POSSLQ is an abbreviation (or acronym) for "Persons of Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters," a term coined in the late 1970s by the United States Census Bureau
United States Census Bureau
The United States Census Bureau is the government agency that is responsible for the United States Census. It also gathers other national demographic and economic data...

 as part of an effort to more accurately gauge the prevalence of cohabitation
Cohabitation usually refers to an arrangement whereby two people decide to live together on a long-term or permanent basis in an emotionally and/or sexually intimate relationship. The term is most frequently applied to couples who are not married...

 in American households.

After the 1980 Census
United States Census, 1980
The Twentieth United States Census, conducted by the Census Bureau, determined the resident population of the United States to be 226,545,805, an increase of 11.4 percent over the 203,184,772 persons enumerated during the 1970 Census.-Census questions:...

, the term gained currency in the wider culture for a time. CBS
CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

 commentator Charles Osgood
Charles Osgood
Charles Osgood is a radio and television commentator in the United States. His daily program, The Osgood File, has been broadcast on the CBS Radio Network since 1971. He is also known for being the voice of the narrator of Horton Hears a Who!, an animated film released in 2008, based on the book...

 composed a verse which includes
There's nothing that I wouldn't do
If you would be my POSSLQ
You live with me and I with you,
And you will be my POSSLQ.
I'll be your friend and so much more;
That's what a POSSLQ is for.

Elliot Sperber, the writer of The Hartford Courant
The Hartford Courant
The Hartford Courant is the largest daily newspaper in the U.S. state of Connecticut, and is a morning newspaper for most of the state north of New Haven and east of Waterbury...

s weekly cryptogram
A cryptogram is a type of puzzle which consists of a short piece of encrypted text. Generally the cipher used to encrypt the text is simple enough that cryptogram can be solved by hand. Frequently used are substitution ciphers where each letter is replaced by a different letter or number. To solve...

, invented a cryptogram that (when solved) said:
"Roses are Red,
Violets are Blue,
Won't you be my POSSLQ?"

After demographers
Demography is the statistical study of human population. It can be a very general science that can be applied to any kind of dynamic human population, that is, one that changes over time or space...

 observed the increasing frequency of cohabitation over the 1980s, the Census Bureau began directly asking respondents to their major surveys whether they were "unmarried partners," thus making obsolete the old method of counting cohabitors, which involved a series of assumptions about "Persons of Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters." The category "unmarried partner" first appeared in the 1990 Census, and was incorporated into the monthly Current Population Survey
Current Population Survey
The Current Population Survey is a statistical survey conducted by the United States Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics . The BLS uses the data to provide a monthly report on the Employment Situation. This report provides estimates of the number of unemployed people in the United...

starting in 1995. By the late 1990s, the term had fallen out of general usage, and returned to being a specialized term for demographers.

External links

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