Glossary of Relationship Terms

Marriage, Love Relationships

& Polykoity



Norman Elliott Anderson



P - Q


Table of Contents


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- E -

- L -

- S-Si -



- M -

- Sk-Sz -


- G -

- N -

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Feedback opportunity



1. Personal attachment (q.v.).

2. Pleasing appendage (q.v.).

Comment: In the above senses, the abbreviation is sometimes used as a pun on the abbreviation for "personal assistant."



See adultery-toleration pact, non-exclusivity pact, open-marriage pact, open-relationship pact, pregnancy pact.


bachelorette pad, bachelor pad.


See pederast.


pair, as in "a pair":

1. Two that belong together or are joined together, as in "a pair of shoes" or "a pair of pants."

2. Two persons or objects somehow associated and set off from other persons or objects.

3. A couple; two people in a relationship together, whether a love relationship, an engagement, or a marriage.

4. A man's testicles, especially as symbolic of courage, toughness, or aggressiveness, as in the expression, "Grow a pair!"

See also celebrity couple, couple, duet, duo, dyad, his and hers, one true pairing, pairs of lovers, power couple, twosome.

A Postcard Illustrating "Pair"

<Picture of postcard not yet posted..>

Color "post card," showing four people — from left to right: a woman in a red-and-white striped blouse and a pink skirt, a man in a white shirt and brown pants, a woman in a huge green-and-black hat and white dress, and a man in a white shirt and black pants — lying on their bellies on a grassy knoll, with woods in the background; with caption: "Two pair beat three of a kind" ([Grand Rapids, Mich.]: Cargill, [ca. 1913]). Postmarked, June 17, 1913. The caption plays off the rules of poker, which say the opposite. From the author's collection, scanned <on such and such a date>.


pair, as in "to pair":

To form couples; to form a pattern of twos.

See also assortive mating, pair off, pair up with.



The development of an emotional attachment of two people to each other.

See also bond, in love, love.


pair dating:

1. Engaging, as a couple, in social encounters with other people, whether they are single, couples, or a number of individuals in a group relationship, especially such encounters that are meant to explore whether either sexual activity or a love relationship could eventuate.

2. The practice of the foregoing.

See also alternative dating, date, dating, double-date, group sex, new adultery, open couple, open marriage, open relationship, polyamory, swinging, triangular dating.


pairing family:

A family (q.v.) formed by the joining of a man and a woman in a non-sexually-exclusive relationship that can be freely terminated by either party.

See also marriage, sexual exclusivity, syndyasmian family, temporary marriage.


pair off:

To form distinct couples; to form from within a pattern of twos.

Comment: When the term is used in reference to a group of people, it often has specific reference to sexual pairing.

"To pair off" emphasizes separation more than does "to pair."

See also pair, pair up with.

Quotation from Armistead Maupin Illustrating "Pairing Off"


Michael [Toliver] noticed how many [gay] couples there were, how many broad backs settled against broad chests as tenor voices filled the warm night. The world was pairing off these days [during the AIDS epidemic], no doubt about it.

From the novel: Significant Others, [by] Armistead Maupin (New York: Harper & Row, 1987; "Perennial Library"; Tales of the City Series; v. 5)): p. 45.


pairs of lovers:

Collective term for lovers when the lovers are two by two.

See also lover, pair.

x collective terms.

Quotation from John Gardner Illustrating "Pairs of Lovers"


On the grounds of the park, which were safer in those days, one could see, here and there, pairs of lovers walking ...

From 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. 73.

pair up with:

To form a couple; to join with someone.

Comment: "To pair" tends to be abstract or remote; it is sometimes the action of a third party. "To pair up with" tends to be concrete, immediate, and an action of those forming the couple.

See also pair, pair off.


One or more court-ordered support payments to one's ex-partner in a love relationship that was not legally recognized as a marriage.

See also alimony, break-up rules, cheaper to keep her, child support.

x money.



Positive assortive mating (q.v.).

pampas grass:

A tall grass, Cortaderia selloana, which is native to Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina. A tussock of pampas grass in a front garden is supposedly sometimes used to designate a home that hosts parties for swingers; however, this datum has been called an urban myth.

See also group sex, host, queen of spades, swinger anklet, swing party.

x grass.
x myths.


1. A person who has romantic and/or sexual relationships, either simultaneously or serially, with many kinds of partners regardless of their sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or relationship orientation.

2. A person who is capable of or has a tendency to such.

See also bisexual, libertine, omnisexual, pankoitist, pansexual, polyamorous, polyamorist, polysexual, pomosexual, sexual nomad, try-sexual.


1. Characterized by or pertaining to a person's romantic and/or sexual relationships with many kinds of partners regardless of their sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or relationship orientation.

2. Characterized by or pertaining to a person's capability for or tendency to such.

See also amorous, bisexual, omnisexual, panamory, pansexual, polyamorous, polymorphous perverse, polysexual, pomosexual, swing both ways.


The practice of having romantic and/or sexual relationships with multiple kinds of partners, especially partners of more than one sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, and/or relationship orientation, whether serially or simultaneously.

Comment: From the Greek pan ("all kinds of") + the Latin amor ("love").

See also -amory, bisexuality, libertinism, omnisexuality, panamorous, pankoitism, pankoity, pansexuality, polyamory, polysexuality, pomosexuality, relationship anarchy, universal permanent availability, vulgivaguibilité.

panchamakara, or pancha makaras (Sanskrit):

"Five substances"; the Tantric great rite, the five substances being madya (wine), mamsa (meat), matsya (fish), mudra (a cereal wafer said to have aphrodisiac properties), and maithuna (ritual sexual union).

Comments: Each substance is called a makara.

Some Tantric sects will practice only three of the five, commonly madya, mudra, and maithuna. Some Tantric schools will substitute other substances, for instance:

The rite is also called (a) the five Ms, and (b) the panchatattva or pancha tatvas ("five elements"), although sometimes the latter term is reserved for when drugs (such as cannabis) are used.

See also chakra puja, choli marg.

x five Ms.
x panchatattva.
x Sanskrit terms.
x Tantra.

Quotation from Indra Sinha Illustrating "Panchamakara"


Well respected Tantras like the Kularnava-tantra emphasise that those who take part in the panchamakara ritual mainly for sexual pleasure or out of mere hedonism only defeat themselves. The senses are to be conquered by leaving nothing unexperienced.

The Great Book of Tantra: Translations and Images from the Classic Indian texts with Commentary, by Indra Sinha (Rochester, Vt.: Destiny Books, c1993): p. 16.


panchatattva (Sanskrit):

See panchamakara.



Faithfully attempting to live in harmonious relationship with the universe by respecting ecological balance, promoting peace, and particpating in mutually fulfilling relationships, the integrity of each being respected.

Comment: Panfidelity has been conceived as a natural extrapolation of or complement to polyfidelity (q.v.).

See also sex golden age, sexual utopia, utopian swinging.



A person who practices indiscriminate, random, unrestricted, or unchanneled mating.

Comment: Absent in the dictionaries I've checked, but a natural permutation of the word "pangamy," so here included.

See also pangamy.



Pertaining to or characterized by pangamy (q.v.).

Comment: Absent in the dictionaries I've checked, but a natural permutation of the word "pangamy," so here included.



1. Indiscriminate, random, unrestricted, or unchanneled mating; the practice of choosing a partner without criteria or, at least, criteria established by others.

2. Random union of gametes.

Comment: Given what is now known about sperm wars (q.v.), it is conceivable that there is no such thing as a perfectly random union of gametes except under artificial conditions.

See also -gamy, pangamist, pangamic, panmixia.


pan-handle pipes:

See group sex. 


See pushbutton panic, Torschlusspanik.


1. The philosophy that there should be a social maximization of sexual satisfaction in terms of desired sexual activity, variety of sex partners, and the sexual fulfillment of romantic feelings; the view that no erection, male or female, should go to waste.

2. With regard to people with a heterosexual inclination, the attitude that most heterosexual women should have fresh semen in them (or caught by a barrier such as a condom) frequently, even multiple times each day, such that men are thereby routinely drained of the semen they produce, multiple partnering being useful in this endeavor.

Comment: Coined by NEA, April 23, 2009, and meant to have four syllables: pan-ko'-i-tism.

See also eleutherophilism, free love, libertarianism, libertinism, new morality, panamory, pankoitist, pankoity, pansexualism, polyeros, relationship anarchy, sexosophy, sexual freedom, sexual golden age, sexual morality, sexual mores, sexual utopia, sexual varietism, utopian swinging.


A person who holds to pankoitism or who practices pankoity.

Comment: Coined by me, April 23, 2009, and meant to have four syllables: pan-ko'-i-tist.

See also apolygist, eleutherophilist, free agent, free lover, libertine, non-monogamist, panamorist, pankoitism, pankoity, pansexualist, polyamorist, sex radical, sexual nomad, swinger.


The effort of any individual or group of individuals to live up to the vision of pankoitism.

Comment: Coined by me, April 23, 2009, and meant to have four syllables: pan-ko'-i-ty.

From the Greek terms, pan ("all" or "all sorts of") + koitê ("bed" or "sexual intercourse").

See also bonobo way, non-monogamy, panamory, pankoitism, pankoitist, pansexuality, polyamory, polyfuckery, polykoity, promiscuity, sexual nonexclusivity, sexual non-monogamy, Sherfey syndrome, swinging.


Interbreeding or intermarriage without especial regard as to who belongs to what social group, this as a characteristic of a society — whether the group is defined by ethnicity, caste, religion, or something else.

Comment: Some maintain that panmixia is a vital part of a strategy for the development of social harmony in a globalized world.

See also amixia, cross-class romance, folly, hypergamy, hypogamy, intermarriage, miscegenation, mixed marriage, myriadigamy, pangamy, population race.


pansexual, as in "a pansexual":

1. A person who experiences a suffusion of erotic feeling throughout much or all of his or her way of being in and viewing the world.

2. A person whose sexual expression manifests itself in all kinds of ways or, at least, many ways.

3. A person who is sexually attracted to some of any and all sexes.

See also bisexual, heterosexual, homosexual, monosexual, omnisexual, panamorist, pansexualism, pansexuality, pomosexual, sexual nomad, try-sexual.


pansexual, as in "pansexual experience":

Pertaining to or characterized by pansexualism or pansexuality.

See also bisexual, gonocentric, heterosexual, homosexual, lgbt, monosexual, omnisexual, panamorous, pansexualism, pansexuality, polymorphous perverse, pomosexual, swing both ways.

x -sexual.


pansexualism, or pansexuality:

1. The view that "everything is sex," in other words, that all human behavior can be explained in terms of the sex drive.

2. The view that no sexual expression, in and of itself, between consenting parties is immoral, that any and all sexual expression which is purely so is all right.

Comment: The Greek word pan , means "all" or "all kinds of." However, the "everything" or "all" in the above definitions is, in actual use, sometimes an exaggeration.

Regarding the first sense, a bit of historical detail from a couple of specialized dictionaries:

"The view that 'everything is sex' has been attributed to Freud by many of his critics and opponents, but is a complete misrepresentation. Although he traced the development of sexuality from birth to maturity, and described the libido, or sex instinct, as a basic source of energy, he also recognized the importance of other drives such as hostility, hunger, thirst, and, toward the end of his life, the 'death instinct.'"1

"Later psychological philosophers, like Wilhelm Reich, have held ideas closer to pansexualism [than did Freud]."2


1 The Language of Sex from A to Z, by Robert M. Goldenson, Kenneth N. Anderson (New York: World Almanac, 1986; "A Walter D. Glanze Book"): p. 195.

2 The Complete Dictionary of Sexology, Robert T. Francoeur, editor-in-chief; Martha Cornog, Timothy Perper, and Norman A. Scherzer, coeditors (New expanded ed. New York: Continuum, 1995): p. 461.

See also "an it harm none, do what ye will," antinomianism, bisexuality, free love, gonocentrism, heterosexuality, homosexuality, libertinism, monosexuality, moral equivalence, pankoitism, pansexual, pansexualist, pansexuality, pansexualize, pomosexuality, relationship anarchy, sex on the brain, sexual immorality, sexual liberation, sexual morality, sexual permissiveness, unwelcome admixtures with sexuality. 



1. A person who holds the view that all human behavior can be explained in terms of the sex drive.

2. A person who hold the view that no sexual expression, in and of itself, between consenting parties is immoral.

See also non-monogamist, pankoitist, pansexualism, pansexuality, pansexualize, pomosexual.


pansexuality, or pansexualism:

1. An individual's behavior or the behavior of a set of individuals being, in actuality, entirely accounted for by the sex drive.

2. The suffusion of erotic feeling throughout much or all of one's way of being in and viewing the world.

3. Sexual expression manifesting itself in all kinds of ways or, at least, a great many ways.

4. The totality of the kinds of sexuality, whether enduring or fleeting, of which human beings are capable.

5. Sexual orientation that is unbounded by one's own sex relative to that of others; attraction to some of any and all sexes.

Comment: The Greek word pan , means "all" or "all kinds of." However, the "entirety" or "all" or "totality" in the above definitions is, in actual use, sometimes an exaggeration.

See also bisexuality, heterosexuality, homosexuality, monosexuality, omnisexuality, panamory, pankoity, pansexual, pansexualism, pansexualist, polymoprphous perversity, polysexuality, pomosexuality, pornification, sexuality.



To explain all behavior — or, at least, some comprehensive subset of behavior, such as all human behavior — and the products thereof in terms of the sex drive.

See also pansexualism, pansexualist.



A group marriage (q.v.) encompassing all the adult members of a particular social group, in which every man is considered the spouse of every woman and vice versa.

Comment: Etymologically the term is meant to mean "marriage of all"; however, it is formed in such a way as to suggest the opposite, "universal absence of marriage." A better formation for the intended meaning would be "pantogamy."

See also cenogamy, complex marriage, -gamy, omnigamy, pantogamist, pantogamous.

x pantogamy.


Panta kathara tois katharois (Greek):

See "Unto the pure all things are pure."


1. A participant in pantagamy (q.v.).

2. An advocatre or supporter of pantagamy.

Comment: Absent in the dictionaries I've checked, but a natural permutation of the word "pantagamy" (with the adjustment there suggested), so here included.



Pertaining to or charaterized by pantagamy (q.v.).

Comment: Absent in the dictionaries I've checked, but a natural permutation of the word "pantagamy" (with the adjustment there suggested), so here included.



See pantagamy.



See can't keep it in (his) pants, keep it in your pants, wear the breeches.


paper courtship:

A romance carried on largely by way of letters.

See also courtship, romance.

Quotation from Roger Manvell Illustrating "Paper Courtship"


[Ellen Terry (1847-1928) was an] English actress who became one of the most popular stage performers in both Great Britain and North America... In the 1890s she began her famous "paper courtship" with George Bernard Shaw, one of the most brilliant correspondences in the history of English letter writing.

From: "Terry, (Alice) Ellen,"[signed] R. M. [Roger Manvell (d. 1987)], in: The New Encyclopædia Britannica. Micropædia: Ready Reference (15th ed. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, c1989): v. 11, pp. 651-652, specifically p. 651.


paperless husband:

Male partner in a paperless marriage.

See also husband, lover, paperless marriage, paperless spouse, partner.

Quotation from Alfred Alvarez Illustrating "Paperless Husband"


... Birgita, who had separated from her paperless husband one month before, was clearly in a state.

From: Life After Marriage: Love in an Age of Divorce, by A. Alvarez (New York: Simon and Schuster, c1981): p. 243.


paperless marriage:

A marriage (q.v.) in all aspects except for the legal formalities.

See also ad hoc union, broomstick-marriage, bungalowing, cohabitation, common law marriage, little bit married, living together, long engagement, ménage, other terms than marriage, paperless husband, paperless spouse, paperless wife.

Quotation from Alfred Alvarez Illustrating "Paperless Marriage"


[241] In Scandinavia the radical young drew the obvious conclusions and tried for a time to do without formal marriage. If legal papers are worth so little and do such harm, they said, let us have marriages without papers, marriages based solely on free choice and goodwill....

[242] The name of the game is "the paperless marriage," and it is played with considerable energy. Elesewhere, it is called "living together," but in Denmark they have given it an appropriately radical, post-'68 title, a gesture of freedom in a form-filling age. In theory, a paperless marriage is a model for the future, a marriage without bureaucracy, without ceremony, without legal equivocation. It is a free union of equals who agree to make a life together, but independently, keeping their own names, their own property, their own proper distance. It is a form of marriage for those on the run from one marital disaster who are terrified of being trapped in another, yet hanker for something more stable and satisfying than an affair. It is also marriage reinterpreted [243] according to the politics of feminism, the dice for once loaded in favor of the women and no allowances made for traditional patriarchal authority. If the union breaks up, for example, the father has no rights over the children ...

[243] A paperless marriage was ideal, he [a sociologist] had told me, until it breaks up. At that point, every possession [244] — from children to teacups — can be argued over endlessly, bitterly. The legal wrangling and expense were so inordinate that young couples were beginning to marry again in order to protect themselves against disaster. "You need so many papers in a paperless marriage," he had said, "whereas if you're married, all you need is the license." The paperless marriage had been made prematurely obsolete by easy divorce.

From: Life After Marriage: Love in an Age of Divorce, by A. Alvarez (New York: Simon and Schuster, c1981): chapter 10, "The Paperless Marriage," pp. [236]-246, specifically 241-244.


paperless spouse:

A partner in a paperless marriage.

Comment: Constructed on analogy with "paperless husband" and "paperless wife" (NEA, October 6, 2006).

See also lover, paperless husband, paperless marriage, paperless wife, partner, spouse.


paperless wife:

Female partner in a paperless marriage.

See also lover, paperless marriage, paperless spouse, partner, wife.

Quotation from Alfred Alvarez Illustrating "Paperless Wife"


My friend David and his paperless wife Suzanne thought I should meet someone who was going through this new style of divorce: a divorce without marriage, a blueprint for the future.

From: Life After Marriage: Love in an Age of Divorce, by A. Alvarez (New York: Simon and Schuster, c1981): p. 243.


paper marriage:

1. A high-ranking person's wedding, the fees of which are paid in bank-notes.

2. A marriage (q.v.) that is one in form only, that is according to the documents signed, and not in substance.

See also fauxmance, faux wedding, immigration marriage fraud, mock marriage, sham marriage, showmance, wedding.



Of or relating to love (q.v.), especially love considered illicit.

Comment: Paphos was an ancient center, located on Cyprus, for the worship of Aphrodite, the goddess of love.


parable of the porcupine:

See porcupine dilemma.


A female with whom one has sexual intercourse.

See also paracoitus, partner, sex partner.



A male with whom one has sexual intercourse.

See also paracoita, partner.



See casserole parade.


See paradisal marriage, trouble in paradise.

paradisal marriage:

Marriage (q.v.) in the Garden of Eden before the Fall of humankind, as represented, for instance, in the Bible at Genesis 1-3 or in John Milton's epic poem, Paradise Lost (1667; 2nd ed., 1674); the relationship between Adam and Eve before they ate the forbidden fruit and were expelled from the Garden of Eden.

See also Adam and Eve, Adam's rib, androgyne archetype, helpmeet, "naked and not ashamed," prelapsarian marriage, sexual golden age.

x Bible.
x paradise.


See "can't live with (her), can't live without (her"; fortunate fall; passion paradox; poly paradox; rich man/biker paradox.


parallel play:

A couple's or group's sexual activity in the same room with another couple or group, without sexual interaction between the couples or groups.

See also open swinging, play, same room sex, soft swinging, swinging.


A lover, especially a lover of someone who is married to somebody else.

See also amari, backdoor lover, boytoy, cavaliere servante, cicisbeo, cully, gallant, girl toy, illicit lover, leman, loteby, lover, mistress, other man, other woman, out-of-marriage lover, out-paramour, partner, poplolly, sancha, sancho, sex partner, spark, steady paramour, Sunday husband, toy boy.


para phusin (Greek):

See unnatural.

paratrooping sex:

A pickup of a stranger, as at a bar, in order to have a place to stay when one is away from home.

See also coitus, copulation, hookup, one-night stand, out-of-town strange, pickup, road beef, sex, sexual intercourse, stranger sex, "What goes on the road, stays on the road."

parea (Greek):

One's circle of close-knit friends, which in Greece is customarily shared with one's spouse, at least on the husband's part; the set of people one socializes with over a long period of time.

See also friend.

x Greek terms.

parent, as in "a parent":

1. One who has had genetic offspring. In this sense the term is sometimes qualified, as in "genetic parent" or "biological parent." Ordinarily, among human beings, being a parent in this sense implies having mated, however temporarily or durably.

2. A person who has taken on the primary responsibility, in many societies often shared with a mate or ex-mate, for the raising of one or more children.

Comment: One implication of the two definitions is that a child can have two heritages, one genetic and the other one of family culture. Knowledge of both is important to many people, not only to have a sense of where one comes from but also, among other things, for the sake of managing one's health risks.

See also babymaker, birthparent, breeder, comperage, deadbeat parent, empty-nester, expectant couple, family, family planning, father, genetic parent, genetic partner, human reproduction, joint custody, mother, nesting partner, only parent, parent (verb), parental marriage, parent trap, parent without partner, pregnant couple, procreation, single parent, single-parent family, surrogate father, surrogate mother, two-parent family, unwed parent.


parent, as in "to parent":

To rear one or more children, by providing affection, support, nurture, guidance, and discipline.

See also father, mother, parent (noun), shared earning/shared parenting marriage, shared parenting, social clock.

parental marriage:

A marriage (q.v.) that is considered by the partners to be durable enough for the raising of children and in which an extra measure of commitment is made to keeping the marriage together for the child-rearing period; a marriage contracted with the specific purpose of founding a family.

Comment: Attributed to Margaret Mead, 1966.

In Margaret Mead's scheme, parental marriage is the second and separately licensed step in a two-step marriage (q.v.).

See also braking hypothesis, individual marriage, parent, procreative marriage, reconstituted marriage, trial marriage.


parent trap:

A situation brought about in the course of attempting to reunite one's separated or divorced parents by bringing them together, without their prior knowledge, for a period of time in a romantically conducive or difficult-to-escape setting.

Comment: Originally from the Disney movie, "Parent Trap," written for the screen and directed by David Swift (1961).

The movie was based on the book, Das doppelte Lottchen: ein Roman für Kinder, von Erich Kästner; illustriert von Walter Trier (Wien: C. Ueberreuter, 1949). Title translated: The Double Little Lottie: A Novel for Children.

The parent trap has become a trope, as evidenced by many a subsequent movie and TV show.

See also divorced, parent, remarriage, separated, trap.

parent without partner:

A single person who is raising a child.

Comment: I've seen the term only in the plural: "parents without partners," which is abbreviated "PWP."

See also choice mom, divorcé, divorcée, formerly married, only parent, parent, PWP, re-singled, single, single parent, single-parent family, unwed father, unwed mother, unwed parent, widow, widower, zoo daddy.



See city of lovers, "We'll always have Paris."

"Park her shoes under my bed":

See "She can park her shoes under my bed."

parking lot romance:

1. Flirtation or sexual activity in an area where cars are temporarily left, typically in or just outside of one of the vehicles.

2. A love relationship, one or more significant points of which, such as first contact, occur in an area where cars are temporarily left.

See also amomaxia, love relationship, romance.


1. A priest's mistress or concubine.

2. A sexually loose woman.

3. A female prostitute.

Comment: Diminutive of the Italian word petronalla.

I've seen the word misspelled as "parvel" in: Valsalva's Maneuver: Mots Justes and Indispensable Terms, [by] John Train; illustrated by Pierre Le-Tan (New York: Harper & Row, c1989): p. 117.

See also bitch, clericolagnia, concubine, gugusse, housefather, mistress, particular relationship, pastor's wife, petronalla, preacher's wife, slattern, smellsmock, Sunday wife; blowen, chippy, courtesan, doxy, floozy, güila, harlot, hoe, moll, slut, squaw, tart, tottie.

x parvel.



To be married by a member of the clergy.

Comment: Generally restricted to comic use.

See also ecclesiastical marriage, holy matrimony, lead to the altar, marry, matrimonify (which see for lexical example), sacramental marriage, solemnize, wed.

partial to:

Favoring above others; tender towards; affectionate towards; in love with.

See also affection, feeling for, in love, tenderness.

partible paternity:

1. One person having multiple biological fathers, as some in some cultures falsely believe occurs when the mother has sexual intercourse with more than one man.

2. One person having as a biological father one of two or more possible candidates, especially where a child-parent relationship exists with more than one of them.

3. Two or more men each regarding a child as belonging to each of them, especially where any of them could be the biological father, and exercizing parental responsibilities accordingly.

See also double paternity, husband-doubling, monospermy, paternity, previous-sire myth, sloppy seconds, telegony, wife-sharing.

x myths.


particular relationship:

A lesbian relationship, especially between nuns.

See also amitié particulière, Boston marriage, female marriage, gugusse, homosexuality, lesbian, lesbianism, parnel, she-troth, smellsmock.


"Parting is such sweet sorrow":

Part of Juliet's good-night to Romeo in William Shakespeare's tragic play, Romeo and Juliet (1595), Act 2, scene 1, line 229 (in some editions, scene 2, line 184), which expresses emotions often cast in opposition to each other, namely pleasure and grief, and which mirrors the play's larger theme of the interplay of love and death. (Note the parallelism with the preceding line, which is more explicitly on the theme: "Yet I should kill thee with much cherishing.") Shakespeare's precise referent for "sweet sorrow" is left to the imagination of the audience member. Is it, for instance:

As an adage in general use, the flexibility in meaning is fully utilized.

See also grief, Juliet, Romeo, star-crossed lovers.

x Shakespeare, William.
x sweet sorrow.

A Postcard Illustrating "Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow"

<Picture of postcard not yet posted..>

Romantic color "post card," with a mostly white background, showing a young man dressed in a World War I military uniform bending forward to kiss a young woman whose hands he is holding and who is wearing a blue and orange dress; with caption: "Parting is such sweet sorrow," signed by hte artist: Archie Gunn (U.S.A.: [s.n., between 1914 nd 1918, perhaps 1917]). Date from the WWI era. From the author's collection, scanned <on such and such a date>.


1. In the context of a marriage (q.v.), a person to whom one is married or with whom one shares a spouse in marriage.

2. In the context of a love relationship (q.v.), a person who reciprocates love or who is in a chain of reciprocating love.

3. In the context of a sexual relationship (q.v.), a person with whom one repeatedly shares sexual activity; a person who satisfies or helps to satisfy one's sexual needs and desires on an ongoing basis.

4. In the context of a sexual encounter (q.v.), a person with whom such an encounter takes place.

5. In the context of a discussion of venereal disease, each individual in a chain of sexual contact in relation to each other individual in that same chain.

6. Speaking more broadly in social terms, a person with whom one joins for socializing, play, or work.

See also affaire, aiparik; all men to (me); all women to (me); alternate squeeze; amari; amorosa; amoroso; amortorculist; amourette; anchor; angutawkun; assistant; aypareet; aytpareik; babe; baby; beau; bed buddy; bed-fellow; bedmate; bed partner; beloved; beloved stranger; benison; better half; blanket hog; blind date; bouquet of lovers; boy-bridegroom; boyfriend; boytoy; bride; bridegroom; brother in lust; brother starling; bundle of freemates; cadre of beloveds; cavalier; cavaliere servante; child-bride; child-husband; choice of one's heart; cicisbeo; clutch of lovers; cocotte; cohabitant; cohabitee; co-husband; comet; common law husband; common law spouse; common law wife; companion; concubine; concurrent husband; concurrent wife; consort; constant companion; copemate; co-primary; cosominator; co-spouse; country mistress; country wife; courtesan; cover hog; co-vivant; co-wife; cuddle buddy; cuddle of lovers; cully; cutie; cutie pie; cyberfling; cyberlover; cybersex partner; darling; date; dear; dearest friend; dearheart; dearly beloved; de facto; desert island partner; distal partner; domestic companion; domestic partner; DP; end-of-the-world lover; erotic friend; ex-ex; ex-partner; face mate; farmer's wife; fish; flame; fluid partner; freemate; friend with benefits; f*** buddy; f*** mate; gallant; genicon; gentleman friend; genetic partner; gigolo; girl-bride; girlfriend; girl toy; groom; group partner; HAB; headdress keeper; heartthrob; hetaera; helpmate; helpmeet; hindermate; honey; honey pot; housefather; housemate; hubby; husband; husband in truth; husbe; husby; husfriend; huzbear; illegitimate spouse; illicit lover; imbroglio of polyamours; inamorata; inamorato; in-house friend; in (one's) life; insignificant other; intimate companion; intimate friend; intimate partner; jaina; jelly; junior husband; junior wife; kept man; kept woman; lady friend; laotong; leman; lesser half; lesser wife; leveret; lifemate; life partner; life's companion; live-in boyfriend; live-in companion; live-in girlfriend; live-in lover; long-distance lover; long-time companion; long-time love; love (as in "my sweet love"); lovebird; love-companion; lovemate; lover; loverboy; lovey; loving companion; main squeeze; major squeeze; male concubine; man friend; man in one's life; marrow; mate; mbuya; mistress; MLTR; moll; monogamy-insistent partner; mono partner; multiple-partner fertility; nesting partner; non-sexual significant other; notr'amour; novia; novio; nuliaqpak; nuliinuaroak; odalisque; offscreen squeeze; old boyfriend; old girlfriend; old flame; old sweetheart; on-again, off-again boyfriend; on-again, off-again girlfriend; once-in-a-while lover; one; one-and-only; one-night stand; one true love; only one for (me); other half; otherlove; other man; other other man; other other woman; other significant other; other woman; out-of-marriage lover; owneress; paracoita; paperless hussband; paperless spouse; paperless wife; paracoitus; paramour; partner in love; partner of long standing; part-time lover; pastor's husband; pastor's partner; PASSLQ; pastor's wife; perfect catch; personal attachment; phone sex partner; pickup; play-fellow; play partner; pleasing appendage; plus one; polyamour; poly-insistent partner; polylove; polylover; polypartner; poplolly; POSSLQ; preacher's husband; preacher's partner; preacher's wife; primary; primary partner; primary wife; primemate; Prince Charming; project; prospect; proximal partner; rabbanit; rebbetzin; relationship material; repartner; romantic partner; Romeo; sancha; sancho; sannup; satellite lover; secondary; secondary partner; secondary significant other; secondary wife; second husband; second wife; senior husband; senior wife; sex buddy; sex partner; sex surrogate; sexual partnering; sexual partnership; sheet partner; Shirley's Law; side girl; side squeeze; significant other; sign mate; sister in lust; sits-beside-him woman; skains-mate; someone special in (one's) life; some random; spark; spice (singular); spice (as a plural); splice; spiritual husband; spiritual wife; spousal equivalent; spouse; squaw; squaw man; squeeze; squish; stable; starter husband; starter spouse; starter wife; steady paramour; strange; studmuffin; Sunday husband; Sunday wife; SWAG; swain; swainling; sweetheart; sweetie; syzygos; tertiary; tertiary partner; TOCOTOX; TOTGA; toy boy; trophy husband; trophy wife; true love; umfriend; understudy; ungetaken; valentine; vanilla partner; very good friend; WAG; waighembe; water brother; wife in truth; wifey; woman friend; woman in one's life; yokefellow; yokemate; zipless f***.

Quotation from Shirley Abbott Illustrating "Partner"


[228] AIDS was an acronym we had all recently and reluctantly learned to recognize: acquired immune deficiency syndrome, a disease that no antibiotic could touch....

Tragedy, banished so briefly in the mid-twentieth century, had come back in style by the late 1980s. Sexual intercourse was no private [229] matter: I was the partner of every man or woman my jet-set businessman had touched, and they all were partners of my partners. God, when had we begun referring to lovers as partners? Limited partners? Partners in what?

From: Love's Apprentice, [by] Shirley Abbott (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1998): pp. 228-229.


partner, as in "to partner":

1. To enter into a domestic union with someone.

2. To enter into a committed love relationship with someone, especially if doing so entails living together.

See also committed love relationship, domestic partnership, partner romantically, partner sexually, romantic partnering, sexual partnering.

Quotation from Isabel Allende Illustrating "Partnered"


Chile is possibly the one country in the galaxy where there is no divorce, and that's because no one dares defy the priests, even though 71 percent of the population has been demanding it for a long time. No legislator, not even those who have been separated from their wives and partnered a series of other women in quick succession, is willing to stand up to the priests ...

From: My Invented Country: A Nostalgic Journey Through Chile, [by] Isabel Allende; translated from the Spanish by Margaret Sayers Peden (New York, ny; harperCollins, c2003): p. 76. Translation of: Mi Pais Inventado.


partner in life:

See life partner.


partner in love:

1. A person with whom one is in a love relationship.

2. A person with whom one is in love and who reciprocates with love, whether declared or not, but with whom one is somehow prevented from being in a love relationship.

See also love relationship, partner; in love, love sickness, pine for, undecalred love.


partner of long standing:

A person with whom one has been in a love relationship for a considerable duration.

See also long-time companion, long-time love, partner, steady paramour.


partner romantically:

To establish or to maintain an attachment between each other, an attachment that entails both mutual affection and mutual sexual attraction.

See also partner, partner sexually, romantic partnering.


partner sexually:

To satisfy or help to satisfy each other's libidinous needs and desires on an ongoing basis as the result of a conscious choice to do so.

Comment: This can be expressed in a variety of ways, for example, "to partner in sex."

See also be man to a woman, be there for (someone), be woman to a man, husbandly duty, marital duty, partner, partner romantically, play the dutiful spouse, sexual partnering (note especially the comments), sexual partnership, take care of (someone), wifely duty.


partner sharing:

1. The exchanging of marital or love relationship partners across marital or love relationship lines for recreational sex, with the consent of all involved.

2. Consensually having at least one partner in common with one or more others.

See also agapemone, brother in lust, brother starling, doused lights, good match, heart-swapping, husband swapping, invite others into (their) sex life, loaner husband, loaner wife, mate swapping, pi supuhui, spouse exchange, swinging, wife swapping; biamory, bukis, buksvåger, buksvägerska, co-husband, co-spouse, co-wife, husband-sharing, non-monogamy, notr'amour, pentamory, polyamory, polyfidelity, quadramory, share (one's partner) with, sheet partner, sister in lust, TOCOTOX, triamory, ungetaken, wife-sharing.

x partner swapping


partnership sex:

Sexual activity between individuals who are in a long-term relationship together.

See also coitus, copulation, marital relations, sex, sexual intercourse.

partner swapping:

See mate swapping, partner sharing.


partousard, or partouzard (French):

A participant in group sex; an orgiast.

See also orgiast, partouse, swinger.

x French terms.
x partouzard.

partouse (French):

An orgy.

Comment: Also spelled partouze.

See also échangisme, group sex, orgy, partousard, sex party.

x French terms.


partouzard (French):

See partousard.

part-time lover:

1. A lover (q.v.) whom one sees infrequently.

2. A lover who can meet only a small portion of one's sexual need.

3. A lover who is not fully integrated into one's social circle, but who is instead clandestine with respect to at least some of that circle of family, friends, and acquaintances.

See also booty call, far-away sweetie, friend with benefits, f*ck buddy, insignificant other, long-distance lover, once-in-a-while lover, partner, sex buddy, slump buster, stand-by man, stand-by woman, tertiary partner.

party, as in "a party in which people gather":

Besides terms that begin with the word "party," see adult party game, bachelorette party, bachelor party, boudoir photography party, break-up party, breeding party, bunga bunga, casting couch (casting pool party), CFNM party, chicken party, circuit party, club flirt, CMNF party, coming-out party, creampie party, cuddle party, cum-shot party, cupcake party, divorce party, doused lights, erotic party game, fertility party, flirt party, friction party, goukon, grab-a-granny night, hen party, hooky party, house party, impregnation party, Jack and Jill party, jack-off party, key party, leap year party, love fest, make-out party, Mandingo party, mazola party, mixer, munch, mushroom party, open party, pegging party, petting party, pimps and hoes party, play party, poke party, purity ball, rainbow party, sex party, sex-toy party, singles party, skin party, stag party, strap-on party, stroke party, swing party, tarts party, toe party, tutting party, Valentine's party, vicars and tarts party, yarikon.

See also ball.


party, as in "sailor Bungy's with his party":

A girlfriend.

Source: Sea Slang of the Twentieth Century: Royal Navy, Merchant Navy, Yachtsmen, Fishermen, Bargemen, Canalmen, Miscellaneous, by Wilfred Granville; introduction and etymologies by Eric Partridge (New York: Philosophical Library, 1950): p. 175.

See also dobash, fishing fleet, girlfriend, girl in every port, jelly, knitting, landlady, long-haired chum, pash, popsey.


party, as in "to party":

1. To engage in a more-or-less structured social interaction between several or more people that is meant to be fun. Typical party activities include games, dancing, and imbibing alcoholic beverages.

2. To engage in casual sex.

3. To engage in swinging.

See also action, casual sex, dirty dating, Friday night girl, group sex, mell, open party, party house, party town, play, recreational sex, swinging, tarts party, vicars and tarts party, zipless f***.


party clothes:

1. Apparel one chooses to wear for a social gathering.

2. Scant or otherwise sexy apparel one wears to or changes into at an erotically oriented social gathering, such as a swing party, apparel such as a light short robe, a wrap-around, or lingerie. Generally party clothes are meant to show the wearer to good advantage, to make the wearer's body or parts thereof easily available for erotic touching and play, and to be easily removed.

See also skin party, swing party.

x clothes.

party house:

1. A building where a social gathering is being hosted or where social gatherings are routinely hosted.

2. A building where swinging occurs according to a regular shedule and where one does not have to be a member of a swing club to participate.

See also group room, house party, matroom, mattress room, open party, party, sellaria, swinging.

party rape:

Gang rape (q.v.) committed at a social gathering.

See also rape.


party town:

1. A population center of any size that is known as or insofar as it is known as a place where people can go to have a good time with lots of other people.

2. A population center of any size that is known as or insofar as it is known as a place where many people can easily hook up, that is find people with whom to have sex.

See also party.

x town.


See parnel.

x faux terms.

Pasa gunê tou luchnou arthentos hê autê esti (Greek proverb):

See "All women are the same in the dark."

pas de deux (French):

"Step for two." For three, would be a pas de trois; for four, a pas de quatre; for five, a pas de cinq; etc.

1. In general, intricate movement between two people or things in relation to each other.

2. In ballet, a choreographed piece for two dancers, typically a ballerina and a danseur noble.

3. With regard to love relationships, anything that can be likened to an intricate dance between two people, from becoming acquainted (for example, while moving from exhibit to exhibit in a museum) to flirtation to making love.

See also coitus, danse de la vie, duet, flirtation, make love to, mating dance, ménage à deux, sexual intercourse, twosome.

x deux.
x French terms.
x trois.


1. A letter ranked according to its importance to the recipient.

2. A girlfriend, especially one who is ranked, as in "number one pash," "number two pash," etc., or as in "best girl," "next best girl," etc.

Comment: Might this term be short for "passion," as in "She's my passion"?

Source: Sea Slang of the Twentieth Century: Royal Navy, Merchant Navy, Yachtsmen, Fishermen, Bargemen, Canalmen, Miscellaneous, by Wilfred Granville; introduction and etymologies by Eric Partridge (New York: Philosophical Library, 1950): p. 176.

See also dobash, fishing fleet, girlfriend, girl in every port, jelly, knitting, landlady, long-haired chum, love letter, party, passion, popsey, primary partner, satellite lover, secondary partner, tertiary partner.

x number one pash.
x number two pash.


pass, as in "a pass":

See make a pass at.


pass, as in "to pass":

Not to be noticed in a way that one is different from others in a group, especially when being so noticed might excite prejudice. Thus:

See also beard, convert, cover, frock, lavender marriage, merkin, mixed-orientation marriage, on the down low, transgender,  transparency, whitening by marriage.


passing fancy:

1. A fleeting whim; a desire that is present but soon moves on.

2. A romantic attraction that does not long endure.

3. An intimate relationship with someone other than a soul mate, in the perspective of eternity.

4. The person for whom a temporary romantic attraction is felt or a non-soul mate with whom one has an intimate relationship.

See also attraction, comet, escapade romantique, fancy, fling, flirtation, short-term relationship, whirlwind romance.


1. Experience by way of sensation acting upon oneself; the condition of passive becoming. This was a philosophical sense of Greek pathos = Latin passio from Plato through the Middle Ages and later, and those terms in that sense are frequently translated into English as "passion."

2. Suffering.

3. Capitalized, the sufferings of Jesus after the Last Supper, taken collectively and inclusive of his Crucifixion, there usually being a connotation of religious significance (compare the Greek paschô or Latin passio, as at Acts 1:3, and the Greek pathos, as at Ignatius, Romans 6); also any composition representing them, although often in such cases the word is used as an adjective, as in "Passion narrative" and "Passion play." For the canonical Gospel accounts, see Matthew 26:30-27:50; Mark 14:26-15:37; Luke 22:39-23:46; and John 18:1-19:30.

4. Martyrdom, or an account thereof.

5. Enthusiasm, or the object thereof.

6. A feeling from within, but neither intellectual nor spiritual in character, that is capable of spurring one to good or to evil. This is a sense from moral theology.

7. A strong emotion, especially one capable of influencing one's behavior, perhaps even over-riding or undermining one's will-power; an inwardly felt motive that is capable of running contrary to reason.

8. A sensibility that powerfully informs one's values, which in turn serve as the basis for decision-making and action.

9. The set of emotions associated with being in love, or the object thereof.

10. Powerful sexual desire, or the object thereof.

Comment: The philosophical senses can be enumerated indefinitely, almost philosopher by philosopher.

Coping with the passions, both in terms of self-control and social regulation, has been a major theme of moral and political theory.

See also amour-passion, ardor, conjugal passion, consummate love, cult of passion, eroticism, fatuous love, flush of love, grand passion, horniness, infatuation, in love, Laws of Lovers' Passion, limerance, longing, love, love-passion, lust, new relationship energy, passionate, passionate love, passions of the fan, proceptive phase, propassion, sexual awakening, sexual desire, sexual morality, triangular theory of love, unsynchronized passion, yearning.

x Bible.
x Greek terms.
x Latin terms.

Quotation from D. H. Lawrence Illustrating "Passion"

There was a pain in his [Edward Severn's] chest that made him pant, and an involuntary tension in his arms, as if he must press someone to his breast. But the idea that this someone was Mrs. Thomas would have shocked him too much had he formed it. His passion had run on subconsciously, till now it had come to such a pitch it must drag his conscious soul into allegiance.
From the short story: "The Old Adam," in: A Modern Lover, [by] D. H. Lawrence (New York: Viking Press, 1934): pp. [37]-63, specifically p. 50.

