Fiancé vs. Fiancée


Much debate and change surrounds the terms fiancé and fiancée in the recent past. English speakers borrowed these gendered terms from the French in the mid-19th century, importing both the masculine (fiancé) and feminine (fiancée). This term ultimately derives from Latin, fidare literally meaning “to trust,” combined with the suffix -ance, which is used to form nouns from existing verbs.

But which form should you use when? Traditionally, the masculine form fiancé is used to describe an engaged man, while the feminine form fiancée is used to describe an engaged woman. Pronunciation of both fiancé and fiancée is identical.

The debate over fiancé concerns the borrowed French gender differentiations (the same issue arises with the borrowed French terms blond and blonde). Because English does not have word endings that connote gender, the need to mark the gender of engaged people (or fair-haired people) often seems irrelevant to modern English speakers, especially in light of same-sex marriages and increasing awareness of non-binary gender roles.

Even outside the realm of same-sex marriages, there seems to be an increasing use of fiancé as the unmarked form for both a man and a woman. But as we may expect, this use may be subject to criticism, especially for those who speak a language in which masculine and feminine forms are distinguished from one another.


  1. Mike -  August 26, 2016 - 1:33 pm

    Great post, thank you!

    • Bennett -  September 3, 2016 - 4:25 pm

      I agree!

  2. Tukura -  February 23, 2016 - 10:45 am

    To those that said English is simple,can you just find me the meaning of this words and find me the part of speech each words belongs.(1) We train the mind to mind the train
    (2) He was hiding among the flowers
    (3) Though he came late.

    • Dave -  May 6, 2016 - 10:50 am

      “…this words”


    • hilarious -  June 5, 2016 - 12:21 pm

      ajajajjajajaajajajaj. guatafoc…..

    • Needledick Bugfuq Ker -  September 27, 2016 - 12:47 pm

      Alo Guvner,

      The #3 is 1/3 of 3 + 100% incorrect and wrong along with one or more errors and miscalculations corresponding with a correlating mistake made unto and into a brief belief that you were failing to see where you were absolutely solely responsible for harboring laziness and a lack for English grammar which will snowball into the minds of many young and old minds alike causing an increase in human stupidity due to the incoherent ramblings of an Internet moron which you are not but will become if you continue on the path of misinformation and malformation of logical thoughts. Float like a butt fly and sing the ABC’s, land the fly on butt turds and ring the bells of disease. Please do not use the internet to pay it forward when what your paying is tuition for a future dropout. I hope this clears the air of any confusing confusion and makes Confucius a happy spirit as truth sets you free and gets others killed or locked up for divulging secrets of the ya ya sisterhood. Brothers, O where art thou? Hiding, no doubt from the long arm of the new law which is legally okay and morally defunct and needs deBunked as the way things are, for times change but power always corrupts in times of then, now and days to come. Of course this course isn’t a marriage of two becoming one, it’s a divorce forced to stay one step on the neck of the mass majority that don’t have the authority to kill a minority. Report the things which ache your heart, before your stories get forgotten with clogged arteries of wrongful silence untold to the ears of the tenderetes and rejects subject to a search and check all because of a policy to become a monopoly in all areas of all people and any grey or gray areas that you thought of as sacred or personal. Think again friend, think again friend, it isn’t the end until the final scene has been shot, oh but not with a gun, but instead with one loud voice of love. So go out grab someone you adore, give a hug and a tug on the heart string which makes the string theory not so scary but relatively more hairy than Harry and the Henderson’s my dearest friends.

      The End.

      -Chance Caesarslim

  3. Jeffreysjb -  January 6, 2016 - 11:05 am

    Nice work.

  4. ian -  December 3, 2015 - 6:58 pm

    What about brunette? Would anyone use it to describe a man?

    • Rory -  March 23, 2016 - 5:44 am

      What do we even call brown-haired men?
      Because I myself have brown hair and I still have no idea. :-/

      • Gwen -  April 28, 2016 - 2:47 am

        Is it not brunet?

        • Dave -  May 6, 2016 - 10:48 am

          LOL @ Gwen

  5. California_Cobra -  September 21, 2015 - 6:42 am

    I was reading an article about a reality tv series couple that used the fiancée for the man and I absolutely knew that the writer used the incorrect version because I took French back in high school and so I mentioned this misuse to my mother whom had no idea there was even a difference! As someone who enjoys good writing, it really bothers me when a so-called “writer” or “author” uses incorrect versions of such terms. While I’ll absolutely admit that I am not perfect, I am definitely a grammar and spelling nazi and wish people would just do their research before publishing their works.

    • Jay Dee -  November 16, 2015 - 5:32 am

      Quite a smug comment for someone who can’t seem to grasp the concept of indirect versus direct object.

      • Derek -  November 30, 2015 - 12:45 pm

        Oh Snap!

        • Tom Kelly -  August 31, 2016 - 4:25 am

          I’m just surprised the irony of the self-acclaimed grammar Nazi using a run-on sentence hasn’t come up yet.

