What Does the Term SO Stand For?

Romantic young Couple in Paris
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Perhaps you were in a chat room or reading a forum, when the abbreviation "SO" came up, along with maybe DH, DS, and/or DD. All of these terms came from the same place - chat rooms in the early 90s - where people had to shorten long words when typing messages to reduce their time online. At the time, most internet connects were made via hardwiring, and the time spent and the amount of information shared was limited and/or paid for by the piece.

What Do the Letters so Mean?

SO refers to a Significant Other, which could mean one's spouse, life partner, or someone they are in a long-term, committed relationship with. In turn, DH stands for Darling Husband, DS for Darling Son and DD for Darling Daughter. 

In some circles, especially those discussing pansexuality or open relationships, you may come across the abbreviation OSO, which refers to Other Significant Other. 

The term significant other was first used in 1953 by psychiatrist Harry Stack Sullivan in his book, "The Interpersonal Theory of Psychiatry".

Scientific Uses of the Term Significant Other

In psychological terms, a significant other refers to someone who holds great importance to another and affects their well-being either positively or negatively. In sociology, a significant other refers instead to a person that affects one's sense of self in an important way. And in social psychology, a significant other refers to someone that helps a child socialize and takes care of them during their formative years, such as a parent, grandparent or instructor.


  • "I met my SO when we were still in college."
  • "Doug? Oh, he's my SO".
  • 'You can bring a significant other (SO) with you into the waiting room".
  • "Before you make such a big decision, talk it over with your significant other".
  • "Romance is when you're thinking about your significant other when you're supposed to be thinking of something else". ~ Nicholas Sparks
  • "You don’t need a significant other to lead a significant life." ~ Mandy Hale

Examples in Popular Culture

  • [2012] Movie: Significant Other
  • [2012] Book: Intro to Army Life: A Handbook for Spouses and Significant Others Entering the Army Lifestyle, by Allison Mewes
  • [2006] Book: Significant Others, by Sandra Kitt
  • [2005] Book: A Significant Other: Riding the Centenary Tour de France with Lance Armstrong, by Matt Rendell
  • [2002] Snot Bubbles! A Football Primer for Moms, Wives, and Significant Others, by Helma Clark
  • [1999] Album: Significant Other by Limp Bizkit
  • [1993] Book: Significant Others: Creativity and Intimate Partnership, edited by Whitney Chadwick and Isabelle De Courtivron
  • [1987] Novel: The Significant Others, by Armistead Maupin
  • [1963] Significant Others, by Craig Stanford
  • Band: The Significant Others