Bidie in

This week I discovered the Scots expression bidie in, which refers to someone you live with and are not married to. It is also written bidey-in and bide in, and the plural is bidie ins or bidies in, or similar. The DSL defines bide in as “A person who lives with another without marriage”. The word bide means to remain, stay, live.

English equivalents of this word include cohabitee, cohabiter, common-law spouse/husband/wife and live-in lover. Do you know any others?

If you live with your partner and are not married, how do you refer to them?

I think the equivalent in Swedish, Danish and Norwegian is samboer or sambo, which also means roommate or flatmate [source].

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This entry was posted in English, Etymology, Language, Scots, Words and phrases.

7 Responses to Bidie in

  1. David Eger says:

    “… cohabitee, cohabiter, common-law spouse/husband/wife …”

    All these terms sound a bit technical and are more likely to be used on a form from the Inland Revenue than in everyday conversation.

    “… live-in lover …”

    This one is more colloquial in nature but, to my ear, suggests an air of immorality. I cannot imagine many people using any of these terms in earnest to refer to themselves or their ‘bidie in’.

    The English term I hear most often nowadays is partner, which, although it does not specifically refer to someone with whom one shares a home, does suggest a relationship of some permanence – more than just a fleeting romance – and, by implication, one which may very likely involve sharing a home. Significant other is faintly jovial term of similar meaning, if a little vaguer – it might be used to encompass both unmarried partners and spouses.

  2. MadFall says:

    When I lived in Lancashire I used to hear the phrase “living over the brush” to describe co-habitation.

  3. MadFall says:

    Recall also “to shack up”. Usually followed by “with…..”; but I have heard it used intransitively too as in “he’s shacking up”.

  4. Arakun says:

    From what I can tell it’s sambo in Danish (pl. samboer) and Swedish (pl. sambor) and samboer (pl. samboere) in Norwegian. Since 2003 there’s even a law in Sweden, sambolagen “The Cohabitees Act”, whose purpose is to “provide minimum protection for the weaker partner when a cohabitee relationship ends” and also provides a legal definition of the word sambo.

    Thanks for the link to the blog post by the way, I absolutely loved it. :)

    This makes me want to ask a counter question. What do you call two people who are in a relationship but choose to live apart? In Swedish there’s särbo, formed in analogy with sambo.

  5. TJ says:

    “… the pipes, the pipes are calling,
    ’tis you must go,
    and I must bide…”

  6. Chris Waugh says:

    In New Zealand: de facto (partner/husband/wife).

  7. Shenn Ghaelgeyr says:

    Another contender with, I believe, a Canadian origin: “posselcue”, from the acronym POSSLQ – “person of opposite sex sharing living quarters”.