          • Fiancee -  September 6, 2016 - 2:05 am

            The self-proclaimed Grammar Nazi.

    • MrsB -  June 13, 2016 - 3:00 pm

      Oh, my dear! Look up usage for who/whom!

      • powsimian -  July 10, 2016 - 7:40 am


  6. Mamasama -  August 29, 2015 - 6:13 pm

    If we’re going to borrow words from other languages, and we certainly do that often, why shouldn’t we respect their spelling and usage at least a bit? They shudder enough at our pronunciations of their words!

    • interested in English -  September 4, 2015 - 12:24 am

      I am fair-haired but NOT engaged.
      I would like to file a complaint against the use of language here!

      • California_Cobra -  September 21, 2015 - 6:55 am

        Well since I cannot tell whether you are male or female, I will explain to you your misunderstanding with this whole concept. The use of fiancé or fiancée is unrelated to the use of blond or blonde. Therefore, it doesn’t matter that you are fair-haired and NOT engaged. You are NOT a fiancé (or fiancée), but you are still either blond or blonde depending on your gender. Like I said, both terms are totally unrelated and the terms are based strictly on gender.

        • Blushing Pansy -  November 19, 2015 - 12:36 pm

          I think you are missing the intended humor Cobra.

  7. Shiang -  August 15, 2015 - 4:14 pm

    Knew that already!!! Idiota

    • Jean -  August 25, 2015 - 1:54 pm

      After reading an article today, I had to check the definition. in my humble opinion, fiancé or fiancée is an overused term. Anyone who lives together or has a baby together now uses the term fiancé or fiancée.

      • Alex -  September 1, 2015 - 5:48 am

        I know of nobody who uses this term unless they are engaged. I have lived with my partner for over a year, but she has only been my fiance for 2 days. I think this comment is misguided.

      • Jack -  December 8, 2015 - 4:25 pm

        Does that include married couples with children?

        • Jonabelle -  July 5, 2016 - 1:53 am

          I believe that even if they already have children and still have not gotten married…IF they plan to get married in the future and became engaged to each other before the wedding, they’re considered Fianc’e and Fianc’ee. This is what I think!

      • Carleta HayesCapps Riley -  August 12, 2016 - 2:16 pm

        Exactly! I’m so fed up with these women who refer to these men as their “fiance’ “. The term is supposed to denote someone who has proposed marriage and actually INTENDS to marry. I’ve talked to a few of these women and they “appear” to not be ashamed of living together but yet they disguise the arrangement with a more genteel term of “fiance’” instead of what not all that long ago was called “shack up”!. Reality has no part of these kind of people.

      • Tom K -  August 31, 2016 - 4:32 am

        If anything, it’s underused. At least in Australia and New Zealand. Besides more people at any particular time having a boy/girlfriend or husband/wife than being engaged, even those that are rarely use it.

        Even I myself use the term “partner” far more often. I tend to view this as a reluctance to share more personal details with colleagues and acquaintances. However, it may be force of habit (I’ve had partners far longer than I’ve been engaged) or a preference for gender neutral terms.

  8. SD -  August 14, 2015 - 3:52 pm

    Any word(s) borrowed from another language tend to cause problems in pronunciation and spelling.

    The french “fiancé (masculine)” and “fiancée” (feminine) are spelled differently to indicate gender, but pronounced the exact same way — “FEE-AHN-SAY” not “FEE-AHNS,” as there is an acute accent over the “e” — “é” which makes the “e” sound “ay.” An addition of an “s” at the end of either word indicates more than one (plural), so long as those ‘many’ are of the same gender. If they are mixed, then it reverts to the masculine plural. That is the french rule.

    Only a consideration in writing, as are most french words of this kind.

    Another word the english language has adopted from the french which I hear mispronounced constantly is “foyer.” I hear “FOY-YUR.” The correct pronunciation is “FOY-YAY” as the “ER” in French is pronounced “AY.”

    • Stephen Pettine -  August 19, 2015 - 10:25 am

      When in Rome…applies here in my estimation in order to avoid confusion, and that is why dictionaries are published as guides to proper usage..

    • justin -  August 27, 2015 - 9:19 am

      i was so confused until i read this thanks

      • Fleurette -  November 23, 2015 - 7:08 pm

        Recently used it on a log line competition via my Android LG with no means to add accents and tildes so I ended up writing Fiance. They spared no bones in advising me of my spelling including that extra. requirement above the “e”

        • Talon Of Fear -  November 24, 2016 - 1:33 pm

          They have it now, about a year later…

    • Daniel B -  September 22, 2015 - 5:21 pm

      The word has been English a long time, and has an English pronunciation. foy-ay is pretentious and not even good French, which is more like fwah-yeh

  9. John -  August 14, 2015 - 8:41 am

    “…the need to mark the gender of engaged people (or fair-haired people) often seems irrelevant to modern English speakers, especially in light of same-sex marriages and increasing awareness of non-binary gender roles.”

