AP Stylebook Bans Use of Term ‘Mistress,’ Suggests ‘Companion’ or ‘Lover’

Getty Images/crossstudio

The Associated Press (AP) Stylebook said Tuesday not to use the term “mistress” and advised using other descriptive words such as “friend or lover.”

“Don’t use the term mistress for a woman who is in a long-term sexual relationship with, and is financially supported by, a man who is married to someone else,” the stylebook tweeted.

“Instead, use an alternative like companion, friend or lover on first reference and provide additional details later,” the post read:

In a subsequent tweet Wednesday, the stylebook explained it added the guidance in 2020, saying it was not new.

“We understand it’s problematic that the alternative terms fall short. But we felt that was better than having one word for a woman and none for the man, and implying that the woman was solely responsible for the affair,” the post continued:

In its 2020 guidance, the AP described the term “mistress” as “archaic and sexist” and told writers to use alternatives and “provide details later,” Breitbart News reported at the time.

Additionally, the AP announced in 2013 the stylebook no longer sanctioned the term “illegal immigrant” or using “illegal” to describe a person:

Instead, it tells users that 「illegal」 should describe only an action, such as living in or immigrating to a country illegally. Why did we make the change? The discussions on this topic have been wide-ranging and include many people from many walks of life. (Earlier, they led us to reject descriptions such as 「undocumented,」 despite ardent support from some quarters, because it is not precise. A person may have plenty of documents, just not the ones required for legal residence.)

Following its announcement this week regarding the word “mistress,” Twitter users offered their own alternative terms.

“I prefer ‘skankity skank skank’ but that’s just me,” one person wrote.

“Homewrecker it is,” another replied.

One user criticized the decision, writing, “Really? Cheaters are cheaters. There is no other situation where cheating is deemed remotely acceptable,” the person stated.

“Its the worst kind of betrayal. Especially if there are children involved. And I don’t care what age the children are. I have zero respect for anyone who cheats,” the person concluded.

Yet another suggested, “Let’s ask the wives what they should be called.”


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.