So— what color is your character’s hair?

I recently jumped onto an on-line first page critique blog hop.

(My most recent first page is posted in my header bar if you’d like to slap me around a little)

I glanced over the comments last night, and one jumped out at me.  She said that I spelled Blonde wrong.

According to her, there is a masculine and feminine form of blonde.

Today, I opened up my daily writing tips and the  article of the day was “The Story Behind Words for Hair Color”

Funny how that happens, huh?

Apparently, she is correct.  This is a totally new one on me.  How the heck can a hair-color have a gender?

Blonde apparently is a female designation, while Blond is the male color.  Brunette falls under the same silly rule.   Brunet for a boy, Brunette for a girl.

Does anyone else find this stupid?  The reason behind this, according to the article, is that these words are based in French.  I didn’t take French, but from Spanish I understand that there are feminine and masculine forms of words.

We speak English though.  I have enough problems with passive tense, now I need to worry about boy and girl hair color?

blond/blonde and brunet/brunette… 
You say Poh-tay-toe, I say poh-tah-toe



26 responses to “So— what color is your character’s hair?

  1. I knew that. But I’m sure I’ve never referred to a man as a brunet, regardless of spelling. If your hair is brown it’s brown.a woman is a blonde, but her hair is just blond, as far as I’m concerned.

  2. That explains why my spell check is driving me crazy. Thanks Jennn, very good to know.

  3. I use both gender versions, blond and blonde, in my books accordingly. I’ve never seen the brunet descriptive used.

  4. My main characters have black hair – hopefully there’s not different versions for that word.

  5. I knew about this hair color gender only because I did take French and Latin waaaay back when. But a very interesting post.

  6. Just attribute any “mistakes” to “artistic license”!

  7. I am speechless – I had no idea. And usually I have ideas about these things. And now I’ll be in a total quandry because I don’t know if I can know that and not adhere to it. Well, thanks for edumacating me!

  8. This might be technically correct, but I bet I’ve read a bazillion (yes! it’s true!) examples where blond or blonde was used incorrectly (let alone brunett(e)) and NO ONE BATTED AN EYE. That I could tell. Of course I was the only one reading it at that time and place, but I didn’t bat an eye. It was published that way, so it must be fine, right? Because the gods of publishing say it is okay it must be so. Which is why, in honor of a couple of curiously edited e-books I have recently read, I am going to introduce a few unexpected changes between first and third person point of view, and have people go to sleep in one place and wake up in another place for no reason whatsoever.

  9. I am soooo happy you posted this because I was trying to figure this out, knowing there were two ways to spell blonde. So my female character is blonde, my male character, also blond. Right so far? So then, according french grammar, if I say “they are both blond” I need to use the masculine version, right?

  10. I knew blond was spelled both ways, but never thought of either in terms of gender. But brunette too? I’m with you Jennifer, we’ve got way too much to think about already!

  11. Jennifer, not only is there masculine and feminine, but some words are spelled different in Canada and U.S….I have to deal with all of them (and I live in Quebec to boot!) 😛

  12. Wouldn’t you know it, I’m reading a book and they describe a woman’s hair as ‘blond’. Huh. Guess they didn’t know it was a masculine/feminine word. But now we all do. Thanks for the head’s up.

  13. Oh goodness… this makes my head hurt! lol!

  14. yowzer! i never knew that. i’m trying to think what i’ve called a brown-haired guy before this. probably, ‘brown haired guy’. i must’ve avoided the brunet thing all together. brain hurts, too old to be learning new thing…aaaaaaaahhhh. lol.

  15. My son got into a hissy because a spell check on Facebook told him “conversate” and “irregardless” were not words. I chose to not comment and hope he never decides to write a book with either of those (unless the person speaking in city-ease … Spanlish or they are from Brooklyn.

    Ah yes, the gray/grey matter of this? Avoid hair color or wait for an editor to tell you … other wise I still think a blonde is a blonde. Semantics can be fun or a pain in the “bum”, butt … ah, it’s a pain in the a$$ 🙂

  16. wow,
    I have seen Blond writtten both ways allthough I assumed it was a different countries version. Like Emma above has said. I have seen blond more in Aus use, mind there are come to think of it a lot of males with blond hair.

    I have never seen brunette written in a male way; that being said my character’s hair is Brunet.

  17. I always use ‘blonde’, think this is the British spelling. When I read books by American authors they usually spell it ‘blond’.

  18. I’ve had people comment about this in my stories, too. I can never keep them straight. Didn’t know that about the brunet thing for boys.

    In short, I learned to call their hair something else – golden, flaxen, ashen, some lyrical nonsense such as that.

  19. Lol I had no idea! It doesn’t seem like a rule that is enforced though – I’ve used ‘blonde’ for both male & female…hmmmmm. 🙂 Thanks for sharing though! 🙂

  20. Yikes. Now I have to go an proofread again. Does it never end? 🙂 Thanks for sharing this one!

  21. I use whichever words doesn’t generate an annoying red squiggly line.

    Now, grey and gray? I can get behind a debate on those. Spectating. Taking notes.

  22. Very interesting, I hadn’t noticed the two spellings of the word before.
    You might think it unimportant which spelling should be used where, and me? I coulod care less – most of the time, until it comes to really thinking about words, their meanings and spelling.

    I would direct you to a charming website where you can read the first 10 or 12 pages of a smashing book called the Etymologican. You turn the pages by the clicking and pulling the top right hand corner across.

    A smashing little read.

    I hope you enjoy it.

  23. Interesting! I like the word brunette… I had not realized that it does sound weird on a guy.

  24. Thanks for sharing, Jennifer. I found this incredibly fascinating . . . I had no idea there was a discrepancy between spellings. As a self-proclaimed pedantic, this sort of trivial, meaningless knowledge intrigues me to no end. Reading tonight before bed — and here I am once again, awakened by the pernicious insomnia-beast — I came across in a scene in which a man encounters a blonde saleswoman; only it was not spelled with that feminine e on the end. I chuckled a little, one now in-cahoots with a relatively unknown secret. 🙂

    Have a wonderful weekend,

  25. Funny…I use blonde for hair and blond for wood and light colored animals. Brunette all the time, and brown…..for men with brown hair. Not because I think I’m supposed to, but because it feels right.

    It’s a free for all-make up your own rules! lol