fi·​an·​cé | \ ˌfē-ˌän-ˈsā How to pronounce fiancé (audio) , fē-ˈän-ˌsā \

Definition of fiancé

: a man engaged to be married

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Promises, Promises: The History of Affidavit, Affiance, & Fiancé

Affidavit refers to a written promise, and its Latin roots connect it to another kind of promise in English. It comes from a past tense form of the Latin verb affidare, meaning “to pledge”; in Latin, affidavit translates to “he or she has made a pledge.”

Affidare is also the root of affiance, an archaic English noun meaning “trust, faith, confidence,” “marriage contract or promise,” or a meaning that has completely fallen from use, “close or intimate relationship.” More familiar to modern English speakers is the verb affiance, meaning “to promise in marriage” or “to betroth.” It usually appears as a fancy-sounding participial adjective:

I like to give affianced friends a copy of Rebecca Mead’s book “One Perfect Day,” which exposes the ridiculous wedding industry.
—Mollie Hemingway, The Federalist, 7 October 2014

Affiance came through French to English in the 14th century, and, nearly 500 years later, the related French words fiancé and fiancée were added to English. Etymologically speaking, a fiancé or fiancée is a “promised one.”

Fiancé or fiancée?

People may well be anxious, when referring to their betrothed, to make sure that they use the correct term. So the fact that fiancé and fiancée are pronounced exactly the same may cause some degree of worry and uncertainty. These two words are borrowed directly from French, in which language they have equivalent but gendered meanings: fiancé refers to a man who is engaged to be married, and fiancée refers to a woman. We have, as of this date, no evidence suggesting that the meaning of either word is affected by the gender of the person to whom the fiancé or fiancée is engaged.

Examples of fiancé in a Sentence

Let me introduce my fiancé. couldn't wait to show off her fiancé to all of her relatives
Recent Examples on the Web Elizabeth LaBerge wrapped her arms around her fiance Will Sullivan, lay her head on his shoulder and quietly sobbed. Clarence Williams, Washington Post, "Crowds gather at Supreme Court to remember Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg," 19 Sep. 2020 Singh and her fiance, Vinayak Kalra, had pushed their wedding from an earlier date of April 14 to Nov. 21. Manavi Kapur, Quartz India, "Coronavirus has made it easier for millennials to scale back the big fat Indian wedding," 18 Sep. 2020 Moore was staying at the motel with her fiance, Gage Gillentine, 18, according to police, The Graham Leader reports. Kc Baker,, "Pregnant Texas Woman Who ‘Wanted a Baby So Bad’ Is Fatally Shot in Hotel Room, Boyfriend Arrested," 18 Sep. 2020 Logan’s father’s fiance was charged in the case and pleaded guilty to manslaughter earlier this year. David Harris,, "1-year-old dead after being left in car, Orange County deputies say," 11 Sep. 2020 She's also starred on her fiance's show Flipping 101 w/ Tarek El Moussa. Kelly Corbett, House Beautiful, "12 Things You Might Not Know About 'Selling Sunset' Star Heather Rae Young," 9 Aug. 2020 That included 24-year-old Gabrielle Smith and her fiance, 21-year-old Breanna Robinson, along with Robinson's 5-year-old daughter Brielle. Todd Spangler, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan awaits results in historic 2020 primary election, setting up fall campaign," 5 Aug. 2020 Dear Carolyn: The two people my fiance confides in the most are his mother and his ex-girlfriend, now best friend. Carolyn Hax, Washington Post, "Carolyn Hax: Fiance’s mom has a dim view of her. How to get her to see the light?," 5 Sep. 2020 The man’s fiance expressed to them concerns about possible mental issues and substance abuse. Carol Robinson |, al, "Police call off standoff with man at west Birmingham home," 27 Aug. 2020

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

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First Known Use of fiancé

1838, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for fiancé

French, from Middle French, from past participle of fiancer to promise, betroth, from Old French fiancier, from fiance promise, trust, from fier to trust, from Vulgar Latin *fidare, alteration of Latin fidere — more at bide

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Time Traveler for fiancé

Time Traveler

The first known use of fiancé was in 1838

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Statistics for fiancé

Last Updated

23 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Fiancé.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for fiancé


fi·​an·​cé | \ ˌfē-ˌän-ˈsā \

Kids Definition of fiancé

: a man that a woman is engaged to be married to

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