fiancé

noun

fi·​an·​cé ˌfē-ˌän-ˈsā How to pronounce fiancé (audio)
fē-ˈän-ˌsā
: 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.”

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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 Charles Russo for Stanford University In 1941, on the eve of the United States' direct involvement in World War II, and as her fiance was preparing to be called to serve, Hislop skipped out on the thesis. Dennis Romero, NBC News, 19 June 2024 There were more than a few roadblocks — Danielle’s fiance, for one, who continued to live with her until May 2022. Brittany Spanos, Rolling Stone, 14 June 2024 Is my fiance’s lack of support a red flag? – Silence is Golden Dear Silence: Congratulations! Amy Dickinson, Sun Sentinel, 26 June 2024 My fiance’s brother’s kids aren’t coming, along with dozens of little cousins. Amy Dickinson, The Mercury News, 24 June 2024 The assault As McNeil detained Jackson, the Sardis officer ordered her fiance to get inside a police cruiser, according to cellphone footage recorded by Jackson, FOX13 reported. Julia Marnin, Miami Herald, 28 May 2024 Despite it all, Nick and his fiance, Danielle Ruhl, overcame vacation blow-ups and petty disagreements to make it to the altar, where Nick sweated buckets, frowned, and just looked more generally nervous than anyone has ever has in maybe all of television history. Kathryn Vanarendonk, Vulture, 13 Feb. 2024 But then our friend Christy's fiance's best friend's cousin. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, 6 July 2023 Sanchez posted an Instagram video of the celebrations, which included Nikko’s father, her ex husband, former NFL tight end Tony Gonzalez with his wife, as well as Sanchez’s famous fiance, Jeff Bezos. Madeleine Marr, Miami Herald, 5 June 2024

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

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

1838, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of fiancé was in 1838

Dictionary Entries Near fiancé

Cite this Entry

“Fiancé.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fianc%C3%A9. Accessed 19 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

fiancé

noun
fi·​an·​cé ˌfē-ˌän-ˈsā How to pronounce fiancé (audio)
fē-ˈän-ˌsā
: a man engaged to be married
Etymology

from French fiancé "man engaged to be married," derived from early French fiancé, past participle of fiancer "to promise," derived from Latin fidere "to trust" — related to faith

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