December 7, 1997
JAMES J. KILPATRICK
Several weeks ago, in the aftermath of the death of Princess Diana, I was inveighing in this column against news accounts that identified Emad Mohamad Fayed as Diana’s “boyfriend.” Considering their ages and maturity, I thought the term inapt.
The column kicked up a nice flutter of mail. I had mentioned such alternatives as companion, close companion, male companion, close friend, constant escort, and even “beau.” I liked “beau.” Because the princess and her gentleman friend were not exactly living together, I discarded the appellation of “covivant.”
A number of readers inquired about “covivant.” Had I invented the term? No, though I happily would claim credit for so splendid a coinage. To the best of my recollection, the word cropped up in Canada at least 10 years ago. The lexicographers have yet to admit “covivant” to their exclusive domain, but I surely would press for its nomination and election. From Rita and Bob in West Palm Beach comes a friendly note: “We mature folk are `chums.’ ” A regular correspondent in North Charleston, S.C., votes for “frequent escort.” A reader in Bend, Ore., nominates “consort.” The happiest note of all comes from a 67-year-old Baptist widow who enjoys a loving relationship with “a wonderfully wicked Episcopal priest, age 72.” And what is he to her? “He’s my `fella.’ ”
Some other suitable, more poetic, terms:
Jibonsaathi = “life partner”, jeevan meaning life and sathi meaning partner (in most Northern Indian Languages)