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Troilism (sometimes spelled triolism) refers to sexual activity in which three persons take part simultaneously.[1]


Troilism was coined in the 1941 edition of Dorland's Medical Dictionary where it was classified as a paraphilia. It was not clear why this scientific name was chosen.

One examination of the word may indicate a root in the French word trois (three). A similar French term, triolisme, exists in French—the shift between the third and fourth letter is perhaps a mistake. On the other hand, ménage à trois (household of three) was coined in the late 19th century. Although all those terms involve three people, ménage à trois implies a romantic link between all three, which is quite different from troilistic scenarios. In French, a plan à trois, vulgar form and synonym of triolisme, corresponds more closely to a troilistic scenario; a "threesome".[citation needed]

Another possible origin was noted in Take Our Word For It,[2] a webzine published by the non-profit Institute for Etymological Research and Education. Here,[not in citation given] it is theorized that troilism comes from Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida. In it, Ulysses forces Troilus to watch his lover, Cressida, with another man. Troilus promptly dismisses his former love as a whore.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Oxford English Dictionary
  2. ^ "Issue 93". TIERE. 17 July 2000.