Enamored With or By?

Picture of a donkey with Shakespare's "Methought I was enamoured of an ass" quote from Midsummer Night's Dream

One of our readers was confused by the use of enamored by rather than enamored of (British enamoured). As they explained, the only usage of “enamored” that sounds correct to them is the phrase “enamored of,” which can be found in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream: “Me thought I was enamoured of an Asse.”

By or With?

However, there is another preposition that is acceptable with the word enamored. It’s not by, though; it’s with. Here are a couple of examples:

  • travelers were enamored of the town
  • a lovely girl with whom he was enamored

You can use the verb enamor transitively. For instance, “Rose enamored Dr. Ludgate.” This example means that Rose affected Dr. Ludgate in a way that made him fall in love with her. However, you don’t see this usage too often. Instead, it’s usually a passive verb: “Dr. Ludgate was enamored of Rose.” As you can see, the meaning here is that Dr. Ludgate was in love with Rose. 

An English professor at Washington State University named Paul Brians has a helpful trick. Think of it this way: If you’re crazy about ferrets, then you’re enamored of them. It’s also acceptable to say you’re enamored with them, but if you say you’re enamored by ferrets, then that means the ferrets are crazy about you.

Main Takeaways

Here’s another way to choose between of and with when using the word enamored:

  • When you’re talking about romantic love, use “enamored of,” as in, “Romeo was enamored of Juliet.”
  • When referring to interest or fascination in something, use “enamored with,” as in, “Dylan is enamored by his new iPhone.”
  • As for “enamored by,” remember the earlier example with the ferrets.

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