Where does polycule come from?
You’re right to think polycule sounds science-y. The word is a blend of poly- (meaning “many,” as in polyamorous, or simultaneously and consensually being in multiple serious romantic or sexual relationships) and molecule.
A polycule is a connected network of people in non-monogamous relationships. The term apparently likens such a network to a model of a chemical molecule, which uses lines, circular shapes, or symbols to indicate bonds between atoms.
Polycules can take many different forms, such as a triad (three people in a relationship with each other) or a quad (four people). Polycule describe all of these relationships.
Evidence for the term polycule online dates back to at least 2007. It was widely embraced as a term in the early 2010s in the polyamorous community, spreading on personal blogs, social media sites like Reddit, and polyamory forums like polyamory.com.
Polycule received mainstream attention at the end of 2018, when actor Ezra Miller talked about being in a polycule during an interview with Playboy magazine.
Examples of polycule
Who uses polycule?
Polycule is often used in the LGBTQ, BDSM, and polyamory communities online—and their intersections therein. Polycule often has the connotation of “family.”
Trans girl dating
1st base: lewd messaging
2nd base: the kinkiest sex you two will ever have
3rd base: comparing various traumas and aligning your political beliefs
Home run: introducing them to your polycule
Hi my name is Madeline Hops and welcome to my TEDx talk…
— ℙ𝕣𝕠𝕓𝕝𝕖𝕞 𝔻𝕒𝕦𝕘𝕙𝕥𝕖𝕣 (@rabbit_isdead) June 13, 2019
Many people in the polyamory community may humorously liken existing groups to (or ship fictional characters into) polycules or joke about the complexities of being in one.
the sea horses are a polycule pic.twitter.com/6mYW6Q8VMr
— digital kristen (@kristensoulina) August 3, 2019
The biggest conflict in every polycule is deciding who gets which heart emoji
— 🖤𝔅𝔯𝔞𝔱𝔱𝔶𝔅𝔞𝔡𝔡𝔦𝔢🖤 (@madd_madam) May 2, 2019
Agreed. Having Rey and Kylo fall in love would just be lazy writing.
Now…Rey, Fin, and Poe forming a polycule, that I could get behind. https://t.co/fGSoZZ7OFS
— Faith Naff 🏳️🌈🏳️⚧️🌹🦋 (@FaithNaff) April 16, 2019
In polyamorous communities online, it’s not uncommon to see diagrams explaining someone’s current polycule to others.
This is not meant to be a formal definition of polycule like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of polycule that will help our users expand their word mastery.