Glossary of Relationship Terms

Marriage, Love Relationships

& Polykoity



Norman Elliott Anderson




Former title (until June 27, 2003):

Marriage, Love Relationships & Polykoity: A Glossary of Terms

Alternative titles:

The Language of Love

The Lexicon of Love

The Lovers' Dictionary

Love's Vocabulary

The Romantic's Dictionary

See Also Love

The Vocabulary of Love and Relationships





Recent Entries

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"no sex" rule for competitors (September 11)
Rubenesque (September 25)
virgin (adjective) (revised) (December 21)
OAP-dophile (January 7)
group sex (chart revised) (January 20)
LFA (January 20)
bespoken (January 20)
matchmaker (quotation added)
limbic resonance (revised)
band husband
feels so right (January 8)
cuck (verb)
loving female authority
adulteress (quotation added)
virgin (quotation added)
band wife
"They don't tell, they don't yell, they rarely swell — and they're grateful as hell" (January 8-9) cuckold marriage
eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake (February 5-6)
extramarital affair (quotation added)
je ne sais quoi (revised)
mental harem
virgin (revised) (January 12)
cuckquean marriage
female-centered relationship
Introduction revised
adultery (revised) (September 12)
group sex (chart revised) (October 20)
honey trap (revised)(December 23)
surrogate wife
cuckold relationship
eunuch's for the kingdom of heaven's sake (February 9)
chastity (revised)
"A hard man is good to find" (January 13)
cuckquean relationship
husband-led marriage
polyamorous (revised) (February 10)
group sex (chart revised) (September 17, 24)
group sex (chart revised) (December 9)
vulgivaguibilité (December 26) cuck (revised) (January 17)
cuckquean husband
"Was Jesus married" question (revised) (February 24)
bijoux de famille
blue game
Introduction, note 9, revised (January 6)
cucky (revised)
cucky boy (revised)
male-led relationship
sentimental cartography (revised) (March 24)
walking sperm bank (September 25)
soft breakup (December 21)
group sex (chart revised)
cuckquean (noun) (revised)
male-centered relationship
Quotation added to Introduction (April 15)
lousy lay
ice queen
cuckold (revised)
cuckold (verb) (revised)
female-led relationship
alpha cuckold
Paragraph added to Introduction (June 11-12)
shapely (revised)
save (oneself) for college
cuckquean (verb) (revised)
beta cuckold
Citation in Introduction revised (June 26; again, July 18)
pleasingly plump
"Stop beating, start cheating"
biddy fiddler
new cuckold (revised)
female-led marriage
new cuckolding (revised)
Introduction footnotes revised (September 29)


(Approximate as of the last count,  September 29, 2015)


Added Forms of
Words (Adverbs, etc.)
Terms in Charts
(Mostly Additional)
"See" References

10,854 + charts



20 + 131 ready to go


Table of Contents


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Feedback opportunity


Table of Charts and Insets

Categories of terms that fall outside the scope of this glossary (see Introduction, here)

Third person singular personal pronouns declined (see Introduction, notes at end, here)

Toebah in the Hebrew Bible (see under abomination, here)
Taab in the Hebrew Bible (see under abomination, here)
"Abomination" or "Abominable" (per the King James Version) in the Apocrypha/Deuteroncanonoical Books (see under abomination, here)
"Abomination" or "Abominable" (per the King James Version) in the New Testament (see under abomination, here)
Comparing the last two vice lists in the Book of Revelation (see under abomination, here)

Traditional anniversary gifts by year (see under anniversary, here)

Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 in several English versions (see under as with womankind, here)

The structure of Romans 1:27 compared with Leviticus 18:22 (see under as with womankind, here)

The structure of Romans 1:27 compared with Leviticus 20:13 (see under as with womankind, here)

La Carte de Tendre (see under carte de tendre, here)

Probability that a woman's first marriage will remain intact for ten years, as related to cohabitation (see under cohabitation effect, here)
Probability that a man's first marriage will remain intact for ten years, as related to cohabitation (see under cohabitation effect, here)

Hebrew terms related to divorce (see under divorce, here)

Greek terms related to divorce and remarriage from the New Testament (see under divorce, here)

Terms for common roles in dysfunctional families (see under dysfunctional families, here)

Number of persons correlated to number of one-to-one relationships in a fully interactive small group (see under group complexity theory, here)

A motley assortment of group sex terms (see under group sex, here)

Hot sex, cool sex (see under hot and cool sex, here)

A table of kindred and affinity (see under incest, here)

A late twentieth-century categorization of incest (see under incest, here)

Some terms related to incest (see under incest, here)

Variations on "A Wife Should Be a Lady in the Parlor, a Chef in the Kitchen, and a Whore in the Bedroom" (see under lady in the parlor, here)
The language of fruit (see under language of fruit, here)
The language of vegetables (see under language of vegetables, here)

Lasterkataloge in the New Testament and their bearing on sexual relationships (see under Lasterkatalog, here)

Letter groups (see under letter group, here)

"Love": a selection of ancient Greek nouns (see under love, as in "love for another," here)

A selection of ancient Greek adjectives and adverbs related to love (see under love, as in "love for another," here)

"To love": a selection of ancient Greek verbs (see under love, as in "to love," here)

Galatians 3:28 and its parallel Pauline passages, in probable chronological order (see under "neither male nor female," here)
A selection of extracanonical Christian parallels to "neither male nor female" (Galatians 3:28) (see under "neither male nor female," here)
Some notional sex clubs (see under notional sex club, here)

Abbreviations sometimes used in personals (see under personal ads, here)

Skill stages relative to the pick up artist (see under pick up artist, here)

Terms for forms of polyandry (see under polyandry, here)

One person with x-number of simultaneous different-sex mates: some attested and suggested terms (see under polygamy, here)

Some of the geometrical and other mathematical terms available to describe singles, couples, and small groups (see under polygon, here)

Terms for forms of polygyny (see under polygyny, here)

Relationship levels characterized (see under relationship levels, here)

List of maps of the lands of love and of matrimony (see under sentimental cartography, here)
For further research: The word porneia in Evagrius of Pontus (see under Seven Capital Sins, here)

Sexual configuration (see under sexuality, here)

The Kinsey Heterosexual-Homosexual Rating Scale (see under sexual orientation, here)

Klein Sexual Orientation Guide (see under sexual orientation, here)

The sin of Sodom as dissected in the Bible (see under sodomite, here)

Titles in Western societies (see under title, here)






"Bṛíhaspate prathamáṃ vācó ágra yát praírata nāmadhéya dádhānāḥ | yád eshā ṣréshṭha yád ariprám ´āsit preṇ´ā tád eshā níhita gúhāvíḥ"
"Bṛhaspati! When they came forth to establish the first beginning of language, setting up names, what had been hidden in them as their best and purest good became manifest through love.")
~ Rig Veda 10.71.1, as translated by Frits Staal1a ~

"Il y a des gens qui n'auraient jamais été amoureux, s'ils n'avaient jamais entendu parler de l'amour."
("There are many people in the world who would never have been in love, if they had never heard talk of it.")
~ François duc de la Rochefoucauld
1b ~

Chaque sentiment a son language qui lui convient."

