The idiom to carry a torch for someone first appeared in the 1920s. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal meaning. We will examine the meaning of the phrase carry a torch for someone as well as the related terms torch song and torch singer, where these terms came from and some examples of their use in sentences,
To carry a torch for someone means to remain in love with someone even though she has rejected you, to pine away with unrequited love. Related terms are carries a torch, carried a torch, carrying a torch. The term dates to the mid-1920s, and was inspired by certain sad love songs that spoke about rejection and unrequited love that were popular at the time. Such songs were known as torch songs, and the women who sang them were called torch singers. Many have tried to tie the etymology of carry a torch for someone to Diogenes and ancient matrimonial rites, but there is probably nothing more to the imagery than the idea of holding up a flaming torch of ardor and hoping one’s lost love will come to her senses and reconcile.
And for anyone out there who might carry a torch for Paula Cole, there’s “John Wayne,” where Gaga wonders where all the cowboys have gone. (Rolling Stone Magazine)
Whether or not one can swallow the idea that they each carry a torch for the ensuing three-plus decades – I sure didn’t – there’s no denying that their 55-year-old selves are more interesting. (The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
It’s really the heifer aside that seals the deal in the fiery torch song about a man who done her wrong. (The Los Angeles Times)
It charts the travails of an American torch singer, trapped in the Philippines at the start of the war, who opens a nightclub in Manila called the Tsubaki, named for a rare Japanese flower. (The Charleston Post and Courier)