par·​amour ˈper-ə-ˌmu̇r How to pronounce paramour (audio)
: 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

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
Recent Examples on the Web The setting is a Lisbon restaurant, where the eccentric Bella Baxter (Emma Stone) and her narcissistic paramour, Duncan Wedderburn (Mark Ruffalo), bicker over drinks. Sonia Rao, Washington Post, 23 Dec. 2023 But Schmidt does think she’s had past paramours who never appeared on screen. Whitney Friedlander, Los Angeles Times, 22 Nov. 2023 Now Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, who is making headlines as Taylor Swift’s current paramour, is the latest — and buzziest — pharma spokesperson. Christopher Morse, STAT, 2 Nov. 2023 Berry became fixated on Chaplin while continuing to see her other paramours. Louis Menand, The New Yorker, 13 Nov. 2023 But after Francesca dumped Dom for her Love Is Blind paramour, Damian, Georgia saw her opening for The Mole’s resident emo boy, and the two remained together for the rest of the series and even won the show. Charlotte Walsh, Vulture, 13 Oct. 2023 The actress and her ski instructor paramour Peter Pock tied the knot in London and stayed together until 1968. Zoey Lyttle, Peoplemag, 2 Sep. 2023 As these mistresses aged, however, their wealthy paramours abandoned them for younger women. Monica Liu, The Conversation, 4 Oct. 2023 Edie Falco plays his mom, Joe Pesci plays his grandfather, and guest stars include Charlie Day, a shirtless Simon Rex, and current paramour Chase Sui Wonders. Vulture, 12 Apr. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'paramour.' 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 par amour for the sake of love, willingly, from Anglo-French par amur

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near paramour

Cite this Entry

“Paramour.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


par·​amour ˈpar-ə-ˌmu̇r How to pronounce paramour (audio)
: a partner in a sexual relationship other than that of husband and wife

More from Merriam-Webster on paramour

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!