("Every sentiment has the language proper to it.

~ Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
1c ~

"En amour, tout est vrai, tout est faux, et c'est la seule chose sur laquelle on ne puisse pas dire une absurdité."
("In love, everything is true, everything is false; it is the one subject about which you cannot express an absurdity.")

~ Sébastien-Roch-Nicolas Chamfort
1d ~

"The spirit of music arises from primeval speech, by means of which males and females are attracted to each other."

~ Winwood Reade
1e ~

"A poet's but a drudge, that must compress | Life's great allowance to a strip of lines, | Love's complication to a word's caress."
~ Vita Sackville-West
1f ~

"The voice of love!" he [Cyril Mersham] laughed; and then, "No, if you pull your flowers to pieces, and find how they pollinate, and where are the ovaries, you don't go in blind ecstasies over them. But they mean more to you; they are intimate, like friends of your heart, not like wonderful, dazing fairies."

~ D. H. Lawrence
1g ~

"If there were any experts, they are dead, it takes too long."

~ Mona Van Duyn in "Toward a Definition of Marriage"
1h ~

"We do not talk only in order to reason or to inform. We have to make love and quarrel, to propitiate and pardon, to rebuke, console, intercede, and arouse."

~ C. S. Lewis
1i ~

"The distinction [between utterances that arouse emotion and those that express it] will seem straw-splitting if we have in mind the language of love. For, as Samson says [in a poem by John Milton], 'love seeks to have love', and it would be hard to say whether endearments serve more as expressions of love in the speaker or incitements to it in the beloved. But that tells us more about the nature of love than about the nature of language."

~ C. S. Lewis
1j ~

language of erotica [i.e. erotic love] is, by dismal default, silence."
~ Max Weatherly
1k ~

"Ma d'amore | non voglio parlare, | l'amore lo voglio | solamente fare."
("But no love-talk — | I can't take it. | As for love, I just | want to make it.")
~ Patrizia Cavalli
1l ~

"Speech is rich, extravagantly rich compared with the poverty of actual life."

~ John Gardner
1m ~

"What has happened to the language of lovers? Where are the rich, sensual, erotic, and alluring words that can describe our feelings and emotions?"

~ Rafael Lorenzoln

"Why is poetry the preferred medium for the expression and description of love rather than, say, the essay? Not because necessarily arcane or complicated or flowery or convoluted. Often quite otherwise: common, simple, earthy, and direct. But because love challenges not just thought but language itself, and poetry is the medium in which language most reaches beyond itself." So I wrote in my thought journal in February of 2012. However, the comment should be extended to touch on fiction, which is the preferred medium for the exploration of the intricacies of love relationships, one of the reasons being that fiction frees the author to build intangible connections between characters and to examine those connections from whatever angles he or she chooses. Seldom does a biography or even an autobiography allow that without the introduction of either fiction or hypotheticals. The point is that love and love relationships pose a special challenge to language.

This glossary is not about sex: it is not about the physicalities by which love and desire are expressed. It is instead about one of the great realms of intangibility in human life, namely, connections — both direct and indirect connections; formal, informal, intended, unintended, real, and imaginary connections — between people due to love and sex. From time to time in the glossary, there is cross-over into physicalities; but that is to serve the relational focus.  

This is a glossary of relationship terms or, more specifically, terms for or related to marriage, love relationships, and multiple sexual partnerships over the course of a lifetime. Catch-phrases and even some whole sayings that function like terms are also included. At the core of the subject matter are traditional marriage and alternatives to it. The point is to bring together in one alphabetical list anthropological, ethical, historical, legal, psychological, and religious terms, as well as terms generated by various social movements and, for that matter, terms from almost any source so long as they are related to the subject and are susceptible to general use. Special attention, sometimes even exegetical attention, is given to biblical terms, because of their enormous influence around the world. Generally definitions given are not prescriptive. Rather they are descriptive of how terms are actually used.

For the sorts of terms that fall outside the scope of this glossary, see the following chart.

Categories of Terms That Fall Outside the Scope of This Glossary

(unless specific to love relationships in at least one of the sense)


Examples of Omissions

Kinship terms, except for broad terms, terms related to affinity, and general family terms

For a list of examples, see under "kinship"

Terms having to do with the details of wedding celebrations, except for those that are directly related to the joining of partners

See under "wedding"

Terms of peerage or station in life, even if they indicate spousehood

However, see under "title" for a chart

Terms related to pregnancy

"Dystocia," "eutocia," "in the family way," "knock up," "oikonisus," "nepiomania," "opsimatria," "opsipatria," "parturition," "philoprogeneity"

Terms related to offspring

See under "interracial sex," "mulier," and "out of wedlock"

Terms having to do with prostitution or other aspects of the sex industry

"Floozy," "hooker," "hustler," "jack-gagger," "john," "pimp," "pornerastic," "scortator," "sex tour," "strumpet," "suitcase pimp," "trull," "woman of ill-repute"

Terms having chiefly to do with the physical aspects of sexual practices, although some relational terms related to group sex are included and a chart of group-sex vocabulary is also included

See under "group sex"

Terms having chiefly to do with BDSM (bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, masochism).

See under "Dominant/submissive relationship," and note the BDSM cross-reference

Terms having to do with the watching or awareness of sexual activity, except insofar as partnership is involved

See under "mixoscopia"

Terms having to do with sexual orientation, except for a handful of the most basic terms 

"Berdache," "butch," "femme," "prushun," "sathon," "winktes"

Terms having to do with gender-identity/role, except as specifically relational or as needed in relation to other terms in the glossary

"Transsexual," "transvestite"

Terms for emotions, except as they relate to love

"Anger," "apétie" (the latter, De Sade's "indifference," is borderline)

Terms for general interpersonal dynamics
"Peacemaking," "power struggle," "push (someone's) buttons"
Terms for general psychological processes and states and for psychological dynamics between people
"Codependence," "individualtion," "passive-aggressive behavior," "transference"

Terms for paraphilias and pathologies, except for those pyschological conditions that have to do with partners

"Electra complex," "narratophilia," "normophilia," "Oedipus complex," "sexual abuse"

Names of specific groups; although such groups are responsible for some of the terminology and may be mentioned here and there

See under "libertinism"

Specific aphrodisiacs and love potions
"Pomme d'amour"

Terms developed for highly particularized systems, except as those terms lend themselves to outside use

Terms used in the system of Charles Fourier (1772-1837), which was presented in Le Nouveau monde amoureux (1967); also Klingon terms used in Star Trek, such as bang (love or one who is loved), be'nal (wife), loDnal (husband), nay (marry, wife as subject), Saw (marry, husband as subject), tlhogh (marriage)

I shall immediately admit, especially given my own preference for a phenomenological approach, that the scope as defined is somewhat ingenuous and artificial. Over the years of writing this glossary, I have come to feel that point with increasing acuity.