An Anonymous Limerick Illustrating "Passion"

There was a young lady of fashion,
Who had oodles and oodles of passion;
     To her lover she said,
     As they climbed into bed:
'Here's one thing the bastards can't ration.'

From: The Penguin Book of Limericks, compiled and edited by E. O. Parrott; illustrations by Robin Jacques (London: Bloomsbury Books, 1991, c1883): p. 48. The third and fourth lines are indented.

Quotation from Lauren Slator Illustrating "Passion"


Studies around the world confirm that, indeed, passion usually ends. Its conclusion is as common as its initial flare. No wonder some cultures think selecting a lifelong mate based on something so fleeting is folly.

From: "Love" = Cover title: "Love: The Chemical Reaction" = Table of contents title: "True Love," by Lauren Slater; photographs by Jodi Cobb, in: National Geographic; v. 209, no. 2 (February 2006): pp. 32-49, specifically pp. 39, 44.



1. Capable of or characterized by intense emotion or emotionally infused convictions; ardent.

2. Arising from the seat of emotions.

3. Easily provoked into anger.

4. Characterized by or pertaining to intense romantic emotion, especially such emotion in expressive form.

5. Characterized by or pertaining to intense sexual desire, especially such desire in expressive form.

Comment: The term sometimes connotes the intent to arouse emotion on the part of another or others.

See also amative, amatory, amorous, eromantic, erotic, hot as Dutch love, interested in sex, loving, lustful, moonstruck, passion, randy, romantic, think with (one's) heart.

Quotation from D. H. Lawrence Illustrating "Passionate and Passion"

Teresa had a good deal of the nun in her. But that was because she was deeply passionate, and deep passion tends to hide within itself, rather than expose itself to vulgar contact.
From the novel: The Plumed Serpent (Quetzalcoatl), by D. H. Lawrence (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1926): chapter 25, p. 402.


passionate love:

A romantic absorption in and amorous interest in an individual; an intense emotional state characterized by a multiplicity of emotions, such as sexual desire for a love interest, desire to be close, even attached, to that individual, elation, and possibly anxiety and jealousy, also typically by a heightened vulnerability to being hurt emotionally.

Comment: Such love is sometimes contrasted with companionate love (q.v.), which is described as lower-key.

See also amour-passion, chemistry, chemistry of love, crush, crystallization, hot love, infatuation, in love, Laws of Lovers' Passion, limerance, love, love-passion, new relationship energy, passion, proceptive phase, torrid affair, wildly in love with.



See amour-passion, love-passion.


passion paradox:

A conundrum in love relationships sometimes brought about by an inequity of emotional investment: the more emotionally invested one partner is in the relationship or some aspect thereof, the less invested the other becomes, which gives the less invested partner more power in the relationship or that aspect of it and makes the more invested partner feel dissatisfaction, even desperation, and perhaps also an intensification of desire, the overall result being a relationship badly out of balance.

Comment: Coinage attributed to Cassandra Phillips.

Also called the passion trap.

Source: The Passion Paradox: Patterns of Love and Power in Intimate Relationships, [by] Dean C. Delis with Cassandra Phillips (New York, NY: Bantam Books, c1990). Later published as: The Passion Trap: Where is Your Relationship Going? [by] Dean C. Delis with Cassandra Phillips (2nd ed. Tucson, Ariz.: Fenestra Books, 2002).

See also Romeo and Juliet effect, sexual deprivation.

x paradoxes.
x passion trap.

passions of the fan:

The emotions that can be deliberately communicated by way of a light hand-held device that is used, in the first instance, for cooling the face and neck.

See also gallant a fan, language of fans, language of love, passion.

x fan.

Quotation from The Spectator Illustrating "Passions of the Fan"

There is an infinite variety of motions to be made use of in the flutter of a fan. There is the angry flutter, the modish flutter, the timorous flutter, the confused flutter, the merry flutter, and the amorous flutter. Not to be tedious, there is scarce any emotion in the mind which does not produce a suitable agitation in the fan; insomuch, that if I only see the fan of a disciplined lady, I know very well whether she laughs, frowns, or blushes. I have seen a fan so very angry, that it would have been dangerous for the absent lover who provoked it to have come within the wind of it; and at other times so very languishing, that I have been glad for the lady's sake the lover was at a sufficient distance from it. I need not add, that a fan is either a prude or coquette, according to the nature of the person who bears it. To conclude my letter, I must acquaint you that I have from my own observations compiled a little treatise for the use of mv scholars, entitled, The Passions of the Fan; which I will communicate to you, if you think it may be of use to the public.

From: The Spectator; with notes, and a general index (From the last improved London edition, stereotyped. Philadelphia: J. J. Woodward, 1829): no. 102, Anonymous letter to Mr. Spectator (Wednesday, June 27, 1711). The Spectator was written by Joseph Addison, Richard Steele, and others.

passion trap:

See passion paradox.

passive-congenial relationship:

See five kinds of relationship.


passive smirting:

Flirtation around tobacco smoke outside an establishment where smoking is banned inside, but without smoking.

See also flirtation, smirting.


"Person of an appropriate sex sharing living quarters."

Comment: A sexually inclusive modification of POSSLQ attributed to William Safire.

See also amari, cohabitant, cohabitee, co-vivant, de facto, domestic companion, domestic partner, housemate, in-house friend, live-in boyfriend, live-in companion, live-in girlfriend, live-in lover, living together, ménage, partner, POSSLQ, shack up, share the same bedroom, significant other, TOCOTOX, umfriend.

x abbreviations and acronyms.

pass the baby off as his:

To lead one or more persons to assume that the genetic father of a child is somone other than who it is, perhaps even to more actively deceive them into thinking so.

See also baby; duped dad; father of (my) child(ren); Mater semper certa est, pater est, quem nuptiae demonstrant; paternal discrepancy; paternity; salvator femininus.

Quotation from Tamar Myers Illustrating "Pass the Baby off as His"

[Amy Barras] "... Ed was someone she [Hattie, who had become pregnant by Squire] knew from high school. A simple but steady kind of guy. He had always admired hattie — God only knows why — but of course he knew she was out of his reach.

"So, you see, it was really very simple. Hattie would marry Ed and pass the baby off as his. Except that, in order for Hattie to marry Ed, she had to tell her family why she was marrying so far beneath her. Of course, society was never supposed to find out."
From the mystery novel: Gilt by Association: A Den of Antiquity Mystery, [by] Tamar Myers (New York: Avon Books, 1996): chapter 16, p. 149.

past attachment:

A former lover or former spouse.

See also ancient history, attachment, ex, ex-boyfriend, ex-girlfriend, ex-husband, ex-partner, ex-wife, ghosts of relationships past, left-over desire, left-over love, letter group (X), old boyfriend, old girlfriend, old sweetheart, once-beloved, quondam husband, quondam wife, razbliuto, retrosexual, right of return, romantic history together, "We'll always have Paris."



1. Dressing up as or pretending to be or behaving like shepherds and shepherdesses.

2. Taking a walk in a field as lovers.

Comment: A Scottish word.

My supposition is that this is derived from the adjective "pastoral," by way of turning the adjective into a verb and then a substantive, with a dialectical spelling. It would seem to have nothing etymologically in common with rhyming words, such as "caterwauling" and "overhauling."

See also lovers' lane, lovers' walk.

pastor's husband:

Male spouse of a female member of the Christian clergy.

Comment: The expectations for pastor's husbands seem not to be as well formed as they are for pastor's wives.

See also clerical marriage, clericolagnia, husband, partner, pastor's partner, pastor's wife, preacher's husband, spouse.


pastor's partner:

A person with whom a member of the Christian clergy is in a committed love relationship or marriage.

See also clerical marriage, clericolagnia, partner, pastor's husband, pastor's wife, preacher's partner.


pastor's wife:

Female spouse of a male member of the Christian clergy.

Comments: The term "pastor's wife" is most associated with Protestant traditions. A close synonym is "preacher's wife."

Typically a church will impose heavy expectations on a pastor's wife — not only to be the ideal church member and model of a Christian wife, but also to take various payless leadership positions in the church, to entertain in her "role" as pastor's wife freely, and to raise a family, each member of which is a "testimony" to the faith — these things despite the fact that the typical full-time pastor works more than sixty hours a week for a salary that shamelessly exploits the service motive. She and her family will thus live, or live in resistance against, an unnatural pressurized fishbowl existence, albeit one that, by virtue of the husband's spiritual vocation, may straddle social classes. Sometimes she herself will view her role as being part of a joint ministry.

The terms, "pastor's husband," "pastor's spouse," and "pastor's partner," do not necessarily carry the same associations, in part since they have come into general use during an era that stresses the distinctness of each individual, whether male or female, with respect to labor. This, however, does not necessarily mean complete release from churchly expectations.

With regard to "pastor's wife/pastor's husband," as with "farmer's wife/farmer's husband," when the connotations are not comparable (as, even today, they seldom are), there would seem to be unfairness in language with respect to gender; and so the terms should be used either advisedly or not at all. Language mavens are usually loath to make the point out of deference to religious institutions, but since I was a preacher's kid and have worked most of my adult life in religious institutions, I will do so: If religious institutions do not root exploitation and prejudice out of their own expectations and practices, even, maybe especially, with regard to those whose motive is to serve or to partner with those who do, then how can they as institutions expect to have any beneficial effect upon or prophetic voice within society? Sometimes instead society at large moves towards greater fairness while religious institutions, which are often exempted under law, continue to perpetuate society's old unfairnesses.

By the way, "iman's wife," "priest's wife," "rabbi's wife," etc. don't automatically connote role expectations to the same extent (except within certain traditions), although sometimes such partners have special expectations laid upon them anyway. The same with regard to "chief executive's wife" and "politician's wife"; although the wife of the head of a government may be expected to fill a "first lady" role and may experience some of what a pastor's wife typically experiences; in fact, she will often also have other experiences typical of someone in her position. For other terms along these lines, see under "consort."

See also clerical marriage, clericolagnia, farmer's wife, housefather, "one flesh," parnel, partner, pastor's husband, pastor's partner, preacher's wife, spouse, wife.

Related terms beyond the scope of this glossary: missionary kid (MK), preacher's kid (PK).


patched-up business:

1. A situation where matters had gone wrong and are now fixed but are not as good as they should be or could have been.

2. A situation where marriage is the resolution of a sexual entanglement in a context where such entanglement is considered dishonorable.

See also shotgun wedding.

Quotation from Jane Austen Illustrating "Patched-up Business"


[Lady Catherine de Bourgh to Elizabeth Bennet]: '... I am no stranger to the particulars of your youngest sister's infamous elopement. I know it all; that the young man's marrying her, was a patched-up business, at the expense of your father and uncles...'

From the novel: Pride and Prejudice, [by] Jane Austen (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, c2003): chapter 56, p. 445. Originally published: Pride and Prejudice: A Novel ..., by the author of "Sense and Sensibility" (London: T. Egerton, 1813).



The husband of a child's mother and legal father of that child.

See also father; genitor; husband; Mater semper certa est, pater est, quem nuptiae demonstrant; paternity; Smizmar.


Pater est quem nuptiae demonstrant:

See Mater semper certa est, pater est, quem nuptiae demonstrant.



A man who heads a household.

Contrast mater familias (q.v.) See also father-only family, household, patriarchal family, patricentric family.


paternal discrepancy:

Begetting of a child by an individual other than the mother's mate.

See also cuckoldry, duped dad, extra-pair copulation, genetic partner, pass the baby off as his, paternity.



1. Biological (genetic) fatherhood.

2. Legally recognized fatherhood, whether or not one is the biological father.

3. Fatherhood as a function within a family and in relation to particular children, inclusive of the panoply of associations with it.

4. Descent on the father's side.

Comment: The term is also used adjectivally, as in "paternity leave."

Contrast maternity (q.v.). See also double paternity; duped dad; father of (my) child(ren); genetic partner; genitor; human reproduction; Mater semper certa est, pater est, quem nuptiae demonstrant; partible paternity; pass the baby off as his; pater; paternal discrepancy; paternity test; patriarchal; salvator femininus; unwed father.


paternity test:

Application of a scientific method, typically using DNA analysis, to determine who is or is not the genetic father of a particular child or fetus.

Comment: The relatively recent development of accurate paternity testing would seem to challenge the underlying rationale behind patriarchally constructed morals and law, from sexual restrictions upon women so that each man can have a measure of assurance that he is not rearing the children of other men, to the legal assumption that the husband is the father for the sake of social order, since assumptions no longer have to be made.

See also maternity test, paternity.

x DNA test.
x tests.


One receiving the phallus in a male homosexual encounter.

Contrast pederast (q.v.). See also active-passive split, catamite, cinaedus, gay male, homosexual, malakos, pornos, sodomite.



1. Headed, per custom, by a male.

2. Of or pertaining to a patriarchal family or the headship thereof.

Contrast matriarchal (q.v.). See also gamical, paternity, patriarchal family, patriarchal marriage.


patriarchal family:

1. A family (q.v.) organized with the father or senior father as the formal and functional head, especially when this is according to custom.

2. A family that is ruled by a senior male and organized according to patrilineal descent, especially when this is according to custom. Patrilocal residence (q.v.) is sometimes also an expected feature of a patriarchal family.

Contrast matriarchal family (q.v.). See also consanguine family, doll's house marriage, doll's house relationship, head of household, "head of the wife," paterfamilias, patriarchalism, patricentric family, polygyny, stem family, wear the breeches.



1. Belief that in a social unit — such as a state, business, or family — a male should lead, except, perhaps, where no willing or qualified male is available or where that social unit is made up of women only.

2. Implementation of such a belief in practice.

3. Male control of human reproduction.

Contrast matriarchalism (q.v.). See also discrimination on the basis of sex, double standard, feminism, heteropatriarchy, hetero-relations, Lilith, machismo, male chauvinism, patriarchal family, sexual politics.


patriarchal marriage:

1. A marriage (q.v.) that conforms to a patriarchal system.

2. Polygyny or plural marriage, after the pattern set by Abraham, Jacob, and Moses.

See also Celestial Marriage, lord, non-monogamy, master, patriarchal, plural marriage, plural wife, polygyny.


patricentric family:

A two-generational family in which the father is the key figure, the mother's position being casual, temporary, or otherwise peripheral.

Coined by me on analogy with "matricentric family." But perhaps it already exists.

Contrast matricentric family (q.v.). See also family, father-only family, paterfamilias, patriarchal family.


patrilocal residence:

In reference to the married, living in the husband's place of origin and with or near his father, generally in accordance with custom.

See also ambilocal residence, amitalocal residence, avunculocal residence, bilocal residence, duolocal residence, matrilocal residence, matripatrilocal residence, neolocal residence, patriarchal family, unilocal residence, uxoribilocal residence, uxorilocal residence, uxoripatrilocal residence, virilocal residence, walk-in marriage.

x residence.


patron saint of lovers:

Saint Valentine.

Comment: His identity is obscure. It is often supposed that he was an Italian churchman of the 3rd century C.E. and that he was martyred. Some question whether he ever even existed at all.

See also sweethearts' saint, Valentine's Day.

Pauline privilege:

See privilegium Paulinum.


"Phat ass white girl," that is, a young Caucasian woman with buttocks that are attractive or pleasingly plump, especially sexily displayed.

See also attractive, big beautiful woman, callipygian ideal, phat, pleasingly plump, Rubenesque, shapely, voluptuous, waist-to-hip ratio, white widow, white wife, woman.

x abbreviations and acronyms.

pay court to:

See court.



Polyfidelity closed group.

Comment: An abbreviation that emerged from the Kerista Commune (1971-1991).

See also polyfidelity.

x abbreviations and acronyms.


Public display of affection (q.v.).

Comment: Note the closely related PDE or public display of erection, one type of which is the DFE or dance-floor erection.

x abbreviations and acronyms.

Quotation from Tamar Myers Illustrating "PDA"

[Abigail Washburn narrating] Greg finished my sentence with a kiss. He has incredibly full lips for a man his age, and I adore kissing him. It's possible that on this occasion I was so relieved to discover he wasn't angry that I got a little carried away.

"Please," Mama begged, "can we stop with the CPAs?"

I stopped. "That's PDA. It stands for public display of affection. A CPA is someone you hire to do your taxes."
From the mystery novel: Splendor in the Glass: A Den of Antiquity Mystery, [by] Tamar Myers (New York, N.Y.: Avon Books, 2002): chapter 14, p. 129. Of course, "CPA" stands for certified public accountant.



1. To attempt to gain sexual attention, especially in a public way.

2. To cop vanity or actually to puff oneself up with vanity.

Comment: On analogy with tail feather fanning behavior on the part of males of the genus, pavo, especially of the species pavo cristatus.

See also flirt.


peccadillo; plural, peccadilloes or peccadillos:

1. A small sin or little fault.

2. A sexual escapade that violated sexual mores or morality but that is considered by the speaker to have been a small offense because of, for instance, its brevity, its limited activity, or its insignificance.

3. A temporary lapse of emotional fidelity; falling in love, for a time, with someone other than one's spouse.

4. The person with whom one had a sexual escapade or a lapse of emotional fidelity.

See also amourette, dalliance, emotional infidelity, escapade romantique, fling, flirtation, illicit love, illicit relationship, inappropriate relationship, indiscretion, irregular connection, lover, one-night stand, perversion, sex scandal, sexual immorality, sexual mores, short-term relationship, unwelcome admixture with sexuality.

Quotations from D. H. Lawrence Illustrating and Contextualizing "Peccadilloes"


[189, the character Mrs. Hepburn to Hannele] "... But I never throw stones. I know what it is myself to have temptations. I have to flirt a little — and when I was younger — well, the men didn't escape me, I assure you. And I was so often scorched. But never quite singed. My husband never minded. He knew I was really safe. Oh yes, I have always been faithful to him. But still — I have been very near the flame."


[192, again Mrs. Hepburn to Hannele] "Perhaps one needs a tiny pinch of the salt of jealousy. I believe one does. And I have not had one jealous moment for seventeen years. So that, really, when I heard a whisper of something going on here, I felt almost pleased. I felt exonerated for my own little peccadilloes, for one thing. And I felt he was perhaps a little more human. Because, after all, it is nothing but human to fall in love, if you are alone for a long time and in the company of a beautiful woman — and if you're an attractive man yourself."

From the short story: "The Captain's Doll," in: The Ladybird, by D. H. Lawrence (London: Martin Secker, 1923): pp. 189, 192. The italics are his.



1. The senior male in a homosexual relationship between an adult male and a male youth, in a typical classical model the senior having phallic access to the youth, including the youth's anus.

2. An adult male who exercises his phallus in the anus of a young male.

3. A male analist, especially with one or more other males.

Comment: Etymologically the term means "lover of youth"; however, in English, a different term, "pedophile," is typically used to convey the sense of an adult who is attracted to and has sex with minors, particularly pre-pubescent or early pubescent minors. Sometimes "pederast" is treated as a subcategory of "pedophile"; sometimes it is treated as the complement to "pedophile," pedophilia then being chiefly heterosexual orientation to minors; and sometimes, despite the etymology, it is disassociated from love of youth altogether.

By the way, there is nothing etymological to suggest anality, only heavy historical associations; that is, unless an alternate etymology can be demonstrated relating the term to pedo ("I fart") and podex ("anus"), rather than pais/paid- (child).

Instead of the terms "pederast" and "catamite," sometimes "erastes" and "eromenos" could be substituted. Speaking of male homosexuality among the ancient Greeks, K. J. Dover wrote:

"The pais in a homosexual relationship was often a youth who had attained full height (the vase-paintings leave us in no doubt about that); in order to avoid cumbrousness and at the same time to avoid the imprecision of 'boy', I have consistently adopted the Greek term erömenos, masculine passive participle of erän, 'be in love with ...', 'have a passionate desire for ...' [snip] For the senior partner I have adopted the Greek noun erastës, 'lover', which is equally applicable to heterosexual and homosexual relations [snip] From now on 'erastes' and 'eromenos' will be printed as if they were English words."1


1 Greek Homosexuality, [by] K. J. Dover (Updated and with a new postscript. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, c1989): p. 16.

Contrast catamite (q.v.) and pathic (q.v.). See also arsenokoitês, cinaedus, gay lifestyle, gay male, homosexual, pedophile, sodomite.

x erastes.
x eromenos.
x paederast.

Quotation from Fred. Chas. Forberg Illustrating "Pederast"


A man who exercises his member in the anus, be it of a man or a woman, pedicates; he is called a pederast, pedicon, drawk [from the Greek term, draö, meaning "I work, execute"], and the other party, who allows himself to be invaded in that way, is called the patient, cinaedus, catamite, minion, effeminate; if adult or worn out, he is named exolete. The masculine pleasure (so called because women allowed themselves much more rarely to be pedicated than men) is appreciated equally by the active party, the pedicon, as by the passive party, the patient.

From: De Figuris Veneris: Manual of Classical Erotology, by Fred. Chas. Forberg [i.e. Friedrich Karl Forberg, 1770-1848] (New York: Medical Press of New York, 1964): pp. 45-46. Perhaps due to my limited reading on the subject, this is the only instance I've seen of woman being brought into the picture as a passive party in the definition of "pederast." It is also the only example I have seen of "drawk." By the way, for other synonyms of the "passive party," see under "catamite."



1. A male homosexual relationship, especially between an adult and a youth.

2. Anal intercourse, especially between males.

See also active-passive split, ephebophilia, pederast, pedophilia.



See place on a pedestal.



1. Reverence for, idolization of, or adoration of a person to whom one is attracted.

2. The expectation of being revered by any who would dare to love oneself.

3. The tendency of members of one sex in a given culture or subculture to revere members of another sex, and any expectation that members of the other sex have of being revered.

Comment: Sometimes pedestalism is reversed. For instance, before marriage it may be the woman who is revered, after marriage the man.

See also adoration-lust, adore, Bridegroom Fallacy, conjugal passion, dulia, Frauendienst, gyniolatry, husband worship, place on a pedestal, sex god, sex goddess, wife worship.



1. An adult who sexually molests one or more minors.

2. A post-pubescent person who is sexually attracted to pre-pubescent or early pubescent children.

See also jail bait, pederast, -philia, San Quentin quail.



1. A psychological condition on the part of a post-pubescent person in which sexual arousal is dependent upon having a sex partner that is pre-pubescent or in early pubescence, either in reality or in the imagination.

2. A dominant and compelling sexual attraction to children.

See also ephebophilia, gerontophilia, nepiophilia, pederasty, -philia.


peer marriage:

A marriage (q.v.) in which the partners are on equal terms in relation to each other and in which the point is growth of the partners and cultivation of the relationship itself in a way that is free of significant secrets, that is welcoming of input from outside experiences, and that allows for openness with others.

Comment: Sometimes used interchangeably with the term "shared earning/shared parenting marriage."

See also new paradigm relating, shared earning/shared parenting marriage.


peer-pressure sex:

Engagement in sexual activity with somebody either with the encouragement of one or more friends and acquaintances or under the influence of their opinion that said person is sexually desirable or both.

See also coitus, copulation, sex, sexual intercourse.

pegging party:

A social event featuring the use of strap-on dildos for anal penetration of one or more males.

Comment: The typical pegging party involves several women using strap-ons with one or more men. In some cases, there's an element of Dominance by the women and submission by the men.

See also CFNM party, group sex, strap-on party.

x party.


The state of having a mistress or concubine.

Comment: From the Latin word, pellex ("concubine") or pellicatus ("a cohabiting with a kept mistress").

Source: "Glossary of Swedenborgian Terms," compiled by William Ross Woofenden, in: Emanuel Swedenborg: A Continuing Vision ..., edited by Robin Larsen ... [et al.]; introduction by George F. Dole (New York: Swedenborg Foundation, c1988): pp. [5121-517.

See also concubine, hetairism, kept woman, mistress.

x Latin terms.



See double penetration, triple penetration.


See lead (somebody) around by his penis, one penis policy, PIV intercourse, small penis humiliation, think with (one's) penis.

penis-in-vagina intercourse:

See PIV intercourse.

pen pal:

1. A person with whom one corresponds in writing on a fairly regular basis, thereby forming and maintaining a friendly relationship.

2. A circumlocution for a prospective mail-order bride or prospective mail-order husband.

See also long-distance relationship, love letter, mail marriage, mail-order bride, mail-order husband, picture bride.


pensar con el útero (Spanish):

See think with (one's) uterus.

pensar con la polla (Spanish):

See think with (one's) penis.

penser avec son sexe (French):

See think with (one's) penis.

penser avec son utérus (French):

See think with (one's) uterus.

pensión; plural, pensiónes (Spanish):

1. A guesthouse.

2. Sometimes more specifically, an establishment that caters to sexual liasons and rents rooms to walk-ins by the hour.

See also assignation, love motel, love shack, push-button motel, rendezvous, sugar shack, tryst.

x Spanish terms.


See OAP-dophile.


A love relationship that has one or more characteristics analogous to a five-pointed star, particularly a love relationship that has five members.

Comment: The five-pointed star is an occult, magical, or mystical symbol for some. Thus some people are particularly attracted to the idea of a pentacle made up of love partners and some are particularly repulsed.

See also letter group (A, F, K, M), moresome, pentad, pentangle, polygeometry, polygon, quadramory, quadrigamy.



A love relationship comprised of five partners.

See also alternate relationship geometries, dyad, hexad, letter group (A, F, K, M), moresome, pentacle, pentangle, polygeometry, polygon, quadramory, quadrigamy, tetrad, triad.



1. A person who is in love with five people at the same time or in a love relationship with each of five people at the same time.

2. A person who is particularly given to or has the particular potential for five love relationship partners at a time.

See also pentmory, polyamorist, quadramorist.



1. Pertaining to loving five at one time.

2. Pertaining to above-board non-monogamy in which one person has five partners.

3. Particularly given to or having the particular potential for five love relationship partners at a time.

Comment: Absent in the dictionaries I've checked, but a natural permutation of the word "pentamorist," so here included.

See also -amory, pentamory, polyamorous, quadramorous.



A form of polyamory (q.v.) in which a person is in love with five people at the same time or in a love relationship with each of five people at the same time.

Comment: Absent in the dictionaries I've checked, but a natural permutation of the word "pentamorist," so here included.

See also -amory, hexad, InSix, letter group (H, xi, pi), partner sharing, pentamorist, pentamorous, polygon, quadramory, sextet.



A love relationship comprised of five partners.

See also letter group (A, F, K, M), moresome, pentacle, pentad, polygeometry, polygon, quad, quadramory, triangle.

x love pentangle.



1. Pertaining to or characterized by five farewells.

2. Pertaining to or characterized by five divorces on the part of an individual.

Source: Mrs. Byrne's Dictionary of Unusual , Obscure, and Preposterous Words, gathered from numerous and diverse authoritative sources by Mrs. Byrne; edited, with an introduction by Mr. Byrne (Secaucus, N.J.: University Books [and] Citadel Press, c1974): p. 157.

See also apopemptic, divorced, polyapopemptic.


perambulating navy lists:

Women who shop for males among the sailors stopped in Malta.

Comment: So-called "for they know the seniority — and pay — of every officer of their acquaintance."


Sea Slang of the Twentieth Century: Royal Navy, Merchant Navy, Yachtsmen, Fishermen, Bargemen, Canalmen, Miscellaneous, by Wilfred Granville; introduction and etymologies by Eric Partridge (New York: Philosophical Library, 1950): s.v. "fishing fleet," p. 96.

See also fishing fleet.



Person of a complementary sexual orientation, for instance (and this is far from an exhaustive list):

Comment: Acronym coined by me, June 20, 2012. I thought I had better coin it before somebody else settled on "pocsor"! And I like it better than the barely used POCSO (q.v.).

See also bisexual, complementary sexual orientation, gay, gay male, heterosexual, homosexual, lesbian, man, POCSO, sexual orientation, template for a lover, woman.

x person of a complementary sexual orientation.

perfect catch:

A person one considers, perhaps prospectively, an ideal mate.

See also boy of (one's) dreams, catch, Dirty Harry syndrome, dream, dream date, genicon, girl of (one's) dreams, ideal, made for each other, man of (one's) dreams, match made in heaven, Miss Right, Miss Wonderful, Mister Right, Mister Wonderful, Ms. Right, person of (one's) dreams, Prince Charming, soul mate, template (for a lover), ten, true love, true lover, unicorn, white whale, woman of (one's) dreams.


perfume, as in "a perfume":

1. A fragrant liquid designed for light application to bits of clothing or to bits of the human body (in which case it combines with one's personal chemistry) in order to enhance one's olfactory appeal or at least engender some olfactory appeal.

2. A pleasant aroma.

Comments: Commonly perfumes are made from the essential oils of flowers and spices or are synthetically made.

Many people are sensitive or allergic to many a perfume given enough exposure, some being subject even to anaphylactic shock. A perfume that is on the low end of the spectrum in causing such reactions is called a hypoallergenic perfume. One that is on the high end is called hyperallergenic.

See also aphrodisiac, attraction, cassolette, chemistry of love, elixir of love, love potion, philter, scent-free dating.

perfume, as in "to perfume":

To apply a fragrant liqid to one's clothing or body.

Pericope de Adultera (Latin):

"The cohesive literary sub-unit on the woman caught in adultery," which in most Christian Bibles is located in the New Testament at John 7:53-8:11, but which is almost certainly not original to that Gospel. It is generally considered an example of Jesus' showing compassion to a sinner and of his pricking the consciences of the judgmental.

Comment: Among the variant terms: "Cambridge pericope" and "Pericope Adulterae."

A form of the story was supposedly related in writing by Papias (ca. 60-13), who was the Bishop of Hierapolis in Asia Minor and who is counted among the Apostolic Fathers.

The traditional form of the story as found in most New Testaments is that of Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis (5th century) and various later manuscripts. The Ferrar group of manuscripts (known as family 13) place it after Luke 21:38, and some scholars think it was original with that Gospel. Other manuscript placements include it after Luke 24:53, after John 7:36, and after John 21:25. The original text of the traditional form is in Greek; and the traditional form may be an amalgamation of more than one story that had been circulating in the early church.


For Papias, see: The Apostolic Fathers : Greek Texts and English Translations of Their Writings (2nd ed., J. B. Lightfoot and J. R. Harmer, editors and translators; Michael W. Holmes, editor and reviser. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, c1992): pp. 556-591, particularly fragments 3.17; 4 (from Codex Bezae); 23; 26; and the discussion on pp. 557-560.

See also adulteress, adultery, cast the first stone, nonjudgmental, "was Jesus married" question (which see for discussion).

x Bible.
x Cambridge pericope.
x Latin terms.
x woman caught in adultery.
x woman taken in adultery.


periodic alimony:

Alimony (q.v.) paid at intervals over a period of time determined by the court, the amount subject to revision according to the needs of the person receiving alimony and the ability of the other to pay.



The segmentation of history per a grand scheme, for instance one that accounts for variations in what is considered moral, the polygyny of the Hebrews being perhaps the most prominent practice to account for.

Comment: The school of theology known as Dispensationalism employs a form of periodization whereby God is seen as working differently with humankind in different, theologically defined periods of history.

See also celibacy, compartmentalization, monogamy, "neither marry, nor are given in marriage," polygamy, polygyny, sexual morality.

Quotation from Roland H. Bainton Illustrating "Periodization"


[128] ... the Anabaptist movement in The Netherlands was confronted by the necessity for clarification. A conference to that end was held in the early fall of 1535 at Bocholt, where [David] Joris proved to be the most influential figure....

[129] The problem of polygamy was handled by a periodization of history. The first period was that of the Old Testament patriarchs marked by polygamy, the second that of the Son in the New Testament characterized by monogamy, and the third would be the age of the Spirit distinguished by celibacy. Thus the patriarchs were not condemned and polygamy was not condoned.

From: "The Heretic as Hypocrite: David Joris," chapter 5 of: The Travail of Religious Liberty: Nine Biographical Studies, by Roland H. Bainton (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, c1951): pp. [125]-148, specifically pp. 128-129.



See lovers' perjuries, love's perjury.

permanent alimony:

Court-ordered payments for an ex-spouse during the course of his or her lifetime.

See also alimony.


permanent arrangement:

1. A mutual understanding or way of doing things that is meant to last long into indefinite future.

2. A marriage, domestic union, or some other committed love relationship that is meant to last long into the indefinite future.

See also arrangement, committed love relationship, domestic partnership, marriage.

Quotation from Cassandra King Illustrating "Permanent Arrangement"


Godwin shook his head. "Poor Celeste. Nothing's going to come of that, you know. Simms has had countless mistresses over the years, always flamboyant types; cocktail waitresses, go-go dancers, strippers. I hear he's good to them, taking them on trips, giving expensive gifts, and so forth. So Celeste'll get something out of it, if not a permanent arrangement. I can't see him and Libby ever divorcing, even though she's a rather cold woman, I suspect."

From the novel: The Sunday Wife, [by] Cassandra King (New York: Hyperion, c2002): p. 165.

perpetual virginity of Mary:

See Virgin Mary.



See person ..., POSSLQ, wingperson.

personal ad; plural, personals or personal ads:

1. An individual's, couple's, or group's published advertisement soliciting contacts to explore the possibility of starting a friendship or love relationship or of engaging in sexual relations.

2. Something a person says in a group which makes that person sound appealling to one or more others. This is generally a humorous sense. For instance, in a USENET newsgroup that bans personals, a person may say something appealling and receive a response like this: "Hey, no personals!"

Comments: Personal ads have a vast vocabulary of their own. For example, in a swingers' ad:

Much of the vast vocabulary of personal ads in in the form of abbreviations. In the chart below, most of the abbreviations are common; however, abbreviation lists vary from publication to publication.

Sometimes personals include sexually explicit abbrevations. Most such abbreviations are excluded below.

Abbreviations Sometimes Used In Personals

Plus a Small Selection of Netspeak Abbreviations




Sexual activity with any sex enjoyed






Ascendant or rising sign (in astrology)


Age, sex, location


boy, a male less than 13 years old


Black (in reference to a dark-skinned person of African descent)

Bareback (that is, sex without a condom or other barrier), or bodybuilder


Big beautiful woman

B/D or B&D

Bondage and discipline (or dominance)


Bondage & Discipline, Dominance & Submission, Sadism & Masochism






Cancer (in astrology)




Chubby chaser

CD or C/D


Casual encounter





D&D free or D/D free

Drug and disease free


Drug/disease free


Dominant male


Dominant female


Dominant/submissive, or Dominance/submission


Down to earth


A female at least 13 but less than 18 years old


A female, especially one 18 or over




Fun travel adventure


Female-to-male transgender

Face to face (see also IRL)


girl, a female less than 13 years old




Gay black male



Get naked on camera (Netspeak)


Good sense of humor


Gay white male

Abbreviations Sometimes Used In Personals (continued)




Hot Bi Babe (Bi = bisexual)

Horny Net geek
A virtual hug in Netspeak; a type of cyberhug; variations include *hug* and (((hug)))


Height/weight proportionate




In real life (see also F2F)


In search of








Light drinker


Long distance relationship


Latter Day Saints (Mormon)




Leather lover

Let's meet in real life (Netspeak)


Legally separated, or Light smoker


Long term relationship, or Lifetime relationship


A male at least 13 but less than 18 years old


A male, especially one 18 or over; a man


Married but available, or Masters in Business Administration


Married black couple


Married bisexual couple


Married but looking


Midheaven (in astrology)

Meet in real life (Netspeak)


Marriage minded; or male/male couple, as in MM4W (two men looking for a woman)

Member of the other (or opposite) sex
Member of the same sex

M/P Switch

Mono/poly switch


Men seeking men, or Men who have sex with men


Men seeking women


Male-to-female transgender

Man/woman couple, as in MW4W (man and woman looking for a woman)


Married white couple


Native American


Never been married

ND or N/D

Non-drinker, No drinking, or No drugs


No drugs

Naked in front of camera (Netspeak)

NK or N/K

No kids

NS or N/S


No strings attached

Abbreviations Sometimes Used In Personals (continued)


Professional, or Parent

Personal attachment, or Pleasing appendage






Please make snacks

Party and play (that is, drug use and sexual activities)




Photo and phone number

Pornography (Netspeak, where deliberately misspelled to throw others off)
Real life, as opposed to online
Race and picture — often follows ASL in parentheses: ASL (RP);
or Role play.


Single (never married) (see also SGL)

Single Asian female



Single Asian male

S&M or SM or S/M


Single Asian professional female
Single Asian professional male


Self-addressed stamped envelope


Single black female


Single bisexual female

Single bisexual male


Single black male

Single black professional female
Single black professional male




Social drinker


Single (see also S)


Similar interests

S/M or S&M

Sadism and masochism


Sense of humor

Strictly platonic
Same room sex


Sexually transmitted diseases (generally replaces VDs)







Single white female


Single white male

Sex with no strings attached
Single white professional female
Single white professional male
Ttransvestite (see also TV)


Tested Antibody Negative for HIV (AIDS)



Talk dirty to me (Netspeak)




Tender loving care



Trying to conceive


Transvestite (see also T)

Transsexual with genitalia
You be too
Have had a vasectomy and so cannot impregnate (see also v-safe)


Venereal disease (see under STDs)

Very good looking



Have had a vasectomy and so cannot impregnate (see also vas-safe)


In first position: Widowed.
In second position: White.
Example: WWF = Widowed white female




Will answer all

WE or W/E

Well endowed



Would like to meet


Women seeking men


Women seeking women, or Women who have sex with women


Willing to relocate

Woman/woman couple, as in WW4M (two women looking for a man)


Years old

For, often short for "looking for" or "seeking"
For real, genuine, not into head-games

420 or 4:20

"Four-twenty": pot (marijuana) friendly

*  *
Used in Netspeak to indicate a virtual gesture or other bodily reaction, for example, *wrinkling brow*

See also alternative dating, BAP, chemistry, clean, contact, culture, dating plan, deal breaker, discreet, dyadic notation, F, FFF, FFM, FMF, hopeless romantic, interested in friendship, JAP, LDR, M, mbl, meet for pleasure, MFM, MMF, MMM, modern marrieds, M/P switch, open-minded, personal column, polyamorous, romantic resumé, safe, swinging, triadic notation, versatile, video dating, waist-to-hip ratio, wink.

x abbreviations and acronyms.
x can entertain.
x can travel.


personal attachment:

A naval officer's spouse, especially one who remains in the port where that officer's ship is stationed, that is, to which it is attached.

Comment: Abbreviated P.A.

Source: Sea Slang of the Twentieth Century: Royal Navy, Merchant Navy, Yachtsmen, Fishermen, Bargemen, Canalmen, Miscellaneous, by Wilfred Granville; introduction and etymologies by Eric Partridge (New York: Philosophical Library, 1950): s.v. "P.A.," p. 173.

See also bundle man, fishing fleet, landlady, owneress, P.A., partner, pleasing appendage, sloping billet, spouse, wife.


personal column; often the plural is assumed: personal columns:

A section in a newspaper or magazine that contains private messages and also advertisements by individuals soliciting contacts to explore the possibility of starting a friendship or love relationship or of engaging in sexual relations. In some personal columns, messages from non-profit organizations are included as well.

See also personals.

personal discrimination:

1. Favoritism.

2. Charging different prices or rates, despite essentially the same circumstances, to different customers; said of a business.

3. Preferring a particular person over others as a friend or a mate, in the latter case often as distinguished from simply needing a sufficiently attractive someone with whom to slake one's sexual appetite.

See also admire, fancy, fond of, like, take a shine to.

x discrimination.


1. A philosophy or theology that assigns preeminence to personhood, whether ontologically, morally, or otherwsie.

2. In ethics, more specifically: Recognition of persons as possessing transcendent value.

Comments: "Personalism" translates the word Personalismus, which is commonly attributed to the German theologian, Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834), who used the term in 1799.

Personalism is often contrasted with other positions or with encroachments upon persons, for instance, with pantheism, moral absolutism, or the domination of technology.

See also agapic love, devalue sex, ethics, sexual ethics, sexual morality, relationalism.

Quotation from Friedrich Schleiermacher Illustrating "Personalism"


Mehr Schein mögte es vielleicht haben, daß der Personalismus und die ihm entgegengesezte Pantheistische Vorstellungsart in der Religion uns zwei solche individuelle Formen derselben an die Hand gebe; aber Schein ist es doch auch nur.


It might have more the appearance that in religion personalism and the pantheistic type of representation opposed to personalism present us with two such individual forms of religion. But it is also merely appearance, after all.

The above German text is from: "Fünfte Rede: Über die Religionen," in: Über die Religion: Reden an die Gebildeten unter ihren Verächtern (1799), [von] Friedrich Schleiermacher; herausgegeben von Güunter Meckenstock (Berlin; New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2001; in series: De Gruyter Texte): pp. 235-312, specifically p. 256 (following the pagination of the 1799 edition given in the margin). The word "Personalismus" occurs once more in the paragraph from which the above sentence is quoted. Originally published, Berlin: Johann Friedrich Unger, 1799.

The above English translation, which is of the 1799 edition, is from: "Fifth Speech: On the Religions," in: On Religion: Speeches to Its Cultured Despisers, [by] Friedrich Schleiermacher; introduction, translation, and notes by Richard Crouter (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988; in series: Texts in German Philosophy): pp. 189-223, specifically p. 198.

The other two English translation are of the third edition (1821), in which the text of the paragraph differs considerably from the first edition. For the corresponding passages, see:

  • On Religion: Speeches to Its Cultured Despisers, [by] Friedrich Schleiermacher; translated by John Oman; with an introduction by Rudolf Otto (New York: Harper & Row, 1958; in series: Harper Torchbook. The Cloister Library; TB 36): p. 222; cf. p. 256, note 4. The Oman translation was first published in 1893.
  • On Religion: Addresses in Response to Its Cultured Critics, [by] Friedrich Schleiermacher; translated, with introduction and notes, by Terrence N. Tice (Richmond, Va.: John Knox Press, c1969; in series: Research in Theology): p. 286; cf. pp. 325, note 4 and 369, note 35.


personal work:

1. A creative product of one's own that entails self-revelation, for instance, of one's life history or of one's inner life or of one's intimacies.

2. Dutiful effort put into one's own private matters, rather than for pay or profit.

3. Effort put into a friendship, marital relationship, or other love relationship in order to improve or maintain its health and to address any problems that have arisen.

See also build a relationship; build on a relationship; "Communicate, communicate, communicate!"; work at a marriage; work at a relationship.

person I'm (or you're, or he's, or she's) with:

1. An individual whose company one is keeping for the time being.

2. The individual or an individual with whom one is in a love relationship.

See also involved with, lover.

x person.


person of a complementary sexual orientation:

See complementary sexual orientation, percso, POCSO.

person of (one's) dreams:

An individual who appears to fit the image of what one imagines to be an ideal mate for oneself.

See also boy of (one's) dreams; demon-lover; dream; dream date; fantasy life; girl of (one's) dreams; ideal; love dream; lovemap; man of (one's) dreams; nordic combined; perfect catch; tall, dark, and handsome; template (for a lover); ten; unicorn; woman of (one's) dreams.

x person.

person of opposite sex sharing living quarters:




See pervert.


