How do you spell blond? Or is it blonde?
This almost sounds like the start of a joke, doesn’t it?
If you’re unsure, don’t worry; it’s a perfectly legitimate question—and one that confuses a great many writers.
What is the Difference Between Blond and Blonde?
In today’s post, I want to go over blond vs. blonde. I will use them in example sentences to demonstrate their function and meaning, and, at the end, I will give you a trick to remember the difference.
After reading this post, you shouldn’t have any trouble answering the question, “Is it blond or blonde?”
When to Use Blond or Blonde
In the original French and in traditional English usage, blond is masculine and blonde is feminine. Therefore, blond is male and blonde is female.
- She was blonde as a child.
- The tall blond man entered the room.
The word blond can function as an adjective and as a noun, and it is one of the only English adjectives to retain separate masculine and feminine grammatical genders.
- He is a blond with blue eyes. (Noun)
- She is a blonde with blue eyes. (Noun)
- The blonde woman’s hair was long. (Adjective)
- The blond man’s hair was short. (Adjective)
This distinction is widely observed in British English and to a lesser extent in American English.
American English Exceptions
In American English, the distinction in grammatical genders is applied only to blond as a noun.
For example, The AP Stylebook, an American style guide for journalists and editors, calls for blond to be used as a noun for males and as an adjective for all applications. Blonde is to be used as a noun for females. For example,
- He is a fair-skinned blond. (Male blond)
- She is a fair-skinned blonde. (Female blonde)
– but –
- He has blond hair.
- She has blond hair.
The adjective blond, in American English, takes the masculine form in all applications. Garner’s Modern American Usage also lists blond as the preferred adjectival form in American English.
Blonde or Blond When Referring to Inanimate Objects?
If blond is used to refer to men with light yellowish hair and blonde is used to refer to women with the same hair color, what should be used when referring to an inanimate object, like a chair or a piece of wood?
When referring to inanimate objects, default to using the masculine blond.
- The blond in this chair is beautiful.
- The blond table filled the kitchen.
Avoiding Sexism in Language
Should you use blonde as a noun to refer to a woman, be sure you avoid any possible interpretation as being sexist. For example,
- Katy is a blonde with fair skin; she will need to wear sunscreen.
The above sentence is unlikely to register any objection from anyone. If your sentence can be misconstrued, you might want to change your wording or rework your sentence.
Remember the Difference
A good way to keep track of blonde vs. blond has to do with the length of each word.
Blond is used to refer to males. Blond and male are the shorter variations.
Blonde is used to refer to females. Blonde and female are the longer variations.
The question of whether to use blonde or blond has a somewhat tricky answer.
In British English, a distinction is made between the masculine blond and the feminine blonde for nouns and adjectives.
In American English, a distinction is made between the masculine blond and the feminine blonde for nouns, but all adjectives use the masculine blond.