    This is nonsense. Men are men and women are women. Always have been. Always will be. We come to this blog for help with grammar, not a lecture in Queer Theory or Gender Politics.

    • Normal woman -  August 17, 2015 - 7:47 pm

      ICAM! Thanks for the common sense on a website that should be about vocabulary, not political correctness!

    • Emily -  August 18, 2015 - 3:38 pm


    • JMyste -  August 19, 2015 - 7:00 am


      No one intended to offend you by presenting English as a usually neuter language (pronouns not withstanding).

      A cognitive psychologist would suggest that you try to deal with whatever internal conflict is causing the offense.

      Whatever feelings you are having, I assure you, are not grammar related, but the comment was.

      The blog you need is certain not grammar and your urges, proclivities, etc. were not being questioned by anyone here (other than you, that is).

    • Mike -  August 26, 2015 - 5:02 pm

      No PC-Thank You Sir.

    • Michelle Most -  August 31, 2015 - 12:15 pm

      It’s pretty depressing when a dictionary site feels the need to be socially “progressive”.

    • Jim -  November 20, 2015 - 6:30 am

      I’m so sad that so many of you have lost another refuge from comment or criticism of your bigotry and ignorance. Unfortunately, the use of language always exists in a social context, and as such and discussion of this subject necesitatates a presentation of the gender issues, which the article identifies but on which it takes no position.

    • Adam -  January 28, 2016 - 9:10 pm

      It’s saying that English is traditionally gender neutral. Like in Spanish feminine words end in “a” and masculine words end in “o.” We do not do this in English, you are seriously confused if you think there is an agenda here, it’s hilarious to see all the people who cannot understand this very basic concept.

    • Camila -  April 29, 2016 - 11:44 am

      If you think that politics and social norms have nothing to do with language, then my dear, you have no idea what language is.

  10. Gabriel -  August 13, 2015 - 3:48 pm

    In Portuguese we have this same issue regarding Latin words. I mean, our language is based on Latin, but when we use non-”portuguesed” Latin words, such as “campus”, some people disagree when it comes to using the Latin plural “campi” or the Portuguese form, that would be equal to the singular. But that is a rare case. Usually we transform words, as with “abat-jour” (lampshade), which became “abajur”.

  11. raja -  July 22, 2015 - 5:09 am


    • raja -  July 22, 2015 - 5:13 am

      i really got it now

    • Pietro Del Buono -  July 29, 2015 - 4:52 am

      Sorry Raja and Joan.

      In French (and in English) the masculine is pronouced as the feminine
      The only difference is in the spelling: the feminine taking a secon and unaccented ‘e’.

      Trust me: the sound FEE-AHNS would never pass the lips of any French speking person (provision made for those rare French-folks with a lisp)


  12. Joan -  July 18, 2015 - 4:47 am

    The pronunciation of the two forms also indicates gender. Fiance is the masculine. It is pronounced FEE-AHNS. Most of us use the feminine pronunciation for both, which In my opinion, is the more egregious error.

    • Lushington -  August 13, 2015 - 6:04 pm

      I’m afraid you’re wrong. Both genders are actually pronounced the same in both French and English.

      The french suffixes -ée and -é are pronounced the same, so “fiancé” sounds identical to “fiancée” in French (unless you’re speaking a unique regional dialect or something?)

      The accent is commonly dropped in written English, but the suffix is still pronounced “AY”

    • John -  August 16, 2015 - 9:09 am

      Curious! If the “e” is accented in “fiance,’ wouldn’t the pronunciation be the same as fiancee?

    • Sylvie -  August 17, 2015 - 8:36 am

      Actually, this is wrong. They are both pronounced the same way. No one who speaks French, whether Francophone or Parisian french, would pronounce it “FEE-AHNS”, we all enunciate the “é”.

  13. Roger -  July 16, 2015 - 2:40 pm

    Whoever wrote the article should have indicated whether or not the words are pronounced differently. Are they?

    • Sylvie -  August 17, 2015 - 8:36 am

      Nope, they are pronounced the same way.

  14. lize -  July 10, 2015 - 10:23 am

    fiance and fiancee is french. fiance is masculine and fiancee is feminine

    • Aude -  July 18, 2015 - 5:27 am

      Absolutely right! Cheers from Paris, France

  15. DIS IZ R B ANONYMOUS!!! -  July 7, 2015 - 5:13 pm

    My seventh grade science teacher was born here in America & was in the marines, so he had to travel around the world, because of that he learned many languages, once he said, “English is the hardest & most confusing languages I know, & it’s my Native Language, so you would think I wouldn’t say that.”, at least it was something similar to that, I don’t remember his exact words.

    • rossop -  July 14, 2015 - 7:45 pm

      Your friend was right.

