Reno Divorce Glossary

Reno divorce postcard with artwork by Lew Hymers, 1945

Reno divorce postcard, circa1945. Artist Lew Hymers (University of Nevada, Reno, Special Collections)

The Reno divorce created its own glossary of terms

A Spare                    The euphemistic name for the man a woman brought with her to Reno to keep her company for six weeks. The woman often claimed she planned to marry the “spare” when her divorce was final and sometimes it happened. If she had the means, the woman kept her “spare” out of sight in a Reno hotel. Another name for the “spare” was the “cousin”.

Alimony Park          The park across the street from the Washoe County Courthouse.

Bridge of Sighs         The  Truckee River Bridge where divorcees were said to toss their wedding rings into the Truckee River after leaving the Washoe County Courthouse. If a woman tossed a ring into the river, it most likely was a ring she bought at the dimestore, and she kept the real thing.

Divorce                       From the Latin divortium, to turn different ways, to separate.

Divorcé                       A man divorced

Divorcée                    A woman divorced

Divorce Capital of the World            Reno, Nevada

Divorce Mecca            Reno

Divorce Mill                Reno

Divorce Trade             Reno

Divorce Ranch            A uniquely Nevada term for a dude ranch that catered to divorce seekers, usually from the wealthy or upper-classes.

Divorcée Special         A train bringing divorce seekers to Reno

Divorce Seekers           A term coined by the media in the 1930s for the thousands of women and men who came running to Reno for a six-week divorce.

Going Reno                 A term to describe divorce seekers on the loose in Reno.

Golden Age of Divorce  1930s – 1960s

Graduation Day          The day a divorce seeker went to court, got their divorce decree, and “graduated.”

Heyday of Divorce       1930s – 1060s

I’m Going to Reno!    A popular phrase used by a wife or husband to announce they were going to Reno for a divorce.

Quickie Divorce         A divorce granted after a six-week residency in Nevada.

Reno Cure                   Six weeks in Reno to “take the cure” (get a divorce)

Reno Divorce Colony      The mix of the Reno social set and the Eastern social set, the latter in Reno for a divorce.

Reno-vation                A term coined by Walter Winchell for the change that so-called despondent divorce seekers went through in Reno. Also “Reno-vated” and “Geting Reno-vated.”

Serving Time and Doing Time    Six weeks in Reno

Severance Stay            Six weeks in Reno

Sin City                       Reno

Six-weekers                 Divorce seekers

State of Easy Divorce             Nevada

The Cure                     Six weeks in Reno to get a divorce or “take the cure”.

“The Reno”                 A style of bra that both “separates and supports.” The name is attributed to Ruth Lusch, a colorful Reno publicist in the late 1940s.

The Separator              Washoe County Courthouse

The Women’s Exchange         Washoe County Courthouse

Widow’s Corner         The Riverside Hotel Corner Bar next door to the Washoe County Courthouse. A meeting place for the Reno divorce colony.

– From The Divorce Seekers – A Photo Memoir of a Nevada Dude Wrangler by William and Sandra McGee

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