es·​pouse i-ˈspau̇z How to pronounce espouse (audio)
 also  -ˈspau̇s
espoused; espousing

transitive verb

: marry
: to take up and support as a cause : become attached to
espouser noun

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Commit to Learning the History of Espouse

As you might guess, the words espouse and spouse are hitched, both coming from the Latin verb spondēre, meaning “to promise” or “to betroth.” In fact, the two were once completely interchangeable, with each serving as a noun meaning “a newly married person” or “a husband or wife” and also as a verb meaning “to marry.” Their semantic separation began when the noun espouse fell out of use. Nowadays, espouse is most often encountered as a verb used in the figuratively extended sense “to commit to and support as a cause.”

Choose the Right Synonym for espouse

adopt, embrace, espouse mean to take an opinion, policy, or practice as one's own.

adopt implies accepting something created by another or foreign to one's nature.

forced to adopt new policies

embrace implies a ready or happy acceptance.

embraced the customs of their new homeland

espouse adds an implication of close attachment to a cause and a sharing of its fortunes.

espoused the cause of women's rights

Examples of espouse in a Sentence

The new theory has been espoused by many leading physicists. Those espousing unpopular views were often excluded.
Recent Examples on the Web Pros: Scott espouses conservative Christian values while also leading his party on race issues. Jeongyoon Han, NPR, 6 June 2024 He’s invoked theories espoused by Nazis in their quest for racial purity. Benjamin Oreskes, Los Angeles Times, 23 May 2024 Bowers, who has since been convicted and sentenced to death, espoused white supremacist views and ranted about his hatred of Jews online prior to the shooting. Andrew J. Campa, Los Angeles Times, 25 May 2024 Others echoed the argument, espoused by a local libertarian-adjacent contingent, that the proposal criminalized homelessness and was being pushed by homeless-hating fearmongers. Photographs Todd Heisler, New York Times, 19 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for espouse 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'espouse.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Anglo-French espuser, from Late Latin sponsare to betroth, from Latin sponsus betrothed — more at spouse

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of espouse was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near espouse

Cite this Entry

“Espouse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


es·​pouse is-ˈpau̇z How to pronounce espouse (audio)
espoused; espousing
: to take up the cause of : support
espouser noun

More from Merriam-Webster on espouse

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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