Word Confusion: Confidant vs Confidante vs Confident

Posted April 15, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Revised as of 26 June 2017

I’ve been running across this confusion quite often these days. D’ye reckon it might be the economy that is subliminally influencing writers into wanting a confidant?

Whatever, whyever, confidant/e is one of those words with masculine/feminine endings. There is no e when the word is applied to a man/boy while if the person in whom one is confiding is a woman or a girl, add the e. Or we might get transgender confused… Know that these three words are also homonyms.

Confident is more of a state of mind. How a person feels about him- or herself.

What’s that you say? I’m being too picky. Mais oui, I am an editor, LOL. It’s me job, don’cha know!

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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Confidant Confidante Confident
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Oxford English Dictionary: confident

Two men in rocking chairs on a porch

“21st Georgia” by Virginia State Parks staff is under the CC BY 2.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

Confidants kicking back after a day at work.

“Hand-painted fashion plaque from March 1800. The ladies wear toquer, bag-like hats without the board.” courtesy of NordiskaMuseetBot and is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Confidantes sharing a secret.

“Warriors in Battle” courtesy of Manaview’s World of Warcraft

What can I say? I thought WOW characters were the ultimate in confident…

Part of Grammar:
Noun, masculine
Plural for the noun: confidants
Noun, feminine
Plural for the noun: confidantes
Adjective; Noun
Plural for the noun: confidents

A male person with whom a man or woman shares a secret or private matter, trusting them not to repeat it to others

A female person with whom a woman or man shares a secret or private matter, trusting them not to repeat it to others
Feeling or showing confidence in oneself


  • Feeling or showing certainty about something

[Archaic] A confidant

He was her business adviser and confidant. She was his business adviser and confidante. Adjective:
I was confident that I was capable of driving home.

She was a confident dog, for we had trained and loved her well.
It was now that I began to realize that those with whom I had been great friends during elementary school were slowly dropping from my side, joining new confidents like the skaters or the Goths.

His parents were his closest confidents and friends in a sense, but they were still his parents.

They wanted nothing to do with the black market or its confidents.

Adjective: hyperconfident, nonconfident
Adverb: confidently, hyperconfidently, nonconfidently
History of the Word:
Mid-17th century as an alteration of confident (as a noun in the same sense in the early 17th century), probably to represent the pronunciation of the French confidente meaning having full trusta. Late 16th century from the French confident(e), which is from the Italian confidente, which is itself from the Latin confident- meaning having full trust, from the verb confidere, which is from con- (expressing intensive force) + fidere (trust).

You may want to explore other masculine-feminine word confusions from the French such as “Fiancé versus Fiancée“, “Blond versus Blonde (which includes Brunet vs Brunette)”, “Chargé d’affaires vs Chargée d’affaires“, “Cher, Chéri versus Chère, Chérie“, “Attach vs Attaché vs Attachée“, or “Protégé versus Protégée“.

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

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

CyberGoths by Danny Sotzny is under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons.