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Definitions of Relationship

  1. (noun) An association or connection between two or more people or things.
  2. (noun) Kinship by blood (consanguinity), marriage (affinity), or adoption, or fictive ties.
  3. (noun) Romantic or sexual involvement.

Types of Relationship

Relationship Pronunciation

Pronunciation Usage Guide

Syllabification: re·la·tion·ship

Audio Pronunciation

– American English
– British English

Phonetic Spelling

  • American English – /ri-lAY-shuhn-ship/
  • British English – /ri-lAY-shuhn-ship/

International Phonetic Alphabet

  • American English – /rəˈleɪʃənˌʃɪp/
  • British English – /rᵻˈleɪʃnʃɪp/

Usage Notes

  • Plural: relationships
  • Two people in a relationship (noun) relate to each other and share a (noun) relation.

Related Quotations

  • “[I]f the division of labour does not produce solidarity, it is because the relationships between the organs are not regulated, they are in a state of anomie” (Durkheim [1893] 2004:37).
  • “Rearranging the home might be part of rethinking how heterosexual couples relate. And the three-piece suite is one example of how everyday objects might reinforce ideas about men as the head of the household. Besides the sofa there might be a large ‘dad’s chair’ given prime position in the living room and a smaller ‘mum’s chair’ in the corner, reflecting traditional ideas about the proper role of women as self-sacrificing and devoted to making men comfortable. These are rather flippant examples among what were serious attempts to think critically about relationships between women and men as relationships of power” (Worrel 2001:66–67).
  • [S]ocial facts serve to constrain [peoples] behavior and include not only legal and moral rules in society, but also relationships and behavior patterns of others that affect our day-today lives” (Hughes and Kroehler 2008:13).
  • “The determining cause of a social fact must be sought among antecedent social facts preceding it and not among the states of the individual consciousness . . . The function of a social fact must always to be sought in its relationship to some social end” (Durkheim [1895] 2004:61).
  • “There is an ordering of versions of femininity and masculinity at the level of the whole society, in some ways analogous to the patterns of face-to-face relations with institution. The possibilities of variation, of course, are vastly greater. The sheer complexity of relationships involving millions of people guarantees that ethnic differences and generational differences as well as class patterns come into play. But in key aspects the organization of gender on the very large scale must be more skeletal and simplified than the human relationships in face-to-face milieux. The forms of femininity and masculinity constituted at this level are stylized and impoverished. Their interrelation is centred on the single structural fact, the global dominance of men over women” (Connell 1987:183).

Related Video

Additional Information

Related Terms


Connell, R. W. 1987. Gender and Power: Society, the Person, and Sexual Politics. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Durkheim, Émile. [1893] 2004. “The Division of Labour in Society.” Pp. 19–38 in Readings from Emile Durkheim. Rev. ed., edited and translated by K. Thompson. New York: Routledge.

Durkheim, Émile. [1895] 2004. “The Rules of Sociological Method.” Pp. 43–63 in Readings from Emile Durkheim. Rev. ed., edited and translated by K. Thompson. New York: Routledge.

Hughes, Michael, and Carolyn J. Kroehler. 2008. Sociology: The Core. 8th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill.

Worell, Judith, ed. 2001. Encyclopedia of Women and Gender: Sex Similarities and Differences and the Impact of Society on Gender. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Works Consulted

Branscombe, Nyla R., and Robert A. Baron. 2017. Social Psychology. 14th ed. Harlow, England: Pearson.

Hughes, Michael, and Carolyn J. Kroehler. 2011. Sociology: The Core. 10th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Macmillan. (N.d.) Macmillan Dictionary. (https://www.macmillandictionary.com/).

Merriam-Webster. (N.d.) Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/).

Oxford University Press. (N.d.) Oxford Dictionaries. (https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/).

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wiktionary, The Free Dictionary. Wikimedia Foundation. (http://en.wiktionary.org).

Cite the Definition of Relationship

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “relationship.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved May 28, 2024 (https://sociologydictionary.org/relationship/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

relationship. (2014). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/relationship/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “relationship.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed May 28, 2024. https://sociologydictionary.org/relationship/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“relationship.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2014. Web. 28 May. 2024. <https://sociologydictionary.org/relationship/>.