Find out if you're smitten with or smitten by someone. 

Mignon Fogarty
1-minute read


Tara L. from New Jersey asked, "Are you smitten BY someone or smitten WITH someone?"

'Smitten With' or 'Smitten By'?

Both smitten by and smitten with appear to be acceptable. Smitten with may be slightly more common, but not by much. If you feel the need to make a distinction, being smitten by someone could imply some sort of action on the part of the adored person; being smitten with someone could imply that he or she is unaware of your affection and has done nothing to encourage it—but those aren't hard-and-fast rules.

'Smitten' Comes from 'Smite'

Although I have heard the word smitten being used to describe only affection, it's actually a form of the verb to smite, which means "to hit or strike," and the adjective smitten can also describe something or someone who has been struck. This violent meaning was used long before it was used to describe love, which gives me a whole new perspective on the saying All is fair in love and war.

For example, you could say, "She teetered back and forth like a smitten sapling," or "His army has smitten multitudes.”

That's your Quick and Dirty Tip: You can say you were smitten by someone or smitten with someone. They’re both OK. 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show. Her popular LinkedIn Learning courses help people write better to communicate better.