I'm looking for a way of saying “having amorous affairs”. Ideally it should indicate a married man fooling around with younger women, and the expression should be informal, humorous, in low register but yet not rude.

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    Ugh. In one sense this is totally on topic. In the primary sense this is just junk entertainment. – Mitch Nov 2 '15 at 16:44
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    @Mitch: This can be construed as an exploit, a way to troll the site and excite the legions of bored dilettantes who could not answer a legitimate English question but certainly do have an opinion about what to call illicit sex. – Robusto Nov 2 '15 at 16:51
  • @Robusto so you're saying the question is educational? – Mitch Nov 2 '15 at 17:11
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    @Mitch: Most things are, to some extent. The question is, of what value is this particular bit of education? – Robusto Nov 2 '15 at 17:15
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    The question is absolutely clear, the OP is looking for a light-hearted frivolous term for a love affair. And I really fail to see why some members have taken such a high brow attitude to what is a perfectly legitimate request. If the OP had asked for a hardcore term, crude, vulgar or derogatory expressions I would understand their distaste, but this? – Mari-Lou A Nov 3 '15 at 19:32

10 Answers 10


A short-lived affair is commonly referred to as a fling

Cambridge Dictionaries says

to have a ​short ​sexual ​relationship with someone:
She's been having a fling with her ​boss.

  • @Josh61 where else could it come from? The present sense is very close to the 1827 sense, which continues in use as well. – phoog Nov 3 '15 at 6:59
  • @phoog now that Josh has deleted his comment, yours seems a bit misplaced. Pity, I quite liked that etymonline comment/support – Mari-Lou A Nov 3 '15 at 7:39
  • Agreed. The sense was "period of indulgence on the eve of responsibilities," found here: etymonline.com/index.php?term=fling – phoog Nov 3 '15 at 16:46

Consider hanky-panky. It's informal and it's humorous:

informal sexual activity – used humorously


  • Yes, indeed. +1. – user140086 Nov 2 '15 at 17:38
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    Based on the request, I think hanky-panky is the most appropriate answer. Then again, there aren't many things in life for which hanky panky isn't a suitable solution. – Sidney Nov 2 '15 at 18:35
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    Or if you want a slightly lower register, rumpy-pumpy – Tom Anderson Nov 2 '15 at 22:41
  • Only one vote needed to reopen this question, which didn't deserve to be closed. Do you agree? – Mari-Lou A Nov 4 '15 at 19:33
  • @Mari-LouA Yep. Fail to see why it was put on hold to begin with. Is there a notification for this sort of thing? I wouldn't have noticed if your message hadn't dropped in my Inbox. – A.P. Nov 4 '15 at 19:53

play around (SEX)

informal disapproving

(UK also play about) If someone who is ​married or has a ​serious ​relationship ​plays around, they have ​sex with another ​person or ​people: If she ​finds out he's been ​playing around with his ​secretary, there'll be ​trouble.
Cambridge Dictionaries Online

Note that (according to this dictionary) in the US it only refers to infidelity. In Britain it can also be used in other senses.


Taking a newer model for a spin.

Since we're talking about an older man married to (presumably) a woman of a comparable age who is (the man) having a fling with a younger woman whom he (presumably) does not intend to marry.

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    I like this expression. +1. – user140086 Nov 2 '15 at 17:38

The British down-market term is having a bit on the side


From the Urban Dictionary one-night stand:

  • Hooking up with someone for one night of sex with no strings attached and hoping to never see them again. It is important not to exchange any personal info with them so they can't track you down and stalk you later.
    • I had a one night stand with this guy I picked up at the club.

'Fooling around' would plausibly be the sort of informal phrase you are after. One might also suggest a man or, less commonly a woman, was a 'bit of crumpet', which usually designates the non-crumpet party as being someone who is having an affair, though this phrase can also be used for liaisons that do not involve at least one significant other having person. Other options might be to suggest a person is canoodling or gallivanting. You might also say that a couple are 'doing the dirty'.


monkey around

: to engage in (indiscriminate) sexual promiscuity.

: to have an extramarital affair or affairs Definition Of


: unethical acts; extramarital sexual activity American English Compendium

mess around

: to engage in casual, often promiscuous sexual activity. The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs

horse around, muck around, and perv around

: to engage in (indiscriminate) sexual promiscuity.

: to have an extramarital affair or affairs. Definition Of.

  • I like monkey around. +1. – user140086 Nov 2 '15 at 17:38

A recently coined term describing a sexual relationship between two friends with no strings attached is the following:

  • Friends with benefits: Urban Dictionary
    Two friends who have a sexual realtionship without being emotionally involved. Typically two good friends who have casual sex without a monogomous relationship or any kind of commitment.

Wiktionary tells us: Possibly first used by Alanis Morisette for her 1995 song "Head over Feet," although in the original context it seems to refer to a committed rather than a casual relationship.

  • Also useful wikisaurus: en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Wikisaurus:sexual_partner – Nemo Nov 15 '15 at 10:23
  • @Nemo yes, those are all good suggestions, but they're also rude, some more than others, and the OP asked for a light-hearted/frivolous/casual term. – Mari-Lou A Nov 15 '15 at 10:26
  • Sure I agree your suggestion is the best, just pointing out some alternatives for people with different requirements. :) – Nemo Nov 15 '15 at 10:27

I am surprised nobody has mentioned dalliance.

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