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Triolism is alternately spelled as troilism. It refers to the simultaneous sexual activity between three people. It was classified as a paraphilia in Dorland's Medical Dictionary's 1941 edition. It is said to be rooted to the French term “trois” (three). However, some people want to differentiate it from the more common French term used to describe threesomes, ménage à trois. To some, ménage à trois has a more romantic connotation. Triolism pertains solely to the sexual preference for threesomes.
Another theory on the root of triolism has to do with Shakespeare's play, Troilus and Cressida. There is a scene in the play where Ulysses forces Troilus to witness Cressida having sex with another man. In fact, another modern spin on triolism assigns one party of the threesome as a more passive participant. This participant watches and masturbates, instead of taking part in the “action.”