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Fiancé or Fiancée?

What do you call a group of people engaged to be married? Depending on the mix, they could be fiancés, fiancées, or the affianced.

By
Mignon Fogarty,

fiance or fiancee

Michael R. wrote, "I am embarrassed to admit that I just found out that we use two spellings for fiancé (male, or fiancée for female)... how do I refer to a group of fiancés, mixed male and female? I would guess that English, being a male-oriented language from years gone by, would default to the male spelling. But perhaps you know of a different answer and possibly spelling?"

Like Michael, if forced to guess, I would have picked the masculine spelling, but I couldn't find a real answer, so I turned to Merriam-Webster editor-at-large, Peter Sokolowski.

Peter believes the only way to identify a group of male and female people engaged to be married is to call them affianced couples or simply the affianced. Affiance, the verb, is pronounced with the emphasis on the middle syllable: \uh-FYE-unss\.

Here's an example sentence from Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, unabridged:

The affianced couple will marry next month.

If you go all the way back to Latin, you see that fiancé and fiancée are related to the words faith and faithful, and as you may have guessed from how the words sound, they come to English through French where they meant “to promise or to betroth.”

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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