Dear Abby

DEAR ABBY: Does it seem to you that the definition of the word "fiance" has changed? It used to mean a future spouse, someone whom you were committed to marry after a planned engagement period. Now, though, it seems to mean merely the person with whom you are currently having sex, or with whom you have a baby in common. Am I right?

— Old fogey In Phoenix

DEAR "FOGEY": The definition of fiance has definitely changed since the inception of this advice column. Well into the 1960s, when a couple said they were engaged, it meant they would be married — usually within a year. However, over the last 20 years or so, I have received mail from women referring to the father of their children or the men they have been living with for an extended period as their "fiance." (Men, not so often.)

For anyone interested in reading more about this subject, go online and search for a fascinating article that appeared on The title is, "What Do You Call the Person You Are Probably Never Going To Marry?" by Hanna Rosin. I highly recommend it.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.