Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Or for that matter... ‘Boyfriend’ (one word) or ‘Boy friend’ (two words)?
Girlfriend ~ an excerpt from Wikipedia
Girlfriend is a term that can refer to either a female partner in a non-marital romantic relationship or a female non-intimate friend that is closer than other friends. This term is often used loosely, and there is some debate over what exactly constitutes a girlfriend. In western society, it is generally agreed that "girlfriend" status begins when two people agree to date. Getting a girl to agree to such an arrangement is considered a milestone for young males, and is often seen as a sign of status, based on the perception of the girl amongst the male's peers.
Differing terms used ~ Although nuanced (a subtle or slight degree of difference), for some there is a significant difference between "girlfriend" (one word) and "girl friend" (two words), or "boyfriend" (one word) and "boy friend" (two words). In a strictly grammatical sense, a "girlfriend" or "boyfriend" is an individual with whom one shares a romantic relationship. A "girl friend" or "boy friend", however, is simply a friend identified on the basis of gender. This is sometimes also contravened by simply stating "ladyfriend" or "guyfriend". The terms "friend girl" (and "friend boy") are also sometimes used to indicate a platonic friendship. The transition between the two is a significant aspect of adolescent development.
Despite this, both forms of "girlfriend" and "girl friend" are used by different people to mean different things. For example, when the term "girlfriend" is used by a girl or woman about another female in a non-sexual, non-romantic context, the two-word form "girl friend" is sometimes used to avoid confusion with the sexual or romantic meaning, however:- this is not a rule. In this sense of its usage, "Girlfriend" is used in terms of very close friends and has no sexual connotations, unless it is in the case of lesbian, bisexual, or pansexual women. The term "girlfriend" is also used in LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) communities and can refer to people of any gender or sexuality.
The term "girlfriend" does not necessarily imply a sexual relationship, but is often used to refer to a woman who is dating a man she is not engaged to without implying that she is having sex with him. With differing expectations of sexual mores, the term dating (when used of an activity involving a man and a woman) can imply romantic activity whereas simply using "friend" would likely avoid implying such intimacy. It is essentially equivalent to the term "sweetheart", which has also been used as a term of endearment.