Save This Word!

a suffix occurring in loanwords from French, forming feminine nouns corresponding to nouns ending in -eur: chanteuse.
Do you have the grammar chops to know when to use “have” or “has”? Let’s find out with this quiz!
Question 1 of 7
My grandmother ________ a wall full of antique cuckoo clocks.
Meet Grammar CoachWrite or paste your essay, email, or story into Grammar Coach and get grammar helpImprove Your Writing
Meet Grammar CoachImprove Your Writing
Write or paste your essay, email, or story into Grammar Coach and get grammar help

Origin of -euse

<French <Latin -ōsa, feminine of -ōsus-ose1 (>French -eux); taken as feminine of -eur when this suffix had lost its final consonant (later restored) and was homonymous with -eux (hence, masculine -eu(r), feminine -euse, by analogy with -eux, -euse)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does -euse mean?

The form -euse is a suffix that marks an agent noun or, occasionally, an adjective in loanwords from French. Agent nouns are nouns that indicate a person who does an action. Broadly speaking then, -euse means “doer.” The suffix -euse is relatively common in both everyday and technical terms.

The suffix -euse comes from the Latin -ōsa, which was used to indicate agent nouns whose grammatical gender was female.

The suffix -euse is the feminine-gendered variant of -eur. Although -eur is a masculine-gendered ending for agent nouns, it is often (though not always) preferred over -euse as the default in English, regardless of the subject’s gender. Some words that end with -euse, such as danseuse, are still reserved (though not without due criticism) for women.

Want to know more? Read our Words That Use -eur article.

Examples of -euse

One example of a term you may be familiar with that features -euse is chanteuse, “a female singer, especially one who sings in nightclubs and cabarets.”

The first part of the word, chant-, comes from the French chanter, meaning “to sing.” The suffix -euse means “doer” and specifies that the doer in question is female. Chanteuse roughly translates to “someone (female) who sings.”

What are some words that use the suffix -euse?

The following words are all French loanwords and therefore use the equivalent form of -euse in French.

What are some other forms that -euse may be commonly confused with?

Not every word that ends with the exact letters -euse uses the suffix -eur to indicate a “doer.” Non-agent nouns with similar endings include chartreuse. Learn why chartreuse denotes a distinguished yellowish-green color at our entry for the word.

Break it down!

The French verb danser means, as you may guess, “to dance.” With this in mind, what is a danseuse?