The Atlantic, “So Long, Partner”

May 21, 2014

Jen Doll, “So Long, Partner” (The Atlantic, May 21, 2014)

Spouse, one of the most constant terms, has been used since about 1200. But it has never seriously challenged the primacy of husband or wife… “I don’t hear people using it in an offhand way,” says Ben Zimmer, the executive producer of, “unless they’re being funny about it—like ‘the plural of spouse is spice.’ ” …

Even as we come up with creative new phrasings for other facets of modern life, Zimmer predicts that husband and wife will continue to see plenty of use. “There’s a certain kind of comfort with those terms,” he explains. Maybe the simple fact is that we prefer to rely on the words with which we’re most comfortable to describe the paragons, fellows, and half-marrows with whom we feel most comfortable.

Read the rest here.

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