Characterized by perversion (q.v.).

See also kinky.

Quotation from Aldous Huxley Illustrating "Perverse"


[Mr. Scogan] "... The only century in which customs were not characterized by the same cheerful openness was the nineteenth, of blessed memory. It was the astonishing exception. And yet, with what one must suppose was a deliberate disregard of history, it looked upon its horribly pregnant silences as normal and natural and right; the frankness of the previous fifteen or twenty thousand | years was considered abnormal and perverse. It was a curious phenomenon."

From the novel: Crome Yellow, [by] Aldous Huxley (New York: Harper & Row, 1974; in publisher' series: Perennial Library; P 336): chapter 15, pp. 72-73. Originally published: London: Chatto & Windus, 1921; in the United States: Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Page, 1922.


1. A tendency towards or habitual preference for a sexual practice, sexual connection, or relationship style that does not meet someone's standard of acceptability or normality; or else:

2. Such a practice, connection, or relationship style itself; a deviation of sexual expression from what is considered by the speaker or someone the speaker is representing to be right or acceptable or normal; a kink.

3. Use of sexual activity as a means of violence.

4. A turning away from what is appropriate for a being, such as a human being, especially with regard to that being's sexuality and sexual relationships.

5. One of the extremes of sexuality: either engaging in sex all the time or always denying it to oneself.

Comment: In the first two senses, this term is so heavily loaded that in much usage the content is null except to express or to indicate a prejudice or an insult. When neutral expression is sought, use instead something like "unusual sexual practice," or else specify.

See also active-passive split, degrading sex, illicit love, illicit relationship, inappropriate relationship, irregular connection, kink, peccadillo, perverse, polymorphous perversity, porneia, sexual degradation, sexual immorality, sexual mores, sexual taboo, traditional morality, unnatural, unwelcome admixtures with sexuality.

Quotation from Ruth Dickson Illustrating "Perversion"

Monogamy is a true perversion of the human spirit ...

From: Married Men Make the Best Lovers, by Ruth Dickson (Los Angeles, Calif: Sherbourne Press, c1967): p. 133.

Quotation from Spider Robinson Illustrating "Perversions"

[Tim] "... Lady Sally [McGee] has nothing against monosexuals. She says the only real perversions are nymphomania, satyriasis, and celibacy, and she even tolerates them in the House."
From the science fiction novel: Lady Slings the Booze, [by] Spider Robinson (New York: Ace Books, 1992): chapter 3, p. 42.



1. A person with a habitual preference for a sexual practice, sexual connection, or relationship style that does not meet someone's standard of acceptability or normality. In this sense, usually a pejorative term.

2. A person who engages in kinky behavior or who wants to. Per Dossie Easton and Catherine A. Liszt, "An affectionate term that kinkyfolk use to refer to ourselves." As such, a rehabilitated term.

Comment: A short form is "perv."


See: When Someone You Love is Kinky, by Dossie Easton & Catherine A. Liszt (Oakland, CA: Greenery Press, c2000): p. 144.

See also lecher, perversion.

x perv.
x rehabilitated terms.


1. An animal kept by a human being for affectionate companionship or enjoyment.

2. A person who is especially favored or indulged by an authority figure, as in "teacher's pet."

3. A term of endearment.

See also animalistic, term of endearment.

petite maison (French):

"Small house": a building maintained, in addition to a residence, to serve as a trysting place for lovers, ordinarily one of the lovers being an owner of the property.

See also honeymoon cottage, love in the rough, love-nest, love shack, pied-à-terre, rendezvous, sugar shack, temple of love, tryst.

x French terms.

Quotation from P. W. K. Stone Illustrating "Petites Maisons"


Fashionable society in the eighteenth century kept its clandestine rendezvous on its own property, in suburban villas known as petites maisons, which were maintained specially for the purpose.

From: 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): p. 41, translator's note 1.


petition of love:

1. A prayer or plea that compassion be shown to oneself or others.

2. An earnest request that a person recipocate one's romantic affections.

3. A courtship aimed at exciting a beloved's affection.

Comment: The Occitan word used by the medieval troubadours for a petition of love was prec (verb form: pregar).

See also courtship, love, love-suit, proceptive stage, reciprocated love.

x Occitan terms.

pet name:

An affectionate appelation that is used for a beloved or other loved one and that is different from the real name.

See also animalistic, galapropism, re-naming, term of endearment.


pet of (my) heart:

A term of endearment for somebody towards whom one feels affection.

See also heart, term of endearment.

A Postcard Illustrating "Pet of My Heart"

<Picture of postcard not yet posted..>

Romantic color "post card" with white background, showing a red-haired boy and a girl in a red dress and blue bonnet peeking around a red-bordered message at each other; the message reads: "PET OF MY HEART If I were starving I could devour your looks, if I were dying of thirst, I could drink your words, if I were burning, your coldness would freeze me, and if I were freezing, your smile would warm me back to life." (Germany: G Trade Mark, [between 1907 and 1915]; in: Postcard-series; no. 413). The lines are apparently original to the post card. Unsigned illustration attributed to Frances Brundage. Dates from the divided back era. One of at least two items in the series having the same number. From the author's collection, scanned <on such and such a date>.

petronalla (Italian):

A priest's mistress or concubine.

See also clericolagnia, concubine, gugusse, housefather, mistress, parnel, smellsmock.

x Italian terms.

petticoat despotism:

Domination by a woman, especially over her husband.

For a lexical example illustrating " Despotism of the Peticoat," see under "master."

See also ball-buster, petticoat government, under petticoat government, uxorodespotism, Xanthippê.

x despotism of the petticoat.


petticoat government:

Rule by a woman, especially over her husband.

See also petticoat despotism, under petticoat government.

Quotation from Kati Marton Illustrating "Petticoat Government"


Eleanor [Roosevelt] was reluctant. She felt her appearance would smack of "petticoat government." It would harm the president [Franklin Delano Roosevelt] to have his wife seem to be making up his mind for him.

From: Hidden Power: Presidential Marriages That Shaped Our Recent History, [by] Kati Marton (New York: Pantheon Books, c2001): p. 75


petting party:

A social gathering for the purpose of hugging, kissing, and fondling.

Comment: Also called a make-out party.

See also cuddle party, flirt party, friction party, make-out party, skin party.

x party.

phantam lover syndrome:

See de Clerambault's syndrome.


See acceptive phase, conceptive phase, proceptive phase, relationship phases.


1. Sexy, said of a woman.

2. Excellent; wonderful; cool.

3. Attractively plump. This is a sense that has migrated from the first sense, undoubtedly because of the inevitable association with the homonym "fat." In connection with this sense, note the term "BBW," that is, "big beautiful woman."

Comment: Various phrases have been constructed to turn this word into an acronym. Among them, starting with what appears to be the most common one, are these:

Incidentally, the word "phat" explains part of the acronym "PAWG," that is, "phat ass white girl."

See also attractive, big beautiful woman, datable, desirable, f*ckable, outer beauty, PAWG, pleasingly plump, pulchritude, Rubenesque, sexy, shapely, sultry, toothsome, tottie, voluptuous.

x abbreviations and acronyms.


See Michelangelo phenomenon.

See also complexes, effects, syndromes.


See chemistry of love.


philander, as in "a philander":

1. A man who is regarded as one's love or lover.

2. Capitalized, a stock literary name for a husband or lover.

3. A flirtation or dalliance in which a man is involved.

4. Short for "philanderer."

See also dlliance, love, lover.


philander, as in "to philander":

1. To attempt frivolously to attract someone sexually, said of a man, usually one attempting to attract a woman.

2. To succeed in such an attempt.

3. To engage in an adulterous affair, said of a man.

See also coitus, come on to, copulate, flirt, hit on, mack (somebody), make a pass at, make (a person) fall in love with, make love to, make-want, mercheta, put the mojo on, seduce, serial philadering, sexcapade, sexual intercourse, solicit, stud.



1. A man who engages in flirtation or sexual activity with one or more people frivolously, especially one who makes a practice of doing so.

2. A man who engages in an adulterous affair.

Comment: Generally "philanderer" is used as a pejorative term and, in that way, is rougly the equivalent of the pejorative use of the word "slut" in reference to a woman, although the odium level may sometimes differ.

From the Greek term philandros ("loving men" or "loving one's husband"). Obviously the meaning has shifted, perhaps because the etymological roots came to be taken as meaning, "male lover."

Not to be confused with either "panderer" or "pimp." See also agapet, bedhopper, cad, Casanova, casual sex, cockhound, crumpet man, Don Juan, fornicator, freelance, gay deceiver, general lover, God's gift to women, jock, lecher, Lothario, macadam, macadamo, make-out artist, manwhore, merchetwr, multimitus, operator, pick up artist, player, promiscuity, pussyhound, rake, roué, rover, roving kind, satyr, serial philanderer, sex maniac, sexual varietism, shark, skate, skirt-chaser, slut, smellsmock, stud, slut, tomcat, wolf, womanizer.


-philia; adjective, -philic or -philous; person, -phile or -philiac:

The part of a word formation that means attraction to, tendency towards, intense desire for, obsessive desire for, arousal by, love of, admirer of, liking of, affinity for, or need for.

Comments: Generally "-philia," which is derived from Greek, is used in words to indicate a desire beyond what is usual, as in "Anglophilia." It is frequently used in psychology to indicate an abnormal tendency, especially a pathological tendency for which treatment is needed in order to restore a person to social compatibility and functionality. And it is sometimes used in social discourse to indicate a tendency towards a kind of action that is beyond the pale of what is considered acceptable behavior, as in "pedophilia."

The many nuances of meaning and the sliding scale of intensity in meaning often make it difficult to latch on to the precise sense of a "-philia" word, even with regard to many a technical term, unless the precise sense is made clear in context.

The combining forms "-philia" and "-phobia" are often used in contrasting pairs, although sometimes they are different aspects of the same condition.

See also androgynophilia, androphilia, ephebophilia, erotophilia, gerontophilia, gynophilia, love, microphily, multiphilia, nepiophilia, OAP-dophile, pedophile, pedophilia, polyiterophilia, zelophilia; and note some of the terms listed under "mixoscopia."

x Greek terms.



Love of women.

See also androgynophilia, cunt crazy, girl crazy, gynophilia, woman-hungry, woman-keen.



Fear of love, either of falling in love or of being loved or both.

See also crystallophobia, in love, love, -phobia.


philter, or philtre:

A liquid, meant for drinking and used in the practice of magic, that supposedly has the property of exciting romantic attraction.

See also aphrodisiac, attraction, chemistry of love, elixir of love, love-juice, love potion, perfume.

-phobia; adjective, -phobic; person, -phobe:

The part of a word formation that means irrational fear of, dread of, or intense avoidance response to.

Comments. Since fear, at times, inspires hatred, this combining form is sometimes pressed into extended duty to cover hatred or motivations that typically have hateful results, as in "homophobia" (q.v.) and "polyphobia" (q.v.). The more appropriate combining form to indicate hatred is "miso-," as in "misogamy" (q.v.).

The ending, "-phobia," is derived from Greek and is often contrasted with "-philia" (q.v.). Making the necessary changes, the comments under "-philia" are equally applicable to "-phobia."

See also anuptaphobia, commitmentphobia, crystallophobia, erotophobia, gamophobia, genophobia, novercaphobia, philophobia, propinquiphobia, proximaphobia, transphobia, vitricophobia; and note syngenesophobia (under "kinship").

x Greek terms.


phone sex partner:

A person with whom one engages in mutual erotic stimulation by way of telephone-to-telephone communication, especially a person with whom one engages in such activity repeatedly.

Comments: Typically sexual gratification is achieved by masturbating or engaging in body-to-body sexual activity with one or more other persons, who may take turns speaking to the phone sex partner on the telephone.

It is possible to engage in phone sex with several people simultaneously, for instance by use of speaker phones or teleconferencing technology.

See also alternative dating, cybersex partner, erotic connection, long-distance lover, partner, pillow talk, techno-straying, toothing, "What are you wearing?"

x telephone sex partner.



A memory lapse specifically associated with the telephone, for instance:

1. The embarrassing circumstance of dialing someone and forgetting who it was that one dialed just as that person answers.

2. Forgetting to bring one's mobile phone or forgetting where one left it.

3. Listening on the phone to a list of recorded options, only to forget which option one wants.

4. Getting someone's phone number so that one can set up a date with that person, only to forget where one placed that number or to forget to call altogether.

Comment: A portmanteau term: telephone + amnesia.

See also amnesia sex, date.

x telephone.


See boudoir photography.

phronêma tês sarkos:

See carnally minded.

physical infidelity:

Sexual activity in the flesh with someone other than one's regular partner, when one is in a committed relationship where the expectations are of sexually exclusivity.

Comment: Generally used in contrast either with emotional infidelity or cyber-infidelity.

See also cyber-infidelity, emotional infidelity, infidelity, just sex.

physical love:

See amour-physique.


physical relationship:

A relationship (q.v.) that includes intimate touches between partners, especially touching that is inclusive of sexual activity.

Contrast, for example, online relationship (q.v.). See also conjunction, erotic friendship, intimate relationship, sexual connection, sexual relationship, steamy relationship, X-rated relationship.

Quotation from Hilda Doolittle Illustrating "Physical Relationship"


All reasoning, normal, sane and balanced men and women need and seek at certain times of their lives, certain definite physical relationships. Men and women of temperament, musicians, scientists, artists especially, need these relationships to develop and draw forth their talents. Not to desire and make every effort to develop along these natural physical lines, cripples and dwarfs the being. To shun, deny and belittle such experiences is to bury one's talent carefully in a napkin.

From: Notes on Thought and Vision & The Wise Sappho, by H.D. (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1982): p. 17. Written in 1919 and published posthumously.

Quotation from Gail Sheehy Illustrating "Physical Relationship"


Alicia began getting calls from a number of different men, all of whom she had known before, sometimes for decades. "They'd never put out any feelers, but of course, neither did I." She began going out for evenings with them — no physical relationship, just a kiss hello and good night — but they were good companions and very attentive.

From: Sex and the Seasoned Woman: Pursuing the Passionate Life, [by] Gail Sheehy (New York: Random House, c2006): p. 295.



See mettere in piazza.

picket-fence poly:

See white-picket-fence polyamory.


pickup, pick-up, or pick up:

1. A person one happened to meet and spent time with, especially if this meeting led to a casual sexual encounter.

2. The act or art of finding, meeting, and attracting a desirable person with whom to engage in sexual activity.

Comments: Abbreviated PU.

Some find this term derogatory, since it seems to imply to them some sort of inequity in moral responsibility. Some also find it sexist, since, even though it is not a gender-specific term, it tends to be used, in the first sense, most often by men of women and, in the second sense, chiefly of activity on the part of some males.

See also casual sex, cockblock, conquest, dalliance, escapade romantique, fling, FMAC, left-over sex, nanpa, one-night stand, paratrooping sex, partner, prospect, PU, road beef, some random, strange, stranger sex, target, zipless f***.


pick up:

To go through the process of finding, meeting, and attracting a person with whom one would like to have sex, and then closing, that is, bringing that person to a point of committing either to sexual relations on the spot or to a track that has a good chance of leading to casual sex in the near future.

See also casual sex, chippy, cruise, FMAC, four Fs, go solo, grab a granny, macademizar, pickup, pick-up joint, scamming, seduce, solicit, stud, trap, troll, womanize.

Quotation from Tamar Myers Illustrating "Pick Us Up"

"That man [Roy] doesn't want to eat, Abigail. He's trying to pick us up."

"He's buying us supper, Anita, not a bed..."

From the mystery novel: Larceny and Old Lace, [by] Tamar Myers (New York, NY: Avon Books, 2000, c1996: in series: A Den of Antiquity Mystery): chapter 22, p. 183.


pick-up artist, or pick up artist:

A person who is adept at finding, meeting, and attracting desirable people with whom to engage in sexual activity.

Comments: Abbreviated PUA.

In usual usage (at least, in my observation), the term refers to a man; but the term itself is gender neutral.

Skill Stages Relative to the Pick Up Artist

Skill Stage



Way below average frustrated chump / chick


A person who is spectacularly poor at approaching a potential sex partner.

Below average frustrated chump / chick


A person who is poor at approaching a potential sex partner.

Average frustrated chump / chick


The typical person who bumbles at trying to approach a potential sex partner, but who, from time to time, might be successful at it anyway.

Be careful: In some contexts, AFC means something else, such as, "a fine catch."

Recovering average frustrated chump / chick, at inception


A person who has become conscious of being an AFC and who is working on the idea of becoming a pick up artist.

Recovering average frustrated chump / chick


A person upon deciding to become a pick up artist and setting out on the path to acquire the pertinent skills.

Green pick up artist


A person who is acquiring the basic skills of a pick up artist. Sometimes this term is used in place of RAFC.

Pick up artist


A person accomplished at pickups.

Pick up master


A PUA who has honed his or her skills to a recognizably high level.

Pick up guru


A PUA who has acquired a reputation as a highly skilled PUA and who passes his or her skills on to others.

Derived in large part from: "Common Acronyms / Slang Used on" See especially under rAFC / RAFC. The document was found at

Contrast target (q.v.). See also agapet, bedhopper, Casanova, closer, cockhound, code, crumpet man, dab at love, dating plan, Don Juan, Don Juaness, flirt-gill, gay deceiver, giglet, God's gift to women, güila, hoe, hoochie, ladies' man, lady-killer, law of averages, lothariette, Lothario, loverboy, lovertine, macadam, macadamo, mack daddy, make-out artist, masher, Messalina, multimitus, nymphomaniac, operator, philanderer, pick up artist, player, promiscuity, PUA, pussyhound, rake, roué, rover, satyr, seducer, seductress, serial philanderer, sex maniac, sexual varietism, shark, she-wolf, skirt-chaser, slut, smellsmock, stud, tart, three-second rule, tramp, wanton woman, wolf, womanizer.


pick-up joint:

A place, ordinarily a building, where one often has opportunities to meet people of complementary sexual orientation either to arrange a date or for a spontaneous date.

Comment: Singles bars and gay bars are perhaps most commonly thought of as pick-up joints. However, all sorts of other places are often used as such, from religious meeting houses to coffee shops, grocery stores, laundromats, museums, and sports arenas. Sometimes specialty shops are used as pick-up joints for people looking for others with similar interests — a bookstore for bookish people (the science fiction section for sci-fi fans, for instance), a computer store for computer geeks, and so forth.

See also attraction venue, date, dating plan, gay bar, meat market, open party, pick up, singles bar, singles party.


pick-up line, or pickup line:

A remark, commonly a prepared remark, used in order to initiate contact with a person of a complementary sexual orientation, contact that might lead to a sexual encounter.

See also approach invitation, chat-up line, come-on, flirtation, like what (you) see, lyrics, opening line, proposition, "See anything you like," sexual advances, sexual invitation, "What are you wearing?" "Your place or mine?"

x line.

picnic date:

1. A social activity with someone, or even more than one person, of complementary sexual orientation, an activity that involves an excursion to an outdoor spot — such as a park, beach, meadow, or wooded area — for a meal.

2. One's companion(s) in such an activity.

See also brunch date, date (twice), dinner date, first date food, funch, lunch date.

picture bride:

A mail-order bride who was chosen at least partly on the basis of a photograph of her.

Comment: There was a movie called "Picture Brides" (1934), directed by Phil Rosen; starring Regis Toomey, Alan Hale, and Dorothy Mackaill.

See also bride, mail marriage, mail-order bride, pen pal.


piece of real estate:

See real estate.

piece of stray:

See stray.

piece of tail:

See tail.

pied-à-terre (French):

"Foot on the ground": a residence, such as an apartment or condominium, that is maintained in addition to a primary residence. Sometimes the term is used in such a way as to connote that the extra residence is a trysting place for lovers, ordinarily one of the lovers being an owner of the property.

See also honeymoon cottage, love in the rough, love-nest, love shack, petite maison, rendezvous, sugar shack, temple of love, tryst.

x French terms.

pig pile:

1. A group of porcine critters on top of one another.

2. A group of people on top of one another, as after a football tackle or after police have tackled a suspect.

3. In gay slang, a sex orgy.

See also animalistic, gay, group sex, homosexual, orgy, puppy pile.

x pile.


See "Men are pigs."


A term of endearment, especially for a girl.

Source: Samuel Johnson's Dictionary: Selections from the 1755 Work that Defined the English Language, edited by Jack Lynch (Delray Beach, Fla.: Levenger Press, c2002).

See also term of endearment.



See pig pile, puppy pile, puppy-pile poly.

pillow book:

1. A type of commonplace book, one composed of sundry jottings such as might appear in a personal journal.

2. An erotic journal.

Comments: The pillow book (in the first sense) apparently originated in Japan, the most famous example being that of Sei Shōnagon, entitled Makura no Sōshi (Notes of the Pillow), which was completed ca. 1002. The pillow book was the forerunner of the Japanese genre known as zuihitsu ("occasional writings").

The term supposedly derives from keeping notes, occasional writings, and such in the drawers of a wooden pillow. Apparently the close association of pillows with beds and of beds with sexual activity brought the term into use in the second sense.

See also discourse of desire, erotic journal, erotographomania, love-book.

x book.
x Japanese terms.

pillow dictionary:

A lover from whom one learns a foreign language; someone who gives language lessons and collects the "fee" in bed.

See also lover.

pillow princess:

A woman who expects to be gratified sexually but who refuses to gratify comparably in return; for example, a woman who expects oral sex to be performed on her but who won't perform oral sex in return.

Comment: On occasion, the term is used of a man.

See also princess, sexual selfishness, tease.

pillow talk:

1. Conversation between lovers or spouses, especially in bed.

2. Intimate conversation similar to the preceding.

Comment: The term is often used to connote either amorous dialog or the sharing of confidences.

See also baby talk, bawdry, Caudle lecture, curtain lecture, dirty talk, express love, intimacy, intimate talk, love letter, love-prate, obscene language, obscene words, phone sex partner, sex talk, sex talking, sweet talk.

x talk.


pilot light lover:

A transitional figure who reignites a person's capacity for love and sex in midlife.

Comments: The above definition follows fairly closely that given by Gail Sheehy, except that she speaks of it reigniting a woman's capacity.

The pilot light metaphor comes from gas stoves and gas boilers in which a small gas flame needs to be lit before a burner can be ignited.

See also lover, transitional affair, transition person.

Quotation from Gail Sheehy Illustrating "Pilot Light Lover"


The Pilot Light Lover rarely lasts. He may be a married man disguised as single, or a great lover but unsuitable life partner — but so what? After the heartache wears off, a woman who is on her way to becoming seasoned should be able to celebrate the Pilot Light Lover's role in her journey.

From: Sex and the Seasoned Woman: Pursuing the Passionate Life, [by] Gail Sheehy (New York: Random House, c2006): p. 125.


pimp for:

1. To manage and promote prostitution or, by analogy, a discreditable operation, for personal profit on behalf of.

2. To find a sex partner for, as when a person secures a lover for his or her spouse.

Comment: Generally used pejoratively.

See also candaulism, cuckold, intellectual pimp, pimps and hoes party, share (one's partner) with, stud (someone) out, wittol.

Quotation from John Updike Illustrating "Pimping For"


[Freddy] "... Let's face it, Angela. You married a bastard. A bully boy. He's pimping for you. He's got you so intimidated you'll shack up with anybody he tells you to."

From the novel: Couples, [by] John Updike (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1968; "A Borzoi Book"): p. 370.


pimps and hoes party:

A social gathering where some (typically the females) dress suggestively, like hookers, and others (typically the males) dress gaudily, like their managers.

Comment: There are many variations on the term, for instance, "pimp & hoes party."

See also hoe, pimp for.

x party.


To give a woman one's fraternity or dormitory pin and to have it accepted and worn, thereby announcing to the community a level of mutual commitment somewhere between going steady and near-engagement.

See also become engaged, betroth, college sweetheart, go steady, hook up, pinning.


pine away:

To waste away due to intense longing or grief.

See also aeipathy, desperate, grieve, heartache, hurt, let go, pine for, withdrawal anguish.


pine for:

To yearn or long for (someone or something) intensely, for instance, to pine for somebody with whom one is in love but who continues to be absent.

See also ache for (someone), cri de coeur, desperate, eat (ones) heart out, ghosts of relationships past, heartache, in love, limerence, loneliness, lonely heart, lovelorn, love withdrawal, long for, miss, moon, partner in love, over, pine away, saudade, torch, unrequited love, withdrawal anguish, yearn for (someone).


Pinkerton syndrome:

A strong preference by some Asians, especially Asian Singaporeans, for Caucasians over people of other races, for instance, to pursue as marital partners.

Comment: Named after the character Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton in the opera "Madama Butterfly" (1904) by Italian composer Giacomo Puccini (1858–1924). In the opera, Pinkerton, an American naval officer, marries a Japanese girl known as Butterfly. He travels to America and is away for three years, while Butterfly bears his child and faithfully awaits his return. When he does return, it is with a new wife, an American. Butterfly, after learning the truth, then kills herself.

See also amejo, Eurasian couple, interracial marriage, kokujo, sarong party girl.

x syndromes.

pin money:

1. Cash traditionally given by a man to his wife to pay for extras, such as jewelry.

2. Household funds allocated to pay for incidental expenses.

x money.

E. Cobham Brewer's Explanation of the Term "Pin Money"


Long after the invention of pins, in the fourteenth century, the maker was allowed to sell them in open shop only on January 1st and 2nd. It was then that the court ladies and city dames flocked to the depôts to buy them, having been first provided with money by their husbands. When pins became cheap and common, the ladies spent their allowances on other fancies, but the term pin money remained in vogue.

From: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable: Giving the Derivation, Source, or Origin of Common Phrases, Allusions, and Words that Have a Tale to Tell, by E. Cobham Brewer (New ed., revised, corrected, and enlarged. Philadelphia: Henry Altemus, c1898; "Altemus' Edition"): p. 981.


The custom whereby a man gives a woman his fraternity or dormitory pin for her to wear, thereby announcing to the community that they have a level of commitment to each other, which may fit anywhere between going steady and near-engagement. Customarily the pin would be returned upon a break-up.

See also college sweetheart, engagement, pin, serious, trans-conference marriage.



See five pinter.


Sweetheart, said of a woman.

Comment: This term is part of the recorded vocabulary of English Gypsies.

Source: Romano Lavo-Lil: Word-Book of the Romany or, English Gypsy Language ..., by George Borrow (London: John Murray, 1905, prefatory note dated 1873): p. 52.

See also sweetheart.

x Romany terms.


Sweetheart, said of a man.

Comment: This term is part of the recorded vocabulary of English Gypsies.

Source: Romano Lavo-Lil: Word-Book of the Romany or, English Gypsy Language ..., by George Borrow (London: John Murray, 1905, prefatory note dated 1873): p. 52.

See also camo-mescro, sweetheart.

x Romany terms.

pi supuhui (Ulithi language):

A holiday set aside for mate swapping (q.v.).

See also break, break from each other, gentleman's intermission, hall pass, holiday from marriage, lady's intermission, marriage sabbatical, partner sharing, separate vacations, vacation from marriage.

x Ulithi terms.

Quotation from Helen E. Fisher on Pi Supuhui


On the balmy islands of Ulithi in the western Pacific, the Micronesian fishing people make love every day. Periodically they call a holiday known as pi supuhui, or 'a hundred pettings.' On this day or night individuals pair up and go into the woods to relax, picnic, and make love. Married couples cannot go together, and lovers are encouraged to pick a different partner. If the number of participants is unequal, a man or woman is shared. Even the children pick friends and play at hugging and caressing one another.

From: The Sex Contract: The Evolution of Human Behavior, [by] Helen E. Fisher (New York: William Morrow, 1982): p. 22.


pit lizard:

A person, generally a woman, who sexually pursues, in particular, race-car drivers or members of their crews; a motor-racing groupie.

Comments: The term is often associated with events of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR). "Pit" refers to the pit road along a race track where stock cars are serviced.

All uses and definitions of the term that I've seen have made the term apply to females only, however there is nothing necessarily gendered about the term itself.

See also animalistic, groupie, lizard, lot lizard, lounge lizard.

pity date:

A social activity in the company of a person of complementary sexual orientation, wherein one of the parties is there with the other chiefly out of feeling sorry for the other, for instance, because of unattractiveness or having been overlooked, dumped, or neglected.

See also date, mercy date, pity sex, Sadie Hawkins Day.


pity sex:

Sexual activity motivated on the part of one of the parties by feeling sorry for the other, for instance, because of the other's unattractiveness, recent break-up or loss, or long stint without sex.

See also coitus, comfort sex, consolation sex, copulation, mercy date, pity date, sex, sexual comforting, sexual intercourse.

PIV intercourse:

Coitus, specifically of the penis-in-vagina kind, as distinct from, from instance, oral and anal intercourse.

Comments: Also called PIV sex.

PIV intercourse makes a difference in many sexual distinctions that are made, for instance, one distinction made between virginity and non-virginity and one distinction made between hard and soft swinging.

See also coitus, copulation, deep lover, Eating ain't cheating, full swap, hard swap, love-making, marital relations, natural insemination, pussy privilege, sex, sexual activity, sexual intercourse.

x abbreviations and acronyms.
x penis.
x penis-in-vagina intercourse.
x PIV sex.
x vagina.


A widow.

Comment: This term is part of the recorded vocabulary of English Gypsies.

Source: Romano Lavo-Lil: Word-Book of the Romany or, English Gypsy Language ..., by George Borrow (London: John Murray, 1905, prefatory note dated 1873): p. 53.

See also pivlo, widow.

x Romany terms.


A widower.

Comment: This term is part of the recorded vocabulary of English Gypsies.

Source: Romano Lavo-Lil: Word-Book of the Romany or, English Gypsy Language ..., by George Borrow (London: John Murray, 1905, prefatory note dated 1873): p. 53.

See also pivli, widow.

x Romany terms.

pivot point:

The hinge (q.v.) in a vee (q.v.).

See also biamory, letter group (V), notr'amour.


PIV sex:

See PIV intercourse.

x abbreviations and acronyms.


See "Your place or mine?"

place on a pedestal, or put on a pedestal:

To regard (a human being) as divine, heroic, perfect, or beyond criticism; to give reverence (to someone) beyond what is due.

See also admire, adoration-lust, adore, Bridegroom Fallacy, dulia, Frauendienst, gyniolatry, husband worship, pedestalism, princesse lointaine, sex god, sex goddess, wife worship, worship (a beloved), worship one's spouse.

Beyond the scope of this Glossary: heraism (for which see the Encyclopaedia Sexualis, 1936).

x pedestal.
x put on a pedestal.


plain Jane:

A woman or girl who is not, at the moment or during the period spoken of, remarkable for beauty, glamour, or attractiveness; a human female who is ordinary in appearance.

Comment: The term is sometimes used as a euphemism for a female whose appearance is thought repulsive, especially to many a male, and not readily fixable, as in, "She's a plain Jane, poor girl." On the other hand, it is sometimes used to imply a moderate level of attractiveness, such as the "girl next door" might have when working in her garden, that is, while wearing gardening clothes and without make-up.

See also attraction, Dear Jane letter, girl next door, Lady Jane, married all over, mary jane.

Plains Apache language:

See sitike.

x Apache language.
x Kiowa Apache language.


See back-up plan, dating plan.

planned marriage:

1. An impending wedding, to which the parties have agreed.

2. A marriage (q.v.) that is the result of the following process:

Commonly planned marriage, in this sense, is contrasted with arranged marriage, since each of the principals plays a central part in the choice of a mate; and it is contrasted with love marriage, since the individuals meet with the predetermined intention of considering each other for marriage.

Contrast love marriage (q.v.). See also arranged marriage, marriage of reason, mate selection.


plaquer (French):

1. To press flat.

2. To dump, to jilt, to leave (a lover or a spouse).

Comment: The past tense is plaqué, which is pronounced the same as plaquer (that is, as pla-KAY).

See also break up, ditch, dump, jilt, leave (someone), sack, throw over, walk out.

x French terms.

plastic, as in "a plastic":

A person who appears attractive on the outside, but who inside is shallow,  insincere, or otherwise phony.

See also attractive, butterface, human beauty, monet, outer beauty, plastic (adjective).

plastic, as in "plastic people":

1. Malleable.

2. Characterized by or pertaining to being shaped or reshaped.

3. Made of the material called plastic.

4. Characterized by external charm or by making a good appearance, this while faking it, that is, while being shallow or insincere.

See also plastic (noun).


See china plate.


1. Of or relating to the ancient Greek philosopher, Plato (ca. 429-347 B.C.E.).

2. Without sexual relations.

See also asexual, aterpic, gender aschematic, platonic love, platonic relationship, slutonic, syneisaktism.

Quotation from Tamar Myers Illustrating "Widow's Once-Over"

[Abigail Timberlake narrating] Just a year or two ago Mama had had a brief, and I hope platonic, fling with a male maid ...
From the mystery novel: A Penny Urned: A Den of Antiquity Mystery, [by] Tamar Myers (New York: Avon Books, 2000): chapter 3, p. 23.

platonic friendship:

See platonic relationship.


platonic love:

1. A keen interest in a young member of the same sex, especially with a view to the mutual appreciation and enjoyment of each other's minds through dialog, rather than with a carnal end in mind.

2. A communion of souls without sexual relations.

Comments: Also called "an attachment à la Plato" (the à la is French) and, in Latin, amor platonicus.

The term is an allusion to Plato's Symposium. Sometimes the English term "Socratic love" or the Latin term amor socraticus is used instead, Socrates being the major figure in the Symposium.

Consult the appropriate style manual to determine whether or not to capitalize the "P" thusly: "Platonic love."

See also amor platonicus, amor socraticus, amour de tête, love, heterosexual friendship, male-female friendship, platonic, platonic relationship, sexless love, soul kiss.

x attachment à la Plato.
x Socratic love.

Quotation from Edward Gibbon Illustrating "Platonic Love"


The relation of a brother and a sister, especially if they do not marry, appears to me of a very singular nature. It is a familiar and tender friendship with a female, much about our own age; an affection perhaps softened by the secret influence of sex, but pure from any mixture of sensual desire, the sole species of platonic love that can be indulged with truth, and without danger.

From: The Autobiography of Edward Gibbon, [edited by Oliphant Smeaton] (London: J. M. Dent, [1911]; in series: Everyman's Library): p. 21. Gibbon's dates: 1737-1794. Evidently the autobiography was first edited by John Baker Holroyd, Earl of Sheffield, as part of The Miscellaneous Works of Edward Gibbon, Esq. (1796; new edition, with considerable additions, 1814). The Dent edition is based upon: Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Edward Gibbon, Esq., composed by himself and illustrated by and from his letters and journal; with occasional notes and narrative by John Lord Sheffield (London: Hunt and Clarke, 1827).


platonic relationship:

A close relationship (q.v.) that might, perhaps, be expected to include sexual relations, for instance, between a man and a woman or between two gay members of the same sex, but which does not; a relationship that entails deep love but without indulgence of physical desire, if present.

Comment: Also called a platonic frienship.

See also comarital relationship, heterosexual frienship (which see for a lexical example), intellectual whore, laotong, liaison platonique, male-female friendship, office husband, office wife, platonic, platonic love, Sunday husband, Sunday wife, work husband, workplace spouse, work spouse, work wife.

x platonic friendship.


play, as in "my play":

1. Recreational activity.

2. A dramatic production for the stage.

3. A sexual advance; a come-on.

4. Recreational sexual activity.

5. Sexual activity between swingers.

6. Participation in BDSM activities. (BDSM stands for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, or sadism and masochism).

See also before play, come-on, make a play for, parallel play, playdar, play-friendly, play partner, play party, proposition, recreational sex, romantic drama, sexual advances, sexual invitation, swinging.



play, as in "to play":

1. To engage in recreational activity.

2. To function or to function as.

3. To imitate.

4. To dabble in without seriousness.

5. To participate in sexual activity.

6. To participate in swinging.

7. To participate in BDSM practices, that is, bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, or sadism and masochism.

See also holy trinity, parallel play, party, play around, playcouple, play date, player, play-fellow, play on the wild side, play the field, role-play, swing.


play around:

1. Engaging in one or more extramarital affairs (q.v.).

2. Engaging in foreplay.

See also affair, carry on, cavort about, commit adultery, extramarital affair, extramarital sex, extramural sexual affair, fool around, f*ck around, out-of-marriage love affair, play, run astray, screw around, sleep around, stud, tip, "When the husband's away, the wife will play," yard on.

x around.



1. A man who devotes himself to the pursuit of sensual pleasure, especially by way of sexual activity with women.

2. A man who poses for nude or otherwise erotic photographs.

See also agapet, crumpet man, dab at love, jock, ladies' man, multimitus, playgirl, playmate, rover, smellsmock, womanizer.



A couple that participates in swinging or that is sympathetic to swinging; a couple that enjoys open eroticism and sensuali.

Comment: Attributed to the Lifestyles Organization, 1993.

See also lifestyler, play, swinger.


play Cupid:

1. To pretend to be the god of love or to act the part of the god of love in a dramatic production.

2. To try to be a matchmaker.

See also affiance, affy, dating agency, dating service, fix up, go-between, love-broker, marriage broker, marriage bureau, matchmaking, municipal matchmaking, outsource romance, proxenete, set (somebody) up, shadkahn, yenta.

x Cupid.

Quotation from Eleanor Gates Illustrating "Play Cupid"


[Ole man Sewell] "... And one of these times you'll play Cupid just oncet too many. What's more, the smarty that can allus bring other folks t'gether cain't never manage t' hitch hisself."

From the novel: Cupid: The Cow-Punch, by Eleanor Gates; illustrations by George Gibbs and Allen True (New York: McClure Co., 1907): chapter 1, p. 29. The quotation cast into standard English spelling: "... And one of these times you'll play Cupid just once too many. What's more, the smarty that can always bring other folks together can't never manage to hitch himself."


1. The ability to discern, especially in non-sexual settings, people who are active in seeking out encounters for casual sex; the partly intuitive, partly cultivated ability to spot swingers and players.

2. The specially attuned ability some swingers have to spot other swingers.

Comment: A portmanteau word: play + radar.

See also gaydar, limbic resonance, play, player, sexual attraction radar, swinger.

x -dar.
x radar.

play date:

1. A time set aside, ordinarily by the parents, for children from different households to have fun together.

2. Any date (q.v.) that is intended, by each party, to incorporate recreational sexual activity.

Comment: Naturally the term can be used with a double meaning, as when parents arrange for their children to have fun with other kids so that they, the parents, can spend some time together alone.

See also play, recreational sex.


1. A person who participates in sexual activity promiscuously as a sport.

2. A person who hits on people as a sport; a pick up artist.

See also casual sex, closer, dab at love, hit on, macadam, macadamo, multimitus, operator, philanderer, pick-up artist, play, playdar, promiscuity, recreational sex, seducer, shark, smellsmock, slut.



A sex partner (q.v.).

See also bed-fellow, partner, playmate.

x Shakespeare, William.

Quotation from William Shakespeare Illustrating "Play-fellow"



... The beauty of this sinful dame
Made many princes thither frame
To seek her as a bed-fellow,
In marriage-pleasures play-fellow ...

From: William Shakespeare, Pericles (1607): Scene 1, lines 31-34.


play footsy:

See footsy.


Characterized by being open to petting and perhaps also other consensual sexual activity, generally said of a club or other managed environment where people are around.

See also -friendly, play, sex club.


1. A woman, especially a young woman, who devotes herself to the pursuit of sensual pleasure, especially by way of sexual activity with men.

2. A woman, especially a young woman, who poses for nude or otherwise erotic photographs.

See also box of assorted creams; dab at love; dolly; floozy; Friday night girl; Inside every woman, there's a whore trying to get out; minx; multicipara; playboy; playgranny; playmate; slag; slapper; slut; walking sperm bank; whore.



1. A grandmother or woman of grandmotherly age who devotes herself to the giving and receiving of sensual pleasure, especially by way of sexual activity with men.

2. A grandmother or woman of grandmotherly age who poses for nude or otherwise erotic photographs.

See also condo cowboy, cougar, gilf, gmilf, grab-a-granny night, hot mama, mature person, old gal, old lady, playgirl, playmate, sex after fifty, turkey vulture.

play hard to get:

1. To make oneself seem difficult to attain for a person interested in establishing a love relationship or in marrying, typically in order to heighten one's value in the eyes of the other.

2. To be resistant to sexual encounters, typically in order not to seem like a slut in the eyes of others or to heighten a potential partner's interest in a serious love relationship as opposed to casual sex.

Comment: Critics of culture sometimes point out that for a female to play hard to get plays into a double standard, namely, the dubious notion that it is the male role to induce the female to have sex with him and that it is her role to resist. In the words of Dossie Easton and Katherine A. Liszt:

"Our cultural myth is that the man in a heterosexual transaction pleads with or cons or bullies the woman into saying 'yes,' or at least refraining from saying 'no,' and then does whatever he thinks is appropriate. Women need to equalize here, to do more of the choosing, to know what it is that we enjoy and to be able to say what we want in no uncertain terms to whomever we find attractive."


The Ethical Slut: A Guide to Infinite Sexual Possibilities, [by] Dossie Easton & Catherine A. Liszt (San Francisco, CA: Greenery Press, c1997): p. 244.

See also court, double standard, flirt, proceptive phase, romance, Rules Girl, standoffish, Tao of Steve, three-date rule, woo.

x hard to get.
x myth.


play hot and cold:

A strategy of sexual control and mating, cast as a cruel game, whereby to win or to keep a person's interest, one acts as though one wishes to be physically intimate with that person; but when that person comes close, one acts indifferent or even pushes that person away; and when that person seems ready to leave for good, the pattern is repeated.

See also blow hot and cold, frigid, hot.

x cold.

Quotation from Stephen Vizinczey Illustrating "Playing Hot and Cold"

There's nothing like leaving behind a girl who's been playing hot and cold with you, just so you will hang around with a desperate grin, attracted and miserable. There's nothing like the glorious sensation of cutting the cord of your frustrations, walking off for good, free and independent.

From the novel: In Praise of Older Women: The Amorous Recollections of András Vajda, by Stephen Vizinczey (Toronto, Ontario: Contemporary Canada Press, 1965): chapter 5, p. 48.

play house:

1. On the part of children, generally of different sexes, to pretend to live the domestic life of adults, typically in imitation of their parents.

2. Also on the part of children, generally of different sexes, and often as part of the preceding, to engage in genital display with each other and perhaps further activity together involving the genitalia.

3. On the part of adults, to cohabit as sexual partners without being married, especially any such case where the partners are without a long-term commitment to each other.

Comment: Often the term is used to diminish a situation, as in: "The children were just playing house" or "They're not really serious, they're just playing house."

