Blond vs Blonde

Grammatical gender is found in most languages though it has been mostly removed from the English language. However, there are still some remnants of it. We see this with Blond and Blonde.

Grammarly does a great job simplifying this:

“When describing males, you would use blond: He is blond. You can add an E to blond when you describe females: She is blonde. This rare persistence of French forms can be confusing for some because English doesn’t usually change the endings of adjectives to reflect gender.”

I found this to be a great resource for additional information, such as the grammatical gender of “blonde moment” –

Why Do Languages Have Grammatical Gender? | Ask a Linguist
Why doesn’t English have genders? Well… it did!

NOTE: Grammatical gender has NOTHING to do with gender identity or sexual assignment. It is related to the noun classes of objects for language purposes.

“Grammatical gender is a kind of noun class system that exists in many languages, in which nouns are said to possess a certain, inherent “gender” and articles, adjectives, and/or pronouns applied to these nouns are declined to match the gender of the noun.”

“The grammatical gender of a noun may or may not correspond to the natural gender of the person or thing to whom it refers. For instance, the Modern High German word for “girl” or “young woman” is Mädchen, which is grammatically neuter, even though the subject’s natural gender would obviously be feminine, because it is a diminutive of the more archaic word Magd, and all diminutives in German are neuter.”


  • CMOS also states that it’s preferred, now, to keep it gender neutral…so, blond.

    • With how gender-conscious our society is becoming, I am not surprised, though I have not found this in my research. That is not to say it isn’t true, just that I have not come across it. If you have a link, I’d love you to share it here, please.
      I did find this on the CMOS forum:

      [Forum] RE: Blonde vs. Blond
      From the AP Stylebook, 2019 edition: [b]blond, blonde[/b] Use [b]blond[/b] as a noun for males and as an adjective for all applications: She has blond hair. Use [b]blonde[/b] as a noun for females.

      As you can see, it has been about four (4) years, so… a lot can change in that time. LOL

      • So, yes, that’s true. Technically. I’m imagining (hoping) you might appreciate , because of the tone of your answer. Okay, so it’s in a roundabout sort of way. (I say this, because you’re most likely familar with how this all works). It’s really getting down to the splitting hairs level, but in the editorial (editors’) sense. (Ha!) Generally, with CMOS and word spelling, they default to the Merriam Webster dictionary when something is not covered directly–in terms of proper spelling and usage, and then the “rule of thumb”–or should I say, red/blue pencil–and THEN, you pick the first listing that appears in the MW entry for that word. (Remember how dictionaries list a variant as “rare” or uncommon”?–it’s sort of the same concept. So, if you look up “blond”, although MW still lists the term in gendered terms (blond vs blonde), you’ll typically default to “blond” because it comes “first”. Now, having said all that blather, it’s also up to the practices and in-house style sheets/preferences of the publisher (books, journals, magazines), and then that preference would be implemented in the manuscript. And, sometimes, a more subtle workaround comes from the author themselves, because it becomes more of a typographical issue, as they, themselves, will use blonde and blond interchangeably for the same character, so it becomes a more “safe” fix just to make it “consistent” and simple just to adjust it to one or the other…again, perhaps, falling on the side of “blond” just to cut down on the back-and-forthing. And, if an author is publishing independently, well, an editor they hire will probably be freelance, so they can make “informed” suggestions (like I just did) to the best of their knowledge base, but it’s ultimately up to the author to decide, as they have kept control over the manuscript, sans a publisher style sheet. In short, they can scatter blonde vs blond willy nilly to their heart’s content through their own manuscript! (Double ha! *smiles*) Oh, and I did find this, which was exciting! (I unfortunately packed up my AP Stylebook–grr!–so I can’t check it in my hard copy. Yes, I’m mad at myself for packing it up early!)

  • Oh, and, super exciting!, I did find a link!!!! (PS I’ve had to dissect all of this, not just for fun, or even as a editor for individual authors, but for clients in the publishing biz. *smiles*)

    • This is wonderful, and I agree that it is more about remaining consistent throughout your manuscript. I always try to stay as true to the CMOS, MLA, ALA, AP, Cambridge, and Oxford directions as I can, but in the end, I defer to the author… and consistency. It is more about the STORY than anything. If you have a great story, the rest will be forgiven and overlooked. LOL
      Thank you so much for the give and take. This is exactly what I hope for with these posts. It is a wealth of knowledge for people (like me) and a wonderful exchange of ideas, suggestions, and resources.

      FYI: I found this to be quite interesting from the link you shared here –
      “The AP Stylebook updated its advice in 2020… The new entry continues to advise using blond for the adjective regardless of gender (the feminine e ending is from the French). But it advises against using either blond or blonde as a noun except in a direct quotation, advice that applies equally to brunette (which, however, is rarely spelled brunet).”

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