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In the context of Philippine culture, the Tagalog word kilig refers to the feeling of excitement due to various romantic situations such as making first eye contact with one's crush or watching another person propose to someone.[1] There is no exact equivalent English term for kilig.[2][3]


There is no clear definition of the concept or a definite translation into English.[2][3][4] Some of the not so accurate translations include "giddiness," "shudder," "tremble," "tingle" and "thrill." The word is much closer to the idiomatic expression "tickle pink."

According to Ateneo de Manila University Sociology Anthropology Department faculty member Skilty Labastilla, kilig is usually felt in the first phase of romance, particularly during courtship or honeymoon phase in a relationship.[1] In scientific terms, according to neuropsychologist Dr. Danilo Tuazon, hormones play a role when someone feels kilig.[5] Those hormones that stimulate emotions include testosterone produced by the Leydig cells, adrenaline and norepinephrine, both produced by the adrenal medulla. Testosterone is for motivation while adrenaline is for the increase on one's heart rate and norepinephrine is for the regulation of emotions.

Sociologist Bro. Clifford Sorita, defines kilig as an initial attraction; either having a crush or infatuating over someone. Sorita insists that on this phase, it can't be defined that if one feels kilig over someone, the person already has a deep relationship with that certain someone and asserts that kilig is not yet love. However, the sociologist also added that kilig may lead to love if it becomes an avenue for more meaningful interaction with the person.[5] Filipino journalist Bernadette Sembrano states in her column in The Philippine Star that aside from infatuated love, kilig can also refer to intense passion or interest that leads a person to jump for joy or shout with high-pitched voice.[6]

One can also feel kilig while watching another pair in a romantic relationship in film or television shows.[5]

The word "kilig" was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in March 2016. As a noun, it is defined as "shudder" or a "thrill", while as an adjective it is defined as "exhilarated by an exciting or romantic experience".[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Ang, Andrea; Kibanoff, Keisha (27 June 2012). "Exploring Culture: Dissecting Kilig". The Guidon. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  2. ^ a b "12 words that describe feelings of love in ways that English can't". Las Vegas Review-Journal. 28 August 2015. Retrieved 29 October 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Seven untranslatable words you will want to start using immediately". The Independent. 2014. Retrieved 29 October 2015.
  4. ^ Young, Holly (12 January 2015). "From mangata to kilig: 10 untranslatable words - in pictures". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 October 2015.
  5. ^ a b c Fernandez, Rica (14 February 2013). "What does it mean to feel "kilig?"" (in Filipino and English). GMA News. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  6. ^ Sembrano, Bernadette (3 October 2015). "Kilig!!!". The Philippine Star. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  7. ^ Sabillo, Kristine Angeli (15 April 2016). "'Kilig' included in Oxford English Dictionary". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 15 April 2016.