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In a recent question, another user expressed concern that housemate has sexual connotations because of this definition at Dictionary.com:

noun
1. a person with whom one shares a house or other residence.
2. a sexual partner with whom one shares a house or other living quarters without being married.

However, I have never heard or seen the word used in that second sense. I would normally expect the a term like domestic partner or cohabitation to express that meaning, not housemate. Furthermore, I could not find another dictionary with a similar sense of the word. Only Urban Dictionary has a related entry, which appears to be a joke and not a serious report of usage (“My friend just housemated with my fellow housemate”).

Is the Dictionary.com entry spurious, or is the “sexual partner” sense of housemate in actual use? If so, is it regional or perhaps euphemistic?

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    The word "friend" can imply a sexual relationship in the right circumstances. So can "housemate". But usually, neither of them do. Nov 1, 2013 at 0:42
  • Agreed on all counts, which is why I suspect that the sense in the Dictionary.com entry is spurious. Nov 1, 2013 at 0:43
  • Roommate is much more common than housemate and even with roommates, if I met someone who has a roommate, I would not know the state of that relationship without other clues, such as meeting the roommate and observing the interaction between the two, whether they shared a bedroom or had separate bedrooms, other "significant others", etc. I think housemate could be used either way, platonically or to refer to an unmarried sexual partner. Nov 1, 2013 at 1:15
  • @Kristina Lopez: So far as I know, roommate is just an American term for person I share[d] a room with in college student accommodation. I own my own house - in consideration of which, the person I share it with pays rent. We refer to each other as housemates (we share several rooms, but certainly not our personal bedrooms or bathrooms) because it's more accurate than saying we're landlord and tenant/lodger. Nov 1, 2013 at 1:53
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    @FumbleFingers American usage of roommate is for any people living together, regardless of age or housing type. UK usage is quite different. Nov 1, 2013 at 2:18

1 Answer 1

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It certainly does not have any such meaning to me (in England); indeed I would take to to imply that the people were not in a relationship, though that implication might be overturned by other evidence.

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    Yes cisatlantically, too. Some would characterize it as an implicature rather than an implication. Nov 1, 2013 at 1:01
  • Yes, that's exactly how I understand the word too. I'll allow some time to see whether anyone has contradictory evidence. Nov 1, 2013 at 1:04
  • @StoneyB: I agree, but I don't know a verb that conveys the idea of implicature as opposed to implication. Implicate means something different.
    – Colin Fine
    Nov 1, 2013 at 14:17
  • @ColinFine I've seen implicate used this way, and I don't like it any more than you do. In context, imply vs entail works. Nov 1, 2013 at 16:38

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