See also bungalowing, cohabit, cosominate, living together, move in together, shack up, share the same bedroom, sleep together.


A person of a complementary sexual orientation with whom one achieves a measure of sexual gratification and little more.

See also Friday night girl, playboy, play-fellow, playgirl, playgranny, play partner.


play on the wild side:

1. To take risks, especially to do so for fun, for instance, by engaging in risky sexual behavior.

2. To engage in unconventional sexual behavior, for instance, by participation in swinging.

Comment: The earliest instance of the expression on Google Books (as accessed January 9, 2013) is from 1997.

See also play, swinging, wild.

play partner:

1. A person with whom one engages in recreational sex.

2. A person of a complementary sexual orientation with whom one gets together for the purpose of attending a swing club or swing party; one's date (ordinarily other than one's spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend) for a swing event.

3. A person with whom one has a BDSM encounter. (BDSM stands for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism.)

See also date, partner, play, playmate, play party, recreational sex, swing club, swinger, swing party.


play party:

1. A social gathering for children; fun and games for multiple children, usually from various households.

2. A social gathering for singing and dancing.

3. A social gathering of swingers that involves recreational sex or, more generally, any party where recreational sex is welcome.

4. A social gathering at which people engage in kinky behavior; a get-together for BDSM practices. (BDSM stands for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism.)

See also Dominant/submissive relationship, munch, play, sex party, swing party.

x party.

play the anchorite:

To live without intimate relations, as if one were a hermit, or otherwise to live ascetically or in a withdrawn way.

See also abstinence, celibacy.

Quotation from D. H. Lawrence Illustrating "Play the Anchorite"


The little child was born in the second year. And then James Houghton decamped to a small, half-furnished bedroom at the other end of the house, where he slept on a rough board and played the anchorite for the rest of his days. His wife was left alone with her baby and the built-in furniture.

From the novel: The Lost Girl, by D. H. Lawrence (New York: Thomas Seltzer, 1921): chapter 1, p. 10.

play the ape:

1. To imitate a tailess primate of the family Pongidae.

2. To trick someone.

3. To lead a sexually immoral life, that is, to engage in sexual behavior that falls below certain standards expected of human beings, typically said of men.

See also ape leader, lead apes in hell, promiscuity.


play the dutiful spouse:

1. To meet one's obligations in a marriage even when one does not feel inclined to do so.

2. Sometimes more specifically: to meet the sexual needs of one's wife or husband even when one does not feel disposed to.

Comment: Variations include "play the dutiful husband" and "play the dutiful wife."

For lexical example, see under "hot mama."

See also husbandly duty, marital duty, partner sexually, sexual partnering, spouse, take care of (someone), wifely duty.

x dutiful spouse.

play the field:

1. To date a variety of potential sex or love relationship partners without committing to any, this for the time being.

2. To practice promiscuous sexual behavior, especially in the absence of or while detached from a spouse or love relationship partner.

See also date around, free agent, f*ck around, mate sampling, out-paramour, play, promiscuity, shark, screw around, sleep around, stud, swingle.


play uncle:

To be avuncular with the child or children of the woman one is dating, said of a man; to take an interest in and to try to win over a potential female mate's child or children as if one were a relative.

Comment: As many a male lover has discovered, to woo the mother, one must woo the children. Failure with the latter often leads to failure with the former.

See also kinship, uncle.

play with fire:

1. To enter into or to continue in a relationship that entails great risk, beyond ordinary relationship risks, to oneself or to someone one loves.

2. To engage in practices that could put one's marriage or love relationship(s) at risk.

3. To arouse sexual passions without seriousness, especially in such a way that entails a risk of serious effect.

See also abuse, blue ball, extramarital sex, flirt.

Quotation from D. H. Lawrence Illustrating "Playing with Fire"


In the shed they [Ursula Brangwen and Anton Skrebensky] played at kisses, really played at kisses. It was a delicious, exciting game. She turned to him, her face all laughing, like a challenge. And he accepted the challenge at once. He twined his hand full of her hair, and gently, with his hand wrapped round with hair behind her head, gradually brought her face nearer to his, whilst she laughed breathless with challenge, and his eyes gleamed with answer, with enjoyment of the game. And he kissed her, asserting his will over her, and she kissed him back, asserting her deliberate enjoyment of him. Daring and reckless and dangerous they knew it was, their game, each playing with fire, not with love.

From the novel: The Rainbow, by D. H. Lawrence (New York: B. W. Huebsch, c1915, 1921 printing): chapter 11, p. 284.


pleasantly plump:

See pleasingly plump.

pleasing appendage:

1. An attached part considered delightful becuase of its form or function or the way it's used.

2. A naval officer's wife, especially one who remains in the port where her husband's ship is stationed.

3. A penis.

Comments: Abbreviated P.A.

Generally speaking, one would be wise to avoid calling a wife an appendage.

Source for the second sense: Sea Slang of the Twentieth Century: Royal Navy, Merchant Navy, Yachtsmen, Fishermen, Bargemen, Canalmen, Miscellaneous, by Wilfred Granville; introduction and etymologies by Eric Partridge (New York: Philosophical Library, 1950): s.v. "P.A.," p. 173.

See also bundle man, fishing fleet, lanlady, owneress, P.A., partner, personal attachment, sloping billet, wife.


pleasingly plump:

Fleshy or corpulent in a way that is considered attractive, said especially of a woman.

Comment: Alternatively: pleasantly plump.


See also attractive, big beautiful woman, hot mama, human beauty, PAWG, phat, shapely, voluptuous, waist-to-hip ratio.

Related term beyond the scope of this glossary: embonpoint.

x pleasantly plump.
x plump.

"Pleasure turns into energy":

See Einstein's Law.


See abstinence pledge, sterility pledge, true love pledge, virginity pledge.

pledge troth:

See plight troth.


plenty of fish in the sea:

See POF, "There are other fish in the sea."

plêsion (Greek):

See law of love.


To have pledged fidelity, especially as a prelude to marriage.

See also commit, plight troth.


The act of pledging fidelity, especially as a prelude to marriage.

See plight troth.

plight troth:

To pledge fidelity, especially as a prelude to marriage; to betroth.

See also betroth, commit, plighted, plighting, troth.

x pledge troth.



Poly locator list; a guide to finding polyamorists, polyamory groups and organizations, and/or resources that relate to polyamory.

See also polyamorist, polyamory.

x abbreviations and acronyms.
x list.
x locator list.


See PWP.


See pleasingly plump.


See take the plunge.


pluralism of marriage patterns:

As an acceptable norm, a variety of forms of marital union besides that of one man to one woman bound to each other exclusively till death parts them.

Comment: Apart from being a norm, the term would become "plurality of marriage patterns."

See also alternate relationship geometries, group marriage, lovestyle, multilateral marriage, non-monogamy, polyamory, polygon.


plural marriage:

A marriage (q.v.) in which a man has two or more wives, especially as has been practiced by Mormons.

See also Celestial Marriage, cohab, multiple marriage, non-monogamy, plural wife, polygyny, reverse Mormon, spiritual marriage, spiritual wifery.


plural wife:

One of the women in a plural marriage.

See also Celestial Marriage, cohab, concurrent wife, co-spouse, co-wife, father's wife, harem, junior wife, lesser wife, patriarchal marriage, plural marriage, polygynist, primary wife, rival, second wife, secondary wife, senior wife, sister wife, wife.


plus one:

1. And, besides oneself, a guest or companion or escort, as in, "The invitation is for the recipient plus one."

2. As a substantive, the guest or companion or escort that one is allowed to bring to an event by invitation, when the invitation says, for instance, "The invitation is for the recipient and one guest" or "Invitation admits two persons." Example: "He's my plus one for the party."

3. By extension, any companion.

See also arm candy, cavalier, companion, date, escort, partner, walker.



Poly mixed relationship (q.v.).

x abbreviations and acronyms.



To invade the sexual hunting grounds of another, especially where the other has a reason to be able to claim first dibs, for instance, by dint of an already developing relationship; to present competition for a potential lover who has not been declined by somebody closer.

See also "Anybody is fair game," intrasexual competition, marriage market, mate guarding, mate poaching, rack-jack.

Quotation from Ruth Dickson Illustrating "Poach"


[With regard to a female secretary's boss] It isn't fair to poach on the territory of another single girl.

From: Married Men Make the Best Lovers, by Ruth Dickson (Los Angeles, Calif: Sherbourne Press, c1967): p. 38.


POCSO, plural: POCSOs:

Person of a complementary sexual orientation.

See also complementary sexual orientation, percso.

x abbreviations and acronyms.
x person of a complementary sexual orientation.


See poly pod.

poet of love:

1. A composer of verses, the corpus of which has as one of its major themes romantic affections or love in some other sense.

2. Any particular composer of verses who is often so designated. Preeminent examples include:

Comments: Ovid has been called vates Veneris, that is, a bard of Venus or, more abstractly, a bard of love (some translate: prophet of Venus). He used the term vates of both Tibullus and himself at Amores 3.9.5, 17.

See also love, love poetry, muse of love poetry, priest of love, prophet of love, theologian of romantic love.

x bard of Venus.
x Latin terms.
x love poet.
x vates Veneris.


Plenty of fish.

Comment: Note the online dating site, Plenty of Fish, also known as Hence, for example, a POF date.

See also "There are other fish in the sea."

x abbreviations and acronyms.
x plenty of fish in the sea.

poing, as in "a poing announcement":

1. A bounce, especially a light or exuberant one. Associated (originally?) with the ferret character, Kiki, in Peter Abrams Web comic, "Sluggy Freelance." (See, the strip of December 18, 1997, where the word is "Boing" and the strip of January 3, 1998, where the word is "Poing.")

2. Pertaining to a special moment of delight during the development or course of a love relationship, or to being wowed by another in such a way as to draw one further into a relationship. (Derived from the first sense.)

3. A common typo for "point," given the "qwerty" keyboard (where the "g" is just below the "t"), hence a playful term for "point," as in, "The poing of this meeting is ..."

Comment: Sometimes, especially in online discussion, the word "poing" (in the second sense) will be placed between asterisks to indicate a nonverbal reaction. For example: "Then, you know what? *Poing* She told me she loves me!" However, yet another sense of the term — one which, so far as I know, is even more esoteric — is "rapid erection"; so users of the term had best make their meaning clear in or by context.

See also frubbilicious, frubbly, synletitious.


poing, as in "to poing" or "poinging":

1. To bounce.

2. To have a surprising or an especially poignant bounce of delight during the development or course of a love relationship, as when two people discover that they love each other. (Derived from the first sense.)

3. To be wowed by another in such a way as to want to pursue or continue a love relationship. (Derived from the first sense.)

See also frubble, hook up.


poke party:

A sex orgy.

See also group sex. orgy, sex party.

x party.

poking the fire:

"Don't look at the mantelpiece when you are stoking the fire."

police groupie:

See cop groupie.


See closed legs policy, one penis policy, one vagina policy, open legs policy.

political marriage:

1. A marriage arranged as a matter of statecraft.

2. A marital partnership that is, at least for a while, oriented towards (a) involvement, on the part of at least one of the partners, in governing or (b) fulfilling ambitions towards that end; a marital union dominated by the acquisition and exercise of governmental power; a marital union at the beck and call of public service, especially elective public service.

3. A close-knit alliance between politicians, for example, between President Ronald Reagan of the United States and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of Great Britain in the 1980s.

Comment: The line between what is and is not a political marriage in the second sense is hazy. In the United States, the marriage of either an elected official or a political appointee might be regarded as a political marriage, the more definitely so the more the marriage is in the public eye and the more involved each of the partners is in politics.

See also alliance, arranged marriage, bedroom politics, "Behind every great man is a great woman," Lady Macbeth syndrome, marriage, marry for politics, office wife, out of duty, power couple, sitike, SWAG, widows' club.


See bedroom politics; boudoir politics; bunga bunga; cross-pollination; marry for politics; politics, religion, and sex; sexual politics.

politics, religion, and sex:

The three topics commonly banned or suppressed in certain venues, for instance, in polite company or among gentlemen or among respectable folk or at the dinner table or in a given magazine; also the three areas of discourse most commonly censored by authorities.

Comments: These topics have been variously termed "the taboo trio," "the three taboo topics," and "the unholy trinity." To bring them up in certain settings is considered in many parts of the English-speaking world "bad form" or a violation of an "unwritten" social rule; and even in appropriate settings it is said that these topics had best be "handled with kid gloves." The reasons are many: They are controversial, they make some people feel uncomfortable or make them upset, discussions of these topics are almost always ideological with little opportunity for appeal to empirical evidence, discussions of these topics reveal the prejudices of the speakers and the divisions between people, and typically discussions of these topics stir up or create animosities without shedding any new light. For all that, they are three topics that often generate intense interest; and the taboo is often ignored, in fact, is in abeyance in many circles where it used to be the norm, in part due to impossible-to-ignore sex scandals on the part of political and religious leaders.

There is little consistency with regard to the order of the words. The header for this entry follows the earliest form I found in a Google Books search conducted on July 20, 2011. It dates back to 1892. Since, in this early form, the topics are in alphabetical order, there is no need to assume an order of priority. As for the best sounding and most attention-getting combination, my vote is for "sex, religion, and politics," which happens to be in reverse alphabetical order.

See also discourse of desire, sex.

x politics.
x politics, sex, and religion.
x religion, politics, and sex.
x religion, sex, and politics.
x sex, politics, and religion.
x sex, religion, and politics.
x taboo trio.
x three taboo topics.
x unholy trinity.

Quotation from L. E. Wolfe Illustrating "Politics, Religion, and Sex"

[Regarding the election of superintendents] When county supervision comes for Missouri, let it come divested of politics, religion, and sex.
From: "To What Extent Can a Public School System Be Improved by Legislation?" by L. E. Wolfe, in: National Education Association, Journal of Proceedings and Addresses: Session of the Year 1892, Held at Saratoga Springs, New York (New York: The Association, 1893): pp. 198-207, specifically p. 202.

Quotation from The Literary World Illustrating "Sex, Politics, and Religion"

An American magazine editor was explaining the kind of stories he accepted, or rather that he declined: ' I bar all stories that deal with questions of sex, politics, and religion.' The reader might almost wonder what else was left to write about.
From: "Table Talk [first item]," in: The Literary World (London); v. 52, new series (August 30, 1895): pp. 152-154, specifically p. 152.

Quotation from Mrs. L. H. Harris Illustrating "Sex, Religion, and Politics"

The topics most frequently discussed by them [Freethought editors] are sex, religion, and politics. And if the prevailing madness is not spiritual, it is sexual. Walt Whitman appears to be the father of their doctrines on this subject; and much of the writing is done by women, who almost invariably accompany their articles with a photograph of themselves. At first it was hard to account for this lack of even facial decency, but I incline to the opinion that they have really lost the sense of sex. They are mentally emasculated, and so write with monstrous indelicacy upon a theme which any sort of man would be ashamed to exploit.
From: "Quack Journalism," by Mrs. L. H. Harris, Putnam's Monthly; v. 2, no. 2 (May, 1907): pp. 187-192, specifically p. 188.

Quotation from Jerome K. Jerome Illustrating "Politics, Sex, and Religion"

There were three subjects about which, when I was a young man, respectable folk were not supposed to talk: politics, sex, and religion. I remember how fervently my early editors would seek to impress upon me this convention.
From: My Life and Times, by Jerome K. Jerome (New York; London: Harper, 1926): p. 312.

Quotation from Richard S. Lambert Illustrating "Politics, Religion, and Sex"

Politics, religion, and sex remain the themes with which the British Board of Film Censors chiefly concerns itself.
From: Propaganda, by Richard S. Lambert (London; New York: Thomas Nelson, 1938).

Quotation from Educational Administration & Supervision Illustrating "Sex, Religion, and Politics"

In the second place, our culture does not hand over to the schools for transmission three important aspects: They are, sex, religion, and politics. The child is supposed to get his sexual education at home, his religious education at the church, and his political education anywhere he can.
From: Educational Administration & Supervision; v. 26 (1940): p. 163. <Examined in snippet view only>

Quotation from Tamar Myers Illustrating "Three Taboo Topics"

"Please don't go," Ben said. "Mrs. Timberlake, I apologize if I have offended you in any way. I realize that religion is one of the three taboo topics for the dinner table —"

"Give me a break," Mama said. "There aren't any | taboo topics at my table, or Abby's either..."
From the mystery novel: The Glass Is Always Greener: A Den of Antiquity Mystery, [by] Tamar Myers (New York, N.Y.: Avon, 2011): p. 226-227.

politics, sex, and religion:

See politics, religion, and sex.


1. Short for polyamory (q.v.).

2. Short for polyamorous (q.v.).

3. Short for polyamorous person.

Contrast mono (q.v.). See also closed poly, genetic poly, open poly, poly papers.



1. A prefix meaning multiple.

2. A prefix for words related to polyamory (q.v.).



An advocate for the social acceptance of non-monogamous lovestyles (q.v.).

See also apolygist, polygamophile, polytics, sex radical, utopian swinging.



Any set of difficult and unpleasant emotional challenges that arise because of one's own or one's partner's polyamorous relationships, challenges which call for either relationship work or internal soothing, usually both, or, perhaps, a break-up.

Source: "Mate Debate: Is Monogamy Realistic?" by A. Pawlowski, CNN Living, October 30 [initially 28], 2009. Online here.

See also dysfunctional relationship, love-trouble, marital hell, marriage from hell, polyamory, poly hell, red flag, relationship trouble, trouble in paradise.


1. A person who loves romantically more than one person at the same time and is open to them about loving more than one; a polyamorous person.

2. A person who practices non-monogamy (q.v.).

Comment: Note the collective terms, "nest of polyamorists" (see under "nest") and "tribe of polyamorists" (q.v.).

Contrast double mono (q.v.) and monoamorist (q.v.). See also -amory, bevy of beloveds, biamorist, bi poly switch, cadre of beloveds, collector, condo cowboy, co-primary, covey of lovers, ethical slut, foursome coach, free agent, hot bi babe, juggler, lifestyler, metamour, mono/poly switch, muster of mates, MPW, nest, nesting partner, non-monogamist, otherlove, panamorist, pankoitist, pentamorist, PLL, polyamorite, polyamour, polycompadre, polydom, polygamist, polyhood, polytrothist, primary, primary partner, quadramorist, reverse Mormon, satellite lover, secondary, secondary partner, tertiary, tertiary partner, triamorist.

x collective terms.



1. Participant in or reader of a group whose focus is the discussion of polyamory.

2. A person who loves romantically more than one person at the same time and is open to them about loving more than one; a polyamorous person.

3. A person who practices non-monogamy (q.v.).

Comment: In general usage, the word "polyamorist" is usually preferred for the last two senses. In reference to a specific group, polyamorite is sometimes preferred, for instance, alt.polyamorites for contributors to and readers of the USENET newsgroup, alt.polyamory. Monoamorists who participate in such groups will sometimes be called, quite properly, polyamorites, but not polyamorists.

See also bi poly switch, cadre of beloveds, lifestyler, non-monogamist, ObPoly, polyamorist, polyamour, polycompadre.


polyamorous, or poly for short:

1. Pertaining to loving more than one at a time.

2. Pertaining to above-board non-monogamy.

3. Given to or having the potential for more than one love relationship partner at a time.

Comments: Attributed to Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart (formerly Morning Glory Zell; born Diana Moore, 1948; deceased 2014), who coined it in collaboration with her partner and editor, Oberon Zell-Ravenheart (formerly Otter G'Zell; born Timothy Zell, 1942). See the quotation below and his description of the origin of the "polyamor-" word cluster on video here.

The term is sometimes used loosely, especially in personal ads (q.v.), for instance:

For lexical example, see under "slutdom."

Contrast double mono (q.v.), monamorous (q.v.), and monoamorous (q.v.). See also alternative dating, amorous, -amory, biamorous, bipoly-, bi-poly, bi poly switch, essentially poly, genetic poly, lgbt, mono/poly relationship, MPW, multirelational, open relationship, OPW, panamorous, pentamorous, poly, polyamorous, polyandrous, polygamous, polygynous, polymaxed, poly orientation, poly/poly relationship, poly pride, polysaturated, polyunsaturated, poly while searching, quadramorous, rules of the road for open relationships, sexually non-monogamous, swolly, triamorous.

Quotation from Morning Glory Zell Illustrating "Poly-Amorous" and "Polyamorous"

... there are some sure-fire elements that must be present for the system [of open relationships] to function at all and there are other elements that are strongly recommended on the basis that they have a very good track record. Let us refer to them collectively as the" Rules of the Road."

.... They are:

[First] Honesty and Openness about the poly-amorous lifestyle. Having multiple sexual relations while lying to your partners or trying to pretend that each one is the "one true love" is a very superficial and selfishly destructive way to live....

[Second] All partners involved in the Multiple Relations must fully and willingly embrace the basic committment to a polyamorous lifestyle....

Honesty and willing Polyamorous Committment are the basic building blocks all partners must use to build a lasting Open Relationship....

Territorial jealousy has no place in a polyamorous agreement. However situational jealousy can arise over issues in the relationship when one or more of the partners is feeling neglected.

I feel that this whole polyamorous lifestyle is the avante garde of the 21st Century... In many ways, polyamorous extended relationships mimic the old multi-generational families before the Industrial Revolution, but they are better because the ties are voluntary and are, by necessity, rooted in honesty, fairness, friendship and mutual interests.
From the article: "A Bouquet of Lovers," by Morning Glory Zell, Green Egg; v. 23, no. 89 (May 1990). Available online here.


polyamorous family:

See polyfamily.

polyamorous pride:

See poly pride.

polyamorous pride flag:

See poly pride flag.

polyamorous relationship:

A prerequisite being that each partner is aware of any other(s), one of the following situations:

See also love relationship, open relationship, n-tuple, polyamory, polyrelationship.


polyamory, or poly for short:

1. Romantically loving more than one at a time, especially where the desire is to be above board with those one loves about the other loves.

2. Responsible non-monogamy with regard to relationships; relational non-monogamy that is neither deceptive nor structurally chauvinistic; acting upon loving plurally with openness about other loves to each that one loves, especially in a socially egalitarian context; the practice of having romantic relationships with multiple people at the same time with the full knowledge and consent or acquiescence of all involved.

Comments: Although the earliest documented use of the adjective "polyamorous" is attributed to Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart, who used it in print in May of 1990, the earliest documented use of the noun "polyamory" is attributed to Jennifer L. Wesp, who used it online in her proposal of May 20, 1992 to found the USENET newsgroup alt.polyamory. She herself did not claim coinage of the word "polyamory," but intimated that she had seen it elsewhere on USENET. Some people assert that the term was coined independently by several different people, and there have been unsubstantiated reports that it was in oral use as early as the 1960s.

Sometimes the term is used more broadly to cover a desire for multiple loves or an acceptance of non-monogamy.

Polyamory is associated with non-sexism and respect for individual autonomy; and this is one of the ways in which it differs from polygamy, which tends to be associated with unequal standing of the sexes.

Although engaging in sexual activity with more than one — not necessarily or even typically at the same time — will often be an expression of polyamory, polyamory is about love and so is to be distinguished from things that focus chiefly on sexual activity, such as swinging in some senses of the term. Polyamory is about loving more than one and might or might not involve sex, whereas swinging is about sex with others in addition to one's partner and might or might not entail emotional connections.

The term is often used synonymously with "ethical non-monogamy."

Translation into Arabic suggested by a reader: ta`addud al-ahbaab = "multiplicity of beloveds." See message from Umar (July 26, 2002), in the thread entitled "For Word Lovers," on the USENET newsgroup, alt.polyamory (here).

The Portuguese form of the word is poliamor.

For further relevant comment, see under "polyamorous."

Contrast especially monamory (q.v.) and monoamory (q.v.); compare and contrast swinging (q.v.). See also abundant love principle, alternate relationship geometries, alternative sexuality, -amory, apolygist, apolygy, biamory, big love, bonus family, closed poly, comarital affair, "Communicate, communicate, communicate," community, compersion, compreciation, cover, cuddle circle, de facto polygamy, egalitarian polyamory, emotional libertarianism, essentially poly, ethical non-monogamy, extramarital love affair, friends-first swinging, frubbliness, group love relationship, group marriage, heart-swapping, hierarchical polyamory, ILIC, inclusive relationship, in love, intermarital sex, juggle hearts, letter group, lie about sex, the lifestyle, love-ends-interest-in-others myth, love more than one person at a time, lovestyle, love tangle, ministry to the polyamorous, MLTR, MLTR2, mono/poly switch, more evolved, multiple long-term relationships, Multiple Loves Corollary to Murphy's Law, new adultery, non-hierarchical polyamory, non-monogamy, ObPoly, one penis policy, one vagina policy, one-way monogamy, oot, open couple, open-marriage pact, open poly, open-relationship pact, out-of-marriage love affair, pair dating, panamory, pankoity, partner sharing, pentamory, PLL, pluralism of marriage patterns, poly, poly-, several terms beginning with poly-, polyamory coach, polycy, polyfuckery, polygamy, polygeometry, polyist, polykoity, poly liberated, poly pod, poly pride flag, poly symbol, primus inter pares, proto-poly, puppy-pile poly, pussy privilege, quadramory, radical love, responsible non-monogamy, rules of the road for open relationships, sexual nonexclusivity, share (one's) favors, share (one's partner) with, slutstyle, spice, spiritual polyamory, stable, synletitia, Three Ways, triamory, tribal marriage, trouple, unicorn, utopian swinging, vicarious relationship high, white-picket-fence polyamory.

x Arabic terms.
x Portuguese terms.

Quotations from Jennifer L. Wesp Having to Do with the Founding of alt.polyamory

From: Jennifer L. Wesp (jenn...@pyrite.SOM.CWRU.Edu)
Subject: proposal for alt.poly-amory
Newsgroups: alt.config
Date: 1992-05-20 12:57:34 PST

I propose to form the group alt.poly-amory.

It would be a place for people who have multiple lovers to talk about
the various problems unique to us.


Date: 1992-05-24

No, most of what I would expect to be discussed there is the romantic
and emotional aspects of having multiple lovers, not the sex.  If
there were a better place for it, I think over in soc. next to
soc.couples, .singles, .motss & .bi would be it.  I think that alt is
a better place, though, because I am unsure of the draw it will have.
I have a list of roughly 30 people (and growing) who will read &
post.  I have seen significant discussion of the thread through the
groups just mentioned, and in the hierarchy, so I think it is
enough of an issue to need a seperate forum.


Date: 1992-05-24

Polygamy is a crime in these uninted [sic] states, so I tend not to like to
use the word to describe myself.  Polyamory has a better ring, and I
think has roots closer to what I feel.  I love more than one person
at a time.  And I never want to get married, so the overtones of
multiple marriages in polygamy strike me as distasteful.

The word "polyamory" was spawned on (?  one of
those.) in response to a need for a word other than non-monogamy to
describe such behavior.  As far as I know it hasn't become a "real
word," but one can always hope...


Date: 1992-05-29 14:51:20 PST

After some discussion here, I created alt.polyamory at  Please help propogate [sic] it, create it at a server
near you ;)


These posts are archived online by Google here.

Quotation from Richard Dawkins Illustrating "Polyamory"


From the point of view of a man, say, it is unlikely that any one woman of his acquaintance is a hundred times more lovable than her nearest competitor, yet that is how he is likely to describe her when 'in love'. Rather than the fanatically monogamous devotion to which we are susceptible, some sort of 'polyamory' is on the face of it more rational. (Polyamory is the belief that one can simultaneously love several members of the opposite sex, just as one can love more than one wine, composer, | book or sport.) We happily accept that we can love more than one child, parent, sibling, teacher, friend or pet. When you think of it like that, isn't the total exclusiveness that we expect of spousal love positively weird? Yet it is what we expect, and it is what we set out to achieve. There must be a reason.

From: The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2006): pp. 184-185. Dawkins is too narrow in his definition of "polyamory" as having to do with loving "several members of the opposite sex," since not only heterosexuals but also homosexuals and bisexuals can be polyamorous; and besides loving at the same time just two (which I regard as less than several) qualifies. He is also inaccurate: Polyamory is not a belief but an experience or a practice. Furthermore, many a polyamorous person will dispute any implication that the intense emotions associated with being in love are in each case exclusively monogamous in tendency, a point which might upset some speculations about the evolution of love. Nevertheless this quotation helps to document that the term has found its way into the mainstream of book publication.

Quotation from Kelly Patterson Illustrating "Polyamory"


Polyamory is the desire, practice, or acceptance of having more than one loving, intimate relationship at a time with the full knowledge and consent of everyone involved.  

From: "Poly (polyamory) Living conference 2009, May 29 -31," [by] Kelly Patterson, (Boston); May 26, 2009. Available online here.

polyamory coach:

A person who has as a vocation advisng (a) individuals on how to conduct multiple above-board love relationships and (b) groups on how to conduct interpersonal relations in poly pods.

See also family counseling, foursome coach, intimacy guide, love coach, love guru, polyamory, poly pod, relationship coach.

x coach.

polyamory flag:

See poly pride flag.


A person loved romantically by a polyamorist (q.v.), especially one who reciprocates that love knowing that he or she is not the only person loved by the polyamorist.

Alternatively: polymour.

See also cadre of beloveds, imbroglio of polyamours, lifestyler, MLTR, non-monogamist, partner, polyamorist, polyamorite, polyamory, polylove.

x polymour.



Polyandry (q.v.).

Contrast polygynia (q.v.).



Polyandrous (q.v.).

Contrast polygynian (q.v.).



Polyandry (q.v.).



Polyandrous (q.v.), said especially of a given culture or group.

Contrast monogamic (q.v.) and polygynic (q.v.).



1. A woman who has more than one husband.

2. A man who voluntarily has a wife in common with one or more other men.

3. A person who favors polyandry or who, without dissent, belongs to a social system or group where polyandry is routinely practiced and accepted.

4. Euphemism for a female prostitute.

Contrast polygynist (q.v.). See also brother starling, co-husband, collector, junior husband, polyandry, polygamist, reverse Mormon, second husband, senior husband, village wife, wife (a cerain number of times) over.



1. Pertaining to or characterized by polyandry (q.v.).

2. Inclined to practice polyandry.

3. Open, by custom, to the practice of polyandry, as in "a polyandrous society."

Contrast monandrous (q.v.) and polygynous (q.v.). See also polyamorous, polyandrian, polygamous.



The practice on the part of a woman of having more than one male mate at a time.

Terms for Forms of Polyandry

The Linnaean classification scheme for flowering plants borrows from Greek terms for forms of marriage. Few of those terms are used in English in their original Greek sense. I suggest that an anglicized form of each word be used to indicate a type of marriage, per the original Greek sense.

Botanical Term (Derived from Greek)



Type of Marital Practice Described


Having one stamen

monandry, monandrist, monandrous

Having one husband


Having two stamens

diandry, diandrist, diandrous

Having two husbands


Having three stamens

triandry, triandrist, triandrous

Having three husbands


Having four stamens

tetrandry, tetrandist, tetrandrous

Having four husbands


Having five stamens

pentandry, pentandrist, pentandrous

Having five husbands


Having six stamens

hexandry, hexandrist, hexandrous

Having six husbands


Having seven stamens

heptandry, heptandrist, heptandrous

Having seven husbands


Having eight stamens

octandry, octandrist, octandrous

Having eight husbands


Having nine stamens

enneandry, enneandrist, enneandrous

Having nine husbands


Having ten stamens

decandry, decandrist, decandrous

Having ten husbands


Having eleven stamens

hendecandry, hendecandrist, hendecandrous

Having eleven husbands


Having twelve stamens

dodecandry, dodecandrist, dodecandrous

Having twelve husbands


Having twenty (or more) stamens

icosandry, icosandrist, icosandrous

Having twenty husbands

Contrast monandry (q.v.) and polygyny (q.v.). See also adelphic polyandry, concurrent husband, dispersed polyandry, first husband, fraternal polyandry, harem, letter group (K, T, V), marriage, multiple marriage, "neither marry, nor are given in marriage," nuliinuaroak, omnigamy, one vagina policy, one-way monogamy, polyandria, polyandrianism, polyandrist, polyandrous, polyandry threshold, polygamy, primus inter pares, promiscuity, serial monandry, sloppy seconds, tapicciga, vee.

x Greek terms.

Quotation from Helen E. Fisher on Polyandry


Because women in 99.5 percent of cultures around the world marry only one man at once, it is fair to conclude that monandry, one spouse, is the overwhelmingly predominant marriage pattern for the human female.

This is not to suggest that women never have a harem of men. Polyandry is rare; only 0.5 percent of all societies permit a woman to take several husbands simultaneously.

From: Anatomy of Love: The Natural History of Monogamy, Adultery, and Divorce, [by] Helen E. Fisher (New York: W. W. Norton, c1992): pp. 69.

Quotation from Tamar Myers Illustrating "Polyandry"


The Bashilele were one of the few societies in the world which practiced polyandry — that is to say, a woman could have more than one husband. The cause of this was polygamy, which resulted in not enough women to go around. In brief it worked as follows: three or four men would band together and purchase one wife, whom they shared equally, but after several years the wife was given the privilege of selecting a single husband from this group. As for the others, hopefully by then they had secured private wives of their own, or else, if they still desired marriage, they'd have to go the group route again.

From the novel: The Witch Doctor's Wife, [by] Tamar Myers (New York, NY: Avon, 2009): chapter 8, p. [48].


polyandry threshold:

The evaluative point at which a man becomes willing to be part of a woman's harem (q.v.).

Coined by me on analogy with "polygyny threshold)." But perhaps it already exists.

See also polyandry, polygyny threshold.



1. Pertaining to or characterized by multiple farewells.

2. Pertaining to or characterized by multiple divorces on the part of an individual.

Coined by Charles Harrington Elster, 1996.

Source: There's a Word for It! A Grandiloquent Guide to Life, [by] Charles Harrington Elster (New York, NY: Scribner, c1996): p. 86.

See also apopemptic, divorced, pentapopemptic.



1. Someone born to a woman who herself practices non-monogamy.

2. A child in a household where one or more parents practice non-monogamy.

See also non-monogamy, polywog.



1. A fellow polyamorist (q.v.).

2. A friendly fellow participant in a discussion group about polyamory (q.v.), especially, but not necessarily, one who is polyamorous.

Comment: In Spanish, "compadre" (or "compadrino") means "godfather," a fact which lends the term, "polycompadre," a masculine flavor. However, polycompadre seems ot be used as a gender-neutral term.

See also polyamorite, polydom, polyfriendly, straight ally.

x Spanish and Spanglish terms.


poly connected:

The relatedness of a polyamorous person's love relationship partners who are not sexually intimate with one another.

See also angutawkun, connection, kinship, polyamory, polyrelationship, sexual connection.



The intertwined connections in a polyamorous relationship, or a chart thereof.

Comment: A portmanteau term: polyamory + molecule.

See also alternate relationship geometries, chain, chains of affection, cycling, daisy chain, diagramming a love relationship, genogram, intimate network, Langdon Chart, love tangle, merry-go-round of love, polygeometry, poly web, romantic network, sexual circle, sexual connection, sexual network.


Interested in non-monogamy (q.v.), perhaps as a lovestyle for oneself.

See also -curious, polyamory, polyfriendly.



1. Of a person: Attractive in multiple ways or to a high degree of attractiveness.

2. Also of a person: Attractive and all the more desirable because polyamorous.

3. Of polyamorists together: Delightful to watch or listen to.

4. Of a communication or communications between polyamorists: Endearing to read or to hear.

Substantive form: polycuteness.

See also attractive, cute, cute scale, polyamorist, polyamorous, polyglow.

polycy; plural, polycies:

1. Any law, regulation, or governmental decision insofar as it bears on non-monogamous relationships.

2. Any principle or rule adopted by a business, institution, organization, or other corporate entity that bears on non-monogamous relationships.

3. A private decision about non-monogamous relationships, especially a decision that shapes behavior with respect to them.

4. A relationship agreement between spouses or lovers regarding the implementation of non-monogamy, part of which includes being open with each other about having other lovers.

Comment: A portmanteau term: polyamory + policy.

See also adultery-toleration pact; arrangement; "ask first" rule; bed law; boundary; condom commitment; consensual adultery; freebie list; geographical non-monogamy; get government out of the bedroom; hall pass; household rules; hundred-mile rule; kiss and tell; legislate morality; non-exclusivity pact; non-monogamy; one penis policy; one vagina policy; open-marriage pact; open-relationship pact; polyamory; polyfriendly; polytics; reconstituted marriage; rules of adultery; rules of the road for open relationships; sanctioned adultery; separation of sex and power; separation of sex and state; sexual permissiveness; sexual politics; singles privileges; sumptuary law; swingers' moral code; swinging; tell all; veto rule.

x policy.


The totality, worldwide, of polyamorists and polyfriendly people, plus poly groups, institutions, and publications.

See also coupledom, polyamorist, polyamory, polycompadre, polyfriendly, polyhood.



A person whose preference or practice is to have a multiplicity of sexual partners over the course of time.

See also sexual non-monogamy, trisexual, troilism.



The state of being in a lifestyle or relationship where there is desire for and openness to additional sexual partners.

See also free love, libertinism, pankoitism, polyamory, polyfuckery, polyhood, polykoity, promiscuity, relationship anarchy, sexual circle, sexual non-monogamy, sexual varietism.



1. A household consisting of three or more people in a committed love relationship together and any children they might have, especially where living expenses and parental responsibilities are shared.

2. The group of those related by way of committed love relationships, where at least one of those relationships is non-monogamous, plus those they are related to by kinship or communal commitment.

Comment: A portmanteau term: polyamorous + family.

See also big love, cellular family, committed love relationship, expanded family, family, household, intentional family, non-monogamy, one-parent family, polyamory, polywog, two-parent family.

x polyamorous family.


poly fan:

A person who is not polyamorous but who especially enjoys the company of polyamorous people because of characteristics of their polyamorousness.

See also polyamory, polyfriendly, straight ally.



1. Short for polyfidelity (q.v.).

2. Pertaining to polyfidelity.



A committed love relationship (q.v.) consisting of three or more partners on equal footing in which the partners pledge to be sexually exclusive to one another; a form of polyamorous relationship. Generally the addition of new partners is by the consent of all partners. Internal sexual geometry (q.v.) varies from relationship to relationship.

See also closed group swinging, closed group marriage, closed poly, exclusivity, fidelity, group love relationship, group marriage, the lifestyle, love more than one person at a time, panfidelity, partner sharing, PCG, polyamory, polyfi, polytrothism, relationship levels, safe sex circle, tribal marriage, utopian swinging, veto rule.



1. Supportive of polyamory (q.v.) without practicing non-monogamy.

2. Tolerant or supportive of polyamorous people.

3. Being friends with somebody one knows to be polyamorous without trying to turn that person away from polyamory.

4. Being neither hostile to polyamory nor inclined to cast it in a bad light.

See also -friendly, lgbt-friendly, non-monogamist, polycompadre, poly-curious, polycy, polydom, poly fan, polygamophile, straight ally.



Copulation with multiple people over time, especially loveless copulation.

Comment: The term is sometimes used to stand in contrast with "polyamory" or to mock those those who speak of "polyamory" but mean "sexual promiscuity."

See also binge sex, extra-pair copulation, multilateral sexuality, non-monogamy, pankoity, polyamory, polyeros, polykoity, promiscuity, sexual nonexclusivity, sexual non-monogamy, sexual varietism, swing.

x f*ck.



1. A partner in a polygamous relationship, thus:

2. A person who favors polygamy or who, without dissent, belongs to a social system or group where polygamy is routinely practiced and accepted.

Comment: Occasionally the term is used loosely to refer to a participant in a relationship in which a person has more that one mate, even if one or more are of the same sex; or to refer to a participant in a non-monogamous relationship structure such as group marriage. However, see comment under "polygamy."

Contrast monogamist (q.v.). See also bigamist, collector, co-spouse, double bigamy, duogamist, frequently married and seldom divorced, myriadigamist, non-monogamist, one-way monogamist, polyamorist, polyandrist, polygamy, polygynist, quadrigamy, reverse Mormon, trigamy, triogamy.



A person who likes polygamy (q.v.) or the idea of society being amenable to polygamy.

See also apolygist, polyactivist, poly friendly, sex radical.



1. Pertaining to or characterized by polygamy (q.v.).

2. Inclined to practice polygamy.

3. Inclined to want multiple sex partners.

4. Open, by custom, to the practice of polygamy, as in "a polygamous society."

Contrast monogamous (q.v.). See also bigamous, duogamous, Hogamus Higamus, polyamorous, polyandrous, polygamy, polygynous, quadrigamous, trigamous, triogamous.

Quotation from John Updike Illustrating "Polygamous"


[Harold little-Smith to Janet Appleby] "... Your thesis is | that women are polygamous; the more they have the more they want?"

From the novel: Couples, [by] John Updike (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1968; "A Borzoi Book"): pp. 120-121.



The practice of having more than one mate at a time.

Comments: As the term is ordinarily used, the structure is: one person mated to two or more of a different sex, each of whom is mated to that one person only.

Polygamy is not to be confused with its subsets, namely polyandry (q.v.) and polygyny (q.v.); although since, in present cultures around the world, the practice of polygamy by men is much more prevalent than by women, the term is often used synonymously with polygyny.

By analogy with monogamy, duogamy, and trigamy, a series of specific terms can be constructed, as in the following chart.

One Person with X-Number of Simultaneous Different-Sex Mates: Some Attested and Suggested Terms

Number of Mates

Non-specific as to sex

Male mates

Female mates










bigamy*, duogamy*1




trigamy*, triogamy3




quadrigamy*, tetragamy

quadrandry, tetrandry

quadrigyny, tetragyny


pentagamy, quintagamy

pentandry, quintandry

pentagyny, quintagyny


hexagamy, sextagamy

hexandry, sextandry

hexagyny, sextagyny


heptagamy, septagamy

heptandry, septandry

heptagyny, septagyny






enneagamy, nonagamy5

enneandry, nonandry

enneagyny, nonagyny






hendecagamy, undecagamy

hendecandry, undecandry

hendecagyny, undecagyny


dodecagamy, duodecagamy

dodecandry, duodecandry

dodecagyny, duodecagyny

* This is a word I have found attested. See under its own entry in this glossary. Words in this chart not marked with an asterisk are merely suggested.

Note 1 "Deuterogamy" (q.v.) and "digamy" (q.v.) are already taken for a different sense.

Note 2 "Bigynist" (q.v.) is already taken for a different sense.

Note 3 "Trigamy" (q.v.) has more than one meaning. I suggest that "triogamy" be used instead when talking nonpejoratively about a form of polygamy, thus creating an analogy with bigamy versus duogamy and digamy versus duogamy.

Note 4 "Octagamy" (q.v.) versus "octogamy" (q.v.) may provide a possible paradigm for distinguishing senses, for instance between situations in which there are contemporaneous spouses and situations in which there have been successive spouses.

