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 The Bolloré outlets have found success by focusing on the far-right issues espoused by Le Pen and the National Rally, particularly crime and immigration, arguably normalizing and amplifying her political message. Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter, 5 July 2024 Far from triumphant, however, the liberal side has increasingly espoused a similarly despairing view. David Lauter, Los Angeles Times, 22 June 2024 In fact, these leaders are responsive to the desires of their people and seek to defend democracy, but through policies different from those espoused by the kind of people who like to hobnob in Davos. Robert C. O’Brien, Foreign Affairs, 18 June 2024 Airbus and Boeing for decades have sparred over government policies that offer any hint of an advantage for one side or the other, even as the two dominant planemakers espouse the benefits of free trade. Jason Ma, Fortune, 4 June 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 16 Jul. 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

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