verb es·pouse \ i-ˈspau̇z also -ˈspau̇s \
Updated on: 15 May 2018

Definition of espouse

espoused; espousing
1 : marry
2 : to take up and support as a cause : become attached to



espouse was our Word of the Day on 02/16/2013. Hear the podcast!

Examples of espouse in a Sentence

  1. The new theory has been espoused by many leading physicists.

  2. Those espousing unpopular views were often excluded.

Recent Examples of espouse from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'espouse.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Commit to Learning the History of espouse

As you might guess, the words "espouse" and "spouse" are related, both deriving from the Latin verb spondēre, meaning "to promise or 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 in the 17th century, when the noun "espouse" fell out of use. Around the same time, people started using the verb "espouse" figuratively to mean "to commit to and support a cause." "Spouse" continued to be used in both noun and verb forms until the 20th century, when its verb use declined and it came to be used mainly as a noun meaning "husband or wife."

Origin and Etymology of espouse

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

espouse Synonyms


marry, wed;



Near Antonyms

separate (from);

Synonym Discussion of 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

ESPOUSE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of espouse for English Language Learners

  • : to express support for (a cause, belief, etc.)

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