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That word is from a newspaper article. -Men without work find it hard to attract a permanent mate.

What is the meaning of permanent mate? Is it like a forever friend? or... a life partner?

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    Have you looked up the word "mate"? Which definition do you think applies here?
    – Catija
    Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 7:30
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    @Cat - I think the O.P. probably did look up "mate," given the two options suggested in the question. Your link lists friend (Def. 2), as well as spouse (Def. 4). This question may not quote a dictionary definition, but I see evidence of prior research here.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 10:09
  • I am guessing that there is other context around the quote that indicates which definition to use.
    – user3169
    Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 16:34
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    @user3169: No, there's more than enough context here to tell which one is meant. Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 17:14

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Mate in this context means husband/wife (i.e. spouse) or a similar relationship. A life partner could be considered a mate. It's more intimate than a friend for sure, especially when a mate is described as permanent.

Mate can be used in reference to animals (i.e. there is a duck swimming with his mate), but is not really a derogatory or condescending term typically when applied to people. I believe the term is being used here because the speaker/writer might talking about non-traditional relationships, i.e. people who aren't married for whatever reason, but would be equivalently committed to each other.

Consider that another meaning of mate is to form a pair (e.g. I mated the pair of socks), and this is sort of what is implied, that two people are together because they are a match.

Mate can also two or more that have a close bond (not necessarily sexual) - either due to circumstances or other, but usually this will be qualified with an immediate preceding modifier: office mate, car mate, etc. Some very common expressions of this can be spelled as one word: soulmate, cellmate, playmate.

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