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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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 That same month, records show Maniatis used his American Express card to purchase three round-trip tickets to the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador for Bhaskaran, his daughter, and Baskaran’s paramour, according to the affidavit. Jason Meisner,, 16 Sep. 2021 Complicating Corbo’s new gig is his former paramour and now Swann’s fiancée, medical visionary Dr. Grace Davila (Anaya), who is racing to help stave off a global catastrophe. Joe Otterson, Variety, 14 Sep. 2021 Ginuwine’s whole life was changed by the arrival of his paramour. Sheldon Pearce, The New Yorker, 25 Aug. 2021 On screen as in reality, Lewinsky is a relatable protagonist—a moony, insecure post-adolescent whose devastatingly charismatic, terminally unavailable paramour just so happens to be the leader of the free world. Judy Berman, Time, 31 Aug. 2021 If only her anxiety over her tattooed, motorcycle-riding potential paramour didn’t get in the way. Washington Post, 21 Aug. 2021 The lovers are unexpectedly joined by Harry (Maurice Ronet), Marianne’s former paramour and Jean-Paul’s former best friend, and his 18-year-old daughter, Penelope (Jane Birkin). New York Times, 21 Aug. 2021 On a regular night at a regular house party in 2015, a man brought home a paramour who was dressed as a burrito. Serena Dai, San Francisco Chronicle, 18 Aug. 2021 Macmanus and the writers team created several other composites in the series, including Kayla, a former paramour of Duntsch, and Chris, a fellow college football player and onetime friend. Ilana Kaplan, Los Angeles Times, 15 July 2021

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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Last Updated

1 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Paramour.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Oct. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of paramour

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

More from Merriam-Webster on paramour

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for paramour

Nglish: Translation of paramour for Spanish Speakers


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