This time around, Robert from Coloma expressed dissatisfaction with the words boyfriend and girlfriend, suggesting a new word to cover both: inti-mate.Robert's idea is to take the adjective intimate and pronounce the final syllable as mate.(That's actually how the verb form of intimate, meaning "give to understand; imply as a possibility" is pronounced, but no matter.) I thought this was a clever suggestion, putting a new spin on old words, but I'm not holding my breath for inti-mate to displace boyfriend and girlfriend any time soon.Robert is hardly alone in his feeling that boyfriend and girlfriend are inappropriate terms to refer to grown adults in committed relationships.In fact, you'd pretty much have to say "business partner" if you meant that, otherwise people would assume you're an item. Everyone who has had a relationship that transcends all words knows that words are no longer necessary and are fortunate indeed. However, when pressed to express consider this: My son is my son even though he was not conceived by me nor delivered from my womb.
You can say significant other, but there's no love in that. Or is it time for a brand-new word to enter the picture, like inti-mate? He has worked as editor for American dictionaries at Oxford University Press and as a consultant to the Oxford English Dictionary."People feel a real need for a term that refers to one's romantic partner that does not sound childish," he told USA Today. I always thought that "intimate," as a noun, referred to a person of close personal relationship.Flipping the word around to pronounce it as the verb form confuses the issue.PLEASE, don't think that I'm lacking in humor or appreciation of the subject.I just read this at a late hour, and started grinding grammatical gears involuntarily!One caller suggested paramour, but that's old-fashioned. Boyfriend and girlfriend seem inappropriate unless you're a teenager. In addition to his regular "Word Routes" column here, he contributes to the group weblog Language Log.There are a ton of different options and none of them seems to work." Jesse Sheidlower, editor at large of the Oxford English Dictionary, agrees. POSSLQ sounds too stupid or bureaucratic." (POSSLQ, if you didn't know, is an acronymic census designation from the late '70s, standing for "Persons of Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters.") What do you think? He is also the chair of the New Words Committee of the American Dialect Society. Excuse me if I'm off-base or archaic here, but as soon as I saw the lead graf referring to "inti-mate," I had to stop and check my brain.Grant Barrett, co-host of the public radio show "A Way With Words" (and an old friend of VT) often hears from callers with similar complaints.As Grant recently told USA Today, "If you're in your 50s and living with somebody in a romantic relationship, what to call each other?You might find the Australian Social Security Act definition interesting.A member of a couple is called a partner (whether married or not) and a person is regarded as a member of a couple, generally, if their relationship is "marriage-like" see Section 4 of the Social Security Act 1991: ( link) and the Guide to Social Security Law: ( link)."Partner" is used in the UK with no assumption of business-like-ness.