Take, for example, the exclusion from scope of prostitution. One theory has been that sacred prostitution played a vital role in the evolution of marriage.2 How then does one draw a dividing line between the vocabulary used in elaborating that theory?

An even more significant and — as I have found out, to the surprise of my earlier naiveté — impossible an example is the exclusion of physicality. Procreation and sexually transmitted infections and religious beliefs about eternal consequences aside, sexual physicality is on a plane with words used to connect relationally. Naturally it is a form of communication. But I mean more. Sexual physicality can be as fleeting and forgotten or as significant and remembered as words. It can be viewed in terms of isolated events and isolated sets; or it can be viewed as connecting people both directly and indirectly, even in a long series of connections — that is, as intangible bridges like language and like much of what the relational is comprised. It is a matter of how we imagine it, of how we construct it in our minds.

Taking both examples and speaking historically: If we know anything of types of past sexual relationships, it is usually through verbal and seldom through artifactual evidence; thus, for example, the notorious difficulty in documentaing sacred prostitution in the ancient world by means of archaeology.3 Similarly, procreation and STIs apart, seldom are we able to discern whether certain sexual physicalities in given instances ever occurred, for they are as fleeting as words and as evanescent as long past intangible connections; and where we know of or suspect them, it is usually through verbal and seldom, unless recent, through artifactual or forensic evidence. In other words, what lingering existence of sexual physicalities there is is often in words. (Of course, where the evidence is verbal, it has all the problems of credibility that words often do — especially where charges or boasts or agendas or misunderstandings or second-hand reports are involved.)

So the scope is one of emphasis rather than of clear sharp lines of demarcation.

The point is to fill a niche. Glossaries for terms related to kinship, weddings, sexual anatomy, sexual practices, and psychological disorders abound. However, love relationships have received comparatively scant attention, even in textbook glossaries on human sexuality and the family; and many relationship terms (or senses specific to love relationships), including some that are decades or centuries old, have never been incorporated into any of the major dictionaries.

Frankly I am puzzled by this neglect, since relationships are fundamental to human life. I wonder:

Many of the terms found herein do represent relationships that are anathema to many. No attempt is made to censor such terms. Nor are terms considered vulgar or obscene censored. I share Montaigne's amusement that "the words which are least used, least written, and most hushed up, should be the best known and most generally understood."4

Certain venues are widely recognized as offense-free zones when it comes to the use of terms, that is, unless offense is meant. Conversations between spouses and sexual situations are two such venues.5 In my view, dictionaries should likewise be considered offense-free zones.

(However, for the time being, slight censoring of letters has been done so that this document is not automatically excluded by filters on the basis of the f*ck word. Hmm, I've discovered that this glossary is sometimes filtered out anyway. Oh well!)

In my view, it is important to have a full panoply of relationship terms at one's disposal, at the very least for the sake of serious discussion — whether sociological, ethical, or otherwise — and for the sake of precision and understanding. Furthermore, helping professionals, such as counselors, psychiatrists, and pastors, can hardly afford to be clueless when it comes to understanding the language and the attitudes embodied in the language of those they serve; and they need a means to be clued in. For such purposes the vocabulary of marriage and relationships is inseparable from the vocabulary of polykoity (sex with more than one person over the course of a lifetime) and nonconventionality. I have certainly been struck by the extent to which the lack of an adequate vocabulary has stunted serious discussion in my own field of ethics. It's simply not okay to be clueless in ethics, and I see this glossary as an assist to being clued in and as a necessary precursor to an adequate dictionary of sexual ethics, which is much needed.

This glossary is, to my mind, more about the expansion of both the vocabulary and the awareness of its readers than about being a handy place to look up a word, although it serves that function as well.

Allow me to make clear early on that this glossary is far from comprehensive. It does not even cull all the terms within scope from the major English-language dictionaries, such as The Oxford English Dictionary. It's not that those terms aren't welcome here, but it seemed to me to be far more valuable to run down terms where they are being used than to spend years of my time merely creating subsets of dictionaries that already exist. I would guess that there are several times more relationship terms used in English than appear in this glossary, which means that this glossary is just a start.

"Lexicography is de facto plagiaristic," or so it's been said.6 I'm reminded of some lines from the Danish poet, Henrik Nordbrandt7:

Fra bunden må jeg mase mig op
så de foregående
falder ned i formløse bylter.
Deres ansigter er væk, deres gerninger
tillæges nu mig.
(I have to elbow my way up from the bottom
so the ones who came before me
fall down in formless bundles.
Their faces are gone, their rewards
are now mine.)

Certainly I have benefited enormously from many dictionary makers who have come before me; however, I've bucked the age-old practice of simply incorporating from other dictionaries terms with their definitions.8 Generally the wording of definitions here is mine, although occasionally wording in brief form is borrowed from or is heavily influenced by sources that I have consulted.9 Naturally most of the terms here have been collected before, albeit in formats with different scopes.

By the way, I haven't hesitated to cannibalize a number of my own unpublished writings, including, for instance, my Glossary of the Inner Life, which covers another realm of intangibility in human life.

Using my own wording has benefits and dangers. Among the benefits: I am able to provide context, nuances, and connotations. Among the dangers: I may overlook and even distort them. Avoidance of the latter is the primary reason for borrowing the wording of another, in those rare instances where such borrowing has occurred. I am reminded of the lexicographical admission of Samuel Johnson, which is also mine, "that he, whose design includes whatever language can express, must often speak of what he does not understand."10

Speaking of distortion, it should be pointed out that sometimes attempting to fix a lexical definition within certain boundaries of meaning violates in some cases a sense of freedom and in other cases a sense of vagueness that some people insist upon in the application of words;11 and this is especially true with regard to relationship terms and the closely related set of terms having to do with sexual self-identity. Thus, with regard to the term "switch" — "bi poly switch," "mono/poly switch," and "switch-hit" appear in this glossary — a person may consider it his or her right to decide what that term means to him or her, especially if the term is adopted as a descriptor for self-identity. Similarly with terms like "bisexual," "in love," and "polyamorous." This "inarticulate state of mind"12 or philosophy of subjectivity in the use of such terms poses a challenge for the lexicographer and sounds a cautionary note all around when it comes to interpreting the meaning another person intends to convey or when it comes to trying to sound authoritative with regard to the exact meaning of words. (By the way, the term for a word used to mean whatever the speaker chooses it to mean is "Humpty Dumpty word,"13 and the term for a counter-definition from an opposing viewpoint is "anthorism.")

