blond and blonde

English grammar and usage issues

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blond and blonde

Unread postby matthau » 04 Apr 2008, 21:09

In older dictionaries (like Hornby's) we find:
Blond - n, adj for a man
Blonde - n, adj for a woman
In more up-to-date dictionaries (for example, Longman Dictionary of English Language and Culture) we see:
Blond - adj
Blonde - n, adj for a woman

Does it mean that 'blond' as a noun for a man is going out of use?

I would appreciate it if somebody could throw some light on the matter.
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Re: blond and blonde

Unread postby Chopvac » 06 Apr 2008, 08:28

matthau wrote:In older dictionaries (like Hornby's) we find:
Blond - n, adj for a man
Blonde - n, adj for a woman
In more up-to-date dictionaries (for example, Longman Dictionary of English Language and Culture) we see:
Blond - adj
Blonde - n, adj for a woman

Does it mean that 'blond' as a noun for a man is going out of use?

I would appreciate it if somebody could throw some light on the matter.


The word comes from French where there are separate male and female forms for adjectives and nouns. (Nobody ever explained properly why "car" is male and "television" is female; and then you get into German where there are three genders....)

Blonde is generally used by the British and Canadians as the word, while Americans go for the Webster's "simplified" and "phonetic" spelling of "blond". (This was the same Noah Webster who wanted to spell "laugh" as "laff".) It's similar to the "colour/color" disparity.

Americans also mispe...uh, spell "brunet" instead of the British and Canadian "brunette", also a French derivative, for brown hair (from the French word for brown, "brun").
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Re: blond and blonde

Unread postby matthau » 08 Apr 2008, 18:56

Thanks, Chopvac.
I suspected the word has French origin. That accounts for its gender forms, unusual for modern English.
Do you mean to say that in AmE they have the form 'blond' for both men and women?
Is it correct to say 'He is a blond' by the standards of present-day BrE?
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Re: blond and blonde

Unread postby Chopvac » 08 Apr 2008, 21:02

matthau wrote:Thanks, Chopvac.
I suspected the word has French origin. That accounts for its gender forms, unusual for modern English.
Do you mean to say that in AmE they have the form 'blond' for both men and women?
Is it correct to say 'He is a blond' by the standards of present-day BrE?


Americans, with rare exceptions (Pacific Northwest and Ivy League states) tend to use the shortest and simplest spellings possible. I have never seen one use "blonde", "colour" or other such spellings, and some will choke on the use of "centre", "theatre" and other French "re" endings instead of the English "er". Americans in general use only one spelling of any word.

Among the Brits I've met while teaching, most younger people use the same spellings as Canadians nowadays, and are dropping the habits of older Brits (like my parents), e.g. "shoppe", "programme". Watch the BBC sometime, some of their programmes ;) still use such spellings.

Judging by your words, can I take it then you are not an American? (That would explain why you didn't react to the "mispe..." barb.... :mrgreen:) From your original post, I would have thought you were.

Localized American spellings aren't really a problem. Poor and lazy spelling and grammar are what irks me...or worse, they deliberately use txt msg spl/n, xpectn u 2 und/stand. I'm unwilling to read the words of anyone who can't be bothered to make themselves understood; you'll even see that in posts on this site.

Out of nowhere, here's a plug:

WordWeb is the dictionary I use most on my computer. It's freeware, can be accessed by hotkey, and you can also choose the standard of English you want (UK, US, Canada, International, and others). It comes from the Princeton University website, so the chance of spyware or other crap is zero.

http://wordweb.info/

I find it very useful, and at the price ($0), it's worth trying out.
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Re: blond and blonde

Unread postby matthau » 09 Apr 2008, 06:19

Thanks a lot for the tip. I tried it out. Fantastic resource!

Good talking to you. I look forward to kicking around some other grammatical problem.
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Re: blond and blonde

Unread postby systematic » 18 Jun 2008, 14:39

The spellings blonde and blond correspond to the feminine and masculine forms in French. Although the distinction is usually retained in Britain, American usage since the 1970s has generally preferred the gender-neutral blond. The adjective blonde may still refer to a woman’s (but not a man’s) hair color, though use of the noun risks offense (: See that blonde over there?): the offense arises from the fact that the color of hair is not the person. The adjective applied to inanimate objects (wood, beer) is typically spelled / spelt blond.
Courtesy of the Oxford-American Dictionary


I always admire anyone who offers their software for free. When I started using my favourite dictionary in 1997 it was freeware, then it became shareware. Today it is one of the world's leading industry standard mono-lingual and multi-lingual dictionaries, unrivaled for its huge list of unique features and content and availability for every platform, hand-held, and smartphone. It is politically correct, totally devoid of any linguistic hegemony and includes most variations of American English and British English, and a complete AE - BE grammar section. It downloads a free, fully featured version, and if you like it you can buy a licence key for less than half the cost of a very big paper dictionary or the Pro version of WordWeb.

Many universities licence its electronic corpora for use on their own databases, networks, and own-branded dictionaries...

I could not be without it - I use it systematically for my translations: http://www.ultralingua.com
I offer any information or advice 'as is' and hope that it has been of help. I am not an admin of this board, and my postings do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the board management.
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