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fiancée

or fi·an·cee

[ fee-ahn-sey, fee-ahn-sey ]
/ ˌfi ɑnˈseɪ, fiˈɑn seɪ /
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See synonyms for: fiancée / fiancees / fiancées on Thesaurus.com

noun

a woman engaged to be married.

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Origin of fiancée

First recorded in 1850–55; from French; feminine of fiancé

usage note for fiancée

When French words describe or name people, they are inflected to match the gender of the person. To mark a noun or adjective as feminine, French adds an unaccented letter e at the end of a word. If the person engaged to be married is a man, he’s a fiancé . The bride-to-be is a fiancée . This distinction is usually preserved in English language use of these words: fiancé for a man, fiancée for a woman.
However, it is also common for borrowed words to lose some foreign characteristics. This is why, for example, words like cliché , fiancée , or résumé may be written in English without accent marks. Such an omission in French would be an error, resulting in the wrong pronunciation of these words, but in English, it is acceptable to lose this foreign feature.
Similarly, some English speakers will completely drop the gender agreement in the fiancéfiancée distinction, using fiancé for both men and women. The prescriptive rules of English grammar do not encourage the reduction to a single form, though it is a natural phenomenon for words borrowed into English to neutralize gender markings.
The adjective née presents a slightly different case. The feminine inflection of this French word is the commonly borrowed form, since women are usually the ones to distinguish their maiden names from their married ones. However, the masculine form would be the appropriate one for a man in reference to his original last name, in the increasingly common event of the groom’s name changing with his marriage.
The spelling with the extra e is the marked feminine form and should be used to name or describe a woman: née , divorcée , fiancée . If you choose to spell these French words with their accents, be sure to place them correctly. For words ending in ée, the accented é is the first of the two.

WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH fiancée

fiancé, fiancée , faience

Words nearby fiancée

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

FIANCÉE VS. FIANCÉ

What’s the difference between fiancée and fiancé?

The word fiancée is traditionally used to refer to the woman that a person is engaged to be married to (the bride-to-be). The word fiancé is traditionally used to refer to the man that a person is engaged to be married to (the groom-to-be).

However, the spelling fiancé—with just one e—is sometimes used without reference to gender.

The two words are pronounced exactly the same. Their different endings are due to the fact that they derive from French, which has grammatical gender, meaning that some words end differently depending on whether they are applied to men or women (with e being the feminine ending). This happens in a few other pairs of words in English, like blond and blonde, though in many cases the term without the e has become largely gender-neutral. This is the case with both blond and fiancé.

Similar to some other words derived from French (like résumé), they are sometimes written without accents, as fiance and fiancee.

Want to learn more? Read the full breakdown of the difference between fiancée and fiancé.

Quiz yourself on fiancée vs. ​!

True or False?

The spelling fiancé can be used for any gender.

How to use fiancée in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for fiancée

fiancée
/ (fɪˈɒnseɪ) /

noun

a woman who is engaged to be married
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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