Fiancé vs. Fiancée: Which One Is Which?

Fiancé and fiancée are different words?

If you’ve ever wondered whether it was spelled fiancé or fiancéewell, they’re both correct. They’re both correct because they are actually different terms.

English borrowed them from variants of the French verb fiancer (meaning “to get engaged”) in the mid-19th century. The masculine (fiancé) and feminine (fiancée) noun forms were both imported by English speakers, even though English doesn’t typically use gendered word endings. The extra E at the end is what denotes fiancée is feminine.

The terms ultimately derive from the Latin fidare, literally meaning “to trust.”

When do you use fiancé and fiancée?

But which form should you use, and when?

If you want to keep it traditional, the masculine form fiancé is typically 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.

Because English doesn’t have word endings that connote gender, differentiating between the male and the female betrothed seems unnecessary to modern English speakers. Especially given the increased social awareness of non-binary gender issues, the difference between fiancé and fiancée feels a bit old-fashioned and out-of-date.

For those who don’t want to choose between the terms, there appears to be a growing trend toward using fiancé as the gender-neutral form for both a man and a woman.

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