    • Gabriel -  August 13, 2015 - 3:33 pm

      Disagreed. Man, I speak Portuguese as my native language and I also know English. Besides that, I had a little of Spanish in the highschool and I’m trying to learn German. Trust me, German is a LOT harder than English. In fact, English is the easiest language I know. I’m not saying I know everything about it; don’t be surprised if you find any mistakes in my writing. What I’m saying is that English is the least complicated of the languages I mentioned. There’s almost no need to conjugate verbs, words do not have gender, there’s a phrasal verb for anything you want to say, it makes little difference which is the grammatical role of each word etc. Besides, I’ve never seen any American person pronounce Portuguese in a way that could make’em sound like a native, but it seems that many people from around the world are able to develop an almost perfect English pronounciation (which is not my case, though). One more thing: Spanish is the sister language of Portuguese and still I’m better in English than in Spanish.

      • Mamasama -  August 29, 2015 - 6:25 pm

        Au contraire, mon frere! Spanish is much easier than English because at least Spanish is phonetic. I used to demonstrate this by writing “ghoti” on the board and asking my English students what word that is. After a few minutes of various attempts, I explained that it’s the word, “fish”. The “gh” makes the “f” sound in “enough,” the “o” sounds like a short “i” in “women,” and the “ti” sounds like “sh” in most words that end in “tion”. Add in all the borrowings English has made from other languages (especially American English), and you have rule breakers for every rule that once ruled the language! I’d rather tackle the gender endings for French, Spanish, and other such languages than try to explain words English borrowed from Native American languages like Algonquian.

      • Brett -  September 30, 2016 - 1:39 am

        Your crazy if you think any non native speaking American could come to America and speak English so well that a American wouldn’t know they was not from here.lol

  16. flwolf -  July 7, 2015 - 6:49 am

    I moved permanently to the US 28 years ago from a country with a literacy rating of 100%. I’m still shocked by the fact that so many born Americans can’t spell or write their own language correctly! I’m not talking about using ‘fancy’ words, just regular, every day words and sentences. Just look at the first comment right here in this forum. “I had know idea…”. I’m still hoping the writer did it to be funny.

    There are many more such ‘misuses’ of common words. Things like “This is there house”, or “He is sick alot”, etc. Not to mention all the misplaced commas and apostrophes. They are sometimes being applied without any grammatical rhyme or reason. I have no other explanation than inadequate teaching methods in our schools.

    • Doris -  July 7, 2015 - 10:24 am

      We said.

      • Doris -  July 7, 2015 - 10:28 am

        I meant well said. Typing error.

        • Ben from Sydney -  July 10, 2015 - 3:26 am

          Inglish was my bestest subjeckt

          • Sarah -  July 14, 2015 - 10:38 am

            too funny!

          • Lilly -  July 20, 2015 - 12:17 am


          • joe -  August 13, 2015 - 5:25 pm

            too too funny

          • interested in English -  September 4, 2015 - 12:27 am

            too too too funny

    • Karen -  July 7, 2015 - 12:34 pm

      The U.S. has a literacy rate of 99%, along with France, Germany, Canada, and the U.K. The only countries better than that have populations 1/10th of ours.

      • Jesse -  July 18, 2015 - 4:05 am

        Splendid display of wit – justifying literacy rate with a blatantly baseless assumption.

    • wiley riley -  July 7, 2015 - 2:34 pm

      yer a but

    • Jan -  July 7, 2015 - 8:51 pm

      I think you mean ‘everyday’ words. When you wish to use ‘everyday’ as an adjective, it’s written as one word.

      Why don’t you pull the reigns back a bit on your pretension, huh? Let people get informed without trying to lambaste them in the comments.

      • Mark Samuel -  July 15, 2015 - 8:19 am

        “reigns” should be “reins” in this use, Jan. I agree with your point, just gently pointing out this oversight. “reign”, as an example, is the term for a monarch in power, “rein” refers to the control, as in a “reins of a horse are used to control the horse”.

    • Jo -  July 19, 2015 - 7:54 am

      Sadly, it is all too common for these errors to appear in writing, and sometimes in speech. My niece was told in elementary school that it didn’t matter how she spelled a word, as long as her meaning was communicated. This is where good parenting steps in to raise protest to the appropriate authorities for change, petition for school choice vouchers, or remove the child to a better educational environment. Meanwhile parents should be tutoring their own children or working something out to save their child from being illiterate! This is one reason homeschooling and private schools have become so popular. I would think parents want their children to be able to correctly spell, read, and write.

      We all make mistakes from time to time, but to have an illiteracy rate in this country is a travesty! This is a trend that I believe is in the bigger picture of manipulating America into failure as a country. This and other trends, such as “political correctness,” etc., have developed in us the potential for nose-diving into self-destruction – unless we have a spiritual and cultural awakening to change our course.

      Yes, it is this serious!

    • august -  July 27, 2015 - 2:42 pm

      Hi Fly,
      the one that “bugs” me?

      “I won’t arrive till later.

      It’s until or ’til if you prefer

      • Simon -  August 13, 2015 - 4:45 pm

        Check again August – Dictionary.com states that till and ’til are interchangeable; derived similarly but not the same.
        There are many annoying mistakes and/or deliberate spelling errors in the lexicon but ’till’ isn’t one of them.