Furthermore, some terms evoke paradigms that to some people seem illusory, artificial, or wrongheaded. A couple of cases in point:

Just because a term appears here does not mean that the paradigm which gave rise to the term is universally accepted or above criticism. Quite the contrary, in many cases.

Much the same is true with regard to meanings. A case in point, this one affecting terms like "love" and "lover": Some make sharp distinctions between sex and love, love and friendship, and lover and friend, while others blur the lines. (For that very reason, this glossary is more inclusive than it might otherwise be.) Different paradigms often mean a recasting of sense, sometimes in subtle nuanced ways, sometimes in categorical ways; and someone operating out of one paradigm may react intensely to a meaning that emerges from another paradigm.

I have sought to avoid exclusionary biases in the writing of definitions, for example, dimorphic dyadic heterosexual statist moralistic biases. That avoidance has caused many definitions to take on a sometimes awkward "stepped back" cast. Thus, for example, instead of saying "a person of the opposite sex," the much more awkward phrase, "a person of a complementary sexual orientation," is used. However, it must also be said that much terminology used in English was born out of a culture — or, actually, a multiplicity of cultures — with heavy biases and so cannot be divested of those biases when one is trying to reflect accurately how terms are used. Furthermore, it would defeat the purpose of this glossary to use, in definitions, words that are not widely or easily accepted, such as epicene third person singular pronouns.14 Thus I have used "he or she"/"him or her" rather than, for instance, "zir"/"zie" or even the singular "they"/"them" or "'em" (what some call the "adolescent they").15 However, it is important to understand that "he or she" is meant to be inclusive of everybody and is not meant to reinforce a dimorphic (that is, a binary or two-sexes-only) bias. By the way, except in those rare instances where I weigh in, readers should beware of inferring too much about my particular biases and positions from the way that definitions are written; for I am deft at playing devil's advocate.

Although I have not made a systematic practice of doing so, occasionally I comment on controversies surrounding words, especially words that are considered classist, racist, or sexist by some people. From time to time this has led me to be prescriptive, which is uncomfortable for me, since:

Nevertheless, such comments as I have made may help sensitize some readers to the issues.16

For the most part, the terms given here are terms used elsewhere and with definitions that reflect usage by others. Despite the length of this glossary, which now contains over ten thousand definitions, I see a crying need for many more terms than are found in English. On occasiona I have succumbed to the temptation to coin a term, a couple of examples being "koitogamy" and "synletitia." When I have done so, I have indicated that fact with a coinage note.17

I also see a crying need for greater regularization of terms that already exist. The results of random evolution are sometimes ridiculous. Why, for instance, should there be the sort of distinction reflected between "multimate relationship" and "multipartner relationship"? And why are "triad" and "triangle" interchangeable, when they could function to distinguish two different types of relationships? However, here, trying to be prescriptive would be trepidatious in the extreme. The life of such words is not tied to this glossary.

For the time being, at least, the goal is more to cover a wide range of concepts (while keeping the distinction between term and concept firmly in mind) than to cover every term for one concept. Filling in a niche where somebody might feel a need for a term is especially satisfying for the author and will, I hope, be satisfying for the reader.

To some degree this glossary employs what lexicographers call dégroupement: rather than grouping all senses under one occurrence of a headword, breaking them up and placing them under more than one occurrence of the headword. Thus, here, a given headword will have a separate entry for each part of speech it represents, and in some cases, such as "date" and "love," a somewhat finer breakdown appears. This approach has had the surprising effect of bringing out nuances that are often overlooked. However, should I decide to cover parts of speech systematically, which thus far I have not done, I will want to revisit the issue of dégroupement.

Traditionally, lexical examples tend to be brief; and, as a cruciverbalist (a crosswords enthusiast), I am personally fond of pithiness in indicating the meaning of words. However, I have found that relationship terms often call for the lexicographer to dispense with pithiness and brevity. By their very nature such terms represent complexity, and they often evoke an intangibility or set of nuances that can be brought out only by explanation.

Little attempt is made to give the etymology of a word or to indicate its inflections, apart from the most common and exceptional forms. Nor is any attempt made to provide systematic coverage of foreign terms, although many foreign terms that have been either more or less adopted into or on the fringes of American or British English or that bear a sense for which there is no word in English have been covered, including, for instance, terms in Akkadian, Algonquian, Arabic, Aramaic, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Hawaiian, Hebrew, Hindi, Irish, Italian, Inuit, Jamaican patois, Japanese, Latin, Malaysian, Old English, Plains Apache, Portuguese, Romany, Spanish, Tahitian, Urdu, Wenglish, Yiddish, Yupik, and Zulu. Unfortunately some characters and diacritics used in transliteration could not be replicated here without creating difficulties for some Web browsers, and this problem affects especially Eskimoan, Greek, and Semitic terms.

One caution with regard to foreign terms: In many cases, when used in English, some of their original senses and many of their connotations are stripped away. Occasionally even a sense employed in English is askew relative to the closest sense in the original language; and, depending upon context, the sense may take on new connotations in English. On the other hand, sometimes the very point of using the term in English is to convey the original sense with its connotations, probably because the term catches nuances that the stock vocabulary of English cannot or, at least, cannot so easily. In other words, the lexicographer must be sensitive to the use of the term in two languages, not just the original language; and here the emphasis is upon use in English.

On occasion quotations have been provided showing the terms used in context. The most prized contexts are generally the crucibles in which the words were coined; but, of course, those are often elusive.

Quotations are almost always provided for sayings, this to show their historical development and use. Not only is the history of many a saying difficult to track down, but knowledge of the history of a saying is often far more important for understanding and use than is knowledge of the history of a given word.

One of the useful features of this glossary is the lavish use of cross-references, which, taken together, form a chain of word clusters. Here are a few comments on references:

In some cases, graphic illustrations of terms have been provided. It was tempting to follow whimsy in that regard, for instance, by making up cartoons. Instead I have used graphic illustrations exclusively for documentary purposes. Most of the illustrations are from postcards and sheet music.

This is just a glossary, without all the apparatus of a lexicon. However, sometimes it provides what few lexicons do, such as discussion of connotations and prejudicial language, word studies where biblical terms are involved, quotations, and an array of "see and "see also" references.

