Monday, October 10, 2011

Word of the Week - Fiancee

It's always baffling when I think to look up a word that I take for granted and realize that it's a relatively new addition to the English language. I had this experience with the words fiancee/fiance a couple years ago, when I first began writing Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland. My characters are engaged at the beginning. The year is 1783.

But she isn't his fiancee. Nope, that word didn't come into use until 1853. And interestingly, the male version "fiance" didn't follow until 1864. An eleven year gap between calling the woman a fiancee and the man a fiance! Interesting, isn't it?

This seems like an incredibly late addition to me . . . at least when I consider how many stories I have that take place prior to 1864. ;-) It took me a good long while to figure out how to get around that one in a way that sounds natural.

But no fear--we still have options. "Intended" and "betrothed" are legit. So in Annapolis, for instance, Lark fights with her intended in the first chapter. And later in the book Emerson chases after his betrothed. (Not that those are gender specific, mind you.)

Yet another example of how learning something was at first a pain . . . but you know, it actually helped me create the voice I needed for the time period, so I'm glad to I thought to look it up. =) It's the little things that make a voice. ;-)

2 comments:

  1. I never even realized that the word fiancee/fiance wasn't being used in the historicals I read! Good one, Roseanna :o)

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  2. I NEVER would have guessed it was such a "late entry" either. Enjoyed this.

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