    • Michelle Most -  August 31, 2015 - 12:17 pm

      I agree. Yes, English is a difficult language, but if it’s your first, you have no excuse to have such trouble with basic words. It’s embarrassing how few of us Americans are capable of communicating on a basic level.

    • interested in English -  September 4, 2015 - 12:28 am

      where’d u come from eh?
      pretty good rnt u?

  17. charles -  July 6, 2015 - 11:42 am

    Anything worth doing is worth doing well. Even if you borrow a language, learn to use it well.

    • Diamond -  August 13, 2015 - 11:02 am

      So true…

  18. dogmeat -  July 6, 2015 - 10:07 am




    • august -  July 27, 2015 - 2:45 pm

      Hi Dogmeat,

      No such spelling as potatoe” (apologies to Dan Quail!)

  19. J.C. -  July 6, 2015 - 5:10 am

    I had know idea that the words were gender specific. Great information.

  20. Cuneigonde -  July 4, 2015 - 7:10 pm

    I am a linguist and the poor grammar and sloppy vocabulary of some – even in highly visible positions – astound me. Reading through the posts, I wonder if intellectual curiosity plays a part in our lives. As to pronunciation, a teacher of French to English-speaking kids made them pinch the nose when saying “on” or “an”… Try it.

    • Gabriel -  August 13, 2015 - 4:35 pm

      Try to hear Google Translate speaking other languages. The way Americans say fiancé is completely different from the way a French does.

  21. Ron -  July 4, 2015 - 4:30 pm

    leave it to the French.

    • Ms. G -  July 6, 2015 - 12:23 pm

      FYI – Spanish is also gender specific…

      • Dasha -  July 12, 2015 - 2:52 pm

        FYI – As well as a number of other languages.

      • Gabriel -  August 13, 2015 - 4:33 pm

        Man, probably most languages are.

  22. Tammy Giroux -  July 3, 2015 - 11:31 pm

    Fun fact for you people who are finding this interesting. Did you know that, in the French language, that the term for male genitalia is connoted with a female article, and the female genitalia is connoted with a male article? So, yeah, male parts are female and female’s are male.. bizarre!

    • lefox -  July 9, 2015 - 8:37 am

      That *is* interesting – thank you for sharing that (I’m serious; I’m not being sarcactic (might sound sarcastic)).. Now I’m thinking maybe I should start learning French.

    • Sylvie -  August 17, 2015 - 8:40 am

      Actually, both have male articles.

  23. therationale -  July 2, 2015 - 12:20 pm

    More and more it seems people in general are just getting lazy about all things when it comes to language. If you don’t speak it,write it, spell it, or punctuate it correctly, you are likely not communicating what you mean clearly and how many mistakes happen or issues arise on a daily basis both personally and professionally due to communication problems?! What’s interesting, is that no one makes the connection between this seemingly innocuous problem and the little “detail” of their own poor speech/grammar.

    If we as a country are borrowing a word from another language, we should either use it correctly, or get our own word. Foreign language classes in high school are electives, but maybe there should be a basic primer taught that isn’t, so hs graduates have a basic understanding of how languages other than English work (some with the masculine/feminine etc.)

    • Jeremy -  July 6, 2015 - 2:19 am

      I agree with most of what you said, however, I strongly disagree with the use of the word in English as it is used in its language of origin. This would mean that every adjective borrowed from French, German, Italian and Spanish, to name but a few, should then not only respect ‘gender rules’ but also be pluralised as required. People already struggle with Latin and Greek plurals as it is…
      I think this would be very confusing for some and yet another excuse to look down on people who do not have a great language awareness . When you consider that a lot of Americans do not know what adverbs are and how they should be used; I think it is fair to say that there are more important issues.
      At the end of the day, languages remain a tool used to communicate with one another and I do not believe that spelling a word with an extra ‘e’ or ‘es’ or what have you, will improve communication.

    • Ms. G -  July 6, 2015 - 12:26 pm

      I agree… however, over half of the population, have issues using the English language properly. And I am not referring to those whose second language is English.
      Heard a grown man, as in late 50s early 60s, say, “Don’t go no where.”
      When I mentioned it, he said, ” This ain’t English class.”

      • Tre -  July 7, 2015 - 1:26 pm

        You are so right. It infuriates me when my daughter-in-law tells my 7th grade granddaughter that only the context of her prose matters; her spelling & grammatical errors are inconsequential. How will she ever pass her HS & college English courses, if she cannot spell or use correct grammar?

      • Gabriel -  August 13, 2015 - 4:29 pm

        Have you ever consider regional differences and language evolution? Why is it wrong to say “This ain’t”? I’ve never been outside of Brazil and even so I know there are some regions in the U.S. where this structure is used more frequently.

  24. Meldz -  July 1, 2015 - 5:05 am

    I love this. I am an English teacher and I learn only now that the terms fiancé and fiancée connote gender.

