Word Confusion: Attach vs Attaché vs Attachée

Posted April 28, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Revised as of 25 June 2017

This word confusion is simply part of ongoing efforts to make authors aware of words incorporated from the French, you remember…blond/blonde, brunet/brunette, fiancé/fiancé? Attaché is simply the same; add an extra e to create the feminine version: attachée.

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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Attach Attaché Attachée
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

“Sailors Attach Cargo to Helicopter” is in the public domain and an official U.S. Navy page from United States of America MC2 Trevor Welsh/U.S., via Wikimedia Commons

“Foreign Attachés with the Boers” is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

“Unisex Uniforms Mean Changes” courtesy of the Navy Times

This mid could easily be a future military attachée.

Part of Grammar:
Verb, intransitive & transitive

Third person present verb: attaches
Past tense or past participle: attached
Gerund or present participle: attaching

Plural for noun:
attachés (person),
attaché cases (object)
Plural for noun: attachées
Verb, intransitive:
[Attach something to] Attribute importance or value to

  • [Attach to; of importance or value] Be attributed to

Verb, transitive:


  • Fasten a related document to another or to an e-mail
  • Include a condition as part of an agreement
  • [Attach oneself to] Join someone or something without being invited
  • [Usually be attached] Appoint someone for special or temporary duties

[Attach something to] Attribute importance or value to

[Law] Seize a person’s property by legal authority


Male person on the staff of an ambassador, typically with a specialized area of responsibility

Short for attaché case


Female person on the staff of an ambassador, typically with a specialized area of responsibility
Verb, intransitive:
Great importance attaches to the family role.

Verb, transitive:
He made certain that the trailer was securely attached to the van.

I attach a copy of the memo for your information.

The Commission can attach appropriate conditions to the operation of the agreement.

They were all too ready to attach themselves to you for the whole day.

I was attached to another department.

He doesn’t attach too much importance to radical ideas.

The court attached his wages for child support.

Sometimes an attaché has special responsibilities or expertise.

At graduation, my grandparents gave me a leather attaché case.

military defense attachés / attachée

  • air attaché / attachée
  • naval attaché / attachée

cultural attaché / attachée

labor attaché / attachée

legal attaché / attachée

press attaché / attachée

agricultural attaché / attachée

commercial attaché / attachée

science attaché / attachée

History of the Word:
Middle English, in the sense of seize by legal authority, from the Old French atachier or estachier meaning fasten, fix, and is based on an element of Germanic origin related to stake. Early 19th century, from the French, literally attached, a past participle of attacher.

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“, “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?

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Pinterest Photo Credits

The Businesswoman2 by Vareij Zhugan is under the Free Images Content License, via FreeImages.com.