It was a phrase coined by Sir Winston Churchill and has been used by successive British prime ministers over the intervening decades to describe the UK’s strong bond with America.
But after a suggestion that Liz Truss is not overly keen on the term, the White House has offered to suspend use of the “special relationship”.
In his first meeting with the Prime Minister on Wednesday, Joe Biden, the US president, instead told Ms Truss: “You’re our closest ally in the world.”
But the term “special relationship” was conspicuously absent from Ms Truss’ sit down with Mr Biden ahead of the pair’s meeting at the United Nations in New York on Wednesday.
The White House later denied that the term had been “retired”.
A senior official at first appeared surprised to hear reporters suggest that Ms Truss finds the phrase “a little bit demeaning”.
“Demeaning of who?” replied the official, adding: “I mean, Joe Biden didn’t invent the phrase.”
The official later quipped: “We’ll shut it down until we can figure out what’s going on.”
“I’m just kidding,” the official added.
The idea of abandoning the term “special relationship” was first mooted by Boris Johnson, who was reported to believe it made the UK appear “needy and weak”.