    • J -  July 3, 2015 - 3:21 am

      wow! an English teacher and you’re learning about the difference now? Well, what can I say. I’m a foreigner who learned the English language through school and not the environment, and I knew the difference. And I don’t even have a language-related career (a computer application developer!). But I guess learning a language through education proves to give you a better foundation when it comes to grammar and spelling, doesn’t it?

    • John -  July 3, 2015 - 9:38 am

      I take it you teach in the US?

    • Moonie -  July 4, 2015 - 8:29 am

      Ok honestly how is that. I knew the difference by the time I was 12 and that was just from reading. I do not understand how there are so many dumb teachers out here now. this is whats wrong with the country, we are being taught by idiots.

      • calvin michel -  July 9, 2015 - 10:55 am

        Probably because it’s French. I know the proper French terms, having studied it for four years, but never recall seeing any spelling but fiance in English. If you check, fiance is considered correct, in English, for either men or women. The English teacher may be lacking in French, but at least she manages to construct grammatically correct sentences. I was taught that calling a perfect stranger names is the height of ignorance.

        • Mamasama -  August 29, 2015 - 6:34 pm

          Well said!
          Moonie, name-calling and incorrect use of a lowercase letter at the beginning of a run-on sentence indicate that you don’t have the language brilliance you seem to think you own. Back to school for you!

      • Yours Truly -  August 13, 2015 - 7:26 am

        Moonie, there’s such thing as not knowing everything. Not everyone knows the difference between fiancé and fiancée. Most teachers don’t know every single thing in the universe, and honestly, check your grammar before you post. There are probably a few thousand people who don’t know the difference between fiancé and fiancée but still know to capitalize their sentences.
        Also, there are so many things wrong with this country. Teachers not knowing the difference between words is not one of them. People who beat on others for no apparent reason are one of them.

  25. Eva -  June 29, 2015 - 12:39 am

    Who didn’t already know this?

    • K.C. -  June 30, 2015 - 12:58 pm

      Me. … And, probably every other male in the U.S. (… maybe even your fiance’!)

      • Brooklyn -  July 1, 2015 - 7:28 pm

        lol Very true

      • Quentin Sharone Carson -  July 4, 2015 - 8:05 pm

        True! However, before reading the article, I assumed the difference would be gender related especially if you took a foreign language in college or online course.

        • Mamasama -  August 29, 2015 - 6:42 pm

          You didn’t get the memo that there would be a test online?
          Check your emails; I’m sure it was sent by someone who has commented that just because Americans who speak only their native form of English must be stupid in every possible field of knowledge. Might’ve been sent earlier in July.
          Humor, people, it’s a wonderful gift!

      • J.C. -  July 6, 2015 - 5:06 am

        I did not know the difference.

    • FOUGHALI -  July 2, 2015 - 6:51 am

      Fiancé (with only an (é), is a male adjective, always intended for a a single man, who, projects to get married.Fiancée (with (ée), is a female adjective, with however , intended for a single woman, who might be, also projecting to get married. Somthing to worry about, is that in french, adjectives are classified, also depending on the sex and gender of beings or things, they are supposed to describe.


      • Talon Of Fear -  November 24, 2016 - 1:50 pm

        I spotted three mistakes. Can you name them all?

    • tmfk -  July 3, 2015 - 7:39 pm

      Americans. I think its fairly well established that most our people are ignorant of anything that involves other languages, proper English spelling or grammar, or cultures outside those of their immediate environment. I should guess furthermore that if presented with this article, an accurate cross-section of America would respond 80% of the time with “so what?’ and be unable to use the appropriate word form in a sentence 10 minutes later . We can partially thank our outstanding public school system for this which guarantees a free education to all but can’t seem to agree on how to do it.

    • Rachel -  July 5, 2015 - 11:54 am

      I studied French for many years from my first year of high school all the way through college. I can read it, write it, and speak it. I’ve always had an appreciation for the words we borrow from other languages, but I know revere the French ones even more so now that I’ve learned it. But I’ve always known the distinction and have taken care to write it as so. As well as interpreting it as though it were referring to a man or a woman depending on the spelling, same-sex marriage, or not.

      • Tom -  August 14, 2015 - 1:10 pm

        Which would Mx. Jenner use?

        • Mamasama -  August 29, 2015 - 6:35 pm

          The former Mr. Jenner?

  26. Barbara Byrd -  June 28, 2015 - 1:23 pm

    And what about the pronunciation? Emphasis on fe-on’-say or fe-on-say’ ?

    • Arun -  June 30, 2015 - 8:55 am

      Same pronunciation. The extra E only denotes gender.

    • Peter Ellwood -  July 2, 2015 - 3:21 am


  27. Sky -  June 28, 2015 - 8:42 am

    This article is so confusing that I don’t know what to do with It. And, how do you even pronounce the words?

    #so confused :-/

    • Katelyn -  July 1, 2015 - 11:20 pm

      both words are pronounced the same. The extra ‘e’ in one of them only denotes gender in french terms. They’re both pronounced “fee-on-say”

      • Ashish -  July 6, 2015 - 3:06 am

        Then how we will know about whom they are talking about?

