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speed-datingalso speed dating

noun [uncountable]

a method of meeting a potential romantic partner by briefly talking to a series of individuals at an organised event, and indicating whether you are interested in seeing any of them again

speed dater

noun [countable]


verb [intransitive/transitive]

'But now British men and women who lack the time to conduct a gentle courtship have a new way to find a partner. Welcome to the world of speed-dating, where young singles can meet a prospective partner on a 'dating conveyor belt' that allows them three minutes to decide if this is Mr or Ms Right.'

The Observer 26th January 2003

'After you've speed-dated everyone in the room it's time to come up with your wish-list. You write down who's hot and who's not …'

BBCi Inside Out February 2003

Proponents of speed-dating argue that it only takes a few minutes to decide whether someone is romantically compatible, and that first impressions are usually permanent!

eight minutes is allegedly more than enough time to determine whether the range of a mate's hormones is complementary
to your own

The original idea of speed-dating is based on an organised event in which a group of men and women are rotated to meet each other for no more than eight minutes. They are then forced to move on to the next person when the minutes are up. At the end of the session, they indicate whether they are interested in any of the individuals they have met, and if there is a match, contact details are forwarded between them.

The idea reputedly has a scientific basis: eight minutes is allegedly more than enough time to determine whether the range of a mate's hormones is complementary to your own, this being a key factor in so-called 'first impressions'.

Background – speed-dating

The speed-dating concept has been in existence since 1999, and originates with a Los Angeles rabbi, Yaacov Deyo, who introduced the idea in his Jewish community, to help Jewish singles meet each other. The idea quickly spread outside of Jewish communities and across the United States, and in the following year reached London. The craze of speed-dating then took off rapidly in the UK with the establishment of dedicated websites (e.g. www.speeddater.co.uk) and the company Speed Dater Ltd, who continue to stage events in London and across the United Kingdom.

Media and online interest in the craze has rapidly spawned the derivatives speed dater for referring to participants, and speed-date as a compound verb. There's also evidence for speed date used as a noun, referring to the event itself, or to a partner at such an event.

Though the original concept was of an eight-minute encounter between participants, typical events in 2003 only allow three minutes per person – less time than it takes to boil an egg!

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

This article was first published on 10th January 2004.

Open Dictionary

Dunning-Kruger effect

the phenomenon by which an incompetent person is too incompetent to understand his own incompetence

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