You may recognize the phrase meet cute from reviews for movies, television shows, and books.

Romance readers know it as a major part of the Rom-Com subcategory.

Recently the word was the Merriam-Webster word of the day.

That surprised me. I think of meet-cute as a specific vocabulary term limited to use by romance and scriptwriters or reviewers of those books and films.

Turns out it’s been around since 1952 when the two words, meet and cute, were paired in a The New York Times Book Review to describe the story of a ghost-writer who falls in love with a ghost. Today the linked words are used frequently to reference books, movies, and television.

Officially, the definition is “a cute, charming, or amusing first encounter between romantic partners. A meet-cute can be such an encounter as shown in a movie or television show, or one that happens in real life.”

Meet Cute is a popular fiction writing troupe. FYI: Troupe is another writer’s vocabulary word meaning a plot device for crafting a story. Read more about troupes here.

Romance authors use meet-cutes by creating situations where characters clash in personality, set up an embarrassing situation where two eventual romantic partners meet, or have a misunderstanding between characters that may or may not lead to reconciliation in the end.

Meet cute isn’t often found in everyday usage, but people do share their first meet-cutes in conversation and many married couples return to the location where they first met to take pictures on the anniversary of their first encounter.

If you’re a romance rom-com writer or reader, it’s a vocabulary must. If you’re not, now you know the meaning.