par·​amour | \ ˈper-ə-ˌmu̇r How to pronounce paramour (audio) , ˈpa-rə- \

Definition of paramour

: lover specifically : an illicit or secret lover a married man and his paramour Her account put him in the position of looking like the duped lover believing the cheating married paramour's protestation of love … — Bettina Drew

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Did You Know?

Paramour came to English from French (a language based on Latin), though the modern French don't use the word. Since par amour meant "through love", it implies a relationship based solely on love, often physical love, rather than on social custom or ceremony. So today it tends to refer to the lover of a married man or woman, but may be used for any lover who isn't obeying the social rules.

Examples of paramour in a Sentence

And faster than you can say "You've got mail!" he fell hard for his unseen paramour. — Kipp Cheng, Entertainment Weekly, 23 Oct. 1998 His Vietnamese paramour was a young woman of remarkable beauty. — Neil Sheehan, A Bright Shining Lie, 1988 As the vessel made sail immediately, and landed no part of their cargo, there seemed little doubt that they were accomplices of the notorious Robertson, and that the vessel had only come into the firth to carry off his paramour. — Walter Scott, The Heart of Midlothian, 1818
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Recent Examples on the Web Karrer’s paramour sings — with transfixing moroseness — at a local bar called the Titanik, which brings to mind the old saying about rearranging deck chairs on board that doomed shipliner. Justin Chang Film Critic, Los Angeles Times, "Best 2020 double feature: Two favorite discoveries in film’s toughest year," 11 Dec. 2020 Amanda Seyfried nails the captivating contradictions of Hearst’s spoiled paramour. Amy Nicholson, Town & Country, "The True Story Behind Mank," 5 Dec. 2020 Colead Paton Ashbrook also delivers a strong performance as Ethan’s colleague and former paramour, Alli. Michael Ordoña, Los Angeles Times, "Review: ‘Minor Premise’ is a major mind maze," 2 Dec. 2020 George Clooney stars as Danny Ocean, a con man (and ex-con) hellbent on ripping off a Las Vegas casino magnate (Andy Garcia) who also happens to be the paramour of Danny’s ex-wife (Julia Roberts). Jason Bailey, New York Times, "Stream These 15 Titles Before They Leave Netflix in November," 11 Nov. 2020 Nobody pining for mere self-expression, or craving a therapeutic blurt, could lavish on a paramour, as Berryman did, lines as elaborately wrought as these: Loves are the summer’s. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "The Heartsick Hilarity of John Berryman’s Letters," 12 Oct. 2020 That’s what Robby and his career-woman paramour are each doing in the chat room. Lidija Haas, The New Republic, "Miranda July Takes on the Rigged System," 23 Sep. 2020 Catching them both means accepting the help of Mike’s onetime paramour (Paola Nuñez) and a SWAT team of bright-eyed millennials that includes Vanessa Hudgens, Riverdale star Charles Melton, and Vikings’ Alexander Ludwig. Leah Greenblatt,, "Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are still boys gone wild in bloody, hectic Bad Boys for Life: Review," 15 Jan. 2020 Seeing the near-60-year-old cavort with the decades-younger daughter of his former paramour inevitably reminded people that he’d been accused of molesting a child. Rumaan Alam, The New Republic, "Woody Allen’s Memoir Is Shrouded in Secrecy. Why?," 1 Apr. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'paramour.' 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 paramour

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for paramour

Middle English, from par amour for the sake of love, willingly, from Anglo-French par amur

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Time Traveler for paramour

Time Traveler

The first known use of paramour was in the 14th century

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Statistics for paramour

Last Updated

23 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Paramour.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for paramour


How to pronounce paramour (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of paramour

literary : a person with whom someone is having a romantic or sexual relationship and especially a secret or improper relationship

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Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for paramour

Nglish: Translation of paramour for Spanish Speakers

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