lundi 4 avril 2011

Polyamory – word of the week

Le présent billet a été rédigé par Jonathan Goldberg, que je remercie. Une traduction en français sera publiée prochainement sur ce blog.

Polyamory is also known as “consensual non-monogamy”. It refers to a situation in which one or both members of an unmarried couple conduct intimate relationships with third parties, by mutual consent.
Other words describing personal relationships that are not monogamous are:

Polygamy (poly = many; gamos = marriage) – a situation in which a married person has more than one spouse at a time. There are three types of polygamy:

  • Polygyny (poly = many; gyne = woman, wife), which refers to a marriage between one man and more than one wife. This is by far the most popular of the polygamy types. 
  • Polyandry (poly = many; aner = man, husband), which refers to a marriage involving one woman and multiple husbands. This type of relationship is very rare. 
  • Bigamy (bi = double; gamos = marrying), a term often used interchangeably with polygamy, but also frequently used to describe two or more marriages with a common spouse where the other spouses are unaware of each other.
 Polyamory combines the Greek word for many with the Latin word for love.

The caption on the tee-shirt below, “POLYAMORY IS WRONG”, suggests a moral protest against promiscuity, but when the rest of the message is read, it becomes clear that it is the linguistic mixing that is objected to.  The wearer advocates the use of “multiamory” (combining elements of Latin origin) or “polyphilia” (combining elements of Greek origin).


Those latter two words advocated have not been accepted into English, and although they are used on various blogs, they remain fictitious, in my opinion.

As for polyamory, the word may be new, but the concept has been discussed in public for a long time. It was the theme of a 1969 movie:


Newsweek published an article on polyamory entitled “Only you. And you, And You” (http://www.newsweek.com/2009/07/28/only-you-and-you-and-you.html).

Additional sources:



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