        • sword mite101 -  July 8, 2015 - 3:51 pm

          their all stupid

          • Sylvie -  August 17, 2015 - 8:44 am


        • Mamasama -  August 29, 2015 - 6:38 pm

          “about whom they are talking” (no second “about”)

    • Peter Ellwood -  July 2, 2015 - 3:49 am

      From a British English point of view the starting point is that if you’re a man, you’re a fiancé and if you’re a woman you’re a fiancée.

      Contrary to what the article suggests, it isn’t quite the same as the “blond-blonde” distinction. There’s never been a particular suggestion in English English that ‘blond’ must be used for men and ‘blonde’ for women: both forms have peacefully co-existed for centuries, for no other reason than usage.

      Sadly (for linguistic purists at least), feminism and the PC lobby has got hold of fiancés and argues that it’s demeaning to use the feminine form. A more obvious example is the insistence on calling all actors “actors” instead of actors and actresses. So now it gets jumbled up in the name of ‘equality’.

      • David -  July 3, 2015 - 12:47 pm

        Or “Flight Attendant” instead of the much-more palatable “Stewardess,” which also used to be the norm – one never saw males in that role aboard aircraft. ‘Tis a sad world we live in.

        • Gabriel -  August 13, 2015 - 4:17 pm

          In Brazil we used “aeromoça” (something like aerolady or aeromissy) and now we use “comissária de bordo”. Let’s face it, it would be strange to say “aeromoço” (masculine form).

      • Tammy Giroux -  July 3, 2015 - 11:24 pm

        To clarify, they didn’t really give a time period of when the female/male versions of the word blond/e was used in the English language. It could have been long before English was even around in the Americas. The just said that it was a borrowed word from the French :)

    • Naomi -  July 2, 2015 - 8:50 am

      Fee-on-say is how to pronounce both of them c:

    • Rocky -  July 4, 2015 - 1:50 pm

      Pronunciation of fiance/fiancee: “Fee On Say” with emphasis on the middle “on”…Fe ON Say. This is how American’s will pronounce it (write or wrong).

      • Rocky -  July 4, 2015 - 1:51 pm

        Sorry, 4:50 AM. Correction: “Right or wrong”.

  28. Lorraine -  June 27, 2015 - 5:38 am

    I am confused by the continued use of convince where in the past I would have used persuade? The latter seems to have become completely obsolete now in 21st c?

    • Leap -  July 1, 2015 - 6:57 pm

      Well, both words have the same intent: to make someone else believe what they’re being told.
      To me, convince has more of a desperate tinge to its usage, while persuade would be used to describe a debate, or a potentially illegal situation. But that’s just me.

      • Jeremy -  July 6, 2015 - 2:28 am

        This so funny but I have a very similar association to the words as you Leap.
        I regard convince as a bit of a desperate plea and persuade as a little more ‘involved’ as in trying to change the other’s mind or make it for them.

        This is my favourite part of language – the way words make us feel or think…

      • Gabriel -  August 13, 2015 - 4:11 pm

        As Latin words, both forms exist in Portuguese: “convencer” and “persuadir”. Everyone has a different idea about the exact meaning of each, but I prefer to use “convencer” when I use reason to change one’s mind, whereas “persuadir” makes me think of a situation in which emotions are involved and the other person does not truly change their mind, but still does what I want them to do.

  29. David Nadzam -  June 26, 2015 - 10:02 am

    I believe there are a fair number of words that have masculine and feminine forms in other languages and of course, like German, there are masculine/feminine/neutral articles (think der/die/das).

    Surnames, I recently discovered, can also have masculine and feminine forms. I have found a feminine suffix for my surname and had I not done more research I would have thought the feminine version to be completely unrelated.

    Why weren’t these masculine/feminine differences continued to the United States? I can only guess that it was simpler and less confusing not to add suffixes. I think multicultural differences were also at play (we are a melting pot or so I am told).

    Unless one is a student of languages, most likely one is not going to know of feminine and masculine forms.

    So, I think using fiancé to describe either a female or male engaged person is going to prevail in the United States but remember that while in France do as the French do and use both fiancé and fiancée and use them properly.

    • CJ Phillips -  June 26, 2015 - 10:55 pm

      I always thought fiancé was the way. This one fiancée I either forgot or didn’t know at all.

    • Mateja -  June 27, 2015 - 11:43 pm

      You forgot that the United States did not invent English language, it came to the States from the Great Britain and did not differentiate between masculine and feminine forms as it were, so it didn’t have anything to do with the States or the melting pot.

      • Rocky -  July 4, 2015 - 1:59 pm

        Yes, English didn’t come from the USA. It was developed in Great Britain over the course of 1000+ years of warfare between the Anglo (Engle in early English – meant ‘angel’ because of the whiteness of the skin. The language became known as Engle-ish and later English) and the Saxons. Germany, France and others won wars and came to regional power and thus influenced the development of English. It’s why the rules don’t seem consistent in spelling and pronunciation.