"Nonogamy" (q.v.) is already taken for a different sense.

Contrast monogamy (q.v.) and some senses of both bigamy (q.v.) and trigamy (q.v.). See also big love, clandestine polygamy, compound family, cover, cyclic monogamy, de facto polygamy, dispersed polygamy, duogamy, extended family, -gamy, group marriage, have two strings to (one's) bow, illegitimate spouse, letter group (K, T, V), marriage, multiple long-term relationships, Multiple Loves Corollary to Murphy's Law, multiple marriage, myriadigamy, non-monogamy, noyau, n-tuple, nuclear family, octagamy, one-way monogamy, periodization, polyamory, polygamist, polygamous, polygamophile, polygmy, polykoity, polywed, promiscuity, punalua, quadrigamy, sexual immorality, share (one's) favors, spice, stable, Three Ways, traditional ways, trigamy, triogamy, troika, vee.

Quotation from Winwood Reade Illustrating "Polygamy"


A country in which polygamy prevails can never enjoy a well-ordered constitution. There is always an uncertainty about succession. The kingdom does not descend by rule to the eldest son, but to the son of the favourite wife ... But the rival mother has yet a hope — the appointed heir may die. Then the seraglio becomes a nursery of treason; the harem administration is stirred by dark whispers; the cabinet of women and eunuchs is cajoled and bribed. A crime is committed and is revenged. The whole palace smells of blood.

From: The Martyrdom of Man, by Winwood Reade; with an introduction by J. M. Robertson (London: Jonathan Cape, 1927; in: The Travellers' Library): p. 62. Originally published, 1872.

Quotation from Ambrose Bierce Illustrating "Polygamy"


Polygamy, n. A house of atonement, or expiatory chapel, fitted with several stools of repentance, as distinguished from monogamy, which has but one.

Humor from: The Devil's Dictionary, [by] Ambrose Bierce (New York: Dover Publications, 1958): p. 101. Originally published in full in v. 7 (1911) of The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (New York: Neale Publishing Co., 1909-1912).



1. The view that not all people who lived after the biblical Adam are descendants of his; the teaching that Adam's posterity consists of only a portion of all human beings who lived after Adam's formation by God.

2. The view or teaching "that 'Adam' is a collective concept which combines into one the totality of human progenitors."

3. The theory that humankind today is descended not from any one pair but from several.

4. The theory that humankind consists of several independent species.


The quotation in definition 2 is from: "Theological Reflexions on Monogenism," study 8 in: Theological Investigations. Volume I, God, Christ, Mary and Grace, by Karl Rahner; translated with an introduction by Cornelius Ernst (Baltimore: Helicon Press, 1961): pp. [229]-296, specifically pp. 232-233.

Contrast monogenism (q.v.). See also original sin.

x Bible.
x theories.



A person who espouses polygenism.

Contrast monogenist (q.v.). See also polygenism.



1. The particular shape that love connections and sexual connections take in a given non-monogamous situation where partners are open with each other about having other partners, that is, in a polyamorous situation.

2. Such shapes generally.

See also alternate relationship geometries, chains of affection, daisy chain, delta triad, diagramming a love relationship, double love triangle, eternal triangle, four-cornered marriage, genogram, hexad, intimate network, letter group, love tangle, multilateral marriage, multilateral sexuality, pentacle, pentad, pentangle, polyamory, polycule, polygon, poly web, quad, romantic network, safe sex circle, sexual circle, sexual connection, sexual geometry, sexual network, square, tetrad, three-cornered establishment, triad, triadic notation, triangle, vee, Z.

x geometry.
x relationship geometries.


Happiness exuded due to aspects of a polyamorous situation.

Contrast poly hell (q.v.). See also compersion, compreciation, frubbliness, f*ck-happy, incandescence, jouissance, polyamory, polycute, shine, synletitia, vicarious relationship high, walk on sunshine.

x glow.



Poetical spelling of "polygamy" (q.v.).

Comment: For lexical example, see Ogden Nash quotation under "hogmy."


See polygynandry.


A love relationship (q.v.) consisting of three or more people.

Comments: In geometry, in reference to a closed plane figure, "polygon" means "with more than two angles." In reference to a love relationship, each angle represents an individual and the plane represents the relationship as a whole, the specific ties between individuals being undefined except that the individuals are all members of the same relationship.

Some of the Geometrical and Other Mathematical Terms Available to Describe Singles, Couples, and Small Groups












General or multiple



numerary, plenary, unitary







multi-, poly-




solitary, unary







alone, single











couple, one-to-one, tandem, twin




ternary, trinary







trinal, trine



quad, quadrangle


quartet, quartette






four-cornered, tetractys5


pentad, quintad


quinary, quinquenary

quintet, quintette






pentacle,6 quincunx, quint




senary, sextenary



































enneagon, nonagon






















hendecagon, undecagon







dodecad, duodecad











tridecad, triskaidecad











tessaradecad, tetradecad, tetrakaidecad




tessarescaedecahedron, tetrakaidecagon, tetradecagon






Note 1

Words in the "-et" column tend to be used for musical groups and so are often, but not always, avoided when referring to love relationships.

Note 2

"Multiplet" and "singlet" have special meanings in physics, so I have not included them in the chart. "Triplets," "quadruplets," "quintuplets," "sextuplets,"and "septuplets" would refer to children born of the same woman in the same birthing session. However, "a triplet," "a quadruplet," a quintuplet," "a sextuplet," or "a septuplet" would refer either to one such child or to a group of three, four, five, six, or seven respectively. Note well: By dropping the "t" at the end, any of these terms can be turned into (a) an adjective, meaning "consisting of n members" or multiplied by n; (b) a noun, meaning "an n-fold number"; or a verb, meaning "to multiply by n."

Note 3

"Monogon" and "digon" are not plane figures, yet the words fill out the pattern and are sometimes used in specialized senses.

Note 4

Of course, "lonesome" is not exactly a mathematical term.

Note 5

"Tetractys" means a set of four or the first four numbers — 1, 2, 3, 4 — which together total 10. The term is associated with Pythagoreanism.

Note 6

A pentacle is a five-pointed star.

Note 7

The Star of David is an example of a hexagram.

Note 8

A pleiad is a group of seven distinguished individuals.

See also alternative relationship geometries, biamory, bi-trio, couple, double love triangle, four-cornered marriage, foursome, hexad, letter group, moresome, multilateral marriage, pentacle, pentad, pentamory, pentangle, pluralism of marriage patterns, polyamory, polygeometry, quad, quadramory, quartet, sextet, sexual geometry, single, square, tetrad, threesome, triad, triamory, triangle, troika.



See polygynia.



Polygyny (q.v.).



1. The practice of group marriage, group marriage in which there are at least two women and at least two men.

2. A mating system in which multiple mates are allowed to those of any sex.

Comment: I have seen this spelled (misspelled?) also "polygnandry." See The Penguin Dictionary of Psychology, [by] Arthur S. Reber (2nd ed. London; New York, N.Y.: Penguin Books, 1995): p. 579.

See also group love relationship, group marriage, omnigamy, polyamory, tribal marriage.

x polygnandry.



Polygyny (q.v.).

Contrast polyandria (q.v.).

x polygunia.



Polygynous (q.v.).

Contrast polyandrian (q.v.).



Polygynous (q.v.), said especially of a given culture or group.

Contrast monogamic (q.v.) and polyandric (q.v.).



1. A man who has more than one wife.

2. A woman who voluntarily has a husband in common with one or more other women.

3. A person who favors polygyny or who, without dissent, belongs to a social system or group where polygyny is routinely practiced and accepted.

Contrast polyandrist (q.v.). See also cohab, collector, co-wife, father's wife, headdress keeper, husband (a certain number of times) over, junior wife, Knipperdolling, lesser wife, nirimoua, one-way monogamist, plural wife, polygamist, polygyny, rival, second wife, secondary wife, senior wife, sister child, sister mother, sister wife, sits-beside-him woman, stepmother.



1. Pertaining to or characterized by polygyny (q.v.).

2. Inclined to practice polygyny.

3. Open, by custom, to the practice of polygyny, as in "a polygynous society."

For lexical example, see under "one-wife system."

Contrast monogynous (q.v.) and polyandrous (q.v.). See also polyamorous, polygamous, polygynian, polygynic, polygyny.



1. The practice on the part of a man of having two or more female mates at a time.

2. The practice on the part of a Dom of having two or more female submissives at a time.

Comments: The term is ordinarily pronounced with a soft "g," like a "j." However, I have often heard it pronounced with a hard "g."

Regarding the first sense:

The majority of cultures over the course of human history have countenanced polygyny.

Polygyny was widely practiced and assumed among the people of the Bible (see Human Sexuality in the Bible: An Index, s.v. "Polygyny"; also under "'was Jesus married' question"). The Koran explicitly allows two, three, or four wives (sura 4).

Polygyny is a subset of polygamy (q.v.). However, sometimes polygyny is contrasted with polygamy not as a subset distinguishable from its set but as a term used to emphasize having multiple women for a time versus having multiple women for life. Insofar as such a distinction is etymologically based, it is insecure; for "-gyny" can refer to not just woman or women but also wife or wives, and "-gamy" (q.v.) can refer not only to marriage but also sexual union.

Terms for Forms of Polygyny

The Linnaean classification scheme for flowering plants borrows from Greek terms for forms of marriage. Few of those terms are used in English in their original Greek sense. I suggest that an anglicized form of each word be used to indicate a type of marriage, per the original Greek sense.

Botanical Term (Derived from Greek)



Type of Marital Practice Described


Having one pistil

monogyny, mongynist, monogynous

Having one wife


Having two pistils

digyny, digynist, digynous

Having two wives


Having three pistils

trigyny, trigynist, trigynous

Having three wives


Having four pistils

tetragyny, tetragynist, tetragynous

Having four wives


Having five pistils

pentagyny, pentagynist, pentagynous

Having five wives


Having six pistils

hexagyny, hexagynist, hexagynous

Having six wives


Having seven pistils

heptagyny, heptagynist, heptagynous

Having seven wives


Having eight pistils

octogyny, octogynist, octogynous

Having eight wives


Having nine pistils

enneagyny, enneagynist, enneagynous

Having nine wives


Having ten pistils

decagyny, decagynist, decagynous

Having ten wives


Having eleven pistils

hendecagyny, hendecagynist, hendecagynous

Having eleven wives


Having twelve pistils

dodecagyny, dodecagynist, dodecagynous

Having twelve wives


Having twenty (or more) pistils

icosagyny, icosagynist, icosagynous

Having twenty wives

Contrast polyandry (q.v.) and monogyny (q.v.). See also Celestial Marriage, concurrent wife, dispersed polygyny, Dominant/submissive relationship, female-defense polygyny, first wife, harem, "husband of one wife," letter group (K, T, V), limited polygyny, male-dominance polygyny, marriage, multiple marriage, New Testament monogamy, nirimoua, non-monogamy, noyau social system, Oholah and Oholibah (see this for divine polygyny), omnigamy, "one flesh," one penis policy, one-way monogamy, one wife on each side, patriarchal family, periodization, plural marriage, polygynaiky, polygynia, polygynist, polygynous, polygyny threshold, primus inter pares, promiscuity, resource-defense polygyny, rule the roost, search polygyny, serial polygyny, sororal polygyny, Turkish marriage, vee, "was Jesus married" question (see this for discussion of polygyny in the New Testament era).

x Greek terms.
x Koran and Islamic law.

Quotation from Gladys A. Reichard Illustrating "Polygyny"


Polygyny is a recognized institution [among the Navaho]; since it is opposed to the white man's sense of morality, to him it appears to be promiscuity and a thing to be abolished. The Navaho looks upon marriage and fidelity, whether to one or several wives, as stabilizing forces — a man assumes respeonsibility for wife and children; he settles down. An old man, looked down upon in his community, was condemned not for having several wives but for neglecting his offspring.

From: Navaho Religion: A Study of Symbolism, [by] Gladys A. Reichard (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1990; in: Bollingen Series; 18; also in series: Mythos): chapter 8, p. 135. Originally published, New York: Pantheon Books, 1950.

Quotation from Helen E. Fisher on Polygyny


Only 16 percent of the 853 cultures on record actually prescribe monogyny, in which a man is permitted only one wife at a time. Western cultures are among them. We are in the minority, however. A whopping 84 percent of all human societies permit a man to take more than one wife at once — polygyny.

From: Anatomy of Love: The Natural History of Monogamy, Adultery, and Divorce, [by] Helen E. Fisher (New York: W. W. Norton, c1992): p. 66.


polygyny threshold:

The evaluative point at which a woman becomes willing to be part of a man's harem (q.v.).

See also polyandry threshold, polygyny.


poly hell:

Emotional suffering due to aspects of a polyamorous situation that are particular to polyamory.

Contrast polyglow (q.v.). See also dysfunctional relationship, love-trouble, marital hell, marriage from hell, poly-agony, polyamory, relationship trouble, trouble in paradise.

x hell.



1. The local community of polyamorists, analogous to neighborhood.

2. The state of being polyamorous.

See also polyamorist, polyamory, polycompadre, polydom, polyeros.



Inability to comprehend how someone can love more than one person at a time romantically or why a person would want a non-monogamous lovestyle.

See also non-monogamy, polyamory.


poly-insistent partner:

1. A person one is entering into a love relationship with who is willing to be part only of a relationship that is open to non-monogamy.

2. A person who entered into a love relationship expecting it to be open to non-monogamy and who is unwilling to change that expectation during the course of the relationship; a person in a love relationship open to non-monogamy who will break up with a partner or otherwise exact a high emotional price if that partner insists on monogamy.

3. A person who entered into a love relationship where monogamy was the expectation but who demands that the expectation be changed to openness to non-monogamy even if the result is emotional pain and/or the break-up of the relationship.

4. More controversially, a person whose attachment to polyamory, or to polyamory and another beloved, or to two or more other beloveds, is greater than his or her attachment to a particular person.

Comment: Coined by T. Rifkin Elliott.

Contrast monogamy-insistent partner (q.v.). See also non-monogamy, partner, polyamory.



Being sexually involved with more than one person that one loves.

See also polyamory.



Short for polyamorist (q.v.).


Inability to come to orgasm without performing a certain sex act serially with several different partners within a limited timeframe.

Contrast the idiogamist's (q.v.) experience.

See also -philia, troilism.



Vocabulary having to do with polyamory, that is, with having multiple simultaneous love relationships with openness to each lover about the other lovers; the group of words bandied about particularly by polyamorists.

See also discourse of desire, language of love, lexicography of love, polyamory.


Having sexual intercourse with more than one person over the course of a lifetime; plural matings without specific reference to marriage, although polygamy and serial monogamy would be subsets. Originally, this was an anthropological term.

Comment: Coined by H. Th. Fischer, 1952.

See also binge sex, extra-pair copulation, multilateral sexuality, multiple-partner fertility, non-monogamy, pankoity, polyamory, polyeros, polyfuckery, polygamy, promiscuity, remarriage, serial marriage, serial monogamy, sexual nonexclusivity, sexual non-monogamy, sexual varietism, swinging.


poly liberated:

The state of (a) having broken out of a monogamous cultural mold, (b) embracing polyamory philosophically, (c) being free and willing to practice polyamory, and (d) feeling all this to be a beneficial state for oneself.

See also polyamory, sexual liberation.

x liberated.


1. Feeling romantic emotions towards more than one person at the same time.

2. Feeling joy engendered by the presence of two or more of one's beloveds.

3. One of two or more people loved by a polyamorous person.

See also partner, polyamory, polyamour.



A person of polyamorous inclination with whom one has a sexual relationship.

See also general lover, lover, partner, polyamory, poly mixed relationship, polypartner.


poly mantra:

The motto, "Communicate, communicate, communicate!"

Comment: Communication, which is vital in any love relationship, is all the more so, even exponentially more so, in polyamorous relationships.

See also "Communicate, communicate, communicate," group complexity theory, polyamory.



A marital union that is structured in a non-chavinistic way and in which at least one of the spouses has more than one spouse. Such a union is not legally recognized in the United States of America

See also group marriage, marriage, non-monogamy, polyamory, polymorphous marriage, polywed, tribal marriage.



Polyamorously involved to one's maximum capacity; that is, polyamorous, having more than one lover, but feeling that having yet one more would be too many.

See also polyamorous, polysaturated.

poly mixed relationship (PMR):

A relationship in which one or more partners are polyamorous and one or more are monandrous (q.v.) or monogynous (q.v.).

See also mixed relationship, mono/poly relationship, PMR, polylover, polypartner.


polymorphous marriage:

1. A marriage or marriage generally insofar as it goes through a series of forms or is capable of any of a variety of forms.

2. A group marriage in which sexual relations are not heterosexually limited.

See also group marriage, marriage, metamorphasexual, polymarriage.

polymorphous perverse, or polymorphous-perverse:

1. Characterized by sexual pleasure being derived in many ways without necessarily being focused on the genitalia and without regard to conventional limits. The Vienese psychologist, Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), postulated that human beings are generally so characterized during the first five years of life. In scientific usage, the term is meant to be nonjudgmental.

2. Characterized by the pursuit of pleasure in all forms, without confining oneself to social constructs such as "gay" or "straight." In this sense the term is rarely neutral, the idea that it represents being either championed or denounced.

3. Characterized by the ideology that in terms of pure sexuality, anything goes. In this sense the term tends to be used pejoratively.

For a lexical example of "polymorphous and perverse," see under "queer."

See also metamorphasexual, omnisexual, panamorous, pansexual.

Quotation from the A. A. Brill Translation of Sigmund Freud Illustrating "Polymorphous-Perverse"


It is instructive to know that under the influence of seduction, the child may become polymorphous-perverse and may be misled into all sorts of transgressions. This goes to show that the child carries along the adaptation for them in his disposition. The formation of such perversions meets but slight resistance because the psychic dams against sexual transgressions, such as shame, loathing and morality — which depend on the age of the child — are not yet erected or are only in the process of formation. In this respect, the child perhaps does not behave differently from the average uncultured woman in whom the same polymorphous-perverse disposition exists. Such a woman may remain sexually normal under usual conditions, but under the guidance of a clever seducer, she will find pleasure in every perversion and will retain it as her sexual activity.

From: "Infantile Sexuality," contribution 2 to Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex, in: The Basic Writings of Sigmund Freud, translated and edited, with an introduction, by A. A. Brill (New York: Modern Library, c1938): pp. 580-603, specifically p. 592. The German original was published in 1905 under the title: Drei Abhandlungen zur Sexualtheorie.


polymorphous perversity:

1. A disposition to derive sexual pleasure in any number of ways, that is, by way of any part of the body and without regard to conventional limits. In psychological usage, the term is meant to be nonjudgmental.

2. The pursuit of pleasure in any and all forms, without confining oneself to social constructs such as "gay" or "straight." In this sense the term is rarely neutral, the idea that it represents being either championed or denounced.

3. The ideology that in terms of pure sexuality, anything goes; the idea that there are no rights and wrongs when it comes to purely sexual behavior. This sense has been popularized especially by the religious right and in that context has been used pejoratively.

See also metamorphasexual, omnisexuality, pansexuality, perversion, polysexuality.

Quotation from David Brooks Illustrating "Polymorphous Perversity"


In the [nineteen-] sixties ... Students celebrated polymorphous perversity and condemned repressive desublimation, one of [Herbert] Marcuse's terms that seemed to have something to do with being uptight.

From: Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There, [by] David Brooks (New York: Simon & Schuster, c2000): chapter 5, p. 195.



See polyamour.


poly orientation:

A givenness to loving or being in love with more than one person at the same time and to wanting a love relationship with each at the same time in such a way that one is open with each about the others, all this being bound up with one's sense of sexual self-identity.

Comment: The concept of poly orientation is controversial, since (a) it seems to impinge on the hard-fought idea of sexual self-identity on the part of the lgbt (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community; (b) it impinges on the idea of monogamy as a universal norm; and (c) the concept of sexual orientation is itself controversial.

See also essentially poly, polyamorous, polyamory, sexuality, sexual orientation.

poly papers:

A printed report, dated, of lab testing done on an individual's bodily fluids for sexually transmitted infections.

Comment: Some people expect to see such a report, one that is recently dated, in order to assess risks and precautions to be taken before they will consider admitting the said individual into a polyamorous group. A safe sex circle requires all negative results.

See also fluid partner, poly, safe sex circle, STI screen results, unprotected sex.

poly paradox:

Conflict within one's loving heart when a choice is forced between a polyamorous lovestyle and a beloved person who will not accept one's having other lovers, as in the ultimatum, "You can choose either me or poly!"

Comment: Coined by NEA, December 4, 2011.

The paradox has to do with love versus love or, at least, love versus being true to one's abundantly loving nature.

The issue: Is it actual love for an actual person that should win out when the beloved gives the ultimatum? Or is it being true to one's poly inclinations and, if applicable, to one's multiple beloveds that should win out?

Culturally speaking, giving in to ultimata is often considered a bad thing, especially for a man. If he submits to a woman's ultimatum, he might be accused of being pussy-whipped or think of himself that way, thereby damaging his manly self-respect. On the other hand, some of those people, men included, who want to try poly may have a better chance at self-respect down the road by remaining monogamous. So one of the considerations that may affect how somebody decides the issue mentioned in the preceding paragraph for him or herself is this: How much weight should be given to rejecting an ultimatum just because it's an ultimatum?

The forced choice between a beloved and poly is poignant in part because romantic love is particular. One may be able to love more than one at a time, but just any lover or bevy of lovers won't do; and in English-speaking countries of the first decades of the 21st century, most potential lovers have been schooled for monogamy, which means that many would be likely to impose such an ultimatum.

Incidentally, there is also the reverse ultimatum (which is mentioned here for contrast with the ultimatum that produces the poly paradox): "Let me be poly or else it's over between us!"

See also polyamory, pussy-whipped.

x paradoxes.
x ultimata.


A partner who openly loves more than one person romantically or who practices non-monogamy (q.v.).

See also mono partner, partner, polyamory, polylover, poly mixed relationship.



Irrational response, rooted in fear, to polyamory (q.v.) or polyamorous people, generally with hateful result.

See also -phobia.


poly pod:

A coherent group of people who share lovers, especially such a group within a larger intimate network.

See also intimate network, polyamory, poly web, primus inter pares.

x pod.

poly/poly relationship:

A relationship between two people in which each is polyamorous (q.v.) and may have more than one partner.

See also mono/mono relationship, mono/poly relationship.


poly pride:

Self-respect on the part of polyamorous persons combined with their belief that they deserve public respect, so that fewer and fewer will feel a necessity to conceal their polyamorous nature or practice and instead will be able to celebrate it publicly.

See also out, polyamorous, poly pride flag.

x polyamorus pride.
x pride.

poly pride flag:

A fabric, typically rectangular, with a design that symbolizes polyamory (q.v.). The most common such flag is credited to Jim Evans. See the image below, which is in the public domain.

Symbolism of the design by Jim Evans:

Comment: The date the flag was first made public is hard to pin down. The terminus a quo is 1990, when the word "polyamorous" was coined. The terminus ad quem is 2006, the earliest date given in the Wikimedia file history under "Polyamory-flag," here. The Wikipedia article, "Polyamory," here, seems to suggest a date of 1999 (see note 18, here, as accessed December 6, 2013). However, an image file linked to the same article, here, gives a date of 1997 for the PAARC ribbon, which is said to be adapted from the flag. (PAARC = Polyamory Awareness and Acceptance Ribbon Campaign.)

See also ILIC, polyamory, poly pride, poly symbol.

x flag.
x Jim Evans' poly pride flag.
x polyamorous pride flag.
x polyamory flag.
x pride.

polyrelationship, or poly relationship:

1. A direct or indirect connection (as viewed disinterestedly) between three or more people, a connection formed by above-board romantic love. This means that at least one person is in love with two or more persons, and it presupposes that when a person has multiple love interests, each is made aware of the other(s).

2. A prerequisite being that each partner is made aware of any other(s) — or has become aware and is accepting — one of the following situations:

See also buksvåger, buksvågerska, emotional infidelity, love relationship, non-monogamy, open relationship, polyamorous relationship, polyamory, poly connected, sexual connection.



Polyamorous, having more than one lover, but feeling that having yet one more would be too many.

Contrast polyunsaturated (q.v.). See polyamorous, polymaxed.

polysexual, as in "a polysexual":

A person who is sexually attracted to persons of more than one sex.

Comment: The term is sometimes preferred to "bisexual," since it does not assume that there are only two sexes.

See also bisexual, heterosexual, homosexual, omnisexual, panamorist, pansexual, polysexuality, pomosexual, -sexual.

polysexual, as in "polysexual person":

Characterized by or pertaining to polysexuality.

See also bisexual, heterosexual, homosexual, omnisexual, panamorous, pansexual, polysexuality, pomosexual, -sexual.


The condition of being sexually attracted to persons of more than one sex.

Comment: The term is sometimes preferred to "bisexuality," since it does not assume that there are only two sexes.

See also bisexuality, heterosexuality, homosexuality, omnisexuality, panamory, pansexuality, polymorphous perversity, polysexual (noun), polysexual (adjective), pomosexuality, sexuality.

poly symbol:

A graphic image representing polyamory. In the 1990s, a parrot ("Polly") was perhaps the most common symbol of polyamory. Its prominence was replaced by the infinity heart, which indicates the limitless nature of love.

Infinity Heart

Many other symbols have been used, such as the graphic design for "infinite love in infinite combinations" and the triagular Purple Möbius. Sometimes the symbols for male (♂) and female (♀) are used or modified to indicate particular polyamorous configurations.

See also heart, ILIC, polyamory, poly pride flag.

x infinity heart.


Any association or set of associations of polyamory with politics, or all such associations.

Comment: A portmanteau term: polyamory + politics.

See also apolygist, polyactivist, polycy, sex radical.


The practice of being romantically pledged to more than one person and to each equally; a form of polyamory in which all partners have equal status in relation to each other.

Comment: To be distinguished from forms of polyamory in which there is at least one primary partner and at least one secondary partner. In polytrothism, all share equally in decision-making that affects the group.

The term is said to have emerged from the second PEPCON (Polyfidelitous Educational Productions Conference), 1988.

A portmanteau term: polyamory + troth + -ism.

See also closed poly, egalitarian polyamory, non-hierarchical polyamory, polyamory, polyfidelity.


A person who practices polytrothism (q.v.).

See also anchor, polyamorist.


1. Containing certain fatty acids that help reduce cholesterol levels in the blood.

2. Polyamorous and still feeling like one can handle at least one more lover; having room for one or more lovers in one's life, given the knowlege and consent of each of one's current lovers.

Contrast polysaturated (q.v.). See polyamorous.

poly web:

1. A group of people, not all of the same household, connected directly or indirectly by romantic love in the present, two or more being in love with more than one and above board about that to each.

2. A string, possibly with multiple branches and multiple linkages, of loving, intimate relationships connected by overlapping partners who have made their partners aware of any others.

See also chains of affection, chain, chains of affection, distal partner, intimate network, letter group, love tangle, merry-go-round of love, non-monogamy, poly pod, romantic network, sexual circle, sexual connection, sexual network.



Married to more than one partner with all partners being aware of the others, the marriage being structured in a non-chauvinistic way.

See also non-monogamy, polyamory, polygamy, polymarriage.


poly while searching:

Willing to be in a polyamourous relationship until one finds a mate for a monogamous relationship.

Comment: Abbreviated PWS.

See also monogamous, polyamorous, PWS.

x searching.


A child in a polyamorous household.

Comment: Not to be confused in spelling or sense with "polliwog," that is, a tadpole.

See also polychild, polyfamily.

pomosexual, or PoMo Sexual, or PoMoSexual, as in "a pomosexual":

A person who shuns labels that pertain to sexuality or, at least, to that person's own sexuality.

Comment: Let me note the irony in a label for those who reject labels.

See also bisexual, heterosexual, homosexual, monosexual, omnisexual, panamorist, pansexual, pansexualist, pomosexuality, polysexual, try-sexual.


pomosexual, or PoMo Sexual, or PoMoSexual, as in "pomosexual discourse":

Pertaining to or characterized by pomosexuality (q.v.).

See also bisexual, heterosexual, homosexual, monosexual, omnisexual, panamorous, pansexual, polysexual.

x -sexual.


pomosexuality, or PoMo Sexuality, or PoMoSexuality:

Postmodern sexuality, that is, sexuality conceptualized without a stable reference point and gender without fixity; a rejection of the idea of defined categories for an individual's sexuality in favor of the idea that sexuality or, at least, a particular person's sexuality is too fluid for either fixed definition or labels such as "heterosexual" and "homosexual."

Comment: The term dates back at least to 1995.

See also bisexuality, heterosexuality, homosexuality, label, monosexuality, moral equivalence, omnisexuality, panamory, pansexuality, polysexuality, pomosexual, relationship anarchy, sexuality, wear a label.

x postmodern sexuality.


pon farr:

In the Star Trek universe, an ancient drive that impells a Vulcan male to mate every seven years, death being one of the few alternatives; for a Vulcan, the state or period of being in heat.

Comment: Pon farr was introduced in the American TV science fiction series, "Star Trek," Season 2, Episode 1 (Episode 30 over all), "Amok Time," written by Theodore Sturgeon, directed by Joseph Pevney (first aired, September 15, 1967).

Pon farr has a Vulcan vocabulary of its own, for instance "plak tow" ("blood fever"); but the term "pon farr" has taken on a life of its own beyond Star Trek.


See dating pool.

poor match:

1. A prospective or actual bringing together of two people that is perceived as unsuitable, because, to list some of the possible reasons:

2. A marriage or committed love relationship that is functioning badly either because the parties are not suited for one another or because at least one is not or not yet suited for a long-term relationship.

3. The addition of another member to an already established marriage or love relationship, one who doesn't fit, who fails to pull his or her own weight, or who generates disharmony and dissension; or a prospective addition of that sort.

4. The prospective or actual bringing together of two or more relationships in such a way that the members of each do not feel attractions in the way hoped for or in such a way that one or more of them feel somehow diminished.

Contrast good match (q.v.). See also cagamosis, cavel, collusional marriage, dysfunctional relationship, heterogamosis, incompatibility, lop-sided relationship, ove-hate relationship, love-trouble, Marilyn syndrome, marital aptitude, marital blues, marital hell, marriage from hell, microphily, Miss Wrong, Mister Wrong, odd couple, one-sided relationship, rocky relationship, stormy relationship, toxic relationship, trouble in paradise, "unequally yoked," unequal marriage, unfulfilled love, unhappily married, unsuccessful marriage, WMD.

x bad match.
x mismatch.


poor newlywed syndrome:

The state, not uncommon, of being impoverished early in one's marriage.

See also newlywed syndrome.

x syndromes.


A darling or favorite female.

Comment: From Old French, poupelette (feminine). The masculine is poupelet.

See also darling, poplolly.

x French terms.



1. A mistress (q.v.).

2. Significant other (q.v.).

Comment: Charles Harrington Elster treats this as a gender neutral term, hence the sense, "significant other."


See: There's a Word For It! A Grandiloquent Guide to Life, [by] Charles Harrington Elster (New York, NY: Scribner, c1996): p. 66.

See also amari, bimbo, concubine, courtesan, dolly, erotic friend, kept woman, leman, leveret, lover, out-of-marriage lover, paramour, parnel, partner, poplet.



See pop the question.

popsey, popsie, or popsy:

1. A girlfriend.

2. In the plural, women.

Comment: Presumably derived from the girl's name, Poppy.

Source: Sea Slang of the Twentieth Century: Royal Navy, Merchant Navy, Yachtsmen, Fishermen, Bargemen, Canalmen, Miscellaneous, by Wilfred Granville; introduction and etymologies by Eric Partridge (New York: Philosophical Library, 1950): p. 183.

See also dobash, fishing fleet, girlfriend, girl in every port, jelly, knitting, landlady, long-haired chum, party, pash.


pop the question:

To propose marriage; to request of a person that he or she become one's spouse.

Comment: Sometimes the act of popping the question has been called simply "popping."

See also ask for (someone's) hand in marriage, declare, propose.

x popping.


population race:

The notion that different racial, ethnic, or religious groups are in competition to increase their numbers, especially by birth, in order to be able to dominate a region.

Comment: The population race is sometimes cited as a reason for adjusting certain marital customs (such as a prohibition of remarriage for widows) and for the reinforcement of certain sexual mores (such as a prohibition of homosexuality).

Using the population race as a justification overlooks much, for instance: that overpopulation is dangerous and culturally debilitating and that a comfortable sustainability is more secure; that domination does not rest upon numbers and that freedom and democracy rest not upon races, ethnic groups, or religions but upon individuals within a jurisdiction; that among the by-products of a population race are an oppressed/oppressor social structure and social discomfort for those who are "mixed"; that genes do not give rise to particular cultures and that numbers do not ensure the perpetuation of cultural particularities; that worthy ideas are worthy in and of themselves and not by dint of the number of people who hold them; and that the pressure of a population race tends to subvert other values.

See also amixia, "Be fruitful and multiply," interethnic marriage, interfaith marriage, intermarriage, interracial marriage, interreligious marriage, intersectarian marriage, miscegenation, mixed marriage, panmixia.


porcupine dilemma:

The issue of how to become close to each other without being repelled or hurt, the metaphor being of rodents covered with long barbed quills who would seek warmth from each other as protection against a cold winter's day; the question of how to live with prickliness, one's own and that of others.

Comments: When a dilemma on the part of one animal (naturally, in relation to others of its kind), it is also called "the porcupine's dilemma" and "the hedgehog's dilemma."

Porcupines solve the dilemma by flattening their quills against their bodies; but in his famous parable of the porcupines, the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer solved the dilemma, which he applied to human society, by means of "moderate distance." The parable is often used in discussions of intimacy.

See also close, intimacy.

x dilemmas.
x hedgehog's dilemma.
x parable of the porcupine.

Arthur Schopenhauer's Parable of the Porcupines

A group of porcupines on a cold winter's day crowded close together to save themselves from freezing by their mutual warmth. Soon, however, they felt each other's spines, and this drove them apart again. Whenever their need for warmth brought them more closely together, that second evil intervened, until, thrown this way and that between the two evils, they discovered a moderate distance from one another at which they could survive best.

See: Parerga and Paralipomena: Short Philosophical Essays, by Arthur Schopenhauer; translated from the German by E. F. J. Payne (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1974): v. 2, essay 31, "Similes, Parables, and Fables," §396, p. 651. As quoted in Schopenhauer and the Wild Years of Philosophy, [by] Rüdiger Safranski; translated by Ewald Osers (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1990, c1989): p. 336.

For an older translation, see: The Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer, translated by T. Bailey Saunders (New York: Willey Book Co.,  [191-?]): section [5] of [7], "Studies in Pessimism," essay [9], "A Few Parables," p. 100.

Schopenhauer's Parable of the Porcupines in the Original German

Eine Gesellschaft Stachelschweine drängte sich, an einem kalten Wintertage, recht nahe zusammen, um, | durch die gegenseitige Wärme, sich vor dem Erfrieren zu schützen. Jedoch bald empfanden sie die gegenseitigen Stacheln; welches sie dann wieder von einander entfernte. Wann nun das Bedürfniß der Erw
ärmung sie wieder näher zusammen bracte, wiederholte sich jenes zweite Übel; so daß sie zwischen beiden Leiden hin und her geworfen wurden, bis sie eine mäßige Entfernung von einander herausgefunden hatten, in der sie es am besten aushalten konnten.
See: Parerga und Paralipomena: kleine philosophische Schriften, von Arthur Schopenhauer (Leipzig: Inselverlag, [19—]; in set: Schopenhauer's Sämmtliche Werke in fünf Bänden, [herausgeber ... Hans Henning]; Bd. 5; in series: Grossherzog Wilhelm Ernst Ausgabe): Theil 2, S. 708-709, §400. Originally published, 1851.

porn addict:

A person who suffers from porn addiction (q.v.).

See also sex addict.

porn addiction:

A dependency upon "dirty" material — whether graphic, aural, or written — severe enough that it manifests itself in disruptions of the dependent person's life, for instance, the maxing out of credit due to expenditures on such material, chronic loss of sleep, the neglect of responsibilities, the neglect of loved ones, and placing a job or an important relationship at risk.

Comment: A short form of the phrases, "addiction to pornography" and "pornography addiction."

Although the phenomenon apparently involves some of the same brain chemistry as bona fide addictions, some people challenge the very idea of porn addiction itself, saying, for instance, that (a) porn is a matter of subjective definition, which makes objectivity in analysis of the phenomenon extremely difficult; and (b) even in the most intense form of the phenomenon described, it is merely a compulsion. No objective criteria have been established for a medical diagnosis of porn addiction.

See also dirty, fantasy life, genicon, object cathexis, objectification, sexual addiction, use porn together.

x addiction to pornography.
x pornography addiction.

porn buddy:

A friend with whom one has an arrangement to remove one's erotic materials and sexual paraphernalia in the event of one's untimely demise, this in order to obviate anxiety by protecting one's privacy after death and thus one's reputation, especially with certain people, such as one's parents.

Comment: Typically (a) the arrangement is reciprocal and (b) there is an expectation that the surviving friend is free to keep the materials and paraphernalia for his or her own pleasure.

See also friend.

x buddy.

porneia (Greek):

1. Behavior associated with prostitution; brothel or brothel-like behavior, that is, insufficiently discriminate sex.

2. Sexual immorality (this translation often presupposing universal principles of sexual behavior).

3. Sexual impurity (this translation often presupposing cultic rules of sexual behavior).

4. Violation of certain holiness taboos with regard to types of marital and sexual connections, taboos found in Leviticus 18-21.

5. Within the monastic tradition and sometimes used instead of or in addition to any of the preceding senses:

Comment: Porneia is a term frequently discussed in English primarily because of its use in the New Testament, where it appears twenty-five times. To mention two key usages of the term in the New Testament:

Commonly fornicatio is the Latin translation of porneia.


1 See "The Prohibitions of the Council at Jerusalem (Acts xv 28, 29)," [by] J. W. Hunkin, The Journal of Theological Studies; v. 27, no. 107 (April 1926): pp. 272-283.

See also adultery, apodictic law, arsenokoitês, "as with womankind," bestiality, consequences of sex outside of marriage, deceased wife's sister question, ecclesiastical divorce, father's wife, first-cousin marriage, fornication, grounds for divorce, Holiness Code, illicit love, illicit relationship, inappropriate relationship, incest, indiscretion, irregular connection, klepsigamy, know (somebody) in the biblical sense, Lasterkatalog, Law and gospel, malakos, "Marriage is honourable in all," menstruant as forbidden, moral absolutism, moral law, moral precept, new morality, no sex outside of marriage, perversion, pornification, pornos, purity myth, rival, Seven Capital Sins, sex scandal, sexual connection, sexual immorality, sexual sin, sexual taboo, sodomite, stupration, traditional morality, venereal transgression, zina.

x Greek terms.



Sexualization in a prurient way, especially the spread (some would say, encroachment) of images and values associated with the sex industry into the mainstreams of life or culture.

Comment: Often used pejoratively.

See also "Anything goes," Californication, pansexuality, porneia, sexual mores.


A state or other corporate entity governed or otherwise controlled by people who sell sexual services.

See also sex and power, sex worker.


See use porn together.

pornography addiction:

See porn addiction.


A specialist in pornolexicology (q.v.).

See also lexicographer of love.


1. The branch of linguistics that focuses on the lexical aspects of words that are considered obscene and the particular vocabulary of pornographic and erotic speech and writing.

2. The study of words that are considered obscene and of the particular vocabulary of erotic speech and writing as an entrée to the study of eroticism and sexual mores in a given culture.

See also dirty talk, discourse of desire, erotographomania, language of love, lexicography of love, obscene language, obscene words, pornolexicologist, sex talk, talk dirty.

x lexicology.

pornos; plural, pornoi (Greek):

1. A male prostitute, specifically, a pecuniary pathic; a catamite for hire; as in: Aristophanes, Plutus 153-156; and Xenophon, Memorabilia 1.6.13.

2. A pederast or erastes, as, presumably, in: Demosthenes, Letters 4.11 = 1489.3.

3. A sexually immoral person (this translation often presupposing universal principles of sexual behavior); one who commits porneia (q.v. in sense 2).

4. A sexual transgressor; a sexually impure person (this translation often presupposing cultic rules of sexual behavior); one who commits porneia (q.v. in sense 3). This, or the preceding, appears to be the sense in Sirach = Ecclesiasticus 23:16-18, for pornos covers a person who engages in either of two or, in one ancient manuscript (Codex Alexandrinus), any of three types of sexual sin:

5. A person given to base, vile behavior.

Comments: Pornos is discussed in English by more than classical scholars primarily because of its use in the New Testament, where it appears ten or eleven times: 1 Corinthians 5:9-11 and 6:9; Ephesians 5:5; 1 Timothy 1:10; Hebrews 12:16 and 13:4; and Revelation 17:5 (where the lexical form could be either pornê or pornos); 21:8; and 22:15.

In these passages the term seems to bear a general sense of "the sexually impure," although sometimes particular types of sexual offenders against Mosaic Law are also listed: adulterers, malakoi (if referring to sexual offenders), and arsenokoitai in 1 Corinthians 6; arsenokoitais in 1 Timothy; adulterers in Hebrews 13; and the "dogs," that is, male cult prostitutes in Revelation 22. Some or all of these differentiations appear to be cases of breaking out subcategories rather than of listing mutually exclusive categories.

The supposed pairing of pornois and arsenokoitais in the 1 Timothy 1:9-10 vice list might suggest to some an interpretation of "catamite" and "pederast," comparable to the interpretation some suggest for the apparent pairing of malakoi and arsenokoitai in 1 Corinthians 6:9. However, an analysis of the vice list suggests that these terms do not form a pair but instead a triplet with the Greek word for kidnappers. (See my "Excursus on Male Homosexuality in the Bible.") Thus there is no reason to suppose that pornois is being used here in a more specialized sense than anywhere else in the New Testament, unless one presupposes that arsenokoitês meant "pederast over against catamite," which is far from proven. Even if it were, that would still leave open the question of the meaning of pornois in that passage. Still, rejoinders to this line of thought are possible, for instance, that "kidnappers" is an allusion to the kidnapping of Ganymede by Zeus. (See comment under "catamite.")

See also adulterer, adulteress, arsenokoitês, bestiality, catamite, cheat, cinaedus, deceased wife's sister question, father's wife, first-cousin marriage, gay male, Holiness Code, homosexual, incest, Lasterkatalog, malakos, man-boy love, "Marriage is honourable in all," menstruant as forbidden, pathic, porneia, purity myth, sex cheat, sodomite, whore.

x Greek terms.


porn star:

See "could be a porn star."


1. An entryway or means of entrance.

2. The door of a person's home as symbolic of the entryway to married life together, as in the expression, "Take me to your portal" — that is, when expressed by a woman to a man, "Take me as your bride."

