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May I have a word: Streaming-era infidelity

When one half of a couple doesn’t wait to watch the next episode — or the ones after that.

Sven Scheuermeier/Wikimedia Commons

Last time, I asked you for a word to describe “spousal television-series cheating” — that is, sneaking off alone to watch a show your partner trusts you’ll watch with them.

Warning: This column is intended for mature readers only. It contains language.

To wit, from Stewart Deck, of Arlington: “What you described sounds like a case of adulTV.” Which seems rather more adult, nudge, nudge, than is wanted here.

Mark Wagner, of Worcester, wrote: “I don’t watch a lot of TV, but my partner watched ‘This Is Us’ with headphones on, and so I had the unique experience of having a partner beside me in bed weeping for no apparent reason — it must be love! Or no, she’s teletrysting.”


Jill Butler, of Newton, wanted us to know that she lives alone and “can watch what I want whenever” but said she’s heard tell of such behavior and thinks it should be called infiTELity. Marjie Polster, of Somerville, proposed invidelity and deemed it “a transgression that spouses might forgive but never forget.”

Kathryn Braine, of Sunnyside, N.Y., came up with serial betrayal. She admitted that her term “sounds more alarming than the deed it describes” but added, “I imagine some people may rate this a worse betrayal than others!”

Jim Murphy, of Newton, is clearly not one to cast stones. He wrote: “It seems to me that such a casual transgression deserves a softened term, in much the same way that blarney softens the notion of telling a lie. In that spirit, may I suggest tellyance. Like its cousin dalliance, the word encapsulates both the indiscretion and its casual nature.”

J. Ward, of Cambridge, was evidently thinking along similar lines when he proposed teletruancy — “or if it’s a British series, tellytruancy.”

Steven Hoffman, of Newton, thinks the misdeed should be called vidultery. Judy Wolff, of Acton, wrote: “Two-timing with TV shows? Sounds like tube-timing to me.”


And Lorna Fredd, of Townsend, reported: “The first word that popped into my head was straywatch. (Hmm, rhymes with ‘Baywatch.’) I just learned that my husband has been straywatching ‘The Borgias’ — presumably as entertainment and not a precursor to slipping something into my coffee!” That’s quite good. It doesn’t come down too hard on the transgressor, doesn’t require precise pronunciation for a listener to make sense of it, and can be said in front of children. Straywatch earns bragging rights. Nice work, Lorna!

Now, in this run-up to the Fourth of July weekend, before we move on to the next challenge I’d like to give a shout-out to the Declaration of Independence, whose writing is truly magisterial. I had considered copyediting it for your enjoyment, as I recently did the Constitution, but as I read through it, I realized it needs no help from the likes of me.

On to that next challenge, which comes from Mary Rowe, of Cambridge. She writes: “What is a word for a person, or thing, or solution you have been desperately seeking only to discover that they, or it, has been under your nose all along? Example: You sign up for a matchmaking service which matches you 100% perfectly with . . . someone next door.”

Send your ideas to me at Barbara.Wallraff@globe.com by noon on Friday, July 8, and kindly include where you live. Responses may be edited.


Barbara Wallraff is a writer who lives in Cambridge, Mass., and London.