Luke-warm… just how warm is it?

I was writing to someone, and mentioned that a mutual friend was ‘luke-warm’ in his response to something. After I had sent my message, I wondered if maybe it was lukewarm… and certainly the spellcheck thinks it is!

I got to wondering about the origin… maybe something to do with St Luke in the Bible? According to tradition he was a painter, so nothing to do with temperature. I can’t imagine that any other person would have given his name to something which is not that hot and not that cold, in fact a bit on the tepid side. I have discovered that there are places named Luke, but none of them would have influenced the English language, as many of them were named after St Luke, and some of them are from other non-English speaking countries.

I think I actually had already guessed it came from Old English, and is related to other northern European languages:

  • Dutch lauw
  • German lauwarm
  • Faroese lýggjur
  • Swedish ljum
  • Danish and Norwegian lunken

When I used lukewarm in my message, I wasn’t referring to how hot or cold our friend actually was, but I meant that he wasn’t that keen – his response was not enthusiastic, but not negative, somewhere in between but with maybe a lean towards the unenthusiastic end of the response spectrum..

So how warm is lukewarm? A facetious question maybe, but according to an interesting site which I think is aimed at children, it is between 98° F and 105° F….. or it may be between 80° F to 90° F…

See what you think:


  1. David Lewis

    Goldie Locks knew all about lukewarm that’s how she liked her porridge. Not too hot but not that cold. The Goldie Locks effect is used in economics and the stock market.

    Liked by 1 person

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