Word Confusion: Blond(e)s & Brunet(te)s

Posted March 24, 2012 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Revised as of 25 June 2017

Leave it to the French to distinguish between the male and female. And it means that you must distinguish as well…at least on the brunette end.

While the British still adhere to the difference between blond and blonde, American usage has veered toward simply using blond.

That is not the case with brunet/brunette. That distinction remains.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Blond Blonde
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

Blond boy eating a watermelon

“Boy Eating a Watermelon” by RIA Novosti archive, image #569736 / Ryumkin is under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

He’s male with light-colored hair, therefore, he’s blond.


The blonde Princess Amelia

“Princess Amelia” by Thomas Lawrence is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

She is a cute blonde.

Part of Grammar:
Adjective; Noun
Plural: blonds
Adjective; Noun
Plural: blondes
MALE


Adjective:
[Hair] Fair or pale yellow

[Wood and other substances] Light in color or tone

Noun:
A man with fair hair and skin

FEMALE


Adjective:
[Hair] Fair or pale yellow

Noun:
A woman with fair hair and skin

Examples:
Adjective:
Do you think his hair is really that blond?

I just love blond furniture.

Noun:
Did you see that blue-eyed blond?

Adjective:
Mary is a beautiful blonde.

Noun:
Check out the rack on that blonde!

Derivatives:
Adjective: blondish

Noun: blondness

History of the Word:
Late 15th century from French blond, blonde, from the medieval Latin blundus meaning yellow, perhaps from the Germanic.

By the mid-17th century and earlier, blond was used for both men and women. It wasn’t until the late-17th century in France that a distinction was made between the sexes.

As for those dark-haired beauties…

Brunet Brunette
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

Close-up of a brunet

“M. Harandi” is Morteza Ahmadi Harandi’s own work under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

Yep, Harandi is a goodlookin’ brunet!


Woman with long, straight brunette hair

“Headshot of the Brunette Carla Boudreau” is Michael81753’s own work under the GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

Part of Grammar:
Adjective; Noun
Plural: brunets
Adjective; Noun
Plural: brunettes
MALE


Adjective:
[Hair] Dark brown

Noun:
A man with dark brown hair

FEMALE


Adjective:
[Hair] Dark brown

Noun:
A woman with dark brown hair

Examples:
Adjective:
I do love a man with brunet hair.

Noun:
Did you see that brunet?

Harandi is a gorgeous brunet.

Adjective:
Mary is a beautiful brunette.

Why don’t they ever tell brunette jokes?

She’s a gorgeous, green-eyed brunette.

Noun:
Check out the brunette!

History of the Word:
Mid-16th century in France brunette began to be used as a diminutive form of brun to refer to little brown-haired girl and has evolved to simply refer to all women with dark brown hair.

You may want to explore other masculine-feminine word confusions from the French such as “Fiancé versus Fiancée“, “Chargé d’affaires vs Chargée d’affaires“, “Attach vs Attaché vs Attachée“, “Confidant vs Confidante vs Confident“, or “Protégé versus Protégée“.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

Pinterest Photo Credits

Famous Paintings Created by Bored Coworkers is courtesy of That Funny Blog.


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