See also proposal, propose, wedding.

x "Take me to your portal."


See marriage portion.


Portland custom:

A general practice, once, on the Isle of Portland in the English Channel for a couple to cohabit and to marry only when the woman became pregnant; if she did not become pregnant within a suitable time, generally the couple would separate and she would move on to another partner, without any social taint.

Comment: Also called the island custom, for instance, by Thomas Hardy in his novel, The Well-Beloved (1897): chapters 4 and 12.

See also cohabitation, experimental marriage, living together, starter marriage, trial marriage.

x island custom.

Portnoy's complaint:

1. A psychological disorder the name of which was invented by the author Philip Roth, who described it this way: "A disorder in which strongly-felt ethical and altruistic impulses are perpetually warring with extreme sexual longings, often of a perverse nature."

2. In popular usage, more generally sexual malaise.


The term and the above quotation are from the novel , Portnoy's Complaint, [by] Philip Roth (New York: Random House, c1969): p. [5] of preliminary matter. The disorder is named afterAlexander Portnoy, who is the first-person protagonist in the novel. A further description of the disorder is attributed to the fictional psychoanalyst, O. Spielvogel.

See also altruism.

x complaint.

Portuguese terms:

See cunhadismo, magalish (faux term), polyamory (poliamor), sacanagem, saudade, temerico.


poser un lapin à (quelqu'un) (French):

"To lay a rabbit on (someone)"; to stand (somebody) up.

See also animalistic, rabbit, stand (somebody) up.

x French terms.


See Cytherean posies.

positive assortive mating:

A statistical tendency for individuals within a given population to choose partners similar to themselves in one or more key ways.

Comment: Abbreviated PAM. Sometimes "assortative" is used instead of "assortive."

Contrast negative assortive mating (q.v.). See also endogamy, face mate, homogamy, isonogamia, Noah's Ark syndrome, PAM.

x statistics.

positive stance on sexuality:

See sex-positive stance.


possessed by nymphs:

See nymphs.

possessive jealousy:

Feeling a threat to one's exclusive possession of or sexual control over the person one loves; a sense of threat to exclusivity of sexual privilege or of love emotion or of domestic control, when such exclusivity is expected.

Comment: The term is attributed to Ronald Mazur, 1973.

See also belong to, feel threatened, jealousy, own (somebody), possessiveness, real estate.



1. The tendency to treat a spouse or lover as though she or he were the property of and exclusive to oneself.

2. The intent to broach no interference with one's control over the direction of a close one's life, this rather than allowing that person to be self-directed and influenced from the outside; willful domination.

See also belong to, bodily integrity, deficiency love, have (someone), heart belongs to, hogmy, hot and cool sex, maritodespotism, own (somebody), possessive jealousy, possessive pronouns, real estate, unwelcome admixture with sexuality, uxorodespotism.


possessive pronouns (special note):

Possessive pronouns, especially those in the singular — my (nominal form: mine), your (yours), his (his), and her (hers) — have a special meaning with regard to relationships involving love or sex, as in "You are mine," "I am yours," "She is his," or "He is hers." Minimally such a usage indicates particularity and specialness: Those individuals have a relationship with each other, each other specifically, that is different from any other relationship — or, at least most other relationships —- that those individuals have. Beyond that there is a wide range that could be meant, figured out, or negotiated. Often the pronouns carry a great deal of romantic freight — "mine" and "yours" especially; and "his" and "hers" may and sometimes do carry great wistfulness and sadness when referring to somebody one wishes were "mine." However, such usage doesn't ordinarily mean possession, in the way that a person owns a watch or a slave owner believes himself to own a slave; yet it may and often does imply romantic and/or sexual exclusivity, especially if qualified, as in, "I want you to be all mine."

See also belong to, have (someone), his and hers, me and mine, own (somebody), possessiveness, re-establish (one's) territory, relationship, sexual exclusivity, "Show me yours," stand by my man, stand by my woman.

x her.
x hers.
x his.
x mine.
x my.
x your.
x yours.

POSSLQ (acronym used by the U.S. Census):

"Person of opposite sex sharing living quarters."

See also amari, cohabitant, cohabitee, co-vivant, de facto, domestic companion, domestic partner, housemate, in-house friend, live-in boyfriend, live-in companion, live-in girlfriend, live-in lover, living together, ménage, partner, PASSLQ, shack up, share the same bedroom, significant other, TOCOTOX, umfriend.

x abbreviations and acronyms.
x person.
x person of opposite sex sharing living quarters.
x statistics.


post break-up funk:

A melancholy mood following the parting of ways of spouses or lovers; sadness or depression in the wake of the dissolution of a love relationship or marriage.

See also break-up, broken heart, divorce, ex-husband syndrome, ex-wife syndrome, garage time, ghosts of relationships past, grief, heartache, heartbreak, in limbo, left-over desire, left-over love, let go, love trauma syndrome, love withdrawal, lovotomy, marital blues, miss, post coitum triste, postmarital blues, razbliuto, regretrosexuality, relationship breakdown recovery, relationship obit, saudade, TTFH, withdrawal anguish.

x funk.

post-coital bliss:

A delightful feeling experienced in the wake of sexual intercourse on some occasions; joy as an after-effect of copulation.

Contrast post-coital tristesse (q.v.). See also après l'amour, bliss, f*ck-happy, keep (someone) happy in bed.

x coital.

post-coital tristesse:

A melancholy or gloomy feeling experienced in the wake of sexual intercourse on some occasions; depression as an after-effect of copulation.

Source: "Introduction," [by] by Claude J. Summer and Ted-Larry Pebworth, in: Renaissance Discourses of Desire, edited by Claude J. Summer and Ted-Larry Pebworth (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, c1993): pp. 1-12, specifically p. 2.

Contrast post-coital bliss (q.v.). See also après l'amour, post coitum triste.

x coital.
x tristesse.

post coitum triste (Latin):

A melancholy or gloomy feeling experienced in the wake of sexual intercourse on some occasions; depression as an after-effect of sexual intercourse.

Source: "Fantasizing a Sexual Golden Age in Seventeenth-Century Poetry," [by] Eugene R. Cunnar, in: Renaissance Discourses of Desire, edited by Claude J. Summer and Ted-Larry Pebworth (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, c1993): pp. 179-205, specifically p. 191.

See also blue balls, marital blues, morning-after blues, post break-up funk, post-coital tristesse, postmarital blues.

x Latin terms.

postlapsarian marriage:

Marriage (q.v.) after the Fall of humankind as represented in the Bible at Genesis 3 and thereafter; the nature of the union of men and women after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit.

Contrast prelapsarian marriage (which see for comment). See also trouble in paradise.

x Bible.


After a marriage has come to an end by death, divorce, or, in some usage of the term, separation that is anticipated to be permanent.

See also comarital, extramarital, intermarital, intramarital, marital, nonmarital, post-relational, premarital, traditional morality.


postmarital blues:

1. Sadness or depression due to the break-up of one's marriage and/or consequent loneliness.

2. A set of feelings associated with missing the person who was once one's spouse.

Coined by me on analogy with "marital blues" But perhaps it already exists.

See also break-up, broken heart, divorce, ex, ex-husband syndrome, ex-wife syndrome, ghosts of relationships past, grief, heartache, heartbreak, left-over desire, left-over love, let go, love trauma syndrome, love withdrawal, lovotomy, marital blues, miss, post break-up funk, post coitum triste, razbliuto, regretrosexuality, relationship breakdown recovery, relationship obit, saudade, TTFH, withdrawal anguish.

x blues.


postmarital sex:

Sexual activity with one or more other people when one is no longer married.

Comment: Typically two types of postmarital sex are identified: (a) with one's ex-spouse; and (b) with a person to whom one has never been married.

See also consequences of sex outside of marriage, extramarital sex, formerly married, nonmarital sex, no sex outside of marriage, premarital intercourse, premarital sex, sex.


postmodern sexuality:

See pomosexuality.


postnuptial agreement:

1. A settlement between married partners, often, but not necessarily, in the contemplation of separation or divorce; a contract between spouses that is consented to any time after their wedding.

2. A common understanding or mutual commitment regarding the sort of relationship to have after being married to each other, that is, after separation or divorce.

See also antenuptial agreement, pre-nuptial agreeement, société d'acquets.

Quotation from Gail Sheehy Illustrating "Postnuptial Agreement"


One woman even negotiated a "postnuptial agreement" with her husband: they will live apart but commit to caring for and about each other to the end.

From: Sex and the Seasoned Woman: Pursuing the Passionate Life, [by] Gail Sheehy (New York: Random House, c2006): p. 52; cf. pp. 214-215.


post-pill, pre-AIDS era:

Roughly the period between 1960 and 1981. The successful treatment of human beings with penicillin, starting in 1941, which provided an effective weapon against the most dangerous venereal diseases, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of a contraceptive pill in 1960 were among the factors that figured into changing attitudes about sexuality during the sexual revolution, since potential physical consequences had thereby become tamable. The AIDS epidemic, which entered the public consciousness in the early 1980s, was one of the factors that later seriously dampened some of those attitudes. Hence what is referred to, sometimes nostalgically, as the "post-pill, pre-AIDS era," which is inclusive of the heyday of the sexual revolution and its immediate aftermath and which is sometimes viewed as a brief moment in history when human beings could be free of fear, or at least some of the chief among their fears, in their sexual interactions with others.

Comments: "AIDS" stands for "acquired immune deficiency syndrome."

The impression should not be left that everyone considered this a time of sexual utopia. Many a contemporary account or a remembrance will quickly disabuse a reader of that notion. However, as in the quotation below, "post-pill paradise" was one of the early forms of the term.

See also Age of Aquarius; love generation; new sexuality; sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll; sexual golden age; sexual revolution; sexual utopia; zipless f***.

x abbreviations and acronyms.

Quotation from John Updike Illustrating "Post-Pill Paradise"


... Georgene [Thorne] led him [Piet Hanema] lightly by one finger upstairs to her bed... When he worried about contraception, she laughed. Didn't Angela [Hanema] use Enovid yet? Welcome, she said, to the post-pill paradise, a lighthearted blasphemy that immensely relieved him.

From the novel: Couples, [by] John Updike (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1968; "A Borzoi Book"): p. 52; cf. pp. 91, 311, 366.



After a relationship has, in key ways, come to an end due to death, break up, or petering out.

See also correlational, extra-relational, interrelational, intra-relational, multirelational, non-relational, postmarital, pre-relational, relational.


post-traumatic kiss syndrome:

The set of emotions, including a degree of shock, that one experiences following a surprise, unwanted first kiss on the lips from somebody — a kiss being a touching with the lips, sometimes with tongue involved.

Comment: Abbreviated PTKS.

See also PTKS.

x kiss.
x syndromes.
x trauma.

potion of love:

See love potion.


See PWP.


Besides other entries that begin with the word "power," see veto power.

power and sex:

See sex and power.

power couple:

A politically, financially, or socially influential pair, especially when they synergistically enhance each other's influence; a pair who together are a formidable force to be reckoned with.

Comment: Generally power couples are married, since marriage provides a socially acceptable and relatively stable base for the projection of power; however, some couples become power couples without benefit of marriage, most commonly, perhaps, celebrity couples.

See also bedroom politics, "Behind every great man is a great woman," celebrity couple, couple, cross-pollination, dink, husband-and-wife team, Lady Macbeth syndrome, marry for politics, office wife, pair, political marriage, SWAG, two-earner household.

power exchange:

The voluntary yielding of one's personal autonomy and handing over of the authority to make decisions for oneself to another person, in conjunction with that other person's agreement to take responsibility for the submissive partner's happiness and health.

Comments: A term associated especially with the BDSM community (BDSM being bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism). In that context, the one yielding autonomy is called a submissive and the one accepting the authority is called a dominant. Power exchange is often a key element of certain sexual practices and certain types of sexual relationships.

A power exchange may be of limited or indefinitely long duration. When the agreement is that it be lifelong and that it involve micro-management of the submissive's life, it is called total power exchange (TPE).

See also bedroom politics, RACK, separation of sex and power, sex and power, sexual services, SSC, TPE.
x total power exchange.

practice husband:

A previous, generally first, male spouse or man who acted as a spouse; a man with whom one learned how to live a married life before divorcing — or breaking up, if not formally married — and marrying another.

See also first husband, husband, practice wife.

practice love:

1. To show kindness out of a caring heart; to implement the demands of agapic love in real life.

2. In a context of mutual intimacy, reciprocity, and compatibility, to give physical expression of one's sexuality to another person and to receive a physical expression of that person's sexuality, each helping to meet the other's needs and desires.

3. To prepare for a serious love relationship by way of a relationship that is not serious.

4. To prepare for a heterosexual love relationship by way of a homosexual relationship, especially on the part of a woman.

Comment: In both of the last two senses, the term is sometimes regarded as belittling, even though (or in part because) it may be meant to excuse.

See also agapic love, calf love, homosexuality, infatuation, lesbianism, love, love practitioner, love relationship, primo amore, puppy love, sexuality, take care of (someone), transitional affair.

x practice of love.


practice marriage:

A starter marriage (q.v.) or, otherwise, a marital union that eventually serves as preparation for the next marital union.

See also marriage.

practice of love:

1. The showing of kindness out of a caring heart; implemention of the demands of agapic love in real life.

2. In a context of mutual intimacy, reciprocity, and compatibility, physical expression of one's sexuality to another person and welcome reception of the physical expression of that person's sexuality, the partners each helping to meet the other's needs and desires.

Comment: Note the emphasis this phrase tends to place upon love as action or, at least, active.

See also agapic love, love, love practitioner, love relationship, sexuality.

Quotation from Charles Williams (1886-1945) Illustrating "Practice of Her Love"

She [Isabel Ingram] neither sympathized nor condoled; in the deep practice of her love her heart was struck equally with his [her husband, Roger's]. She suffered his desolation as she had his desire; the trust of his spiritual necessity with which she had charged herself knew this union also. He realized at that moment the vast experience of love which she had undergone, and accepted it.
From the novel: Shadows of Ecstasy, by Charles Williams (London: Faber & Faber, 1948): chapter 14, p. 218. Originally published, London: Victor Gollancz,  1933.


practice wife:

A previous, generally first, female spouse or woman who acted as a spouse; a woman with whom one learned how to live a married life before divorcing — or breaking up, if not formally married — and marrying another.

See also first wife, practice husband, wife.

practitioner of love:

See love practitioner.


praecepta caritatis (Latin):

Law of love, specifically, of agapic love.

Comment: A theological term.

See also agapic love, caritas, law of love.

x Latin terms.

praegustator (Latin):

1. Taster; cup-bearer.

2. A foretaster of the sexual charms of a woman about to be married to another, especially a man who claims and acts upon a right of sexual access to a woman prior to her husband's taking of her.

For a lexical example of the latter sense, see: Lactantius, De Mortibus Persecutorum = Of the Manner in which the Persecutors Died 38.

See also droit de seigneur, ius primae noctis.

x Latin terms.


pragmatic love:

1. A bond formed on the basis of certain characteristics of the partner-to-be being especially suitable for oneself or one's lifestyle.

2. Maintaining emotional bonds for practical reasons.

See also love, marriage of convenience, marriage of reason, utilitarian marriage.



In ethics, the view that moral decision-making should be according to likely consequences.

See also ethics, relationship pragmatism, sexual ethics, sexual morality.


pratfall effect:

A psychological phenomenon whereby a blunder on the part of a competent person makes that person more attractive; however, a blunder on the part of an incompetent person makes that person less attractive.

Comment: For the original study, see: "The Effect of a Pratfall on Increasing Interpersonal Attractiveness," by Elliot Aronson, Ben Willerman, and Joanne Floyd. Psychonomic Science; v. 4, no. 6 (1966): pp. 227-228. <Not examined>

See also attraction.

x effects.

pratiloma marriage (India):

A marriage (q.v.) where the bride is of higher caste than the bridegroom.

Contrast anuloma marriage (q.v.). See also cross-class romance, folly, hypogamy, mésalliance, morganatic marriage.

Quotation from Kshiti Mohan Sen Illustrating "Pratiloma Marrriage"


Even in the religious literature [of Hinduism] we find some mention of pratiloma marriage (where the bride is of a higher caste). For example, in the Mahâbhârata (Âdi Parva), there is the story of King Yayâti and Devayâni of the Brahmin caste. She wanted to marry him, while he resisted the idea with the argument, 'I am a Kshatriya [the caste composed of kings, warriors, and aristocrats], you are a Brahmin [the yet higher caste composed of priests and religious teachers]. I am not fit to marry you' (18, 18). This did not convince Devayâni, who put forward arguments to prove that this was quite proper. Yayâti continued to argue, but did not succeed in establishing his point and ultimately had to accept the idea of marrying her. Even Devayâni's father, the Brahmin guru Sukrâcârya, gave his consent (81, 31). There are also other examples of pratiloma marriage in Hindu lierature.

From: Hinduism, [by] K. M. Sen (Baltimore, Md.: Penguin Books, 1961; in publisher's series: Pelican Books; A515): p. 29. Due to the limitations of html, where the original has a line over the letter "a," I have transcribed "â"; and where the original has an acute accent over the first letter of Sukrâcârya, signifying that it is to be pronounced approximately like an "Sh," I have transcribed merely the capital letter "S."


prayer of a lover:

1. An expression of feelings or volition directed to God or to a god or to someone or something being treated as though a deity regarding a beloved, such an expression typically falling into one of the following categories:

2. A mystical meditation in which erotic and/or romantic love plays a significant role.

Comment: The French equivalent is une prière d'un amant.

Such a prayer may be spoken or unspoken and, if spoken, may be ritualized or not.

See also lover.

x French terms.
x prière d'un amant.

Quotation from the Anna Blackwell Translation of George Sand Illustrating "Prayers of a Lover"

Happily, the prayers of a lover are more imperious than the | menaces of the whole earth, and even than the terrors of conscience.
From the novel: Jacques, by George Sand; translated from the French by Anna Blackwell (2nd ed. New York: J. S. Redfield, 1847): v. 1, letter 72, "Octave to Herbert," pp. 83-87, specifically p. 86-87. Note that another character says, "it is not to my husband, but to my lover, that my prayers will be addressed." See letter 28, "Fernande to Clemence," pp. 122-128, specifically p. 125.

[In French] Heureusement les prières d'un amant sont plus impérieuses que les menaces de toute la terre, et même que les terreurs de la conscience.
From: Jacques, par George Sand (Bruxelles: J. P. Meline, 1834): t. 2, lettre 32, ""D'Octave à Herbert," pp. [167]-173, specifically p. 173. The original French of the quotation in the preceding note reads: ce n'est pas à mon mari, c'est à mon amant que s'adresseront mes prières. See t. 1, lettre 28, "De Fernande à Clémence," pp. [221]-231, specifically p. 226.

preacher's husband:

Male spouse of a female member of the clergy who delivers sermons.

Contrast preacher's wife (q.v.). See also clerical marriage, clericolagnia, husband, partner, pastor's husband, preacher's partner, spouse.


preacher's partner:

A person with whom a sermon-giving member of the clergy is in a marriage or committed love relationship.

See also clerical marriage, clericolagnia, partner, pastor's partner, preacher's husband, preacher's wife, Sunday wife.


preacher's wife:

Female spouse of a male member of the clergy who delivers sermons.

Comment: The term is most associated with Christian Protestant traditions, especially those that emphasize the preaching role of the clergy.

For comments, see under pastor's wife (q.v.).

Contrast preacher's husband (q.v.). See also clerical marriage, clericolagnia, housefather, parnel, partner, preacher's partner, spouse, Sunday wife, wife.


precepts of the Church:

See Sixth Commandment of the Church.


precocity of marriage:

How early an age, if a young age, first marriage occurs, especially as the average or the mean is determined statistically for either a given sex or each sex, within a given population.

See also age of consent, child-bride, child-husband, child marriage, marriage.


precondition for sex:

What must be in place before sexual activity is allowed to take place — for example, mutual consent may be one of the requirements of society, marriage of the parties is required per some religious doctrines, and love or, perhaps, a certain number of dates is required on the part of many an individual.

Comment: Not to be confused with the conditions for sex, which have to do with setting and mood.

See also consent to sex, consexuality, date, devalue sex, love, marriage, public character of sex, sex.


preemptive break-up:

1. A dumping of one's lover or spouse in anticipation of that person's dumping of oneself, typically as a means of reducing the emotional cost to oneself or as a way of having the upper hand.

2. Dumping a person before one becomes more involved with that person than one wants to be.

See also break-up.


preferential marriage:

Marriage according to a custom that channels mate selection to members of a particular group or to persons of a particular relational status to oneself.

See also cross-cousin marriage, generalized marital exchange, marriage, levirate marriage, matrilateral cross-cousin marriage, niyoga, restricted marital exchange, sororate marriage.



1. A pregnancy conceived of as a marathon, that is, as an exercise of the body's endurance capability over a long but more or less set period of time — in the case of human beings, about nine months.

2. A process for the impregnation of a woman, especially one who has no male mate or whose mate is infertile or who has been having difficulty conceiving, that:

Comments: A portmanteau term: pregnancy + marathon.

If a woman has more than one child through pregathons (in the second sense), hers may be a case of multiple-partner fertility.

See also bareback club, breeding party, Californian marriage, creampie party, fertility party, f*ckathon, impregnation party, multiple-partner fertility, natural insemination, natural insemination by donor, seeding date, sex marathon, sperm roulette, sperm wars.

x marathon.

pregnancy pact:

A promise each member of a group of females makes to the other members to try to give birth to a baby within a certain range of time.

See also mother.

x pact.

Quotation from Kathleen Kingsbury Illustrating "Pregnancy Pact"


As summer vacation begins, 17 girls at Gloucester High School [in Massachusetts] are expecting babies — more than four times the number of pregnancies the 1,200-student school had last year... All it took was a few simple questions before nearly half the expecting students, none older than 16, confessed to making a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together....

The girls who made the pregnancy pact — some of whom, according to Sullivan, reacted to the news that they were expecting with high fives and plans for baby showers — declined to be interviewed.

From: "Pregnancy Boom at Gloucester High," by Kathleen Kingsbury, in: Time; Friday, June 20, 2008. The article itself is dated, Wednesday, June 18, 2008. For the online version, click here.

pregnancy scare:

Anxiety associated with the discovery that one or one's partner may have been impregnated.

See also baby-mama scare, contraceptive community, in trouble, out of wedlock, unwed mother, unwed parent.

x scare.

pregnant couple:

A woman who is carrying a developing embryo or fetus in her womb plus the partner she has who is committed to helping her through the pregnancy and to participating with her in the rearing of the child once it is birthed.

Comment: This term, which dates at least back to the early 1950s and which has become increasingly popular, still sounds strange to many ears of native English-speakers, since, biologically speaking, it is only one member of the couple who is pregnant (unless the partner happens to be another pregnant woman). In other words, this term jumps the bounds of mere biology and takes on a social cast. Less strange sounding would be the term "expectant couple," since it is suggestive of a mutual expectation, that is, of parenthood or of a child to be reared.

See also couple, expectant couple, parent.

Quotation from Reuben Hill(?) Illustrating "Pregnant Couple"


When they see a "pregnant couple," people murmur sympathetically, remembering their own experiences. There is a certain kindness about their identification with the expectant father, and a patience with him during this period.

From: The Family: A Dynamic Interpretation, [by] Wiilard Waller; revised by Reuben Hill (New York: Dryden Press, 1951): p. 382. As nearly as I can tell from Google Books, the term did not appear in earier editions of this book.

prelapsarian marriage:

Marriage (q.v.) before the Fall of humankind as represented in the Bible at Genesis 1-3; the nature of the union of Adam and Eve before they ate the forbidden fruit.

Comment: A question that has dogged theologians for many centuries is whether the primeval pair engaged in sexual intercourse prior to the Fall. The implications are far-reaching for theological sexual ethics. If they did copulate before the Fall, one implication may be that copulation is, in itself, an innocent activity in line with the ideal order of creation. If they did not copulate until after the Fall, one implication may be that copulation per se and any activites that might lead to it are a result of the fallen nature of human beings and need to be tightly regulated so as to eliminate, as much as possible, any taint of sin in favor of what the Fall supposedly made necessary, namely procreation. The way the story is cast can have an effect upon how the question is answered. For instance, literalists may debate particular details back and forth; but those who take the story of Adam and Eve as a metaphor for the awakening of humankind — and, perhaps, even of any individual — to moral consciousness would, generally speaking, see no prehistorical line of demarcation before which human sexual activity was absent.

Contrast postlapsarian marriage (q.v.). See also Adam and Eve, Adam's rib, androgyne archetype, "naked and not ashamed," paradisal marriage, sexual golden age.

x Bible.


While yet unmarried; prior to becoming married.

See also comarital, extramarital, intermarital, intramartial, marital, nonmarital, postmarital, pre-relational.


premarital counseling:

1. Interaction on the part of a member of the clergy, typically over the course of several sessions, with individuals seeking to marry each other, this to determine their eligibility for and suitability to each other as well as their suitability to be married by this particular clergy member, to provide advice that will contribute to a lasting marriage and to happines in that marriage (often inclusive of information about sex), to instruct in doctrines concerning marriage and the family, and to address issues that might arise, such as pre-existing children or interfaith matters.

2. Guidance, hopefully competent and often formal, given to individuals about to be married regarding such relevant matters as their suitability for each other, their suitability for having children together, sexual intercourse, and issues arising that may present difficulties in the marriage.

3. The benefit or practice of either of the above.

See also couples counseling, couples ministry, family counseling, genetic counseling, love guru, marital counseling, municipal matchmaker, relationship counseling, relationship guru.

x counseling.


premarital divorce:

A break-up when the partners have been living together, though not married.

Comment: Given integrated lives, the sharing of resources, and perhaps even having children together, a break-up of cohabiting partners can be as diffficult and messy or nearly so as a divorce of married partners, hence the term.

See also break-up, cohabitation, divorce.

premarital intercourse:

1. Engaging, as an unmarried person, in sexual intercourse with an unmarried person that one intends to or eventually does marry.

2. Having one or more partners in sexual intercourse prior to one's marriage, especially insofar as having such partners falls outside the bounds of social mores.

Comments: The term is generally used with regard to people who have never been married before, especially adolescents.

See also ante-nuptial incontinence, consequences of sex outside of marriage, extramarital sex, no sex outside of marriage, pre-nuptial intercourse.


premarital nerves:

Jitters on the part of a bride or groom just before the wedding ceremony.

See also cold feet, double-bed dread, jow-fair, runaway bride, runaway groom, wedding.

premarital sex:

1. Engaging, as an unmarried person, in sexual activity with an unmarried person that one intends to or eventually does marry.

2. Engaging in sexual activity with one or more partners prior to one's marriage, especially insofar as having such sex partners falls outside the bounds of social mores.

Comments: The term is generally used with regard to people who have never been married before, especially adolescents.

In the Twentieth Century expression of much traditionalist morality, the pairing of premarital and extramarital sex defined the core of illicit sexual relations. However, such a pairing would seem to omit from consciousness both those who intend never to get married and those who have been married and are no longer so. Perhaps nonmarital sex (q.v.) would be a round-up category that would cover the first and postmarital sex (q.v.) a specific category to cover the second.

See also ante-nuptial incontinence, consequences of sex outside of marriage, extramarital sex, no sex outside of marriage, pre-nuptial intercourse, secondary virginity, sex, sexual immorality, traditional morality.


premature "I love you":

A declaration of deep potentially enduring romantic affection when one is expecting or hoping for the same declaration in return but before the person being addressed is ready to make such a declaration.

Comment: Such a moment can be extremely awkward for both parties and can sometimes trigger feelings and a sequence of events that pose a danger to the relationship. It is to be distinguished from simply revealing one's feelings without expectations, which can sometimes engender comparable feelings.

See also declaration, I love you.


See Colvard's Logical Premises.

prender de baron (Old English law):

Taking a husband (q.v.).

See also marriage.


prentice lover:

A person who is learning the arts of love under the tutelage of a lover who is far more experienced and adept at them.

Alternatively: apprentice lover.

See also journeyman-lover, journey-woman lover, lover, understudy.

x apprentice lover.

Quotation from P. W. K. Stone's Translation of Laclos Illustrating "Prentice Lover"

[The Vicomte de Valmont to the Marquise de Merteuil] But, so as not to have employed your great talents in vain, so as to have achieved the success you hoped for and effected the illusion you sought to produce, you should have taken greater care to prepare your prentice lover in advance.

Since you have set up as an instructress, you might teach your pupils not to blush, not to be disconcerted at the slightest pleasantry; [etc.].

From the novel: 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 151, pp. 353-355, specifically p. 353. The original French edition was published in Paris in 1782.


[The French reads]

Mais, pour ne pas déployer en vain d'aussi grands talents, pour en obtenir le succès que vous vous en promettiez, pour produire enfin l'illusion que vous cherchiez à faire naître, il fallait donc auparavant former votre amant novice avec plus de soin.

Puisque vous commencez à faire des éducations, apprenez à vos élèves à ne pas rougir et se déconcerter à la moindre plaisanterie ...

From: Les Liaisons dangereuses, [par] Pierre Choderlos de Laclos; chronologie et préface par René Pomeau (Paris: Flammarion, c1981; in publisher's series: GF; 13): lettre 151, pp. 339-341, specifically p. 339. Amant novice = prentice lover. The mark of omission is mine.


pre-nuptial agreement, or prenuptial agreement:

A determination made in contemplation of marriage regarding property rights.

Comment: For short, called a pre-nup or prenup.

See also antenuptial agreement, financially independent, post-nuptial agreement, separate finances, société d'acquets.


pre-nuptial intercourse:

Engaging in sexual intercourse with the person one intends to marry.

See also premarital intercourse, premarital sex.



Prior to the formation of a mutually acknowledged relationship of a particular type.

See also correlational, extra-relational, interrelational, intra-relational, multirelational, non-relational, post-relational, premarital, pre-relationship, relational.



The exploratory period when individuals decide whether they want to enter into a relationship with each other or, in some cases, even to date.

See also pre-relational, proceptive phase, relationship.



See clean-up prerogative.

x rights.


1. To offer the genitals for mating.

2. To indicate, especially through body language and facial signals, one's readiness for sexual intercourse with a particular person.

Comments: With regard to pronunciation, the emphasis is on the second syllable, which helps to distinguish this word from the homographic noun, "present," where the emphasis is on the first syllable.

Said especially of a female.

Perhaps most often used in this form: presenting.

See also approach invitation, comether, courtship display, flirt, gay signal, lordosis behavior, love signal, proceptive phase, rolling eye, sexual advances, sexual invitation, straight signal, throw (oneself) at (somebody), twinkle in (your) mother's eye.

presumptive marriage:

The existence of a marital bond that is assumed by authorities (for instance, ecclesiastical authorities in the Mddle Ages) if sexual intercourse has taken place, unless clear evidence exists to the contrary.

See also marriage.


"Pretty Woman" rule:

Strong advice to self when not wishing to become emotionally involved: No kissing on the mouth.

Comments: Sometimes called the Julia Roberts rule (although there's more than one rule with that name).

So called from the movie, "Pretty Woman," written by J. F. Lawton; directed by Garry Marshall (1990). In that movie, the prostitute Vivian Ward (played by Julia Roberts) asks the business executive Edward Lewis (played by Richard Gere), "What do you want?" He asks in return, "What do you do?" She replies, "Everything, but I don't kiss on the mouth." Later in the movie, she explains: "Kit's always saying to me, 'Don't get emotional when you turn tricks.' That's why no kissing. It's too personal." Kit is Kit De Luca, a fellow prostitute (played by Laura San Giacomo).

See also emotionally involved, involved with.

x Julia Roberts rule.
x kiss.
x rules.

pretz (Occitan):

Esteem, presumably in response to the esteemed person's valor or innate worth.

Comment: The term is associated with the troubadours of Provence (southeastern France) in the late Middle Ages.

See esteem, love.

x Occitan terms.


See group sex. 

previously married:

1. Having once had a spouse but no longer; separated, divorced, or widowed.

2. Having once had a different spouse.

Contrast never-married (q.v.). See also divorced, ever-married, formerly married, marital status, once married, re-singled, separated.


previous-sire myth:

The erroneous notion that, even though one is not the biological father, one's traits may be transmitted to a child by virtue of having previously impregnated the mother or simply by virtue of having previously had sexual intercourse with her.

See also monospermy, partible paternity, previous-sire myth, telegony.

x myths.


prick tease:

See cockteaser.


See poly pride, poly pride flag.

prière d'un amant:

See prayer of a lover.

priest of love:

1. A person who is said to represent a god or goddess who is identified with or closely associated with romance or sexual attraction.

2. A person who serves as a conduit of agapic love — especially Jesus Christ (the High Priest of Love) as paragon of agapic love and as mediator of divine love, or someone who represents him.

3. A cleric who specializes in performing wedding ceremonies, blessing lovers, and serving as a relationship counselor.

4. A person who preaches in favor of romantic love.

5. A cleric with multiple lovers or one with an otherwise full love life.

6. A reference to the Latin author, Ovid, that is, Publius Ovidius Naso (43 B.CE.-18 C.E.).

7. A reference to the British author, D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930), who called himself a priest of love.

Comment: Often used only of males, and when so, the complement would be "priestess of love."

For a different use of the term "High Priest of Love," see the short story "The High Priest of Love," in: Passing Through: Stories, [by] Colin Channer (New York: One World Ballantine Books, 2004): pp. [5]-68.

See also love, poet of love, prophet of love, theologian of romantic love.

x High Priest of Love.

Quotation from John Gower Illustrating the Concept of and, in Modernization, the Term "Priest of Love"

'In aunter if thou live,
Mi will is ferst that thou be schrive ...
Unto my prest, which comth anon ...
O Genius myn oghne Clerk,
Com forth and hier this mannes schrifte,'
Quod Venus tho; and I uplifte
Min hesd with that, and gan beholde
The selve Prest, which as sche wolde
Was redy there and sette him doun
To hier my confessioun.

From the late 14th century Middle English poem: "Confessio Amantis," lines 189-190, 193, 196-202, as found in: The English Works of John Gower, edited from the manuscripts, with introduction, notes, and glossary, by G. C. Macaulay (London: Published for the Early English Text Society, by Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner, 1900; in: Early English Text Society, Extra Series; 81): v. 1, p. 41.

"My will is first that thou confess
Thyself, thy life to purify,
To my own priest, who now comes nigh.
O Genius, priest of Love, be swift
To listen to this mortal's shrift."
And looking up, I did behold
The very priest of whom she'd told.

"If per chance you live,

My will is first that you be confessed ...
To my priest, who is about to arrive ...
O Genius, my very own cleric,
Come forward and hear this man's confession,"

So, then, said Venus; and, with that,
I looked up and saw
The very priest, who, just as she wished,
Was there and ready; and he sat down
To hear my confession.

As abridged in:
Medieval English Verse and Prose in Modernized Versions
by Roger Sherman Loomis and Rudolph Willard
(New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, c1948):
pp. 324-333, specifically p. 326,
where the lines are numbered 72-78;
compare lines 93 and 105 (= 236 and 243?).
My own modernized version (October 2009).

Quotation from Edmund Spenser Regarding a Priest of Love

'Shepheard, it seems that some celestiall rage
Of love,' quoth Cuddy, 'is breath'd into thy brest,
That powreth forth these oracles so sage
Of that high powre, wherewith thou art possest.
But never wist I till this present day,
Albe of Love I always humbly deemed,
That he [Cupid] was such an one as thou doest say,
And so religiously to be esteemed.
Well may it seeme, by this thy deep insight,
That of that god the priest thou shouldest bee:
So well thou wot'st the mysterie of his might,
As if his godhead thou didst present see.'

'Of Loves perfection perfectly to speake,
Or of his nature rightly to define,
Indeed,' said Colin, 'passeth reasons reach,
And needs his priest t'expresse his powre divine.
For long before the world he was ybore,
And bred above in Venus bosome deare;
For by his powre the world was made of yore,
And all that therein wondrous doth appeare...'
From: Edmund Spenser, "Colin Clouts Come Home Againe" (1595): lines 823-842, as found in: The Complete Poetical Works of Spenser, [edited by R. E. Neil Dodge] (Cambridge ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.; Cambridge: Riverside Press, c1908, c1936; in series: The Cambridge Poets): pp. 686-698, specifically p. 697. Here's a little glossary of the words that might not be recognizable to the present-day speaker of English:
  • wist = supposed
  • albe = although
  • wot'st = knowest
  • ybore = born

Quotation from Richard Baxter Illustrating "Priest of Love"

... in this gospel faith seeth him [Jesus Christ], yea, seeth him as now glorified in heaven, and made Head over all things to the church; the King of love, the great High Priest of Love, the teacher of love, and the express image of the Father's person.
From: A Treatise of Knowledge and Love Compared (London: Tho. Parkhurst, 1689): part 2, "Of True Saving Knowledge," chapter 19; as reprinted in: The Practical Works of Richard Baxter, with a preface, giving some account of the author, and of this edition of his practical works; an essay on his genius, works, and times; and a portrait (London: George Virtue, 1838): v. 4,  p. 642.

Quotation from George Crabbe Illustrating "Priest of Love"

DISPOS'D to wed, ev'n while you hasten, stay;
There's great Advantage in a small Delay: —
Thus OVID sang, and much the Wise approve
This prudent Maxim of the Priest of Love ...

From: "The Parish Register," part 2, "Marriages," lines 1-4, as first published in: Poems, by George Crabbe (London: J. Hatchard, 1807): p. [69]. The allusion is to Ovid, Fasti 3:393.

Quotation from Levi H. Dowling Illustrating "Priest of Love"

He [Christ] has no priests dressed up in puppet style to be admired by men; for every son of man is priest of Love.
From the modern apocryphal work: The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ: The Philosophical and Practical Basis of the Religion of the Aquarian Age of the World, transcribed from the Akashic records by Levi [i.e. Levi H. Dowling; introduction by Eva S. Dowling] (Santa Monica, Calif.: DeVorss, 1908, c1907; reset, 1964): 80:15, p. 122. For discussion of the character of this work, see: Modern Apocrypha, by Edgar J. Goodspeed (Boston: Beacon Press, c1956): pp. 15-19.

Quotation from D. H. Lawrence Illustrating "Priest of Love"

Once you've known what love can be, there's no disappointment anymore, and no despair... I think folk have got skeptic about love — that's because nearly everybody fails. But if they do fail, they needn't doubt love. It's their own fault. I'll do my life work, sticking up for the love between man and woman. |

.... I shall always be a priest of love, and now a glad one — and I'll preach my heart out, Lor bless you.
From: Letter to Sallie Hopkins, signed D. H. Lawrence (Villa di Gargnano, Brescia, Christmas Day 1912), as published in: The Letters of D. H. Lawrence. Volume I, September 1901-May 1913, edited by James T. Boulton (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1979; in set: The Cambridge Edition of the Letters and Works of D. H. Lawrence): v. 1, pp. 492-493.

That letter supplied the title for: The Priest of Love: A Life of D. H. Lawrence, [by] Harry T. Moore (Revised ed. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1974). Originally published under title: The Intelligent Heart (1954): cf. p. vii. This served as the basis for the movie, "Priest of Love," written by Alan Plater, directed by Christopher Miles, and starring Ian McKellen as D. H. Lawrence (1981).

primary, as in "a primary":

A primary partner (q.v.).

See also BAE, co-primary, hierarchical polyamory, partner, polyamorist, primemate, primus inter pares, secondary, tertiary.

primary family:

A family (q.v.) with its own housing unit, whether owned or rented, as distinguished from a family that resides in a non-family member's housing unit, for example, because of resident employment.

Contrast secondary family (q.v.).


primary partner:

A partner in a primary relationship.

See also anchor, co-primary, dyad, pash, hierarchical polyamory, partner, polyamorist, primary, primary relationship, primemate, secondary partner, tertiary partner.


primary relationship:

Of three levels of love relationship that an individual might have — primary, secondary, and tertiary — the level entailing the highest degree of involvement and personal investment, both relative to other relationships and potential relationships and in terms of a variety of relationship factors (see under "relationship levels").

See also alternate relationship geometries, committed love relationship, extramural sexual affair, letter group (phi), love relationship, lovestyle, marriage, multimate mariage, primary partner, satellite relationship, secondary relationship, tertiary relationship.


primary wife:

In a polygynous marriage, the wife first in prominence, generally the first woman of equal status that the man married.

See also concurrent wife, headdress keeper, monogyny, nirimoua, nuliaqpak, partner, plural wife, polygyny, secondary wife, senior wife, sits-beside-him woman, wife.


primemate (Susan Block):

A spouse (q.v.) in a marriage where the partners espouse ethical hedonism and practice swinging.

Comment: The term seems to be a pun incorporating a double reference: first, to our fellow primates, the bonobo chimpanzees, and their ways; second, to the idea of a primary partner. One wonders if the idea of being "well-primed" is also intended.

See also bonobo way, ethical hedonism, hierarchical polyamory, new adultery, noyau social system, open marriage, partner, primary, primary partner, swinger.


primo amore (Italian):

"First love": calf love.

See also amore, calf love, crush, crystallization, high school sweetheart, infatuation, practice love, puppy love, school-day sweetheart.

x Italian terms.


primus inter pares (Latin):

"First among equals": a phrase that historically has had many applications. In marital and love relationships, it can mean, for instance:

1. The titular head of the household, although other adult members have comparable rights and responsibilities.

2. The senior wife in a polygynous marriage relative to other wives, or the senior husband in a polyandrous marriage relative to other husbands.

3. In a polygamous situation that is one in which there is otherwise equality between the sexes, the man in a polygynous situation or the woman in a polyandrous situation.

4. The person others in a household or poly pod tend to look to for organizing family activities or chairing family meetings.

5. In a poly pod, the person to whom one is legally married, although other partners are also loved and one does not regard love to be something measured quantitatively or else one simply wishes to interact with each of one's lovers on an equal basis.

See also head of household, polyamory, polyandry, polygyny, poly pod, primary.
x first among equals.
x Latin terms.

Prince Charming:

A girl or woman's dreamt-of lover.

Comment: The idea of a Prince Charming goes back to the character, Roi Charmant, in "L'Oisseau Bleu," one of the fairy tales in Contes des Fees, by Marie-Catherine La Mothe, Countess d'Aulnoy (1697). In English, the name first appears in King Charming or The Blue Bird of Paradise, by James Robinson Planché (1851). Thereafter the name wound its way into various fairy tales, including "Cinderella" and "The Sleeping Beauty."

Chief source for the comment: The Oxford English Dictionary. Details needs to be verified.

See also boy of (one's) dreams, Cinderella story, fantasy life, frog kisser, ideal, love of one's life, man of (one's) dreams, Mister Right, Mister Wonderful, one-and-only, one true love, partner, perfect catch, right man, soul mate, spiritual husband, title, true lover.

x fairy tales.