        • Bob -  August 13, 2015 - 8:59 am

          Uh… No. The root had nothing to do with angels or skin color. It actually stems from the same root as angle (note ‘le’, not ‘el’). The land from which some early Germanic invaders came from was shaped like a hook, meaning it had a severe angle to it. Eventually the word came to describe all Germanic invaders and finally the population as a whole.

  30. Ella -  June 25, 2015 - 3:37 pm

    Hey dictionary.com, post this on the “commonly confused” word list! I went to the Word of the Day Quiz and found a link to it. Why is this not listed as Commonly Confused? :(

    • Ella -  June 25, 2015 - 3:37 pm

      Sorry, I meant :).

      • Ella -  June 25, 2015 - 3:38 pm

        I meant :) sorry about the typos.

    • CJ Phillips -  June 26, 2015 - 10:57 pm

      That is because they are commonly confused themselves. haha

  31. Terrance -  June 25, 2015 - 10:49 am

    How apt then is the word-FINANCE-which is all about money
    and the betrothed female-’financee and male finance:
    It’s always about the MONEY:

    • Val Kyrie -  June 25, 2015 - 11:36 am

      Slight difference in the spelling. Fiancée, the letter a comes before the letter n.

    • Suzanne -  July 2, 2015 - 8:28 am

      I am blonde. Was a fiancée. A female engaged woman. Language is all about communication. Correct usage of words for precise meaning. If you borrow a word, use it properly. Fiance or fianncee can be used in a same sex marriage. The word simply is an indication of gender. Two men are both fiance. Two women are both fiancées. PC non gender person planning on entering a partnership . I use blonde because I think it looks more like a complete spelling.

      • Gabriel -  August 13, 2015 - 4:00 pm

        But why not to Anglicize a word? Blond looks far more English than blonde, because in English words usually end in consonants or in y, rarely in a, e, i o or u. Evolution is part of the languages as it is part of Life.

  32. Jodel -  June 25, 2015 - 10:18 am

    I thoroughly enjoy this column & the information. Providing context helps us better understand ourselves & our world. Knowledge moves us from mundane & mediocre to enlightened.

  33. karl greene -  June 25, 2015 - 7:21 am

    “Fair-haired people ???” What does that have to do with the subject at hand ?

    Thanks for noting that same-sex marriages (and just plain ol’ relationships)
    have turned many practices upside down. Fundamental questions are arising such as, “Who am I, anyway ?”

    • Chris -  June 25, 2015 - 9:54 am

      ““Fair-haired people ???” What does that have to do with the subject at hand ?”
      Because blond/blonde was used as an example.

    • Amy Storm -  June 25, 2015 - 10:46 am

      Blond and Blonde

    • Beverly Foxx -  June 25, 2015 - 10:50 am

      In response to a question from Karl:

      “Fair-haired people ???” What does that have to do with the subject at hand ?”

      I believe the writer is explaining that like fiancé” and “fiancée,” the word we use to describe fair-haired people also has a masculine form (blond) and a feminine form (blonde).

    • Job -  June 25, 2015 - 10:59 am

      Fair-haired people are blond/blonde.

    • Karen Diaz -  June 26, 2015 - 5:12 am

      Karl – “fair-haired people” is referring to the use of “blond” for males and “blonde” for females. It was another example of gender specific words that we’ve borrowed from French, and was mentioned in the article.

  34. Taj Sher -  June 25, 2015 - 6:42 am

    I am a forensic linguist by profession and keep an interest in these subjects.

    • mark s. -  June 25, 2015 - 10:10 am

      I am only merely fascinated by these thing but I also believe people should strive to use a language properly if at all.
      Also NPR( national public radio) has a pertinent show called ” A Way With Words ”
      Great show..

      • Val Kyrie -  June 25, 2015 - 11:39 am

        Thank you mark s. for sharing about the NPR show! I will definitely check it out!

      • Gabriel -  August 13, 2015 - 3:51 pm

        Just curiosity, people: is this use of merely correct?

    • Jane Sickon -  June 25, 2015 - 3:32 pm

      That’s really interesting. My father-in-law was a forensic accountant. How/where does a forensic linguist make a living? For the feds, like my father-in-law? Where else?

      • Suzanne -  July 2, 2015 - 8:35 am

        My maid of honor, a male who stood up for the bride, is a forensic etymologist. He has a regular job to pay the bills. Professor of biology.

    • Tammy Giroux -  July 3, 2015 - 11:21 pm

      Taj, since you’re a forensic linguist, maybe you can help me with something that has nothing to do with this topic. If you can help me with the word/meaning umlaut, could you email me? It would be easier for me to explain it in a conversation. If not, thanks anyways :)

    • interested in English -  September 4, 2015 - 12:25 am

      what in the HELL is a forensic linguist by profession ?

  35. Ajety -  June 25, 2015 - 3:25 am

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