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intimate +‎ -cy


  • IPA(key): /ˈɪn.tɪ.mə.si/
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intimacy (countable and uncountable, plural intimacies)

  1. (uncountable, countable) Feeling or atmosphere of closeness and openness towards someone else, often but not necessarily involving sexuality.
    • 1791 (date written), Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: With Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects, London: [] J[oseph] Johnson, [], published 1792, →OCLC:
      To adulterous lust the most sacred duties are sacrificed, because, before marriage, men, by a promiscuous intimacy with women, learned to consider love as a selfish gratification—learned to separate it not only from esteem, but from the affection merely built on habit, which mixes a little humanity with it.
    • 1879, Robert Louis Stevenson, “Truth of Intercourse” in Essays, English and American, The Harvard Classics, Volume 28, edited by Charles W. Eliot, New York: P.F. Collier & Son, 1910, p. 287,[1]
      The habitual liar may be a very honest fellow, and live truly with his wife and friends; while another man who never told a formal falsehood in his life may yet be himself one lie—heart and face, from top to bottom. This is the kind of lie which poisons intimacy.
    • 1908, Jack London, “To Build a Fire”, in Lost Face[2], London: Mills & Boon, published 1916:
      [] there was keen intimacy between the dog and the man.
    • 2012 May 27, Nathan Rabin, “TV: Review: THE SIMPSONS (CLASSIC): “New Kid On The Block” (season 4, episode 8; originally aired 11/12/1992)”, in The Onion AV Club[3]:
      The Conan O’Brien-penned half-hour has the capacity to rip our collective hearts out the way the cute, funny bad girl next door does to Bart when she reveals that her new boyfriend is Jimbo Jones, but the show keeps shying away from genuine emotion in favor of jokes that, while overwhelmingly funny, detract from the poignancy and the emotional intimacy of the episode.
  2. (countable) Intimate relationship.
    • 1787, Robert Burns, Letter to Dr. Moore, 23 April, 1787, in J. Logie Robertson (ed.), The Letters of Robert Burns, Selected and Arranged, with an Introduction, London: Walter Scott, 1887, p. 57,[4]
      I have formed many intimacies and friendships here, but I am afraid they are all of too tender a construction to bear carriage a hundred and fifty miles.
    • 1815 December (indicated as 1816), [Jane Austen], chapter 8, in Emma: [], volume I, London: [] [Charles Roworth and James Moyes] for John Murray, →OCLC:
      “I have always thought it a very foolish intimacy,” said Mr. Knightley presently, “though I have kept my thoughts to myself; but I now perceive that it will be a very unfortunate one for Harriet []
    • 1899, Henry James, The Awkward Age[5], Book One, Chapter 2:
      [] it isn’t my notion of the way to bring up a girl to give her up, in extreme youth, to an intimacy with a young married woman who’s both unhappy and silly, whose conversation has absolutely no limits, who says everything that comes into her head and talks to the poor child about God only knows what []
  3. (countable, especially plural) Intimate detail, (item of) intimate information.
    • 1961, V. S. Naipaul, A House for Mr Biswas, Vintage International, published 2001, Part One, Chapter 4:
      He recognized the tone as the one used by friendly sisters to discuss the infirmities of their husbands. It was Shama’s plea to a sister to exchange intimacies, to show support.



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