1. A female member of a royal family, especially the daughter of a monarch or the wife of a prince.

2. A woman who presides over a principality or who shares the rank of a man who does, that is, the prince.

3. A woman who has been pampered almost as though she were royalty, for instance by her parents, or who expects to be so pampered, especially by any lover or spouse of hers. In this sense, the term is often qualified to indicate ethnicity and/or region, for instance: black American princess, Jewish American princess, or Southern Princess.

4. A term of endearment for a girl or a woman.

See also BAP, JAP, pillow princess, princesse loitaine, term of endearment, title, woman.

princesse lointaine (French):

"Distant princess": a woman whom one loves and serves from a distance, as in a medieval romance.

See also adoration-lust, amour de loin, Dante Alighieri syndrome, dulia, Frauendienst, place on a pedestal, princess, vision of romantic love.

x French terms.


See Beifeld's Principle, Ruby's Principle of Close Encounters.

x law.
x rules.

private house party:

See house party.

private life:

The aspects of a person's existence that are either requisite or desirable (not necessarily both) for:

Among those aspects, speaking minimally, are home and hearth (criminal abuse aside) and person-to-person communications, including correspondence (official correspondence aside). Other aspects widely understood to fall within the private life include the acquisition and use of property (stewardship issues with some types of property aside) and sexual behavior (infringement upon public interests aside), however the precise boundaries of the private life are generally left open in law and various academic disciplines. Whatever boundaries may or may not be sought in law and various academic disciplines, the intended boundaries shift in usage of the term, depending, for instance, on whether one's private life is being contrasted with the part of one's life spent fulfilling the duties of a citizen, or with one's relation to laws that have been designed for the public good, or with one's public life as a politician or celebrity, or with one's life on the job. The term is meant to bespeak a domain that is to be held generally inviolate by governmental authorities, by employers, and by people the person does not wish to involve; furthermore, it is meant to bespeak a domain parts or all of which a person may keep confidential if he or she wishes to do so.

Comments: The term "private life" is to be carefully distinguished from the terms "private business" and "personal business." Whereas "private life" generally includes family life, the other terms are sometimes used to exclude the family.

Although a near universal consensus can be reached with regard to some of the core elements of private life, the general public understanding of private life shifts somewhat with the times and from culture to culture and as technological developments open new spaces and render old concerns out-of-date, sometimes by precluding the possibility of maintaining privacy in an earlier sense. That means that in this day and age of rapid change and globalized communities, finding and defining the boundaries of the private life is a major project for much of humankind.

See also family life, get government out of the bedroom, home, liberty, relationship, reproductive rights, right to marry and to found a family, right to sex, separation of sex and state, sexuality.

Quotation from the European Convention on Human Rights Illustrating "Private Life"


Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
From: The European Convention on Human Rights, Rome, 4 November 1950. The text can be found by clicking here.

It is of interest that family life, home, and correspondence are enumerated in the first clause along with private life, as though separate. The phrase is often taken as a pleonasm, whereby superfluous words are added to "enrich the thought by adding greater definiteness and precision, picturesqueness, vigour and emphasis" — to quote from the definition of "pleonasm" in Greek Grammar, by Herbert Weir Smyth (c1956): §3042. In this case the first clause forces those people who might exclude such elements from a definition of "private life" to reckon with them anyway.

The first clause would seem to imply that respect for the private life is expected of everybody — in other words, not only of governmental authorities but also of persons and entities. Many recognized rights are not only vis-à-vis government, but also vis-à-vis anybody with the power to tread upon them.

privigna (legal term):

A stepdaughter.

See also comprivigni, step-


privignus (legal term):

A stepson.

See also comprivigni, step-



See ladies' privilege, marital confidences privilege, pussy privilege, spousal privilege, spousal testimonial privilege.

privilegium Paulinum (Latin):

"Pauline privilege": allowance for a Christian to divorce an unbelieving spouse who voluntarily departs, per the Apostle Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians 7:15.

Comment: For the use of the privilegium Paulinum in the Roman Catholic Code of Canon Law (1983 edition), see canons 1143-1147.

See also divorce, grounds for divorce, indissolubility doctrine, marriage-is-forever myth.

x Latin terms.
x Pauline privilege.



See marriage problem.

proceptive phase:

The first of three stages of an erotosexual relationship, the stage of wooing, attracting, soliciting, and responding.

See also acceptive phase, admiration, approach invitation, attentions, before play, budding relationship, chemistry, chemistry of love, conceptive phase, conditional love song, courtship, courtship display, courtship love, crack onto (somebody), crystallization, enchantment, erotosexual, esteem, fall in love, frisson, gay signal, head over heels in love, hit it off, hot love, Laws of Lovers' Passion, lordosis behavior, love signal, love-spring, love-suit, mating dance, newfound love, passion, passionate love, petition of love, play hard to get, pre-relationship, propassion, relationship phases, relationship stages, romantic love, sexual advances, "She can park her shoes under my bed," squish, straight signal, take (one's) breath away, throw (oneself) at (somebody), walk on air, walk on sunshine, whirlwind romance, woo, zsa zsa zsu.

x phases.



The process of moving organic being forward by way of reproduction — in the case of human beings, by way of conceiving and birthing children.

Comment: For some people the term has religious overtones and implies building on the creative acts of God through the process of generation.

See also family, family of procreation, father, function of sex, generation, human reproduction, maternity, mother, parent, paternity, "right to marry and to found a family," sex, sexuality.

Related terms beyond the scope of this glossary: propagation of the species.

procreative aspect:

See procreative meaning.


procreative marriage:

1. Married partners raising children.

2. The child-bearing and child-rearing period of marriage.

Contrast companionate marriage (q.v.) and, in a different way, family of procreation (q.v.).

See also family, marriage, parental marriage, procreative meaning.


procreative meaning, or procreative aspect:

One of the functions of sexual intercourse within marriage, namely, to be open to the transmission of human life.

Comments: More fully expressed: "the procreative meaning of the conjugal act."

In Roman Catholic teaching, there is also the unitive meaning. For a lexical example of both terms, see under "unitive meaning."

See also coitus, conjugal love, family, family of procreation, function of marriage, function of sex, make love to, marital relations, marriage, metasex, procreative marriage, sex relation, sexual intercourse.

x procreative aspect.


profectitia dos (Latin):

In Roman law, a dowry (q.v.) brought by the bride that is derived from the property of her father or paternal grandfather.

Contrast adventitia dos (q.v.). See also dos.

x Latin terms.


progressive marriage:

1. Marriage free of outside authoritarian control, for instance, one that allows for easy divorce.

2. A marriage (q.v.) or set of marriages that embodies a more liberal pattern — that is, a pattern designed to enhance individual freedom as a social good — than does a traditional marriage, for instance, by being formed out of love rather than arranged, or by exhibiting equality of the sexes rather than a chauvinistic model.

3. A marriage or set of marriages that entails creative solutions to sexual problems or, even more broadly, sexual freedom on the part of the spouses.

See also mariage à la mode.

progressive monogamy:

See serial marriage, serial monogamy.


prohibited degrees:

See forbidden degrees.



A person with whom one enters into a romantic relationship, this specifically with a view to cultivating that person's character or changing that person's habits.

Comment: Sometimes the word is used to imply a psychological need to have such a project.

See also partner.


projected jealousy:

The tendency to charge one's partner with unfaithfulness, having been unfaithful oneself.

See also jealousy.


prom date:

The person one accompanies or has arranged to accompany or has agreed to accompany to a formal dance that is held near the end of an academic year for members of a class, often a graduating class.

Comment: "Prom" is short for "promenade."

See also date, high school sweetheart, prom sex, school-day sweetheart.

x dance.



The ability to remember details of one's love affairs.

Comment: A humorously constructed pormanteau "imaginary" word, from promiscuity + acuity.

Source: Bloom's bouquet of imaginary words, [by] Jeffrey and Carole Bloom; illustrations by Steven Noble (New York: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, c2004).

See also erstwhile dear, ghosts of relationships past, hold an intimacy close, long-lost love, lost love, love remembered, once-beloved, promiscuity, TOTGA.



1. Having a large number of sexual partners over a period of time.

2. Having casual sexual encounters with multiple people; engaging in sexual intercourse with a number partners without the benefit of being in a committed love relationship with them.

3. The combination of women having multiple sex partners with men having multiple sex partners, such that there is overlap. (See lexical example below.)

4. Having sexual partners in a way that conflicts with a particular set of social mores, such as a rule that sexual relations are to take place only within monogamous marriage.

5. A casual or indiscriminate flitting from one to the next.

6. A mingling of various sorts of persons or things.

See also agapet amars; bedhopper; bike; bonobo way; box of assorted creams; brothel behavior; Casanova complex; casual sex; Catherine the Great complex; cavort about; crumpet man; Don Juanism; floozy; free love; f*ck around; gay lifestyle; God's gift to men; God's gift to women; hoe; hoochie; indiscriminate sex; jump from lap to lap; lemanry; libertinism; lothariette; Lothario; lovertine; "love them and leave them"; make-out artist; manwhore; mate sampling; Messalina complex; misracara; multicipara; multimitus; nonmarital sex; non-monogamy; nymphomania; office bike; one-night-stand; open sexuality; out-paramour; pankoity; philanderer; pick up artist; play the ape; play the field; player; polyandry; polyeros; polygamy; polygyny; polykoity; promisacuity; promiscuous; queaning; queanry; rabbit, rake; recreational sex; relationship anarchy; reputation; roller; sacanagem; satyriasis; school pump; screw around; serial philandering; sexcapade; sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll; sex fiend; sex maniac; sexual autonomy; sexual circle; sexual communism; sexual immorality; sexual liberation; sexual nonexclusivity; sexual varietism; shark; Sherfey syndrome; skirt-chaser; slag; slapper; sleep around; sloppy seconds; slut; smellsmock; "So many men (or women); so little time!"; sow (one's) wild oats; stud; swinging; swingle; tart; tomcat; town pump; tragolimia; tramp; trampage; uteromania; walking sperm bank; whore; womanize; womanizer; zipless f*ck.

Quotation from Herbert Spencer Illustrating "Promiscuity"


PROMISCUITY may be called indefinite polyandry joined with indefinite polygyny.

From: The Principles of Sociology, by Herbert Spencer. Vol. I-2 (New York: D. Appleton, 1896): §297, p. 654. Originally published 1876.



Characterized by promiscuity (q.v.).

For lexical example, see under "monogamous."

See also bitch, can't keep it in (his) pants, easy, experienced lover, free with (her) favors, f*ck-happy, infidelious, infidous, intellectual whore, lad mad, liberal to a fault, loose, oversexed, open legs policy, sexually experienced, sexually nonexclusive, round-heeled, sexually active, sexual nomad, skanky, slutty, tomcat, unfaithful, vixen, Whore of Babylon, wild.

Quotation from Curt Leviant Illustrating "Promiscuous "


Yes, the old yellow polka-dot bow tie psychiatrist with the ruddy face was right, and she agreed — she was not promiscuous. She sought not sex, but warmth; affection, love, not passion.

From: Diary of an Adulterous Woman: A Novel: Including an ABC Directory That Offers Alphabetical Tidbits and Surprises, [by] Curt Leviant ([Syracuse, N.Y.]: Syracuse University Press, 2001; in series: Library of Modern Jewish Literature): p. 114.

Quotation from Dossie Easton and Catherine A. Liszt Illustrating "Promiscuous"



This means we enjoy too many sexual partners.

From: The Ethical Slut: A Guide to Infinite Sexual Possibilities, [by] Dossie Easton & Catherine A. Liszt (San Francisco, CA: Greenery Press, c1997): p. 25.


prom sex:

Sexual activity, especially copulation, following attendance at a formal dance that is held near the end of an academic year for members of a class, often a graduating class.

Comments: "Prom" is short for "promenade."

Prom sex near the end of high school is considered by some teenagers to be one of the rites of passage into a fully adult life, another being graduation. However, it is far from the universal experience or goal among teens, many who engage in it have already been sexually active, and many have deliberately waited until prom night to take the next step with a boyfriend or girlfriend.

An old joke associated with prom night: "It looks like rain for prom night, so be sure you have your rubbers."

See also coitus, copulation, prom date, sex, sexual intercourse.


See natalism.

proof marriage:

A marriage (q.v.), typically an arranged marriage (q.v.), in which at least one partner has a designated amount of time to determine, without social penalty, whether to accept or reject the other partner — depending, for example, on love-making skills.

See also bosom-right, bundling, good match, honeymoon before the wedding, night courting, proof night.


proof night:

A night allotted for a partner to decide whether or not to accept the other partner in a proof marriage (q.v.).

See also bosom-right, bundling, honeymoon before the wedding, night courting.



1. The initial set of signals in the flesh of suffering to come.

2. The initial stirring of emotions that are capable of flaring up.

See also admiration, crystallization, enchantment, esteem, passion, proceptive phase, respect.

proper match:

A prospective or actual bringing together of two people that is perceived to be socially suitable with respect to there being a rough parity of class and wealth.

See also class-marriage, good match.

Quotation from Jane Austen Illustrating "Proper Match"


This very awkward history of Mr [William] Elliot was still, after an interval of several years, felt with anger by Elizabeth [Elliot], who had liked the man for himself, and still more for being her father's heir, and whose strong family pride could see only in him a proper match for Sir Walter Elliot's eldest daughter.

From the novel: Persuasion, [by] Jane Austen (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, c2004): chapter 1, p. 15. Originally published posthumously in: Northanger Abbey; and Persuasion, by the author of "Pride and Prejudice," "Mansfield-Park," &c.; with a biographical notice of the author [by her brother, Henry Austen] (London: John Murray, 1818).


prophet of love:

1. A person who speaks on behalf of love, especially love as divine, or who promotes love on behalf of God or a god.

2. Any particular person who is often so designated. Preeminent examples include:

Comments: Among common misconceptions about prophets are these:

Much more could be said regarding misconceptions about prophets, especially about the relation of prophets to future events; but this should be enough to steer readers away from misconceptions about the meaning of the term "prophet of love."

Regarding the particular prophets of love mentioned above:

See also love, poet of love, priest of love, theologian of romantic love.

x Bible.
x Hebrew terms.
x Latin terms.
x vates Veneris.

propinquiphobia (Charles Harrington Elster):

Fear of closeness.

Source: There's a Word for It! A Grandiloquent Guide to Life, [by] Charles Harrington Elster (New York, NY: Scribner, c1996): p. 140.

See also -phobia, propinquity, proximaphobia.



1. Closeness to a person, especially closeness that is warm and affectionate.

2. Nearness in space and time, or at least one or the other.

3. Kinship (q.v.).

4. Similarity in kind.

See also affinity, boy next door, by (one's) side, connaturality, girl next door, go near (someone), law of propinquity, propinquiphobia, proximity.

Quotation from Harry F. Harlow Illustrating "Propinquity"

When one accepts propinquity
instead of chilling dignity
a life becomes depression free
as every life should always be.

As quoted in: Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection, [by] Deborah Blum (Cambridge, MA: Perseus Publishing, 2002): p. 207. Harlow's original name was Harry Frederick Israel. He was born in 1905. The quotation is undated.


propinquity factor:

A statisitcal tendency within a given population for people to choose partners who live close to them.

See also assortive mating, availability index, boy-next-door theory, geography of love, girl-next-door theory, marital opportunity ratio, marriage gap, marriage squeeze, mate selection, mating gradient, Metuchen theory, nearest donut theory, topography of love.

x statistics.


proposal, or, more fully, a proposal of marriage:

A request of a person that he or she become one's spouse.

See also declaration, gamomania, grand gesture, indecent proposal, love call, offer of marriage, portal, public proposal, question, wouldn't marry (you) if (you) were the last person on earth.

x marriage proposal.

A Postcard Illustrating "Proposal"

<Picture of postcard not yet posted..>

Comic "post card," in burnt sienna and black, with a white border, depicting a barefoot woman in a long dress and a barefoot man in a toga, he with one foot atop a rock and facing her, she facing forward and with a finger to her bottom lip; with caption: "A proposal"; signed H.B.S. (London, E.C.: Stewart & Woolf, [between 1907 and 1918]; in: "Write on" Series; 346). "Printed in Bavaria." With divided back and a postage rate of 1/2 d. Terminus a quo from the beginning of the divided back era. I've chosen the beginning of that era instead of the beginning of the white border era (that is, 1915) since other cards in the series have been dated by dealers (perhaps dubiously) to the early divided back era (345 to 1909 and 358 as pre-1914). Terminus ad quem from when the postage rate was raised to a penny. From the author's collection, scanned <on such and such a date>.

A Harrison Fisher Print, "The Proposal"

<Picture of postcard not yet posted..>

From: Harrison Fisher’s American Girls in Miniature (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1912): illustration [21], showing a man and a woman seated on a ship in deck chairs; he is wearing a newsboy cap and is holding her right hand with both of his hands; she is in a heavy white coat, has a blanket covering her lap, and is holding a book in her left hand; the caption at bottom reads: "The proposal."

This same picture appears also on a postcard, in portrait format with a white border (N.Y.: Reinthal & Newman, [ca. 1914]). The artist is not named. "© Charles Scribner's Sons N.Y." "No 186." Date based on a postmarked copy.

The book illustration is from the author's collection, scanned  <on such and such a date>. The postcard is also in the author's collection.

A Postcard Illustrating "Proposal"

<Picture of postcard not yet posted..>

Color "post card," with a white border, depicting a seated couple outside under the moon; she is in a long pink dress, and he is in a dark suit; she has her left hand in his left hand; with caption: "THE PROPOSAL | On blissful yearning, tender hoping, | The golden time of Love's young dream; | The spirit sees the heavens open, | And life is tinged with roseate gleam."  (New York: Henry Heininger Co., [between 1917 and 1929]; in: The Bride Series). With divided back and a postage rate of "one cent." Terminus a quo and terminus ad quem from the period of the publisher's operation, which is said to have been from 1917 to the 1920s. From the author's collection, scanned <on such and such a date>.


propose, or, more fully, to propose marriage:

To ask a person that he or she become one's spouse.

See also ask for (someone's) hand in marriage, declare, ladies' privilege, leap year, pop the question, portal, rejection rate.


proposition, as in "a proposition":

1. A suggestion for consideration.

2. A topic for discussion or debate.

3. A solicitation for a sexual encounter; an offer of sexual intercourse.

See also approach invitation, booty call, chat-up line, come-on, comether, flirtation, indecent proposal, mack (somebody), opening line, pick-up line, play, "See anything you like," sexual advances, sexual invitation, "She can park her shoes under my bed," "Show me yours," "What are you wearing?" "Your place or mine?"


proposition, as in "to proposition":

To solicit for a sexual encounter.

See also come on to, flirt, forward, hit on, make a pass at, make a play for, make beautiful music together, put the make on, rejection rate, solicit, take a run at (someone), throw (oneself) at (somebody).



1. A person one is considering or might consider for a date or to be a partner in a committed relationship.

2. Someone who might be willing to fall in with one's erotic designs; a person who might accept an invitation to engage in erotic activities.

See also conquest, date, partner, pickup, target.


prostitute, as in "a prostitute":

1. A person who provides sexual services for pay; a sex worker who has or who is in search of clients.

2. By analogy with the preceding, a person who marries for money (spoken of disparagingly).

Comment: Ordinarily the term is used of a woman unless qualified, as in "male prostitute."

See also amorosa, beck-and-call girl, bird, bitch, blowen, buy-sexual, chippy, cocotte, courtesan, demimondaine, doxy, floozy, gigolo, gold-digger, güila, harlot, hetaera, hoe, kept man, kept woman, lady friend, lot lizard, mack daddy, marry for money, moll, parnel, prostitute (oneself), sanky panky, "Sex sells," sexual exploitation, sexual services, sex worker, slattern, slut, spoffskins, squaw, state-sanctioned prostitution, stregge, tail, tart, tottie, whore.

prostitute (oneself):

1. To take what is ordinarily expected to be a deeply personal non-commercial exchange — most notably intimacy for intimacy, sex for sex — and to add or substitute a commercial element on one side of the exchange: typically sex for money.

2. To sell out; to give up one's calling or passion or a significant amount of the time that one would be devoting to it for the sake of money, at least money beyond what it would take to pay one's necessary expenses.

Comment: Generally a term of disparagement.

See also prostitute.

protected sex:

Sexual activity in which generally effective precautions are taken to prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV/AIDS; whether one engages in oral, vaginal, or anal sex, engaging in it only with an effective barrier against the transmission of STDs. The most common barrier used is a latex condom.

See also closed circle of f*ck buddies, closed loop relationship, coitus, condom commitment, contraceptive community, copulation, fluid bonding, fluid monogamy, safe sex, safe sex circle, sex, sexual intercourse, unprotected sex.



See cafeteria Catholicism, smorgasbord Protestantism.

protestations of love:

See amorous protestations.

protests too much:

An expression to the effect that a person is stating objections to a degree either that seems beyond decorum or that betrays feelings contrary to the objections — more usually, the latter.

Comments: Commonly but not always used in a context where either sex, love, or marriage is contemplated.

The expression derives from William Shakespeare, Hamlet (1600-1601): Act 3, scene 2, line 219, where Queen Gertrude says of the player queen, who is refusing to take a second husband, "The lady protests too much, methinks" (following the second Oxford edition, 2005). To give some of the textual variants:

In Shakespeare, the phrase reflects more the moral character and psychological state of Queen Gertrude than of the player queen.

See also No means no.

x doth protest too much.
x "The lady protests too much."
x Shakespeare, William.


Composer of a prothalamium.

Comment: I've constructed this term on analogy with "epithalamiast."

See also epithalamiast, prothalamium.


Pertaining to an approaching wedding or to a prothalamium.

Comment: I've constructed this term on analogy with "epithalamic."

See also epithalmic, nuptial, prothalamium.

prothalamium; plural, prothalamia:

A poem or song in celebration of an approaching wedding; a greeting in verse to lovers in anticipation of their wedding day.

Comment: Alternative form: prothalamion; plural: prothalamions. To anglicize it on analogy with epithalamy: prothalamy; plural prothalamies.

The term (in the form "prothalamion") is attributed to Edmund Spenser (ca. 1552-1599).

See also discourse of desire, epithalamium, love song, nuptial ode, prothalamiast, prothalamic, wedding.


Characterized by or pertaining to an anticipatory form either of polyamory (q.v.) or of being polyamorous (q.v.) — anticipatory in the sense of being prior to the use of those designations in one's social context; perhaps also, in the sense of being absent one or more characteristics typical of present-day polyamory, such as sexual egalitarianism.

Coined by me.


prove (his or her) fertility:

1. On the part of a woman between menarche and menopause, to demonstrate that she is capable of conceiving (and, in many cases, also giving birth to) one or more children, traditionally by doing so or having a recent history of having done so without irreparable damage to her reproductive organs.

2. On a man's part, to demonstrate that he is capable of impregnating a woman, traditionally by doing so or having a recent history of having done so.

See also

Quotation from Dorothy Eden Illustrating "Prove My Fertility"

So now he wanted a wife who could bear several healthy children. I, one of a big family, seemed a fairly safe bet. But he was taking no chances. He wanted to prove my fertility before he married me. Otherwise, I would have to be put aside regretfully, even though he loved me.

From the Gothic novel: The Shadow Wife, [by] Dorothy Eden (New York: Coward-McCann, c1968): chapter 2, p. 30.


1. In some evolutionary theory, a man who has been accepted by a woman as a mate for his ability to furnish certain necessities of life (such as food from the hunt and protection) and because of the likelihood that he will while she bears and nurtures children or is indisposed.

2. A person who brings in an income for a family, at least insofar as it is sufficient for family subsistence, surplus or some of it contributing to the family's lifestyle, wealth, and charitable endeavors.

See also breadwinner, family, husband, mate, meal ticket, sugar daddy, sugar mama, Urfamilie, "You can't live on love alone."


See on the prowl.



A person who mediates for the purpose of bringing about a match for marriage.

See also affiance, affy, go-between, love-broker, marriage broker, matchmaker, play Cupid, shadkahn.


proximal partner:

A person who is nearest in a chain of people who have been sexually or romantically connected.

Contrast distal partner (q.v.). See also chain, chains of affection, diagramming a love relationship, partner.


Fear of closeness; fear of being in the same vicinity.

Comments: Attributed to Charles Harrington Elster.

Source: There's a Word for It! A Grandiloquent Guide to Life, [by] Charles Harrington Elster (New York, NY: Scribner, c1996): p. 140.

See also -phobia, propinquiphobia, proximity.



1. Nearness in space and time, or at least one or the other.

2. Close enough to carry on a relationship primarily in the flesh, that is, without it having to be chiefly a long distance relationship.

3. Existing in a close relationship.

4. "Close proximity," In Malaysia, sometimes refers to being physically close enough to each other — this on the part of a man and a woman not married to each other — to be subject to arrest.

5. In group sex, nearness of or intimate contact between two or more straight people of the same sex, one of whom is helping the other pleasure a person of another sex. The term is not usually applied to double penetration.

See also boy next door, boy-next-door theory, by (one's) side, geography of love, girl next door, girl-next-door theory, go near (someone), group sex, household proxemics, long-distance relationship, nearest donut theory, propinquity, proximaphobia, togetherness, topography of love.


proximity infatuation:

Romantic desire for a person by virtue of having been physically close to that person for a while when otherwise one would not have been specially attracted to that person.

See also boy-next-door theory, chemistry of love, girl-next-door theory, infatuation, nearest donut theory, proximity, topography of love.

proxy marriage:

A contracting or celebrating of marriage (q.v.) where at least one of the parties has an agent, that is, a procurator, standing in for him or her.

See also marry by proxy.



1. A person with an unusually high level of concern for propriety.

2. A person who holds it as a matter of pride to restrict access to his or her body, whether by sight or touch or both, on the part of those who might show sexual interest, possibly (but in some cases not) excepting a spouse.

3. A person who resists sexual advances on principle, or because of a negative attitude towards sex, or out of a desire to appear moral or proper or superior.

4. A person who is unwilling to participate in types of sexual activities that his or her sex partner wishes to engage in, not because they are a turn off or because of a concern with practical consequences, but on principle, or because of a negative attitude towards sex or towards sexual practices across a certain line, or out of a concern about what others would think if the actvities are revealed.

5. A person who refuses to expose as much of his or her body as others in the same or similar circumstances, out of a sense of shame with regard to the human body in general or the attraction it sometimes generates. (Embarrassment with regard to one's own body, due to its perceived imperfections, might be attributed to prudery, but has a different character.)

6. A stickler for restrictive rules regarding sexual activity or exposure of the body or both.

7. Someone who wants the rules regarding exposure of the body or sexual activity or both to be yet more restrictive; a person who opposes in the public realm anything that could lead to sexual excitement.

8. A person who tries to fend off all sexual suggestiveness within his or her spheres of activity because of a fear of the power of sexual desire to lead one to social condemnation or eternal damnation; a person who minimizes sexual excitation in his or her life because of a negative attitude towards sex; a person who is operating out of sexual inhibition.

9. The same as the last, but with an element of pretense.

Comments: The term is used, as applicable, for a member of any sex; however, it has a historical association with the female sex, evidently deriving from the Old French word pr(e)udefemme ("virtuous woman").

The term in some of its senses suggests a motive related to body- or sex-negativity. It is sometimes even used as part of an explanation of motive, as in, "Because he's a prude!"

The term is often used pejoratively. However, insofar as it connotes a complaint against being too moral, it conveys what some will regard as an internal contradiction; for how can one be too right?

This term is an exceptionally difficult to define. The word is often used as a charge, as in, "You're a prude!" However, people make defences against the charge, in part by challenging the the way the the term is being used and in part by an appeal to motives. So when a lexicogographer would wish to be descriptive of how a word is used, he or she cannot help but step into the issue prescriptively. (Note especially definition 5 above.)

Curiously, for a term so entangled with mores and morality, a prescriptive definition cannot be made to correspond to some moral divide without doing excessive violence to general usage. It is a word used with comparable force, if sometimes with different emphases, by both the moral and the immoral (without assuming too much about what those two terms mean).

See also alabaster, aterpist, bluenose, bump on a log, judgmentalist, Mrs. Grundy, obscenity-purity complex, puritan, square, wowser.

Quotation from P. W. K. Stone's Translation of Laclos Illustrating "Prude"

[The Marquise de Merteuil to the Vicomte de Valmont] I shall go further: you must give up all hope of pleasure. Can there ever be any with prudes? I mean those who | are truly so. At the very heart of rapture they remain aloof, offering you only half-delights. That absolute self-abandon, that ecstasy of the senses, when pleasure is purified in its own excess, all that is best in love is quite unknown to them... Your prude is devout, and with that sort of simple piety that condemns a woman to eternal childishness. You will perhaps surmount this obstacle, but do not flatter yourself that you will destroy it. You may conquer her love of God: you will never overcome her fear of the devil.
From the novel: 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 5, pp. 30-32, specifically pp 30-31. The mark of omission is mine. The original French edition was published in Paris in 1782.

[The French reads] Je dis plus; n'en espérez aucun plaisir. En est-il avec les prudes? j'entends celles de bonne foi : réservées au sein même du plaisir, elles ne vous offrent que des demi-jouissances. Cet entier abandon de soi-même, ce délire de la volupté où le plaisir s'épure par son excès, ces biens de l'amour, ne sont pas connus d'elles... votre prude est dévote, et de cette dévotion de bonne femme qui condamne à une éternelle enfance. Peut-être surmonterez-vous cet obstacle, mais ne vous flattez pas de le détruire : vainqueur de l'amour de Dieu, vous ne le serez pas de la peur du Diable ...

From: Les Liaisons dangereuses, [par] Pierre Choderlos de Laclos; chronologie et préface par René Pomeau (Paris: Flammarion, c1981; in publisher's series: GF; 13): lettre 5, pp. 25-27, specifically p. 26. The mark of omission is mine.

Quotation from Tamar Myers Illustrating "Prude"

[Magdalena Yoder] "... The Teschel boys' drawings got even filthier after that. At any rate, they may have painted disgusting things, but they did it very well."

"That's more than you can say about a lot of contemporary artists," I [Abigail Timberlake] said, hanging my head. I am not a prude, nor do I believe in censorship, but a lot of artwork I'd seen lately seemed created for one purpose only, and that was to shock. Perhaps somewhere there was an artist whose intent it was to instill other emotions, possibly delight.
From the mystery novel: So Faux, So Good: A Den of Antiquity Mystery, [by] Tamar Myers (New York, N.Y.: Avon Books, 1998; with publisher's imprint: Avon Twilight): chapter 21, p. 187.



1. An unusually high level of concern for propriety.

2. Treating as a matter of pride the restriction of access to one's body, whether by sight or touch or both, on the part of those who might show sexual interest, possibly (but in some cases not) excepting a spouse.

3. Resistance to sexual advances on principle, or because of a negative attitude towards sex, or out of a desire to appear moral or proper or superior.

4. Unwillingness to participate in types of sexual activities that one's sex partner wishes to engage in, not because they are a turn off or because of a concern with practical consequences, but on principle, or because of a negative attitude towards sex or towards sexual practices across a certain line, or out of a concern about what others would think if the actvities are revealed.

5. Refusal to expose as much of one's body as others in the same or similar circumstances, out of a sense of shame with regard to the human body in general or the attraction it sometimes generates. (Embarrassment with regard to one's own body, due to its perceived imperfections, might be attributed to prudery, but has a different character.)

6. Being a stickler for restrictive rules regarding sexual activity or exposure of the body or both.

7. Desire that the rules regarding exposure of the body or sexual activity or both to be yet more restrictive; opposition to anything in the public realm that could lead to sexual excitement.

8. The attempt to fend off all sexual suggestiveness within one's spheres of activity because of a fear of the power of sexual desire to lead one to social condemnation or eternal damnation; minimization of sexual excitation in one's life because of a negative attitude towards sex; the practice of operating out of sexual inhibition.

9. The same as the last, but with an element of pretense.

Note the comments under the preeding entry.

See also aterpism, bluenose backlash, closed legs policy, degrading sex, erotophobia, genophobia, prudish, prudishness, sex-negative stance, sexosophy, sex through a hole in a sheet, sexual bigotry, sexual degradation, sexual inhibition, sexual mores, sexual morality, sexual shame, traditional morality.



Characterized by prudery.

See also anhedonic, aterpic, bad in bed, frigid, judgmental, love-lacking, prudery, romance-intolerant, sexually inhibited, sexually negative.



Prudery (q.v.), however, sometimes less as an approach to life than as a characteristic or supposed characteristic in a particular instance or set of instances.


False romance, as in one of the following senses:

1. The feigning of feelings of love, either on the part of one party, as in a scam, or on the part of each party.

2. The imputation of a romantic angle to a real-life matter, where there is no evidence that romantic love played a role or where the romantic factor was insignificant.

3. Sometimes capitalized, one or more literary or other creative works in imitation of Romantic creative works, however without being genuinely embued by the spirit of Romanticism.

See also bigamy, false love, fauxmance, klepsigamy, marriage fraud, pseudoromantic, romance, sham marriage, showmance.

pseudoromantic, or pseudo-romantic:

Falsely romantic, as in one of the following senses:

1. Characterized by the feigning of feelings of love, as in a scam.

2. Characterized by imputing a romantic angle to a real-life matter, where there is no evidence that romantic love played a role or where the romantic factor was insignificant.

3. Sometimes capitalized, being imitative of Romanticism without being genuinely embued by its spirit.

Adverbial form: pseudoromantically.

See also pseudoromance, romantic.

psychedelic free love:

1. Participation in sexual activity with whatever willing partner one wishes, with as many willing partners as one wishes, and in any way one wishes — all under the influence of and perhaps as enhanced by a hallucinogenic drug, such as LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide).

2. The social atmosphere and philosophy of some elements of the sexual revolution of the 1960s and '70s, those that advocated psychedelic free love in the preceding sense, elements which peaked circa 1969, after which harder drugs than LSD came to dominate much of the scene.

Comment: Such sexual activity was called psychedelic sex.

See also free love; high sex; love generation; love-in; sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll; sexual revolution; Summer of Love.


A conflict of the soul, as with the flesh, that is, with one's own physical inclinations, or within the soul, as when choosing between good and evil.

Comment: From Greek psuchê ("soul") + machê ("combat").

See also homophobia, lust, obscenity-purity complex, soul-mate problem, stigmatic guilt.

psychoses of passion:

See de Clerambault's syndrome.

psychotic erotic transference reaction:

See de Clerambault's syndrome.


Post-traumatic kiss syndrome (q.v.).

x abbreviations and acronyms.


Pickup (q.v.).

x abbreviations and acronyms.



Pick up artist (q.v.).

x abbreviations and acronyms.


public character of sex:

The claim that "any sex ethic is a political ethic" (Hauerwas, p. 493) and therefore a public issue.

Comments: Coined by Stanley Hauerwas, 1978.

The idea that human sexual behavior and relationships have a public character stands in contradistinction to the claim that they are merely a matter of private morality, which actually, it is said, "is a political claim dependent upon a liberal political ethos" (Hauerwas, p. 484).

The statement that "any sex ethic is a political ethic" bears a striking resemblance to the feminist slogan, "the personal is political," which dates back to 1970; however the ramifications of those two statements have been elaborated in radically different ways.

Hauerwas elaborates sex-ethic-as-political-ethic this way: A Christian sexual ethic must ask what sort of people Christians should be to serve the mission of the church (see quotations below), must take into account that marriage and children are central to the Christian community's political task (p. 491), and must bring out that the church can more than balance the costs of chastity and of marriage being employed in service to the mission of the church with an activist hope (p. 501).

See also bedroom politics, belief in marriage, believe in marriage, bluenose backlash, chastity, consequences of sex outside of marriage, culture war, democratization of eroticism, ethics, family values, Hauerwas's Law, judgmentalism, legislation of morality, libertarianism, libertinism, marriage problem, new morality, precondition for sex, public sex, radical love, relationship choice, relationship freedom, romantic theology, separation of marriage and state, separation of sex and state, sex, sexual autonomy, sexual ethics, sexual justice, sexual morality, sexual politics, statism, theology of marriage, theology of sex, traditional morality, utopian swinging.

Quotations from Stanley Hauerwas on the Public Character of Sex


[487] Prior to the issue of whether premarital or extramarital sexual intercourse is wrong is the question of character. What kind of people do you want to encourage? Hidden in the question of What ought we to do? is always the prior question What ought we to be?

[493] The kind of 'person' we should be is a prior question, answered only by the nature of the Christian community.

[503] The issue is ... what kind of people we should be to be capable of supporting the mission of the church.

From: "Sex in Public: How Adventurous Christians Are Doing It," in The Hauerwas Reader, [by] Stanley Hauerwas; edited by John Berkman and Michael Cartwright (Durham: Duke University Press, 2001): pp. 481-504. This is a "slightly abridged and edited" form of an essay previously published in 1981 but dated 1978. Note the heading for §4, "The Public Character of Sex."


public display of affection:

A show of tenderness, either verbal (such as an "I love you") or physical (such as a hug, a kiss, or a caress) or material (such as the giving of a ring), that is outside of the home and readily observable by others who have no share in the intimacy.

Comment: Abbreviated PDA.

The term is often (but by no means always) used with a tone of disapprobation. Some people are particularly sensitive when it is used that way inequitably with respect to members of one group as opposed to another, for example, young versus old or gay versus straight.

See also affection, democratization of eroticism, express love, mettere in piazza, PDA, public sex, rules for sweethearts, tenderness.


public impediment:

An impediment (q.v.) to marriage that is susceptible to proof in an external forum, that is, a tribunal that is based exclusively upon evidence rather than upon the self-excusing and self-accusation of the individual.

Contrast occult impediment (q.v., especially the quotation).


public husband:

The person one presents to people as the man to whom one is married, for instance, if one has more than one husband where only one is allowed.

See also husband, public spouse.


public proprosal:

Asking somebody, in front of an audience such as a TV audience, to become one's spouse.

Comment: This is more than simply asking in public, as on a public beach or in a restaurant.

See also grand gesture, proposal.

public sex:

1. Live erotic activity conducted in view of others who want to watch, as at a swing club. If the venue is closed — that is, open only to invited guests — then it might be termed semi-public sex.

2. Erotic activity conducted in a space open to the general population without meaning to expose that activity to anyone who would not want to watch. The risk of exposure may be part of the turn-on.

3. Erotic activity conducted in plain view of anyone who may be present or passing by, that is, without the consent of onlookers.

4. A category of erotica featuring any or all of the preceding.

Comment: By "erotic activity" is generally meant at least stimulation of genitalia, although in some usage the stimulation of female breasts alone or even just other foreplay would be enough to count.

See also coitus, copulation, democratization of eroticism, flash mob, public character of sex, open sexuality, public display of affection, sex, sexual intercourse.

x semi-public sex.

Quotation from Dossie Easton and Catherine A. Liszt Illustrating "Public Sex"

It amazes us to realize that most Americans have never watched another human being having sex. Many kinkyfolk like to get together to have play parties. The authors of this book, and many other kinky people, very much enjoy this kind of public sex, but draw | the line at any kind of sex tht involves people who have not consented to participate (such as other folks riding the bus).

See: When Someone You Love is Kinky, by Dossie Easton & Catherine A. Liszt (Oakland, CA: Greenery Press, c2000): pp. 145-146.

public spouse:

The person one presents to people as the man or woman to whom one is married, for instance, if one has more than one spouse where only one is allowed.

See also public husband, public wife, spouse.


public wife:

The person one presents to people as the woman to whom one is married, for instance, if one has more than one wife where only one is allowed.

See also wife, public spouse.



The state of being a young girl or a female virgin.

See also virginity.


puja (Sanskrit):

See chakra puja.


Physical beauty.

Comment: This is a word generally used of a person or group of persons and applied equally to males and females.

Adjectival form: pulchritudinous.

See also arm candy, attractive, bellibone, bellitude, eye candy, looker, outer beauty, phat.

pull, as in "a pull":

Attraction (q.v.).

See also allure, gravitate towards one another, push/pull attraction, sexual desire, sex appeal, X-appeal, yearning.


pull, as in "to pull":

To practice the art of attracting.

Variant: "To be on the pull," that is, "to be practicing the art of attracting" or "to be looking for somebody to whom one is attracted."

See also attract, draw to, flirt, magnetism, make-want, put the mojo on, seduce, set (her) cap at him.

x be on the pull.
x on the pull.

Quotation from Curt Leviant Illustrating "Pulled"


[Guido to Charlie] "Okay, so you don't take out another guy's girl, especially if he's your best friend. And she [Ava] could always have said no. But I couldn't help it. She pulled me. She tugged at me. She attracted me."

From: Diary of an Adulterous Woman: A Novel: Including an ABC Directory That Offers Alphabetical Tidbits and Surprises, [by] Curt Leviant ([Syracuse, N.Y.]: Syracuse University Press, 2001; in series: Library of Modern Jewish Literature): p. 42. For an example of the noun form, see p. 157.


pull a train:

To engage in sexual intercourse with several people in rapid succession, so-called because (a) one is not only pulling one's own weight but also that of their absent sex partners and (b) because of the frequent coupling and uncoupling. Said, usually, of a woman with several men.

Source: The Erotic Tongue: A Sexual Lexicon, [by] Lawrence Paros (Seattle: Madrona Publishers, c1984).

See also group sex, orgy.


A sexually promiscuous person; a person who is sexually available to a group of people with whom he or she is not in a love relationsip.

Comment: Usually qualified, as in "company pump," "neighborhood pump," and "project pump."

The term is usually applied to a woman, although there is nothing inherently gendered in the term. "Pump" is a slang term for both "penis" and "vagina." The analogy is apparently to an old-fashioned, manually operated water pump.

See also office pump, school pump, town pump.

punalua (Hawaiian):

1. Spouses sharing a spouse, as two husbands of a wife or two wives of a husband.

2. Wives of brothers or husbands of sisters (without sexual privileges).

3. Wife's sister's husband.

4. Husband's brother's wife.

Sources (almost verbatim):

See also in-law, group marriage, polygamy.

x Hawaiian terms.

punaluan family:

A family formed as a result of a group marriage consisting of sisters sharing husbands who are brothers from another clan.

See also group marriage, marriage.


punarbhu (Sanskrit):

Remarried widow.

Comment: The range of meaning is not exactly the same as it usually is in English. For example, one type of punarbhu is a womn who has left her husband to take up with another man and who then returns to her husband.

See also remarriage, title (note rani), widow.

x Sanskrit terms.

punch board:

A promiscuous woman.

See also bedhopper, bimbo, box of assorted creams, demirep, Don Juaness, femme galante, flirt-gill, giglet, güila, hoe, hoochie, lothariette, make-out artist, Messalina, minx, multicipara, nymphomaniac, playgirl, promiscuity, rabbit, rake, sex maniac, she-wolf, shiksa, slag, slapper, slut, tart, tramp, walking sperm bank, wanton woman, whore.