The reader will note that I seldom classify argot, cant, and slang as such. You might say that I am not a keen enough lexicographer to make such classifications, and I'd be tempted to admit it. (I wonder if any lexicographer truly is.) But the fact is that I don't view language that way, much less the English language. In the course of this and other lexicographical projects, I have been deeply impressed by the enormous vitality of the English language, including its ability to generate, to regenerate, to adapt, and to adopt; and I have been deeply impressed as well by the linguistic creativity of its speakers. Words come and go at unpredictable rates, and even the basic vocabulary is constantly shifting. Some terms stay within confines, for instance, some never break out of the argot of a given profession. Others cross all sorts of barriers. Who can know in advance which ones? The language is extraordinarily dynamic, and the terms that belong to it do not yield to classificatory sorting without that sorting often seeming forced. In my view, a dictionary or glossary should mold itself to the language, not vice versa. This is not just a matter of descriptive versus prescriptive definition. It is a matter of paradigm: rather than a neatly partitioned box, a broad stream with countless tributaries, varying currents, large and small eddies, wetlands, and, from time to time, over-topped banks.

A couple of other points about classification of terms:

A few words on the intended audience, which is multiple:

My intent is to keep growing this glossary by the addition of terms. I already have a lengthy and growing list of terms to consider adding. I also intend to continue refining the definitions and to provide more examples of usage. Suggestions are welcome.

If additional terms or definitions are suggested, it would be most helpful for sources to be cited (with page numbers or urls), the earlier the sources the better, and for quotations illustrating usage to be provided (again with precise citations if appropriate). Useful protologisms and neologisms, especially collective terms like "bundle of freemates," are welcome if accompanied by the name of the person who has coined them. Please send suggestions or any feedback you may have to my e-mail address, here.

I wish I could subscribe to Julia Kristeva's expression, "lexicalized, hence commonplace."20 But I have no such conceit with regard to my own neologisms or those of others and no such fanciful idea when it comes to the general command of extensive vocabularies. However, I have hope that the extensive vocabulary of love available to English speakers will come to be drawn upon more than it has generally been; and, besides, I am convinced of the usefulness of lexical tools for reference purposes.

A word on acknowledgments: When I have received personal help on a given definition, I give credit at that entry. However, a few other acknowledgments are in order. The first goes to my wife, Nancy, who has been supportive, forbearing, helpful, and hopeful. Another goes to Kit Barry of the Ephemera Archive for American Studies in Brattleboro, Vermont, who demonstrated to me the value of certain kinds of ephemera, such as sheet music, for illustrating terms and documenting their history. The third goes to Google Books, which has been invaluable in providing lexical examples, often examples predating those given in printed editions of The Oxford English Dictionary.

The article by Max Weatherly, quoted from at the head of this introduction, ends with this pessimistic prediction:

"And I further say that anything else [other than finding ways of saying "Love!" and "I love you!"], any other course, leads to a graveyard, a corporeal and linguistic graveyard... Oh, we aren't dead yet, I would have to admit. But if something isn't done our demise isn't very far off, as civilizations are born and killed. And if we are really headed for that great lexicon in the sky, I have a feeling we won't have left behind nearly as interesting a language as did our forebears, the ancient Greeks."21

I won't be so grandiose as to claim that a glossary such as the present one will save civilization. But it may, at least, demonstrate that the English language is worthy of comparison with both ancient Greek and modern French and Italian in its vocabulary of love — not that the model is one of rivalry. The model, rather, is one of inheritance, sharing, and continuously simmering human creativity.


1a  The transliteration of the Sanskrit follows: Die Hymnen des Ṛigveda, herausgegeben von Theodor Aufrecht (2. Auflage. Bonn: Adolf Marcus, 1877): 2. Theil, p. 364. I've made this adjustment in order to accommodate computer limitations: Where Aufrecht has both a line and an acute accent over the letter "a," I've represented the letter this way: ´ā.

The translation is as found in the article, "The Concept of Metalanguage and Its Indian Background," [by] Frits Staal, Journal of Indian Philosophy; v. 3 (1975): pp. [315]-354, specifically p. 322. Staal translates the entire hymn.

Here is another translation: "When-men, Bṛhaspati, giving names to objects, sent out Vāk's first and earliest utterances, | All that was excellent and spotless, treasured within them, was disclosed through their affection." The Hymns of the gveda, translated with a popular commentary by Ralph T. H. Griffith; edited by J. L. Shastri (New revised ed. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1973): p. 584.

Bṛhaspati, "Great Father," is, per John Grimes: "The deity identified with speech and intellect. He is the chief offerer of prayers and sacrifices and is represented as the priest and teacher of the gods, with whom he intercedes for human beings."

Vāc (or here Vāk) is per Grimes: "word; Divine Word; logos; speech; Goddess." Hymn 10.71 is one of two hymns devoted to Vāc in the Rig Veda, the other being Hymn 10.125.

See A Concise Dictionary of Indian Philosophy: Sanskrit Terms Defined in English, [by] John Grimes (Albany: State University of New York Press, c1996): pp. 99, 334.
1b Réflexions, ou, Sentences et Maximes morales, [par François de La Rochefoucauld] (5e éd. Paris: Claude Barbin, 1678): maxime V: 136. The "V" represents the 5th edition and is conventionally used when citing, by number, maxims found in the 5th edition. This maxim first appeared in the 2nd edition (1666). Without the spelling modernized, the maxim reads: "Il y a des gens qui n'auroient jamais esté amoureux, s'ils n'avoient jamais entendu parler de l'amour." However, above I am using the text, with modernized spelling, as found in Collected Maxims and Other Reflections, by François de La Rochefoucauld; translated with an introduction and notes by E. H. and A. M. Blackmore and Francine Giguère (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2007; in series: Oxford world's classics): p. 38.

The Oxford edition provides a translation, but I have used an English translation from The World; v. 3, no. 72 (May 16, 1754): p. 17. After the issue number is the collective pseudonym, Adam Fitz-Adam, who, in this case, is Richard Owen Cambridge. For verification, see The Works of Richard Owen Cambridge, Esq. ..., with an account of his life and character, by his son, George Owen Cambridge (London: Printed by Luke Hansard ... and sold by T. Cadell and W. Davies ... and T. Payne ..., 1803): p. 421.

Dorothy Parker paraphrased La Rochefoucauld's maxim this way: "if nobody had ever learned to read, very few people would be in love." Then she adapted it: "If nobody had ever learned to undress, very few people would be in love." And she adapted it again: "if nobody had ever learned to quote, very few people would be in love with La Rochefoucauld." See her short story, "The Little Hours," found in Here Lies: The Collected Stories of Dorothy Parker (New York: Viking Press, 1939). I'm using the text as found in: The Portable Dorothy Parker (Revised and enlarged edition, with a new introduction by Brendan Gill. New York: Viking Press, 1973; in series: The Viking Portable Library; P74): pp. 254-259, specifically pp. 254-255. Parker herself selected the story for inclusion in the first edition, which was published under the title Dorothy Parker, with an introduction by W. Somerset Maugham (1944).

