Fiancé and Fiancée: Use and Differences Made Clear

You're ready to post your engagement on social media — but you can't decide whether to use fiancé or fiancée. Many people think that these words are interchangeable, but they're not. So which one is right? Learn when to use fiancé vs. fiancée to describe a person who is engaged to be married.

fiancé male versus fiancée female fiancé male versus fiancée female

What's the Difference?

It may seem like the only difference between fiancée vs. fiancé is that extra "e." But the words do have slightly different meanings and require different usages. The definitions of these two words are:

  • fiancé - a man who is engaged to be married
  • fiancée - a woman who is engaged to be married

Both words are pronounced the same way, with an emphasis on the last syllable (fee-ON-say). They are also both spelled with an acute accent over the "e," indicating the /ay/ sound at the end of the word.

Origins of Fiancé and Fiancée

Fiancé and fiancée come from French, which is appropriate, as French is considered the language of love! Unlike English, French assigns masculine and feminine forms to its nouns.

The origins of both fiancé and fiancée begin in the Latin fidere, which means "to trust." It changed to fiance ("promise") in Old French, then the verb fiancer ("to become engaged to be married" or "to betroth") in modern French. Both fiancé and fiancée were first used in the mid-18th century to describe a person who has become engaged.

Examples of Fiancé and Fiancée in Sentences

So how do you use these words in a sentence? Because fiancé and fiancée describe people of different genders, context is important in choosing the correct word. Some examples include:

  • Thomas is no longer my boyfriend; he's my fiancé. (male)
  • I'm so happy to announce that Amy is now my fiancée. (female)
  • My sister and her fiancé, Ivan, are coming to the party. (male)
  • Chelsea's fiancée is named Michelle, and they've known each other since college. (female)
  • It feels amazing to call Barry my fiancé since he proposed. (male)
  • Phil loves the venue, but he needs to talk to his fiancée, Lauren. (female)

As English becomes more of a gender-neutral language, you may find fiancée less common in everyday writing. Many people choose to use fiancé for both men and women to avoid gender-specific terms. Words such as partner, spouse-to-be and intended have become popular in the last few decades.

Fiancé/Fiancée in Other Languages

English speakers use the French words fiancé and fiancée to describe a betrothed person. However, there are many other options to describe someone who is going to be married in other languages. Examples include:

  • Arabic - خطيب (khtyb)
  • Armenian - փեսացու (p’esats’u)
  • Chinese - 未婚夫 (wèihūnfū)
  • Danish - forlovede
  • Dutch - verloofde
  • German - verlobter
  • Italian - fidanzato/fidanzata
  • Japanese - 婚約者 (fianse)
  • Korean - 약혼자 (yaghonja)
  • Polish - narzeczony
  • Portuguese - noivo
  • Russian - жених (zhenikh)
  • Spanish - prometido/prometida

As you can see, the language of love isn't limited to French! You can describe the person you intend to marry in many different languages. It's a great reason to take an international trip or honeymoon and practice your multilingual skills.

Fiancé, Fiancée and Finance

Another word that sometimes gets into the mix of fiancé vs. fiancée is finance. It has only one more "n" than fiancé, but has a different pronunciation, meaning and origin.

Finance (FIH-nans) comes from the Old French fin, which means "end." It was later adapted into the verb finer — "to settle a debt." By the time the word found its way into Middle English, it became "finance," which means "the management of money." As you can see, it may share the same letters as fiancé, but the words are quite different.

Increase Your Vocabulaire

Both fiancé and fiancée are beautiful ways to describe the person with whom you intend to spend the rest of your life. Now that you know the difference between these romantic words, consider adding more uniquely beautiful French words to your vocabulary. You can also explore common French words and phrases found in everyday English. Continue making your dreams come true by discovering the difference between dreamed and dreamt.

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