A promiscuous woman.

Comment: This I presume to be a variant of punch board.

See also bedhopper, bimbo, box of assorted creams, demirep, Don Juaness, femme galante, flirt-gill, giglet, güila, hoe, hoochie, lothariette, make-out artist, Messalina, minx, multicipara, nymphomaniac, playgirl, promiscuity, rabbit, rake, sex maniac, she-wolf, shiksa, slag, slapper, slut, tart, tramp, walking sperm bank, wanton woman, whore.

Quotation from Ruth Dickson Illustrating "Punchbroad"


I personally would rather know that my son was conducting himself like a gentleman in the sack, with a young lady he has brought home and introduced to me, than groping uncomfortably in the back seat of a car with the school punchbroad.

From: Married Men Make the Best Lovers, by Ruth Dickson (Los Angeles, Calif: Sherbourne Press, c1967): p. 104.


punishment through marriage:

1. Misery chronically inflicted by one's spouse.

2. A penalty for past choices or circumstances considered to be an unhappy marital life.

See also abuse, cagamosis, marital blues, marital hell, marriage from hell, unsuccessful marriage.

x marriage of punishment.

Quotation from Pamela Hansford Johnson Illustrating "Punishment through Marriage"


It is not uncommon to find the theme of punishment through marriage, or by the enforcement of the body without marriage, in Dickens's novels.

From: "The Sexual Life in Dickens's Novels," [by] Pamela Hansford Johnson, in: Dickens 1970: Centenary Essays, by Walter Allen ... [et al.] (New York: Stein and Day, 1970): pp. 173-194, specifically 175.


puppy love:

Infatuation on the part of a preadolescent or an adolescent; a youngster's crush, especially as a learning stage in the development of love emotions and in how to handle them.

Comment: Sometimes infatuation and puppy love are contrasted, infatuation having more of a sexual component and puppy love more an element of idealization.

See also calf love, crush, crystallization, high school sweetheart, hook up, infatuation, innocent in the ways of love, limerence, love, practice love, primo amore, school-day sweetheart.

Quotations from B. F. Skinner Illustrating "Puppy Love"


[123, the character T. E. Frazier speaking] "Certainly most girls are ready for childbearing at fifteen or sixteen. We like to ridicule 'puppy love.' We say it won't last, and judge its depth accordingly. Well, of course it doesn't last! A thousand forces conspire against it. And they are not the forces of nature, either, but of a badly organized society. The boy and girl are ready for love. They will never have the same capacity for love again. And they are ready for marriage and childbearing. It's all part of the same thing. But society never lets them prove it."


[126] "The very fact of early marriage itself ought to prevent marriages due to sexual infatuation," I said, "unless you feel I'm spoiling your sympathetic picture of puppy love."

[127, the character T. E. Frazier speaking] "You aren't spoiling it at all. Puppy love tends not to be overtly sexual at all. It's usually highly idealistic. I wasn't talking about the excitement which springs from the thwarting of natural impulses, but a love which arises spontaneouly and with the least possible hindrance and which is therefore its own surest guarantee of success."

From: Walden Two, by B. F. Skinner; with a new preface [dated November 1969] by the author (London: Macmillan Co., c1948): chapter 16, pp. 126-127. This book is largely a description of a fictional utopian community.


puppy pile:

1. A group of young dogs crawling over each other or sleeping on top of each other.

2. A group of people cuddling together, some atop others.

See also animalistic, cuddle party, pig pile, puppy-pile poly.

x pile.

puppy-pile poly:

An implementation of a polyamorous group relationship, either in general or in a specific case, in which each partner interacts with each other partner romantically and/or sexually, at least to some degree. Generally implied is that the partners enjoy each other in group sex and that, at least some of the time, they share sleeping quarters.

See also polyamory, puppy pile.

x pile.


See wife-purchase.


1. A curtain to conceal women from the view of men who, by custom, are not supposed to see them.

2. Seclusion of a woman from public view, according to custom.

See also claustration.

Some related terms beyond the scope of this glossary: burka, chador, gyneceum (or gynæceum), hijab, ischolagny, niddah, prisha, thoub, voile, yashmak.



See "Unto the pure all things are pure."

pure love:

See amor purus.



1. Capitalized, a member of a Protestant religious movement whose heyday in England was circa 1559-1660 and in North America, more specifically Massachusetts, from 1630 to the early 1700s, as the generation of Puritan members of the clergy who had migrated from England died out. Puritans sought a church polity and civil government along the lines of the model established in Geneva by John Calvin (1509-1564), the Protestant Reformer, and continued by Theodore Beza (1519-1605), the Calvinist theologian. They also advocated the stripping away of all religious trappings for which there is no express warrant in the Protestant canon of the Bible. Their social experiments failed to endure, but Massachusetts and a number of Protestant denominations that they established — particularly the Presbyterian and Congregationalist families — continue to the present day. Puritans have often been associated with a strict, socially enforced — some would say, odiously oppressive — code of sexual morality, this association being made especially since the publication of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1850. There is some warrant for this association; and, indeed, Beza himself was one of the key figures who put the kibosh on, for instance, non-monogamy within Protestantism.1 However, to treat sexual morality as a distinctively dominant preoccupation of Puritanism or to overlook that many Puritans participated in a fully rounded set of customs related to marriage and sexuality, inclusive of bundling, is to distort the historical picture.

2. A person who, for religious reasons, follows a professedly purer moral code than that which prevails either in society at large or in his or her sect.

3. A person who, because of religious upbringing or convictions, refuses to have sex with anyone other than his or her marital partner, especially such a person who is sexually restrictive even within the context of marriage.

4. A person who inveighs against moral laxity and advocates moral purity.

5. A person who opposes the use of various trappings in worship.

Comment: Extending any of the last four senses beyond individuals who are part of a subculture that has been influenced by the Puritans might, in a given context, be regarded as a stretch.

Except in its historical sense, the word "puritan" is often used disparagingly.


1 Theodore de Bèze (1519-1605), or Beza, was responding to the Italian Reformer, Bernardino Ochino (1487-1564), who published:

  • Bernardini Ochini Dialogi XXX: In Duos Libros Divisi, Quorum Primus Est De Messia ... Secundus Est cum De Rebus Variis, tum Potissimum De Trinitate (Basileæ: Per P. Pernam, 1563). 2 v. From a British Library record. See Dialog 21.

The relevant dialogue was later translated:

  • A Dialogue of Polygamy, written originally in Italian; rendered into English by a person of quality (London: Printed for J. Garfield, 1657). From a Library of Congress record.

Beza replied with:

  • Tractatio de Polygamia, et Diuortiis: In Quâ et Ochini Apostatæ pro Polygamia, et Montanistarum ac Aliorum Aduersus Repetitas Nuptias, Refutantur: & Pleræque in Causis Matrimonialibus, Quas Vocant, Incidentes Controuersiæ ex Verbo Dei Deciduntur, ex Theodori Bezæ Vezelii ... prælectionibus in Priorem ad Corinthios Epistolam (Geneuæ: Apud I. Crispinum, 1568-1569): 2 parts. From a British Library record.

For discussion, see:

  • Bernardino Ochino of Siena: A Contribution Towards the History of the Reformation, by Karl Benrath; translated from the German by Helen Zimmern; with an introductory preface by William Arthur (London: James Nisbet, 1876). American ed. (New York: R. Carter, 1877). Translation of: Bernardino Ochino von Siena: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Reformation (Leipzig, 1875). Note: 2. Aufl. (1892); 3. Aufl., Unveränderter Nachdruck der 2. Aufl. (Nieuwkoop: B. de Graaf, 1968).
  • Bernardino Ochino esule e riformatore senese del cinquecento, 1487-1563, di Roland Bainton; versione dal manoscritto inglese di Elio Gianturco (Firenze: G. C. Sansoni, 1940; in: Biblioteca storica Sansoni; v. 4.). Evidently never published in English.
  • "The Heretic as Exile: Bernardino Ochino," chapter 6 of: The Travail of Religious Liberty: Nine Biographical Studies, by Roland H. Bainton (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, c1951): pp. [149]-176. British ed. (London: Butterworth Press, 1953).
  • "The Two-Nosed Head: Ochino," chapter 4 of: After Polygamy Was Made a Sin: The Social History of Christian Polygamy, [by] John Cairncross (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1974): pp. 65-73.

Except for the last two items, which I have in hand, these records are culled from various bibliographical sources.

See also alabaster, aterpist, bluenose, bundling, judgmental, judgmentalist, Junior Anti-Sex League, Mrs. Grundy, obscenity-purity complex, only-right-way-to-be syndrome, prude, purity, scarlet letter, sexual bigotry, sexual inhibition, sexually inhibited, smorgasbord Protestantism, square, traditional morality, Victorian, wowser.

Quotation from Randolph Bourne Illustrating "Puritan"


For the puritan is the most stable and persistent of types.1 It is scarcely a question of a puritanical age and a pagan age. It is only a question of more puritans or less puritans. Even the most emancipated generation will find that it has only broken its puritanism up into compartments, and balances sexual freedom — or better perhaps a pious belief in sexual freedom — with a cult of efficiency and personal integrity which is far more coercive than the most sumptuary of laws. Young people who have given up all thought of "being good" anxiously celebrate a cult of "making good." And a superstition like eugenics threatens to terrorize the new intelligentsia.

1 Anti-Puritanism — used not so much historically but as a socially critical metaphor — had already been articulated in a milder form by Van Wyck Brooks in 1908 in The Wine of the Puritans. [Editor's end note from p. 306]

From: "The Puritan's Will to Power," in: The Radical Will: Selected Writings, 1911-1918, [by] Randolph Bourne; preface by Christopher Lasch; selection and introductions by Olaf Hansen (New York: Urizen Books, c1977): pp. [301]-306, specifically pp. [301], 306. Originally published in Seven Arts; 1 (April 1917): 631-637.

Quotation from George Ryley Scott Illustrating "Puritan"


[18] The evolution of the Puritan was synonymous with the evolution of obscenity as a fixed and powerful, though an indefinable, concept. The essence of Puritanism is suppression: it expresses itself in the denunciation and the suppression of anything calculated to give pleasure to others. The Puritans, said Macaulay, suppressed bear-baiting not becuase it gave pain to the bears but because it gave pleasure to the spectators....

[19] [In the Puritanical outlook] Every new idea is considered in relation to antiquated concepts, in which conformation to an accepted code of morals, an orthodox ethic, and a sterile ascetism, is the primary criterion of value.

There are many grades of Puritanism. The least harmful is that which may be termed group-Puritanism, the brand ... manifesting itself in the weak acceptance of conventional barriers and other forms of censorship. Here we are concerned with a docile servitude which gives its support rather in the form of mental inertia than actual effort. A more dangerous form is the Puritanism which may be termed pathological, dependent upon and resulting from personal inhibitions, and finding an outlet in the denunciation of unorthodoxy or the suppression of its active expression in others.

One might go so far as to say that every victim of self-induced suppression is a potential Puritan.

From: "Into Whose Hands": An Examination of Obscene Libel in Its Legal, Sociological and Literary Aspects, by George Ryley Scott (Brooklyn, N.Y.: Waron Press, c1961): pp. 18-19. In circles in which I've traveled, Puritanism has often been accused of inculcating inhibitions.

Quotation from Susie Bright Illustrating "Puritan"

Our Puritan founders were not known for bringing enlightened erotic beliefs across the Atlantic. More than any other nation that preceded or followed, the United States was founded on a punitive sense of sexuality... Immigrants, Indians, and slaves who were subsequently conquered/assimilated were each given a walloping dose of Anglo-Saxon-style prudery. The American world of arts and letters came of age under this type pf morality and double standard.

From: How to Write a Dirty Story: Reading, Writing, and Publishing Erotica, [by] Susie Bright (New York: Simon & Schuster, c2002; "A Fireside Book"): p. 33.



1. The condition of being unsullied or unadulterated.

2. Ritual cleannness.

3. A condition thoroughly in conformity with propriety.

4. The quality of being innocent or virginal.

5. Chasteness of mind and heart; freedom from lustful or other selfish motivation.

Comment: In the King James Version of the Bible, the term translates the Greek word, hagneia. See 1 Timothy 4:12; 5:2.

See also chastity, fidelity cherry, impurity, morality, obscenity-purity complex, Puritan, purity ball, purity myth, sexual purity, virginal.

x hagneia.
x Bible.
x Greek terms.
x hagneia.


purity ball:

A formal party where virginity pledges are made, typically by adolescent girls to their fathers.

See also abstinence pledge, chastity circle, purity, sexual purity, true love pledge, virginity pledge.

x dance.
x party.


purity myth:

1. The view that cultic rituals and rigors please or appease or forfend either the gods or a god or God or lesser supernatural beings.

2. The view that virginity has a medical definition that can bear the weight of religious and other cultural expectations placed upon virginity; virginity conceived of as a medical state rather than a cultural construct, which sometimes has biological indicators, all of which are uncertain.

3. The view that whether or not one has had sexual intercourse has a bearing upon who one is or how morally good and acceptable to God one is.

4. The view that sexual intercourse, other than in the context of a monogamous marriage, makes one a slut (in a pejorative sense) and renders one damaged goods and therefore unsuitable for either a religious partner or a partner of moral integrity.

5. The view that enjoying sexual activity makes one a slut (in a pejorative sense), the notion being that a pure person refrains from enjoying it.

6. The view that the number and variety of one's sexual activities with consenting peers has a bearing upon how morally good and acceptable to God one is.

7. The view that acting upon a sexual orientation to members of the same sex has a bearing upon how morally good and acceptable to God one is.

8. The view that whether or not a culture flourishes depends upon how strictly its members adhere to religious regulations, including those regarding sexual relations; especially the view that where sex outside of monogamous marriage is widespread, the culture is therefore under divine judgment and doomed to collapse.

Comment: As with most current views labeled myths, such labeling of the above-mentioned views is controversial.

Many a religion has harbored or been accused of harboring purity myths. Among passages in the New Testament that are often used within Christianity in support of a "purity myth" are these:

Many a purity myth is rife with double standards. In other words, purity is often expected more of one sex, usually the female sex, than of another sex, or else the standards are easier for one sex than another.

A source for definitions 2 and 3: The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women, [by] Jessica Valenti (Berkeley, Calif.: Seal Press, c2009): see especially p. 11.

See also arsenokoitês, damaged good, danger myth of sexual desire, double standard, Lasterkatalog, Madonna-whore complex, malakos, obscenity-purity complex, porneia, pornos, purity, sexual purity, stigmatic guilt, virginity.

x Bible.
x myths.

purpose of marriage:

See function of marriage.


1. To chase.

2. To overcome a person's reluctance in order to obtain that person as a mate or lover, or to obtain sexual favors from that person.

See also after, camp out on (someone's) doorstep, chase after, court, make love to, romance, step up to, win a mate, win one's heart, white whale, woo.


purus amor:

See amor purus.



See push-button motel.

push button:

See push-button motel.

push-button motel:

An establishment with rooms, often theme rooms, for rent by the hour, since it caters to sexual liasons. It is designed for minimal eye-contact between staff and customers. Typically each room has a single garage parking space in front. An open door indicates that the room is unoccupied and available. A customer can then drive a car in and push a button in order to close the garage door (hence the term). The garage door usually remains closed until accounts are settled.

Comments: Also called a push or a push button.

Such motels are most famously found in Panama and Brazil.

See also assignation, love motel, love shack, pensión, rendezvous, sugar shack, tryst.

x motel.
x push.
x push button.

pushbutton panic:

Anxiety experienced as one is faced with a choice of calling a person on a telephone, especially for a date, or wimping out.

Comment: Evidently the term derives from the era of pushbutton telephones, which has not yet entirely passed.

See also date, shysexuality.

x panic.

push/pull attraction:

1. A situation in which individuals of a complementary sexual orientation are repeatedly drawn to each other and repeatedly repelled by each other.

2. A game of flirtation whereby many a compliment is followed by a cutting remark that undermines the compliment, which in turn is followed by another compliment, and so on. In some cases, the result is sexual tension, which, if followed through in the direction of the tendencies involved, will be resolved by sexual means.

3. A seduction technique whereby rapport is established, broken, and then reestablished, perhaps repeatedly. The natural inclination, when rapport is broken, is for a person to try to requalify him or herself to and for the seducer.

See also ambivalent feelings, attraction, date on and off, flirtation, love-hate relationship, on-and-off relationship, pull, rocky relationship, seduction, stormy relationship.


See new pussy syndrome, pussyhound, pussy privilege, pussy-struck, pussywhip.

x cunt.
x vagina.

pussyhound, or pussy-hound:

A person who is ever on the hunt for a woman with whom to have sex and who will pursue each quarry relentlessly.

Comment: The term dates back at least to 1975.

See also animalistic, cockhound, dog, horn dog, philanderer, pick-up artist, seducer, serial philanderer, wolf.

x hound.
x pussy.

Quotation from Edwin Torres Illustrating "Pussy-hound"

I used to get laid in Central Park .... |

I was a big pussy-hound.

From the novel: Carlito’s Way: Rise to Power, [by] Edwin Torres (New York: Black Cat Books, 2005.): chapter 1, pp. 9-10. Originally published: New York: Saturday Review Press, 1975.

pussy privilege:

The grant of sexual access to a woman's vagina, either by the woman or by the woman and her mate, as in polyamory or swinging.

Comment: In the plural, "pussy privileges," onging access is usually meant.

Implied is that the grant of such access is always revokable. It is not automatically implied that the privilege extends to unprotected sex ("going bareback," that is, engaging in PIV intercourse without a condom) or, even if so, to ejacuation within her vagina ("cumming inside her"). The expectation often is that such matters need to be specified, although usually it is understood, even if it causes upset, that nature sometimes takes over.

See also coitus, copulation, full swap, hard swap, PIV intercourse, polyamory, sexual activity, sexual intercourse, swinging.

x privilege.
x pussy.


Infatuated, said especially of a male youth infatuated with an older, much more sexually mature woman.

Comment: Whatever the actual etymology, "pussy" here is often taken to refer to a woman's genital region and, by extension (synecdoche), to the whole woman; so some people will find that an appropriate reason to take umbrage at use of the term. Besides, "pussy," in this sense, is regarded by many as a taboo term.

See also age-gap relationship, campsite rule, captivated, cougar relationship, enamored, infatuated, love-struck, sprung.

x pussy.



1. To cause someone, especially a man, to concede to her habitually; to gain the upper hand over someone, especially a man — said of a woman.

2. To bring about the loss of male authority — said of one or more women.

Notice the comment under "pussy-struck."

See also hen-peck, pussy-whipped, use sex as a weapon, wear the breeches.

x pussy.

Quotation from Armistead Maupin Illustrating "Pussywhip"


[Brian Hawkins thinking about his nephew, Jed] Who was this Cissie bitch anyway? What gave her the right to pussywhip this innocent kid into a life of marital servitude?

From the novel: Significant Others, [by] Armistead Maupin (New York: Harper & Row, 1987; "Perennial Library"; Tales of the City Series; v. 5): p. 45.



1. Characterized by habitually caving in to one or more women; robbed by one or more women or by a feminist ideology of strong qualities commonly associated with manhood, such as firmness and aggressiveness; characterized by a collapse of the male ego before the female ego; characterized by wimpishness in reaction to a woman.

2. Characterized by loss of male authority, a loss due to one or more women or to a feminist movement; said of a man.

Comments: Generally used pejoratively of a man or group of men. (Notice also the comment under "pussy-struck.")

Sometimes, in order to sound less offensive, the term is shortened to "whipped."

See also ball and chain, conjugal fetters, doll's house marriage, doll's house relationship, feminism, fictive widow, gynocracy, gyves, Lady Macbeth syndrome, lead (somebody) around by his penis, malakos, meacock, poly paradox, pussywhip, she who must be obeyed, tied to her apron springs, under petticoat government, uxorodespotism, womaned, woman-tired.

x whipped.

Quotation from Armistead Maupin Illustrating "Pussy-Whipped"


[246] [Theresa Cross] "Oh ... Maximale."

[Brian Hawkins] "What's that?"

"His [Bernie Pastorini's] male empowerment group."


"Well ... the theory is that some guys have been turned into wimps by feminism and the peace movement, so they ... you know, teach them to be aggressive again."


She shrugged. "Makes sense to me. I've known plenty of 'em."

"Plenty of what?"

"Soft males. That's what they call 'em."


He was beginning to take this personally. "So this guy thinks I'm a wimp, huh?"

She glanced at him sideways. "Don't get threatened, now. He pitches it to everybody. Besides, it's what you think that matters."


"A seminar for guys who are pussy-whipped."

[247] She threw back her mane and roared. "Now, there's an expression I haven't heard for a hundred years of so."

He gave her a rueful look. "I guess it's in fashion again."

From the novel: Babycakes, [by] Armistead Maupin (New York: Harper & Row, 1984; "Perennial Library"; Tales of the City Series; v. 4)): pp. 246-247. The marks of elision are Maupin's.


puta (Spanish):

Whore (q.v.).

x Spanish and Spanglish terms.

putative marriage:

A marriage (q.v.) contracted in good faith by at least one of the parties in ignorance of an existing impediment (q.v.).


put (her) off men:

To cause (a person) to prefer avoiding human males with regard to romantic and sexual entanglements.

Comments: Typically the subject is a trauma (such as rape), or a series of bad experiences (such as repeated romantic failures), or a prolonged unhappy experience (such as a bad marriage).

There's no implication that the person referred to is gay, unless the context suggests it.

See also love trauma syndrome, man, put (him) off women.

"Put her shoes under my bed":

See "She can park her shoes under my bed."

put (him) off women:

To cause (a person) to prefer avoiding human females with regard to romantic and sexual entanglements.

Comments: Typically the subject is a trauma (such as rape), or a series of bad experiences (such as repeated romantic failures), or a prolonged unhappy experience (such as a bad marriage).

There's no implication that the person referred to is gay, unless the context suggests it.

See also love trauma syndrome, put (her) off men, woman.

put it about:

To be promiscuous; to not restrict one's sexual activities to a single sex partner or a defined set of sex partners, but to engage in sexual activities with others.

Comment: The "it" seems to be one's sexuality.

See also butterfly, casual sex, cavort about, date around, f*ck around, jump from lap to lap, mate sampling, play around, play the field, promiscuous, put it about, run astray, screw around, serial philandering, sexuality, sexual nonexclusivity, sexual varietism, shark, sleep around, stud, womanize.



1. A social signal to keep one's distance; a social rebuff. Synonym: cold shoulder.

2. A sexual rejection.

See also "Don't get the wrong idea," reject, reject (someone), sexual rejection, spurn (someone), wouldn't marry (you) if (you) were the last person on earth.

put on a pedestal:

See place on a pedestal.


put out:

1. To extinguish.

2. To meet a partner's sexual desires by engaging in particular sex acts as requested.

Comment: In the second sense, often used in the phrase, "put out for (someone)," and often cast in the negative, as in, "She wouldn't put out for him, so he dumped her."

See also keep (someone) happy in bed, sexual partnering.

put the make on:

To make a sexual advance towards.

See also come on to, flirt, hit on, mack (somebody), make a move, make a pass at, make a play for, make love to, proposition, put the make on, put the mojo on, seduce, sexual advances, solicit, take a run at (someone), throw (oneself) at (somebody).

put the mojo on; plural of mojo, either mojoes or mojos:

1. To cast a spell over.

2. To attempt to charm a person into falling in love with oneself.

Comment: I've seen various proposed etymologies for the word, "mojo":

The term, "mojo," is associated with hoodoo and voodoo; and it has been popularized in part through blues lyrics, for example, in the song, "Got My Mojo Working," attributed to Preston Foster and recorded in 1960 by Muddy Waters.

See also attract, come on to, fall in love, flirt, mack (somebody), make (a person) fall in love with, make a play for, philander, pull, put the make on, seduce, set (her) cap at him, throw (oneself) at (somebody).

x Fulani terms.
x mojo.
x Yoruba terms.


putting out the lights (game):

See doused lights.


putus (Jamaican):

A term of endearment for a girlfriend or wife.

See also baybee, dawta, girlfriend, ooman, term of endearment, sistrin, wife.

x Jamaican terms.


1. Parent(s) without partners.

2. Poly wanna potluck; a gathering of polyamorous and poly-friendly people for food and conversation. (On analogy with a parrot's saying ,"Polly wanna cracker." ("Wanna" = "wants a".) The parrot is sometimes used as a symbol for polyamory, since an individual parrot is often referred to as Polly.)

3. With regard to pornography: "Porn without plot" or "Plot? What plot?" or "Poorly written porn."

See parent without partner, poly while searching, use porn together.

x abbreviations and acronyms.
x plot.
x potluck.



Poly while searching (q.v.).

x abbreviations and acronyms.

Pygmalion complex:

The psychological drive to change someone, especially one's spouse, in the direction of one's own ideal for that person; loving one's ideal of a person rather than the person for who he or she actually is and thus either trying to push the person to meet that ideal or falling into disillusionment.

Comment: In English the name of the complex is doubly allusive, first to the ancient myth of a king of Cyprus, Pygmalion, who fell in love with the ivory statue of a woman (Galatea) he had carved (see Ovid, Metamorphoses 10.243-297); and second to a George Bernard Shaw play entitled Pygmalion (1912), in which a poor flower woman is schooled to high society.

Source: Emotional Maturity in Love and Marriage, [by] Lucy Freeman and Harold Greenwald; foreword by George S. Stevenson (New York: Harper, c1961): chapter 6, "The Pygmalion Complex," pp. 81-95.

See also entelechy, ideal, Michelangelo phenomenon, Pygmalion effect, pygmalionism.

x complexes.

Pygmalion effect:

1. The meeting of expectations or the tendency to try to meet expectations, for example of a teacher or a manager, which means that, on the part of the person with the expectations, the effect is a form of self-fulfilling prophecy; the power of the expectations of someone whose expectations one wants to meet; getting what you expect.

2. A tendency on the part of a wife to shape herself in certain ways to accomodate her husband.

3. A statistical tendency found within a defined group of wives for them to shape themselves in certain ways to accomodate their husbands.

Comments: Regarding the first sense, in education this is also called the Rosenthal effect, after the American psychologist Robert Rosenthal.

The Pygmalion effect is sometimes called the Galatea effect, but "Galatea effect" also has a different sense, which is the power of self-expectations as employees, students, or others are encouraged to believe in themselves and in their effectiveness.


Pygmalion in the Classroom: Teacher Expectation and Pupils’ Intellectual Development, [by] Robert Rosenthal [and] Lenore Jacobson (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1968). Newly expanded ed. (New York: Irvington Publishers, c1992).

See also entelechy, maritality, Michelangelo phenomenon, Pygmalion complex, pygmalionism.

x effects.
x Galatea effect.
x myths.
x Rosenthal effect.
x statistics.



1. A condition in which one falls in love with that which one oneself has shaped.

2. Sexual responsiveness to a statue or some other artificial object.

See also fall in love, Michelangelo phenomenon, Pygmalion complex, Pygmalion effect.


qatang, or qataŋun; dual, qataŋuutigiit; plural, qataŋuutigiic (Eskimo-Aleut):

The child of any person with whom one's father or mother has had sexual relations and to whom one therefore owes kinship obligation, that is, family loyalty; for instance, speaking now in the plural, the children of men who have practiced wife exchange.

Comment: The spelling used by ethnologist Robert F. Spencer is: qataŋun, qataŋuutigiit, qataŋuutigiic (see quotation below). The spelling qatang is used in: The Eskimo of North Alaska, by Norman A. Chance (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, c1966; in series: Case Studies in Cultural Anthropology): pp. 49, 103.

See also affinity, angutawkun, comprivigni, kinship, lover-in-law, nangsaegaek, nukaxrareik, nuliaqatigiit, sexual connection.

x Eskimo terms.

Quotation from Robert F. Spencer Illustrating "Qataŋun"


And it is further evident that sexual relations provided a clinching point, serving to cement the ties of friendship and mutual aid. Wife exchange was thus not wholly lustful; it had a definite function in the society as a means of extending a cooperative relationship. When sexual relations took place, and when of such intercourse children were engendered, the offspring of the various unions came to occupy a special cooperative relationship to each other. They stood to each other as qataŋuutigiit (sing. qataŋun).

This relationship arose between nonrelatives on the basis of previous sexual relationships. It came about under the following circumstances:

1. If two persons, divorced or widowed, married, each having offspring from the previous marriage, their respective offspring became qataŋuutigiit to each other.
2. When wives were exchanged, the respective children of the two couples who then had engaged in an exchange stood in this relationship.
3. This provides the basic point of definition. From the point of view of Ego, the children of any person with whom his father or mother had previously had sexual relations were his qataŋuutigiit.

The qataŋuutigiit (pl. qataŋuutigiic) were thus not blood relatives. Under most circumstances, they could marry. This would be forbidden | in the first instance listed above, where a man and woman marry, each having children. This was then an adoptive situation, the children called each other by sibling terms, and were forbidden to marry. They might extend the relationship here, designating it as nukaxrareik — half-siblings — a term not otherwise used.

Basically, this was a cooperative situation. A child was told that when he went to some other place where there were no kin, he should seek out such and such a person, who would aid him. "He is your qataŋun." An individual could, in traveling, always seek out the children of his father's partners, assuming that in the partnership wives had been exchanged, and demand of them assistance and support. It was freely given....

As a result of the development of this relationship, it became necessary to recall the former sexual partners, to keep the tie with them alive, and to inform the children of their whereabouts. The result was a quasi-kinship. While the family loyalties came first, it nevertheless followed that one attempted to give assistance to one's qataŋuutigiit whenever possible.

From: The North Alaskan Eskimo: A Study in Ecology and Society, by Robert F. Spencer (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1959; Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin; 171): pp. 85-86.

For abridgment, see: "Spouse-Exchange among the North Alaskan Eskimo," [by] Robert F. Spencer, in: Marriage, Family, and Residence, edited by Paul Bohannan and John Middleton (1968): pp. [131]-144, especially pp. 135, 140-144.


Quiverful (q.v.).

x abbreviations and acronyms.

qt, or QT:

1. In the expression, "on the Q.T. (or QT or q.t. or qt)," an abbreviation for "quiet"; in other words, "on the qt" means "to be kept as a secret."

2. Cutie (q.v.).

Comment: Per Farmer and Henley, the expression dates back at least to the ballad, "Talkative Man from Poplar" (broadside, ca. 1870), which has the line: "Whatever I tell you is on the Q.T."


See: Slang and Its Analogues, Past and Present ..., compiled and edited by John S. Farmer & W. E. Henley ([London: J. S. Farmer], Printed for subscribers only, 1890-1904): v. 5 (1902), p. 336.

Comment: In the second sense, an abbreviation used in texting, that is, online communication.

See also HAQT, on the down low.

x abbreviations and acronyms.


A love relationship comprised of four partners; a tetrad.

Comment: Short for quadrangle.

See also double love triangle, four-cornered marriage, foursome, letter group (T, Z, pi), pentangle, polygeometry, polygon, quartet, square, tetrad, triamory, triangle, Z.

x love quadrangle.
x quadrangle.



1. A person who is in love with four people at the same time or in a love relationship with each of four people at the same time.

2. A person who is particularly given to or has the particular potential for four love relationship partners at a time.

Comment: Absent in the dictionaries I've checked, but a natural permutation of the word "quadramory," so here included.

See also pentamorist, polyamorist, quadramory, triamorist.



1. Pertaining to loving four at one time.

2. Pertaining to above-board non-monogamy in which one person has four partners.

3. Particularly given to or having the particular potential for four love relationship partners at a time.

Comment: Absent in the dictionaries I've checked, but a natural permutation of the word "quadramory," so here included.

See also -amory, polyamorous, quadramory, triamorous.



A form of polyamory (q.v.) in which a person is in love with four people at the same time or in a love relationship with each of four people at the same time.

See also -amory, letter group (A, F, K, M), moresome, partner sharing, pentacle, pentamory, pentangle, polyamory, polygon, quadramorist, quadramorous, quadrigamy, triamory.



See quad.



1. A man who has four wives at the same time or a woman who has four husbands at the same time.

2. A person who has been married four times.

See also polygamist, quadrigamy, trigamist, triogamist.



Pertaining to or characterized by quadrigamy (q.v.).

Comment: The Koran explicitly allows up to four wives (sura 4), so occasionally some Islamic marriages are called quadrigamous.

See also polygamous, trigamous, triogamous.



1. A form of polygamy (q.v.) in which a person has exactly four spouses.

2. The practice of having four spouses when having four spouses is illegal or is carried out in a fraudulent way.

See also -gamy, letter group (K), moresome, pentad, pentacle, quadramory, quadrigamist, trigamy, triogamy.

x Koran and Islamic law.


quality relationship:

1. A relationship (q.v.) that provides intangible rewards for the parties involved; a relationship that is more so than just in form, but that is also so in substance, such that the parties involved find it intrinsically valuable; a relationship that is cultivated in such a way as to bring a sense of fulfillment to the parties involved.

2. A relationship in which the parties are totally invested.

See also affinity, communion, fulfilling relationship, happy marriage, marriage, meaningful relationship, spiritual intimacy, successful marriage, true love.



See lovers' quarrel.


A group of four, such as four people in a relationship together, especially such a relatonship in which the members are trying to function together harmoniously.

See also double love triangle, four-cornered marriage, foursome, letter group (T, Z, pi), polygon, quad, triamory, Z.

Quotation from Spider Robinson Illustrating "Quartet"


I was surprised to note ... the wedding announcements. The same news that had triggered fifteen suicides had also apparently inspired nineteen couples, one triad, and one quartet to get off the dime and make a commitment for the future.

From the science fiction novel: Variable Star, [by] Robert A. Heinlein and Spider Robinson (New York: TOR, A Tom Doherty Associates Book, 2006): p. 270. Mark of omission mine.


quasi-conjugal dyad:

Two individuals, whether of different sexes or the same sex, whether living together or not, who are amorously involved with each other, but not married; two persons not formally married to each other, each of whom is the other's significant other.

See also conjugal, couple, dyad, ménage, significant other.



1. A parting of ways between individuals who were never quite in a full-fledged love relationship to begin with.

2. A disruption in the continuace of a relationship, which, looking forward, is expected to be merely temporary, and, looking backwards, is seen as a brief hiatus.

See also break-up, "I'm not sure I don't want (her or him) anymore" syndrome, on-and-off relationship, quasi-relationship, rocky relationship.


Refusal of conjugal duty, that is, to have sexual relations with one's spouse.

See also closed legs policy, demi-relict, desertion, failed marriage, failed relationship, marital doldrums, marital relations, mock marriage, "not tonight, dear" syndrome, unilateralism, withhold sex.



A loosely formed relationship (q.v.), especially one that is not progressing towards a formation of deeper bonds.

See also date on and off, on-and-off relationship, quasi-breakup.


1. A loose or badly behaved woman.

2. A female prostitute.

See also queen, slut.


Associating with loose women.

See also promiscuity, serial philandering, womanizing.


Associating with loose women.

See also promiscuity, serial philandering, womanizing.


1. A female sovereign or wife (or widow) of a king, or a woman who is so metaphorically, as in the next definition.

2. A woman who reigns over her household or who does so with her husband.

3. A woman who has been chosen from among a group of women to represent the ideal, especially the physical ideal, of the moment, as in "beauty queen," "homecoming queen," and "prom queen."

4. A woman who is preeminent or highly advanced in a given skill (usually implying both much practice in varying circumstances and her enjoyment in applying the skill). In this sense the term is commonly qualified by the name of the skill. This is especially the case with regard to sexual skills, as in "blow job queen," that is, a woman who is much accomplished in the art of fellatio.

5. A woman who is famed relative to a certain medium or art form. In this sense the term is commonly qualified by the name of the medium or art form. This is especially the case with regard to sexual fame, as in "porn queen," that is, a woman who has been noted for her appearance in erotic photography and moving pictures that have been viewed beyond her private circle, especially such a person who has engaged in a wide variety of sex acts in front of the camera.

6. A woman who "plays the system," that is, who maximizes her advantages at the expense of society. In this sense the term is almost always disparaging and is commonly qualified by the name of the vulnerable area she exploits, as in "welfare queen," that is, a low-income woman who has more children in order to increase her welfare payments.

7. A gay man, especially an effeminate or flamboyant gay man. In this sense, the term is sometimes used disparagingly.

8. A man dressed up as and playing the part of a woman, as for entertainment purposes, is called a "drag queen." Since drag queens are often associated with gay entertainment, the term itself is sometimes defined along these lines: "a gay man dressed up as and playing the part of a woman."

9. A person who is obsessed with or has a strong sexual attraction to a type or to a particular characteristic, as in "size queen."

10. Anything that is supreme or preeminent in its domain and that is personified as a woman, as in "That ship is the queen of the sea."

Comment: Note that although the terms "quean" and "queen" have had separate histories with widely different meanings, some senses of "queen" — as in "porn queen" (for the sexual aspects) and "welfare queen" (for the low-class and disparaging aspects) — are now approaching those of "quean."

See also gay male, homosexual, ice queen, jaina, princess, quean, queen of (one's) heart, size queen, title, wife, woman.

Quotation from D. H. Lawrence Illustrating "Queen"


She was his betrothed, his wife, his queen, whom he loved to idealize, and for whom he carefully modified himself.

From the short story: "The Witch à la Mode," in: A Modern Lover, [by] D. H. Lawrence (New York: Viking Press, 1934): pp. [93]-120, specifically p. 111. The story was originally published in Lovat Dickson's Magazine, June 1934.

queen of hearts:

See group sex. 

queen of (one's) castle:

A woman who, from a certain point in time, is continuing to abstain from sexual activity, including masturbation, by dint of will.

Coinage: The American TV sitcom, "Seinfeld," Season 4, Episode 11 (51 overall), "The Contest," written by Larry David, directed by Tom Cherones (first aired, November 18, 1992). There the character Elaine Benes (played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus) says that she is "queen of the castle," meaning it in the second sense.

See also abstinence, celibate, master of (one's) domain, sexual camel.

x castle.

queen of (one's) heart:

1. A woman who holds the dominant position in (a person's) affections.

2. In the form "queen of my heart," sometimes a term of endearment.

Comment: Often implied in either sense is considerable influence over one's decisions and, indeed, over one's life.

See also dulia, heart, king of (one's) heart, queen, term of endearment, wife worship.

queen of spades:

1. A particular card in the French deck (or pack) of fifty-two playing cards.

2. Apart from cards, the symbol used to indicate a spade with a further indication that the spade is a queen, for instance by placing the letter "Q" or the face of a queen or the eye of a woman inside the spade, this to represent a light-skinned woman who likes to have sex with dark-skinned men, especially a white hotwife with a special or, in some cases, an exclusive penchant for black men. The symbol is used on t-shirts, charms, and bracelets, especially ankle bracelets — for example, hotwife anklets, which are worn on the right ankle. It is also used as a tattoo.

See also hotwife, hotwife anklet, interracial sex, new cuckolding, pampas grass, swinger anklet.

x spades.

queen of the May:

See group sex. 

queer, as in "a queer":

1. A person who is characterized by a sexuality that departs from the usual social expectations.

2. A person who is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.

For an additional lexical example, see under "wear a label."

Contrast heterosexual (q.v.) and square (q.v.). See also bisexual, glbtq, homosexual, lesbian, sexual minority.

Quotation from Rita Mae Brown Illustrating "Queer"


Leroy cocked his slick head and looked at me [Molly Bolt]. "You know, I think you're a queer."

"So what if I am, except I'm not sure what you mean by that."

"I mean you ain't natural, that's what I mean. It's time you started worrying about your hair and doing those things that girls are supposed to do."

From the novel: Rubyfruit Jungle, by Rita Mae Brown (Fifteenth anniversary ed. Toronto; New York: Bantam Books, 1988): chapter 6, p. 51. Originally published: Plainfield, Vt.: Daughters, Inc., 1973.

queer, as in "a queer person":

1. Odd; unusual; peculiar.

2. Characterized by or pertaining to sexuality that departs from the usual social expectations.

3. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.

Comment: For a definition of "transgender," see under "transphobia."

A collective noun that has been suggested: camp of queers.

Contrast heteronormative (q.v.), heterosexual (q.v.), and straight (q.v.). See also bisexual, dark-dirty-secret generation, gay, homosexual, kinky, lesbian, lgbt, sexuality, sexually marginalized, swing both ways.

x collective terms.


queer bar:

See gay bar.


 queesting (Dutch custom):

Allowing a lover access to one's bed, under covers, for chit chat.

See also bosom-right, bundling.

x Dutch terms.



1. A query.

2. An issue.

3. A doubt.

4. In the context of love relationships, "The question" often refers to either:

See intimate question, proposal.

quickie marriage:

A marriage (q.v.) that has been rushed into with minimal deliberation, especially one that ends soon in divorce; a marital union with a short lead-up time, especially one with a short life.

See also elopement.

quiquirigüiqui (Venezuelan Spanish):

1. A covert love affair.

2. A muddy or secret activity.

Comment: I haven't seen this word used or discussed in English, but it is simply too fun a word to pass up.

For search purposes, here are some other key words: clandestine, occult.

See also love affair, secret-false.

x Spanish and Spanglish terms.



See call it quits.


A Protestant movement, which began in the mid-1980s, that advocates:

Comments: Abbreviated QF. Sometimes used adjectivally.

Often part of the ideology is that Christians should rear many children in their faith for the sake of maintaining and increasing the percentage of Christians in the world, an ideology which parallels similar ideologies found in, for instance, strains of Islam and Hinduism.

See also natalism, QF.

x Bible.

quondam husband:

An ex-husband; a man to whom one was formerly married.

See also ex-husband, husband, once-beloved, past attachment.

Quotation from the Ante-Nicene Fathers Translation of Justin Martyr Illustrating "Quondam Husband"


But when her husband had gone into Alexandria, and was reported to be conducting himself worse than ever, she — that she might not, by continuing in matrimonial connection with him, and by sharing his table and bed, become a partaker also in his wickednesses and impieties — gave him what you call a bill of divorce, and was separated from him... And [after certain legal proceedings] her quondam husband, since he was now no longer able to prosecute her, directed his assaults against a man, Ptolemaeus ...

From: Justin Martyr, Second Apology 2, in: The Ante-Nicene Fathers: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers down to A.D. 325, Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors; American reprint of the Edinburgh edition, revised and chronologically arranged, with brief prefaces and occasional notes by A. Clevelnad Coxe (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co.): v. 1 (1973): pp. 188-189. The preface to the volume is dated 1885. By the way, regarding the bill of divorce, there is an editorial note: "repoudion [Greek], i.e., 'repudium,' a bill of repudiation."


quondam wife:

An ex-wife; a woman to whom one was formerly married.

See also ex-wife, once-beloved, past attachment, wife.



See love quotient, relationship quotient.


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