1c The manipulative and machiavellian but, in outlook, starkly realistic character, the Marquise de Merteuil, in the novel: Les Liaisons dangereuses, [par] Pierre Choderlos de Laclos; chronologie et préface par René Pomeau (Paris: Flammarion, c1981; in publisher's series: GF; 13): lettre 121, pp. 275-276, specifically p. 275. Originally published in Paris, 1782.

For the English translation, see: Les Liaisons dangereuses, [by] Choderlos de Laclos; translated and with an introduction by P. W. K. Stone (Baltimore, Md.: Penguin Books, 1961; in: The Penguin Classics; L116): letter 121, pp. 287-289, specifically p. 287.

In both the original French and the English translation, the quotation is embedded in a larger sentence.

1d "Maximes et Pensées," in: Oeuvres de Chamfort [i.e. Sébastien-Roch-Nicolas Chamfort, 1741-1794], recueillies et publiées par un de ses amis (Paris: Chez le Directeur de l'Imprimerie des Sciences et Arts, 1795): t. 4, chapitre 6, p. 158.

For the English translation, see: The French on Love and Life, selected by Edward Lewis; with frivolous illustrations in color by John Trotta (Kansas City, Mo.: Hallmark Editions, c1967): p. 11.

1e The Martyrdom of Man, by Winwood Reade; with an introduction by J. M. Robertson (London: Jonathan Cape, 1927; in: The Travellers' Library): p. 355. Originally published, 1872.

1f From the poem, "Run Back, Run Back, False Clock," being part II, iv of King's Daughter, [by] V. Sackville-West (London: Published by Leonard & Virginia Woolf at the Hogarth Press, 1929; in series: Hogarth Living Poets; no. 11): pp. 31-32, specifically p. 31.
1g From the short story, "A Modern Lover," in the book: A Modern Lover, [by] D. H. Lawrence (New York: Viking Press, 1934): pp. [1]-36, specifically §5, p. 32. The story was originally published in the serial, Life and Letters, September-November 1933.
1h "Toward a Definition of Marriage," as published in: If It Be Not I: Collected Poems, 1959-1982, [by] Mona Van Duyn (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993): p. 32. Originally published in The Sewanee Review; v. 61, no. 3 (July-September 1953). Originally collected in her Valentines to the Wide World: Poems ([Iowa City]: Cummington Press, 1958, c1959).
1i "At the Fringe of Language," Studies in Words, by C. S. Lewis (2nd ed. Cambridge [England]; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1967): pp. 313-331, specifically p. 314.
1j C. S. Lewis, same essay, p. 320. The poem by John Milton is "Samson Agonistes" (1671). See line 837.
1k "The Language of Love: Wanted: Ways of Saying It," [by] Max Weatherly, in: Language in America, edited by Neil Postman, Charles Weingartner, and Terence P. Moran (Indianapolis: Pegasus, c1969): pp. 132-137, specifically p. 134.
1l Poem with first line, "Per riposarmi," in: Le Mie Poesie Non Cambieranno il Mondo (1974), as found in selection in: My Poems Won't Change the World: Selected Poems, [by] Patrizia Cavalli; edited by Gini Alhadeff; a bilingual edition with translations by Gini Alhadeff [and 13 others] (New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2013): pp. 8-9. This poem translated by Geoffrey Brock.
1m The disillusioned young man to Alfred Klingman in the short story: "The Music Lover," in, The Art of Living and Other Stories, [by] John Gardner; woodcuts by Mary Azarian (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, c1981): p. 75. When it comes to love relationships, I find that the quotation is often just as true when turned around: "Actual life is rich, extravagantly rich compared with the poverty of speech." Language reflects a plethora of what has been and can be with respect to human reltionships, but some of us are more limited than others in our exploration of relationships.
1n "Introduction" to A Sacred Sex Devotional: 365 Inspiring Thoughts to Enhance Intimacy, edited by Rafael Lorenzo (Rochester, Vermont: Park Street Press, c2000): pp. 1-5, specifically p. 1.
2 For the theory that sacred prostitution played a vital role in the evolution of marriage, see: Adonis Attis Osiris: Studies in the History of Oriental Religion, by J. G. Frazer (3rd ed., revised and enlarged. London: Macmillan, 1919; in set: The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion; pt. 4): v. 1, chapter 3, "Adonis in Cyprus," pp. 39-40.
3 On the difficulty of documenting the charge of sacred prostitution by archaeological evidence, see: "Religious Identity and the Sacred Prostitution Accusation," being chapter 5, in: The Bible without Theology: The Theological Tradition and Alternatives to It, [by] Robert A. Oden, Jr. (San Francisco: Harper & Row, c1987; in series: New Voices in Biblical Studies): pp. [131-153, 187-192. Note also "Sex and the People: The Myth of Orgy," being chapter 18, in: In the Wake of the Goddesses: Women, Culture, and the Biblical Transformation of Pagan Myth, [by] Tikva Frymer-Kensky (New York: Fawcett Columbinec1992): pp. 199-202, 275-276. However, for a fuller list of ancient references to sacred prostitution than is given by Oden or Frymer-Kensky, see my Human Sexuality in the Bible: An Index, s.v. "Prostitution, Cult (Female)," here.
4 The original French of Montaigne reads: Car il est bon que les mots qui sont le moins en usage, moins escrits et mieux teuz, sont les mieux sceus et plus generalement connus.

For the French text, see:
"Sur des vers de Virgile," in: Essais, [par] Montaigne; texte établi et annoté par Albert Thibaudet (Bruges, Belgique: L'Imprimerie Sainte Catherine, 1937; in publisher's series: Bibliotheque de la Pléiade; 14): pp. 813-870, specifically p. 821. The Essais were first published in 1580. This passage was first incorporated in the 1595 edition.

For the English translation, see: "On Certain Verses of Virgil," being book 3, chapter 5 of The Essays of Michel de Montaigne, translated by George B. Ives; with an introduction by Andre Gide and an accompanying Handbook to the Essays which includes the notes upon the text by the translator and a series of comments on the Essays by Grace Norton (New York: Heritage Press, c1946): pp. 1139-1219, specifically p. 1140.
This translation orginally published, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1925.
5 The view that naughty talk during amorous play should be uncensored has a long tradition. Consider, for example, this remark to the male reader by the Roman poet, Ovid (43 B.C.E.-A.D. 17):
Sentiat ex imis venerem resoluta medullis
     Femina, et ex aequo res iuvet illa duos.
Nec blandae voces iucundaque murmura cessent,
     Nec taceant mediis improba verba iocis.

