POSSLQ (/ˈpɒsəlkjuː/ POSS-əl-KYOO, plural POSSLQs)[1][2] is an abbreviation (or acronym) for "person of opposite sex sharing living quarters",[3] a term coined in the late 1970s by the United States Census Bureau as part of an effort to more accurately gauge the prevalence of cohabitation in American households.

After the 1980 Census, the term gained currency in the wider culture for a time.[4] CBS commentator Charles Osgood composed a verse which includes

There's nothing that I wouldn't do
If you would be my POSSLQ
You live with me and I with you,
And you will be my POSSLQ.
I'll be your friend and so much more;
That's what a POSSLQ is for.[5]

Elliot Sperber, the writer of The Hartford Courant's weekly cryptogram, invented a cryptogram that (when solved) said:

"Roses are Red,
Violets are Blue,
Won't you be my POSSLQ?"

After demographers observed the increasing frequency of cohabitation over the 1980s, the Census Bureau began directly asking respondents to their major surveys whether they were "unmarried partners", thus making obsolete the old method of counting cohabitors, which involved a series of assumptions about "Persons of Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters". The category "unmarried partner" first appeared in the 1990 Census, and was incorporated into the monthly Current Population Survey starting in 1995. By the late 1990s, the term had fallen out of general usage, and returned to being a specialized term for demographers.[6]

In a fifth season episode of the television show Cheers, Frasier Crane and Lilith Sternin describe themselves as POSSLQs.

This term was used by Paul Harvey, a popular radio personality, c. 1971.

See also


  1. Random House Dictionary
  2. http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/POSSLQ
  3. "POSSLQ". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (5th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2014. Retrieved 5 December 2016.
  4. Smith, Jack (17 November 1985). "Getting the Word Out The Time Is Right for 'POSSLQ'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 11, 2011.
  5. McRae, Graeme. "My POSSLQ, a poem by Charles Osgood". Retrieved February 20, 2015.
  6. Hartston, William (18 June 1998). "Words: POSSLQ n. (acronym)". The Independent on Sunday. Retrieved September 11, 2011.

External links

Look up POSSLQ in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
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