This person usually pretends not to see that they are unwelcome at the moment, but it may be that they just don't notice it.

Depending on the circumstances, one of the two persons (typically lovers) might even say: "two is company, three's a crowd."

Edit - this question is not about sex. It's about two persons who want to be alone for any reason (because they are sweethearts, because what they want to talk about is confidential, etc.)

  • 5
    This is your sixth question about pejorative language. Are you taking Imprecations 101 or something?
    – tchrist
    Dec 10, 2014 at 23:22
  • @tchrist No, I'm not looking for a pejorative term. I'm looking for slang or idiom, not necessarily pejorative. As for "imprecations 101", could you make it clearer ?
    – Centaurus
    Dec 10, 2014 at 23:29
  • 4
    Well, it could be Deprecations 101, but you might take that for a prayer. And anyway, this is pejorative, because it is seeking to cast someone in a less than favorable light, or even neutral. It is a negative characteristic that you want a word for. This is ispo facto pejorative.
    – tchrist
    Dec 10, 2014 at 23:30
  • 2
    "Butinski" is a fairly close fit.
    – Hot Licks
    Dec 11, 2014 at 0:30
  • 1
    @Mitch When I posted the question I was trying to find the word I had heard once and couldn't remember anymore. After reading the answers I realize there are several words or phrases for that meaning, including the one I was looking for.
    – Centaurus
    Dec 11, 2014 at 19:21

6 Answers 6


The classic idiom in English is "third wheel". This can be used both against both parties (the couple and the third party). For example:

The couple might say: "He is such a third wheel. I wish he'd stop trying to hang out with us."

The third party might say: "They make me feel like such a third wheel. I don't understand why they invite me along when they clearly don't want to hang out with me."

A more pejorative (and much more vulgar) term might be "cockblock". The implication here is that the intruder is preventing the couple from "getting it on" (having sex) by blocking the male's cock (penis).

"Tommy is such a cockblock. He needs to get a life."

However, cockblock isn't necessarily only about stopping sex. In fact, cockblock has been expanded to include any individual that stops something that people want to do, especially in online gaming:

"Tommy is such a cockblock. I almost got to that extra-ammo pickup, but he killed me before I could. He needs to get a life."

  • Also 'cock-blocker'.
    – Erik Kowal
    Dec 11, 2014 at 9:50

I have always known such a person as a gooseberry (UK). A quick search finds lots of references but none seem to know where the expression comes from.

  • +1. Eric Partridge, Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, fifth edition (1961), reports that, going back to 1837, gooseberry meant a "chaperon, or a save-appearances third person," and that before that it meant "a fool." I've never heard gooseberry used in either of those senses in the United States; but I have heard huckleberry used to mean—as the Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang (1997) puts it—"a foolish, inept, or inconsequential fellow."
    – Sven Yargs
    Dec 11, 2014 at 7:08
  • @SvenYargs Thanks, chaperon makes perfect sense. I wonder if the connection to 'fool' is to the role played by the Medieval Fool (not the modern simplistic meaning of 'idiot'). The MF has a complicated history, too large for comments here, but according to this site "In early Elizabethan drama the clown [fool] would be allowed to interrupt the script at any time." - ie interfere if a courting couple were getting too amorous. The MF's role was also to comment on the action of the play to the audience.
    – Mynamite
    Dec 11, 2014 at 11:04
  • Gooseberry" seems to be exactly what I'm looking for. Could you expand your answer with definitions and examples?
    – Centaurus
    Dec 11, 2014 at 16:26

Also the fifth wheel :

  • Fig. an unwelcome or extra person. Bill always begs to come on camping trips with us, but really, he's a fifth wheel.

  • (idiomatic) Anything superfluous or unnecessary. As the third person along on their date, I felt like a fifth wheel. I felt like a fifth wheel when they started giggling and making out during dinner.

(From TFD)

  • 1
    I think "fifth wheel" is a misspeak of "third wheel". A "fifth wheel" is a type of trailer hitch.
    – Hot Licks
    Dec 11, 2014 at 2:16
  • 1
    I think that's very unlikely. A fifth wheel is literally less necessary than a third wheel. A fifth wheel adds nothing to the stability of a four-wheeled vehicle, whereas a third wheel does actually improve the stability of a two-wheeled vehicle. Both usages go back several generations.
    – barbecue
    Dec 11, 2014 at 2:28
  • 1
    The OED has the term "fifth wheel" being used to mean something superfluous back in 1631. (oed.com/view/Entry/… )
    – barbecue
    Dec 11, 2014 at 2:38
  • @barbecue I suppose it depends on whether you think the third person is a necessary chaperon bringing stability (3rd wheel) or an unwanted, unnecessary intrusion (5th wheel). I've actually never heard either of these expressions so I can't comment on their validity! (see my own answer).
    – Mynamite
    Dec 11, 2014 at 11:18

Someone who intrudes on others without realizing that he's doing so might be said to be oblivious to social cues.


interloper: Someone who intrudes on the privacy or property of another without permission -- WordWeb.

This is general, not specific to intruding on two people who want to be together privately, and it is not slang, but it might help anyway.


This person is horning in. It is a reference to a shoehorn, used to get a tight shoe onto your foot.

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