("Let the woman feel love's act, unstrung to the very depth of her frame, and let that act delight both alike.
Nor let winning sounds and pleasant murmurs be idle, nor in the midst of play let naughty words be hushed.")
See his Artis Amatoriae 3:793-796. For Latin text with the prose translation, see: The Art of Love and Other Poems, with an English translation by J. H. Mozley (2nd edition, revised by G. P. Goold. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1979; in set: Ovid in Six Volumes; 2; and in series: The Loeb Classical Library): pp. 172-175. Compare Ovid, Amores 3.14.17, 25. <Every other line of the Latin indented>
6 On lexicography as plagiaristic, see: Chasing the Sun: Dictionary Makers and the Dictionaries They Made, [by] Jonathan Green (New York: Henry Holt, 1996): p. 51. Note also the section of the Introduction, entitled "Plagiarism" (pp. 19-24).
7 From the poem "A," in: The Hangman's Lament: Poems, [by] Henrik Nordbrandt; translated from the Danish by Thom Satterlee (A bilingual ed. København & Los Angeles: Green Integer, 2003; in: The Marjorie G. Perloff Series of International Poetry): pp. 18-19.
8 Despite the age-old practice of lexicographical plagiarism, Partridge's cautionary comment should be kept in mind:

"... the definitions in any dictionary are no less protected by the copyright laws than are the latest effusions of the latest popular poet. More; the very choice, and the arrangement, of words and phrases in a dictionary are themselves copyright. The lexicographer in any well-trodden field must therefore mind his step and tread very warily indeed."

See: The Gentle Art of Lexicography as Pursued and Experienced by an Addict, [by] Eric Partridge (New York: Macmillan Co., c1963): p. 79.

9 To name just a smattering, among thousands, of sources consulted for this glossary:

  • The American Heritage, Funk and Wagnalls, Merriam-Webster, and Oxford English dictionaries;
  • Black's Law Dictionary (5th ed., 1979);
  • The Complete Dictionary of Sociology, Robert T. Francoeur, editor-in-chief (New expanded ed., 1995);
  • A Dictionary of Americanisms on Historical Principles, edited by Mitford M. Matthews (1951);
  • A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, [by] Eric Partridge (5th ed., 1961);
  • A History of Matrimonial Institutions, by George Elliott Howard (1904);
  • The Language of Sex from A to Z, [by] Robert M. Goldenson, Kenneth N. Anderson (1986);
  • Lovemaps ..., [by] John Money (c1986);
  • Manual for Kinship Analysis, [by] Ernest L. Schusky (2nd ed., c1983);
  • Modern Dictionary of Sociology, [by] George A. Theodorson and Achilles G. Theodorson (c1969);
  • The Polyamory Society Glossary, online here.
  • Shakespeare's Bawdy, [by] Eric Partridge (3rd ed., 1968);
  • Understanding Sexual Interaction, [by] Joann S. DeLora, Carol A. B. Warren; with contributions by Carol Rinkleib and Douglas Kirby (c1977).
Even while this glossary was being composed online, three other glossaries were published with scopes that are both similar to and different from the present one:
  • The Dictionary of Love, [by] John Stark, with Will Hopkins and Mary K. Baumann (New York, NY: Avon, c2008). Useful especially for the lexical examples.
  • 100 Words for Lovers (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, c2009; in series: The 100 Words, from the editors of the American Heritage Dictionaries).
  • Lust: A Dictionary for the Insatiable, [by] Jennifer M. Wood (Avon, Mass.: Adams Media, c2011; in series: The Deadly Dictionaries). The series covers the seven deadly sins.
10 From the second-to-the-last paragraph of the preface to A Dictionary of the English language ..., by Samuel Johnson (London: Printed by W. Strahan, for J. and P. Knapton [et al.], 1755).

11 Ambrose Bierce serves as a classic example of one who strenuously objected to the lexicographical strangling of a language. He begins his humorously pointed definition of a lexicographer this way: "A pestilent fellow who, under the pretense of recording some particular stage in the development of a language, does what he can to arrest its growth, stiffen its flexibility and mechanize its methods." He similarly defines a dictionary this way: "A malevolent literary device for cramping the growth of a language and making it hard and inelastic. This dictionary, however, is a most useful work." From: The Devil's Dictionary, [by] Ambrose Bierce (New York: Dover Publications, 1958): pp. 76, 31. Originally published in full in v. 7 (1911) of The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (New York: Neale Publishing Co., 1909-1912).

In a similarly humorous vein, Martha Cooley offers a futuristic lexical entry for indefinable in which she states: "The number of things that cannot be defined far outstrips that of things definable. Hence modern dictionaries have become more hospitable to indefinability — more murky and quirky — than they used to be." Included in her list of indefinable things are: beauty, most fragrances, love, and lovers' goodbyes. See the multi-author work: The Future Dictionary of America ..., [editors: Jonathan Safran Foer, et al.] (USA: McSweeney's Books, c2004): pp. [69]-70.

By the way, for futuristic terms relating to relationships
in that satirical dictionary, see, for example, the following (here the definitions are rewritten):
  • blowkay - suiting the attitude that it is better that politicians have sexual dalliances than that they make decisions that unnecessarily cost lives; functions grammatically like the adjectival use of okay, as in, "Our scandalous president is blowkay with me."
  • brother-sister - a woman's best female friend.
  • budcat - a non-clinger.
  • humansong - lyrics with melody designed to evince love for oneself.
  • jigsaw theory - the genetically based view that individuals fit together as mates or don't, initially thought to point to monogamy but then questioned on that score, since each jigsaw-puzzle piece generally connects with more than one other jigsaw-puzzle piece.
  • mailstrom - a storm of love letters.
  • nearly-pain-free-break-up - a parting of ways with clinical help to alleviate the hurt.
  • phatulence - gas-producing indigestion from one's own or others' preoccupation with physical beauty.
  • Protection and Reinvigoration of Marriage Act - a federal law applicable to adults that removes various barriers to marriage with each other, such as being of the same sex.
  • sex - its meaning collapses under the weight of too much expansion of meaning (futuristically speaking, of course).
  • sex-ray - a weapon that makes enemies want to make love to each other.
  • twife - a spouse that is not human.
  • unclesayer - the spouse who gives in most.
  • wifest - the best, as a female spouse.
  • yidge - a person with whom one is romantically paired.
12 I'm borrowing the phrase, "an inarticulate state of mind," from the book: Conservatism from John Adams to Churchill, [by] Peter Viereck (Princeton, N.J.: D. Van Nostrand Co., c1956; "An Anvil Original"): p. 16. I am, of course, applying the phrase to a completely different context; and it is doubtful, although tantalizing to think, that there is a connection between the sort of conservatism of which he was speaking and those who insist upon keeping certain relationship terms either vague or so specific as to be denied any general sense.

A closely related phenomenon is a desire to savor something, in both experience and memory, in a way that is unmediated by words.  Frequently adduced in support of such a desire is the adage,
"Pleasure is often spoiled by describing it," which derives from Stendahl (pen name of Marie-Henri Beyle, 1783-1842) in reference to a journée délicieuse ("delicious day"): "J'en gâterais le plaisir en le décrivant" ("I would spoil the fun by describing it"). See his journal entry for "Dimanche 19 ventôse XIII," that is, Sunday, March 10, 1805.

