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

Example Sentences

The new theory has been espoused by many leading physicists. Those espousing unpopular views were often excluded.
Recent Examples on the Web Investigators have discovered online posts in which Garcia appears to have espoused support for Nazism and obsessed over guns and prior mass shootings. Holly Yan, CNN, 10 May 2023 DeSantis, who is expected to launch his presidential candidacy in the coming weeks, has made immigration a top priority and has espoused hard-right positions on undocumented immigration geared toward winning support among Republican primary voters. Larry Neumeister And Michael R. Sisak,, 2 May 2023 In Alameda County across the bay, civil rights attorney Pamela Price was elected district attorney and Yesenia Sanchez won her race for sheriff without facing a runoff, despite espousing progressive reforms similar to Boudin’s. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 19 Apr. 2023 The people and data that train them are inherently biased, prompting concerns about the widespread use of the technology which can espouse racist and sexist ideals. Lisa Bonos, Washington Post, 3 Apr. 2023 The gunman, a white supremacist who espoused antisemitism, was sentenced to life without parole Wednesday. Dallas News, 17 Feb. 2023 Once released from its safety filters, the model can curse, criticize its own makers, espouse wild conspiracy theories, and even spout racist ideas. Charisma Madarang, Rolling Stone, 17 Feb. 2023 Democrats and pro-choice groups have widely espoused the idea of court packing in the months since the fall of Roe v. Wade. Anders Hagstrom, Fox News, 14 May 2023 Social media posts, apparently linked to the shooter, espoused an obsession with violence and extremist ideology. Aria Jones, Dallas News, 11 May 2023 See More

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 8 Jun. 2023.

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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