: Zoen
kiss in Norwegian: Kyss
kiss in Uzbek: Oʻpich
kiss in Pennsylvania German: Boss
kiss in Polish: Pocałunek
kiss in Portuguese: Beijo
kiss in Russian: Поцелуй
kiss in Sicilian: Vasata
kiss in Simple English: Kiss
kiss in Slovenian: Poljub
kiss in Swedish: Kyss
kiss in Ukrainian: Поцілунок
kiss in Vietnamese: Hôn
kiss in Yiddish: קוש
kiss in Chinese: 親吻

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

abandon, accost, address, attouchement, bid good day, bid good morning, blow a kiss, bob, bow, bow to, breath, brush, brush by, buss, caress, come in contact, contact, contingence, curtsy, cutaneous sense, desert, dismiss, disregard, embrace, exchange greetings, feel, feeling, fingertip caress, flick, forsake, give up, glance, graze, greet, greeting, hail, hand-clasp, hand-mindedness, handshake, hello, hit, how-do-you-do, hug, ignore, impinge, impingement, impingence, kiss hands, lambency, lap, lick, lift the hat, light touch, lip, neck, nod, nod to, nudge, osculate, osculation, peck, pull the forelock, relinquish, renounce, repudiate, rub, salutation, salute, say hello, scrape, sense of touch, shake, shake hands, shave, sideswipe, skim, skirt, smack, smacker, smile, smile of recognition, smooch, spoon, squeak by, stroke, sweep, tactile sense, taction, tangency, tap, tentative contact, tentative poke, touch, touch lightly, touch the hat, touch upon, touching, uncover, wave, whisper
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