kiss / osculate / smooch

Can anyone clarify the meaning and usage of the following words? Is there any difference in semantics or pragmatics?

1-) kiss
2-) osculate
3-) smooch

1.) Kiss means “kiss”. It’s the generic term.
2.) Osculate means kiss, and we never use the word.
3.) Smooch means to kiss and cuddle for a long time. Americans generally call it “making out” now.

How come? Is it because it sounds scientific? Or poetic? Or archaic?

For one reason or another, it’s not used. It sounds medical, I guess, but that wouldn’t explain why people don’t use it.

Thank you very much. While native-speakers of English may not use the word ‘osculate’ in their speech, they would all at least know its meaning, eh? In other words, it is not a technical word like ‘glossophobia’, whose meaning would only be known by educated native speakers, right?

And by the way, I found this blog which illustrates a distinction between kissing and osculating by means of pictures: … ation.html :slight_smile:


I had to look up the word ‘osculate’. I have never come across it. I consider myself to be fairly well educated (to Master’s degree level).
I don’t think I’d be unique in not knowing that word in my circle of friends.

I don’t think the photos you’ve found in the blog are of any help whatsoever.

You’re overestimating people’s education. Most native speakers probably wouldn’t know what “osculate” means.

“Osculate” just means “kiss”. It doesn’t mean what the guy showed in the photos on his blog. All those photos had people osculating, which is just kissing.

Just because a language has two different words for the same thing, it doesn’t mean that those two words have different meanings. Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t. In this case, they don’t.