[Ads-l] friends with benefits

dave at WILTON.NET dave at WILTON.NET
Wed Jan 6 20:52:17 EST 2021


It's hard to tease those two definitions apart. Admittedly, the song lyrics can be interpreted as "a lover with whom one also has an emotionally close friendship’." But I read the lyrics as the singer saying she had considered this to be an FWB relationship, but it has changed, and she's fallen in love. (Actually, the first time I heard it, I thought she was implying that she was sleeping with him in order to be on his health plan.)

But I would strongly disagree with the OED's analysis of the 1996 quote. It's an ad for a friend with whom one has sex, not a "close emotional relationship with a lover":

1995   A. Morissette Head over Feet in Jagged Little Pill (sheet music) 39   You're the best list'ner that I've ever met. You're my best friend, best friend with benefits.
1996   Turbo & Red in alt.personals (Usenet newsgroup) 6 Apr.   We are a Portland Couple looking for a single female... This is not an ad for just sex, as we are looking for a friend as well. I guess you could say, ‘A friend with Benefits’.
1997   Re: YANT (yet another new term) in alt.polyamory (Usenet newsgroup) 5 Aug.   [It's pretty descriptive of when a good friend is also someone with whom I share sex, but with whom I'm not in a relationship per se.] I've always liked ‘friend with access’ or ‘friend with benefits’.

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> On Behalf Of Jesse Sheidlower
Sent: Wednesday, January 6, 2021 9:17 AM
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Subject: Re: [ADS-L] friends with benefits

This song is the earliest example in OED, albeit in a different sense, as OED points out: "In quots. 1995, 1996 in sense ‘a lover with whom one also has an emotionally close friendship’."

(They give the song a 1995 date, based on the published lyrics.)

The first quote in the defined sense 'a friend with whom one has an occasional and casual sexual relationship' is 1997, from the Usenet alt.polyamory newsgroup.

Jesse Sheidlower

On Wed, Jan 06, 2021 at 08:11:47AM -0500, dave at WILTON.NET wrote:
> Alanis Morrisette's song "Head Over Feet," which appeared on the 1996 album "Jagged Little Pill":
> 
> "You're the best listener that I've ever met You're my best friend 
> Best friend with benefits What took me so long?"
> 
> I'm sure the phrase is older. This song is when I became aware of it.
> 
> 
> 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> On Behalf Of 
> Jonathan Lighter
> Sent: Wednesday, January 6, 2021 7:21 AM
> To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
> Subject: [ADS-L] friends with benefits
> 
> 2001 Times-Picayune [New Orleans] (March 31) E-2:
> 
> “Dear Abby: …I am attracted to one of my college friends. …I asked him if he would like to be ‘friends with benefits.’ You know - friends who show affection and who comfort each other, with no strings attached…. Do you think I am setting myself up for a fall?”
> 
> The movie, “Friends with Benefits,” appeared in 2011.
> 
> JL
> 
> --
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
> 
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> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> 
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> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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