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locationship

noun [countable]

a romantic relationship between two people who live or work very near to each other

'Someone mentioned the word locationship. It was being used by a woman who was having trouble ending a relationship with a neighbor she'd been dating. She realized, she said, their affair was more about geography than true compatibility.'

St Petersburg Times 16th June 2006

'She got to know him through work.'
'They share the same office.'
'He moved in next door.'
'We're doing the same course.'

Statements like these will be familiar to all of us who have formed or know someone who has formed a romantic involvement with someone that they work with or live near. But are these two people really meant for each other, or did they just happen to be in the right place at the right time? If the relationship has more to do with proximity than compatibility, it can now aptly be renamed a locationship.

a locationship is something between a casual fling and full-blown romance

The word locationship is often used with slightly negative overtones, carrying the implication that a relationship is not long-lasting and meaningful, but based purely on convenience and physical proximity. A locationship is something between a casual fling and full-blown romance, liable to fizzle out if a change of circumstances brings about a change in geographical location for either of the two people involved. Predictably, the word often crops up in media coverage of the relationships of celebrities and others in the public eye. Hollywood romances that start on-set are often described as locationships. Actress Julia Roberts, for example, has dated so many of her co-stars that she has been described in media circles as the 'queen of the locationship'.

Background – locationship

The word locationship seems to have been floating around the media for the past five years or so, notably occurring in sources like the Philadelphia Inquirer, and DailyCandy.com, an e-newsletter of popular culture which occasionally lists new additions to the English language.

Locationship is, of course, a play on the word relationship, where -ship is a productive suffix forming nouns which describe a quality or condition (c.f. friendship, companionship). Locationship is sometimes used as a synonym of another noun recently coined on the same model: vacationship. But whereas locationship applies in a range of contexts related to geographical proximity, whether it be home, work or leisure, vacationship refers to a relationship formed specifically on holiday, a new take on the expression 'holiday romance'.

Another tongue-in-cheek variant in the same domain is the word flirtationship, an alternative way of describing a casual fling, which has gained currency in an era of speed-dating and Internet or mobile phone dating services.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

This article was first published on 13th October 2006.

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