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a suffix occurring in loanwords from French, forming feminine nouns corresponding to nouns ending in -eur: chanteuse.
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Origin of -euse

<French <Latin -ōsa, feminine of -ōsus-ose1 (>French -eux); taken as feminine of -eur when this suffix had lost its final consonant (later restored) and was homonymous with -eux (hence, masculine -eu(r), feminine -euse, by analogy with -eux, -euse)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does -euse mean?

The form -euse is a suffix that marks an agent noun or, occasionally, an adjective in loanwords from French. Agent nouns are nouns that indicate a person who does an action. Broadly speaking then, -euse means “doer.” The suffix -euse is relatively common in both everyday and technical terms.

The suffix -euse comes from the Latin -ōsa, which was used to indicate agent nouns whose grammatical gender was female.

The suffix -euse is the feminine-gendered variant of -eur. Although -eur is a masculine-gendered ending for agent nouns, it is often (though not always) preferred over -euse as the default in English, regardless of the subject’s gender. Some words that end with -euse, such as danseuse, are still reserved (though not without due criticism) for women.

Want to know more? Read our Words That Use -eur article.

Examples of -euse

One example of a term you may be familiar with that features -euse is chanteuse, “a female singer, especially one who sings in nightclubs and cabarets.”

The first part of the word, chant-, comes from the French chanter, meaning “to sing.” The suffix -euse means “doer” and specifies that the doer in question is female. Chanteuse roughly translates to “someone (female) who sings.”

What are some words that use the suffix -euse?

The following words are all French loanwords and therefore use the equivalent form of -euse in French.

What are some other forms that -euse may be commonly confused with?

Not every word that ends with the exact letters -euse uses the suffix -eur to indicate a “doer.” Non-agent nouns with similar endings include chartreuse. Learn why chartreuse denotes a distinguished yellowish-green color at our entry for the word.

Break it down!

The French verb danser means, as you may guess, “to dance.” With this in mind, what is a danseuse?