Lovers’ lane is considered an American idiom, though its use has spread to other places. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase, or phrasal verbs that have a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. These figures of speech often use descriptive imagery, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often colloquialisms or descriptors that are spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase or expression that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom or other parts of speech is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions that native speakers understand such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, chin up, eye to eye, barking up the wrong tree, bite the bullet, beat a dead horse, hit the nail on the head, kicked the bucket, blow off steam, jump on the bandwagon, piece of cake, hit the sack, and raining cats and dogs, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. It is possible to memorize a list of idioms, but it may be easier to pay attention to the use of idioms in everyday speech, where peculiar imagery will tell you that the expressions should not be taken literally. We will examine the meaning of the idiomatic phrase lovers’ lane, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.
A lovers’ lane is an area where a couple may go for privacy in order to engage in varying stages of intimacy. Usually, a lovers’ lane is a place where one may park one’s car and sit in it, undisturbed. A lovers’ lane may be an actual lane, but often it is a secluded area of a park or an out-of-the-way parking lot. The term lovers’ lane has been in use since the 1850s, and probably described places where young lovers could go and park their buggy and achieve privacy at that time. Because of the element of isolation, a lovers’ lane can be a dangerous place. Note that the word lovers’ is a plural possessive, with the apostrophe placed after the s. The plural of lovers’ lane is lovers’ lanes.
Back then, the road was narrow, unpaved, undeveloped and known as a lovers’ lane of sorts. (Hilton Head Island Packet)
The convict, Joseph De Rocher—a composite of several real inmates Prejean counseled—raped a terrified 17-year-old girl in a lovers’ lane attack in which her boyfriend was also killed, and then knifed her to death, slashing her more than 30 times. (The Chicago Reader)
Local residents were angry that gay men were meeting in the park at night under a lovers’ lane of trees. (The Guardian)