13 The allusion is to the character Humpty Dumpty as he appears in chapter 6 of Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, by Lewis Carroll, pseudonym of Charles Dodgson (1871):

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less."

"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master — that's all."

14 Regarding epicene pronouns, see:

  • The Handbook of Nonsexist Writing, by Casey Miller & Kate Swift (New York: Lippincott & Crowell, c1980).
  • Grammar and Gender, [by] Dennis Baron (New Haven: Yale University Press, c1986).
  • The Epicene Pronouns: A Chronology of the Word That Failed, [by] Dennis Baron (January 14, 2000), online here.
It should be noted that epicene pronouns are not always appropriate or inoffensive, even if they can be brought to bear in a way that is readily understood. Consider, for example, the transgender person who says that use of the pronoun appropriate to one's gender — perhaps a "him" or a "her" — says, "I see who you are and I accept that and I respect that." So Leo Sheng, as interviewed by Hari Sreenivasan, on PBS Newshour, January 5, 2015 (transcript here).

15 For declension of the third person singular in five different forms, see the following chart:

Third Person Singular Personal Pronouns Declined




Possessive adjective

Possessive pronoun



(traditional masculine)







(traditional feminine)







(common in recent decades)







(traditional form, but until recent decades considered ungrammatical)





themself, theirself


(recently invented and much used on the Internet)






(as suggested by Mikhail Epstein, "hu" being as in "human")
For Epstein, see PreDictionary: Experiemnts in Verbal Creativity, [by] Mikhail Epstein (USA: Franc-Tireur, c2011), online here. For more, see the Gender-Neutral Pronoun FAQ (2004, online here): §5.2, "Declension of the Major Gender-Neutral Pronouns," online here.

16 Among the glossaries that speak to the issue of bias in language and that have been touchstones for this project, although I may frequently disagree with their authors on both facts and conclusions, are:

  • The Dictionary of Bias-Free Usage: A Guide to Nondiscriminatory Language, by Rosalie Maggio (Phoenix, Arizona: Oryx Press, 1991).
  • Womanwords: A Dictionary of Words about Women, [by] Jane Mills (New York: Free Press, 1992, c1989).

Besides Miller and Swift (1980), mentioned above, among the books that helped inform my thinking before this project ever began was:

  • The Language of Canaan and the Grammar of Feminism, by Vernard Eller (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., c1982).

Another that I have consulted now and then is:

  • The Language of Oppression, [by] Haig A. Bosmajian (Washington, D.C.: Public Affairs Press, c1974; reprint: Lanham, MD: University Press of America, c1983).

By the way, Maggio has a useful classification of terms that relate to bias in language:

  • bias/bias-free;
  • inclusive/exclusive;
  • sexist/nonsexist;
  • gender-free (or gender-neutral)/gender-fair/gender-specific;
  • generic/pseudo-generic.

To give some indication of the meaning of the two least obvious terms:

  • "Writing or speech that is gender-fair involves the symmetrical use of gender-specific words (e.g., Ms. Leinwohl/Mr. Kelly, councilwoman/councilman, young man/young woman)." (See p. 8)
  • A pseudogeneric is a word that is used as though it included all kinds of people or at least both sexes, but that in reality or in the perceptions of certain others does not (example: "mankind"); or it is a word that by itself appears to include all kinds of people or at least both sexes, but that in an actual usage does not (example: "those clergy permitted to have wives"). (See pp. 8-9)

17 Among the books that I've been consulting regarding neologisms are:

  • Word-Coinage: Being an Inquiry into Recent Neologisms; also, A Brief Study of Literary Style, Slang, and Provincialisms, by Leon Mead (New York: Thomas y. Crowell, 1902; in: Handy Information Series).
  • A Source-Book of Biological Names and Terms, [by] Edmund Jaeger; illustrations by Merle Gish and the author (2nd ed. Springfield, Ill.: Charles C. Thomas, 1950).
  • Predicting New Words: The Secrets of Their Success, [by] Allan Metcalf (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., c2002).

18 Perpetuation, it is theorized, is one effect of polyonomy. To quote from The Penguin Dictionary of Psychology, [by] Arthur S. Reber (2nd ed., 1995):

"In linguistics, [polyonomy is] a situation in which a language has a large number of specific terms for the various aspects of a thing... The existence of polyonomy in a particular perceptual or conceptual area reflects a particular cultural/linguistic view of the world and helps to perpetuate it within the culture."

In my view this is far too simplistic a description of the relation of language to culture. For instance, in the case of relationship terms, one of the very reasons that the English language has so many is that a large number are not widely known and so new terms keep being invented for the same concepts.

I would suppose that a far more impelling route with regard to social effects arises out of relationships themselves, just as Henrik Ibsen suggests in the exchange between Rector Kroll and Rebecca West in his play Rosmerholm (1886):

Kroll. I would rather not go into the matter too closely. But I believe I have noticed that it is nowhere easier to break through all so-called prejudices than in — h'm ——

Rebecca. In the relation between man and woman, you mean?

Kroll. Yes, — to speak plainly — I think so.

See Act 3, in: Eleven Plays of Henrik Ibsen, introduction by H. L. Mencken (New York: Bennett A. Cerf, Donald S. Klopfer, The Modern Library,  [1935]; in series: The Modern Library of the World's Best Books, Modern Library Giants): p. 319 (3rd group). The same point could be made with regard to same-sex relationships.

For all that, I have observed recent backlash against the so-called "new terminology" on the grounds that it represents the deterioration of sexual morality. See, for example: "Polyamory: Evil Dressed as Love," [signed] Delita Johnson, The Jackson Sun (March 8, 2010), which can be found online here.
19 D. H. Lawrence is often regarded as a sexually preoccupied writer, and he is sometimes derided for that. To give an example, Malcolm Muggeridge speaks of "that most ridiculous of all vanities, phallic exhibitionism; D. H. Lawrence being, of course, the prize exhibitor in this field." In what I have read of Lawrence, I find him far more preoccupied with love relationships. Since he challenges moral conventions, he is often read as sexual, when he is more properly to be understood as relational.

For the Muggeridge reference, see:
Chronicles of Wasted Time. Chronicle 2: The Infernal Grove, by Malcolm Muggeridge (New York: William Morrow, 1974, c1973): chapter 4, p. 240.
20 Tales of Love, [by] Julia Kristeva; translated by Leon Roudiez (New York: Columbia University Press, c1987): section 6, chapter [2], p. 288. In the original French, the phrase is: "se lexicalisaient et donc se banalisaient." See: Histoires d'amour, [par] Julia Kristeva (Paris: Denoël, c1983): p. 269.
21 Weatherly, already cited, p. 137.



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