According to The Guardian:

For years, men have enjoyed ‘sorbet sex’ as a way of cleansing their palates between long-term relationships, but now women are joining the feast.

I’m interested to know whether sorbet sex is a well recognized phrase in the U.S. and in the U.K., and, if not, I would like to know what expression is used to refer to a casual sexual relationship undertaken between two serious relationships.

The journalist, Beverley D’Silva, says that the expression is a phrase used in Sex and the City, but Wikipedia’s “Sex and the City” page says nothing about that.

Dictionaries I consulted don’t have an entry for sorbet sex.

  • 3
    This is not really on topic since any answers can only be "Yes, I know it" or "No I don't know the term", which means that the question is 'Primarily opinion-based'.
    – terdon
    Sep 13, 2013 at 21:39
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    @terdon, I disagree. Indeed here there are a lot of questions where it is asked whether a phrase or an idiom is well recognized. And, in any case, it remains the question whether an alternative expression exists.
    – user51029
    Sep 13, 2013 at 21:43
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    There may well be many questions like this, that does not make them on topic. Personally I've never heard of the term, if you want alternatives you could use casual sex. If that's what you're after, please edit the question to reflect this. One of the reasons for closing is (and I quote) "Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise." which describes this question perfectly.
    – terdon
    Sep 13, 2013 at 21:47
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    What @terdon said. Besides which, even though two of the half-dozen instances in Google Books says sorbet sex (US slang popularized by Sex and the City) a casual sexual relationship undertaken in the period between two more serious relationships, the fact that OP's citation places the term in "scare quotes" and effectively defines it is a pretty strong indication that the Guardian writer didn't expect his readers to be familiar with it. Sep 13, 2013 at 22:30
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    @Atsuto: I don't really see what you mean. The fact that there are so few instances in Google Books makes it pretty obvious to me almost no-one uses the term. Thus there's an argument for saying mine is the only "objective" contribution to this page. At least I've gone to the trouble of attempting to quantify global usage patterns. Plus you may like to note that I've said nothing one way or the other as to whether I personally was already familiar with it (I'd rather die than admit to watching Sex and the City! :) Sep 13, 2013 at 23:29

2 Answers 2


I had a look through the Google Books results that @Kris posted in the comments and every single instance of the phrase (in some cases, the result seemed to be in error) was accompanied by an explanatory sentence or a full blown definition. In many cases (here, for example) it was considered so obscure that a Glossary entry was included to explain the term.

Combined with the fact that many of us don't seem to have heard the term before I feel safe saying that no, it is not a well recognized term.


Speaking from a North American, big city perspective, I don't recognize it. I also don't know of a specific word or phrase to describe this type of relationship. I think the Guardian author was inventing a new phrase -- that's why he placed it in single quotes. If you want to use it, I think you would have to give an in-line explanation as the Guardian author does in your original post. Otherwise, you might just say "casual sex between relationships", "no-strings-attached sex," or some such.

Edit per comment: sorry, was just trying not to spam.

  • I would invite you to edit your answer in order to flesh it out, to give it a bit more context. That would then give other users an incentive to vote, and an high-voted answer is more likely to attract the attention of the poster.
    – user51029
    Sep 13, 2013 at 22:52

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