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A kiss is the touch or pressing of one's lips against another person or an object. Depending on the culture and context, a kiss can express sentiments of love, passion, romance, sexual attraction, sexual activity, sexual arousal, affection, respect, greeting, friendship, peace, and good luck, among many others. According to Herodotus (5th century BC), when two Persians meet, the greeting formula expresses their equal or inequal status.
In some situations, a kiss is a ritual, formal or symbolic gesture indicating devotion, respect, or sacrament. They do not speak; rather, equals kiss each other on the mouth, and in the case where one is a little inferior to the other, the kiss is given on the cheek.
Nyrop writes that "the kiss is the last tender proof of love bestowed on one we have loved, and was believed, in ancient times, to follow mankind to the nether world." According to the psychologist Menachem Brayer, although many "mammals, birds, and insects exchange caresses" which appear to be kisses of affection, they are not kisses in the human sense.
Surveys indicate that kissing is the second most common form of physical intimacy among United States adolescents (after holding hands), and that about 85% of 15 to 16-year-old adolescents in the US have experienced it.
He notes, however, that the categories are somewhat contrived and overlapping, and some cultures have more kinds, including the French with twenty and the Germans with thirty.
Kissing another person's lips has become a common expression of affection or warm greeting in many cultures worldwide.
The kiss on the lips can be performed between two friends or family. Unlike kissing for love, a friendly kiss has no sexual connotation.
Romantic kissing in Western cultures is a fairly recent development and is rarely mentioned even in ancient Greek literature.In the Middle Ages it became a social gesture and was considered a sign of refinement of the upper classes.Other cultures have different definitions and uses of kissing, notes Brayer.A kiss can also be used to express feelings without an erotic element but can be nonetheless "far deeper and more lasting", writes Nyrop.He adds that such kisses can be expressive of love "in the widest and most comprehensive meaning of the word, bringing a message of loyal affection, gratitude, compassion, sympathy, intense joy, and profound sorrow." Nyrop writes that the most common example is the "intense feeling which knits parents to their offspring", but he adds that kisses of affection are not only common between parents and children, but also between other members of the same family, which can include those outside the immediate family circle, "everywhere where deep affection unites people." The tradition is written of in the Bible, as when Orpah kissed her mother-in-law and when Moses went to meet his father-in-law, he "did obeisance, and kissed him; and they asked each other of their welfare; and they came into the tent" (Exodus 18:7); and when Jacob had wrestled with the Lord he met Esau, ran towards him, fell on his neck and kissed him.