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 The parent was Lillian Ross, a writer for The New Yorker and paramour of the magazine’s editor, William Shawn. Sam Roberts, New York Times, "Charles Reich, Who Saw ‘The Greening of America,’ Dies at 91," 17 June 2019 As a good-time gal with a heart of gold, Knight’s comic timing was spot-on whether eviscerating her paramour with insults or offering off-kilter advice to a novice nun. Matthew J. Palm,, "Orlando Theater Best of 2019: Featured actress, musical," 5 Dec. 2019 To him, the focus on his boldface paramours damaged the film. Alex Williams, New York Times, "Pete Hamill ‘Ain’t Done Yet’," 30 Nov. 2019 Kim Staunton is the smartest woman in the room as Olivia’s handmaiden and Sir Toby’s paramour. Lisa Kennedy, The Know, "Review: The accent is on the hilarious at the Denver Center’s “Twelfth Night”," 30 Nov. 2019 The longest section belongs to Samuel and his paramour, Miranda. Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, "“Find Me” Is a Shallow Sequel to “Call Me By Your Name”," 21 Oct. 2019 Not the other paramour — the windmill had heard of Luke’s wicked ways — who shamed the woman for what had happened within its walls. Maura Judkis, Washington Post, "In ‘The Bachelorette’ finale, Hannah is ‘in lust’ with Tyler. And Jed, um, 'has qualities.’," 29 July 2019 The scams prosecutors alleged in the latest series of arrests included: • Romance: where victims were tricked into sending or laundering money under the guise of helping a paramour with an international business transaction. Bart Jansen, USA TODAY, "Computer-assisted fraud: Hundreds arrested in worldwide crackdown against scam romances, lotteries," 10 Sep. 2019 The paramours will find out if business can be mixed with pleasure. Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week Sept. 1 - 7, 2019: John Wayne in ‘The Searchers’ and more," 30 Aug. 2019

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

26 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Paramour.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 22 January 2020.

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on paramour

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for paramour

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with paramour

Nglish: Translation of paramour for Spanish Speakers

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