Air Kiss

Meaning of “Air Kiss”

The phrase “air kiss” is also known as a blown kiss, thrown kiss or flying kiss It means a kiss that is the same as an ordinary act of kissing, but it comprises gestures in the air. In this type of kiss, the lips are pursed as if it is a real kiss. Then the person kisses his/her palm or fingertips and blows it towards the intended person. In the celebrity culture, ‘air kiss’ is widely used and considered an appropriate way of greeting one another. However, they gently touch the cheeks and pucker their lips. It also means cheek-to-cheek kiss in which real kiss does not take place.

Origin of “Air Kiss”

Although its origin is unknown, it is stated that it was in common use in the 20th century. As a written form, it was first used by the newspaper, Chicago Tribune, as back as in 1887 in one of its publications. It has been stated as; “Nothing is more dainty than the kiss of a wellbred chaperon, who, mindful of the time and trouble spent over the powder box, gently presses her lips on your hair just north of your ear. The minister’s wife is another sweet soul, who knows where a kiss will do least harm, and her favourite method is an air kiss, with the gentle pressure of her cheek to your cheek.

It is also stated that Newsweek has made this term popular by using it in its publication of 1975 in March. It states “The uncontested Prince of American Design murmured greetings to the chic crowd, carefully air-kissing their cheeks.”

Examples in Literature

Example #1

Air Kiss by Otteri Selvakumar

Butterfly singing
Song for
Flower smile smile…
Again and again air
Kiss the flower
Butterfly did not sad…
Did not sing the song…

An Indian poet, Otteri Selvakumar, has beautifully used this phrase as the title of her poem. She believes that “air kiss” has been borrowed from nature such as the love affair of a butterfly and a flower shows. She has compared the butterfly hovering over flowers like air kissing.

Example #2

Hollow by Bridgitte Cummings

“Welcome back. ‘Limpdick nudges me from behind, knocking my hip sharply into the edge of the bench as he breathes last night’s curry into my ear. My knife skids across the wet chicken carcass and air-kisses my knuckles. I tighten my throat, strangle down a curse. The blade is as dull and blunted as my line manager’s intellect, but still hold on to the fantasy of plunging it cleanly into his heart. ‘Stop staring into space, Princess. No more chances.”

This paragraph is taken from Bridgitte Cummings’ story “Hollow.” The female narrator narrates how Limpdick, her colleague, treats her when sitting on the bench. She has used the phrase “air kisses” about the knife she is holding to cut pieces of the meat. Although this has not been used in a sense it is generally understood, it clearly shows that the knife is not going to cut the meat. It is only moving past it without cutting the meat as she looks at Limpdick.

Example #3

Air Kiss and Tell by Charlotte Dawson and Jo Thornely

Charlotte Dawson has worked in top Australian television shows such as Top Model and Celebrity Apprentice in Australia. She married to Scott Miller, an Olympic Swimmer, but got divorced shortly which led her to feel depressed. It shows that she faced challenging times faced with great courage. Giving a humorous touch and catchy title using the phrase “air kiss,” Jo Thornely has beautifully written her tale that demonstrates glamor, sorrow, and humor intertwined together.

Example #4

Bride’s Tattoos by Charles E. Schwarz

“Bobbie, Ethel, randy, and even my mother rushed to her, all hugging each other and sending over the shoulder air kisses in all directions.

Bobbie turned to me, and in her bridesmaid’s defense shouted, “So typical of you, Ed! Picking on the most vulnerable, defenseless person here!”

It is a beautiful mystery story by Charles E. Schwarz, which describes plotting, a broken engagement, and marriage as well as attacks and abuses of a girl. The male character of the story, Ed, is stating how Bobbie is calling him when all others are rushing toward her to kiss her. He is narrating that they are sending her ‘air kisses’. The use of this phrase is quite apt and suitable in the engagement party.

Examples in Sentences

Example #1: “Why are you throwing air kisses like birds,” asked the teachers to the students standing on the stage and added, “You must come down and meet your friends and hug them.”

Example #2: “He has sent me an air kiss which has kissed the air.” In this sentence, the phrase is used as a chiasmus. Although there is an article between two words, it still seems reversed.

Example #3: “His air kiss has proved a kiss air as nobody has given him any attention.” In this sentence, the phrase is used as a chiasmus, again but it is also a rhetorical device of repetition used for emphasis.

Example #4: “John has sent many air kisses toward her. When she responded, he has become sheepish as if nothing has happened.” It seems as if the man who threw air kisses towards the girl did not expect a positive response.

Example #5: “Her act of air kissing does not seem to be a good idea in the circumstances when both of them are not at good terms.” In this phrase, the air kissing has been equated with the act indirectly.