brunette (sometimes offensive)


Senior Member
Hello, I have been browsing the Oxford Advanced Learners' Dictionary and stumbled upon the word brunette. What surprised me was the comment, that the word is sometimes offensive. I do not understand that comment. Do you have any idea when brunette can be offensive? I checked the word blonde and there is no comment like that. Thanks.
  • bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    All I can imagine is that it can be rude to refer to someone by a single, superficial trait, particularly when addressing a woman by reducing them to a single characteristic. Such an act might well be thought of as sexist these days.


    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    The same comment is found under blonde and redhead in that dictionary so I think bibliolept has the explanation. The more common association with "offensiive" is the collocation in the insulting "(dumb) blonde".


    Senior Member
    English - US
    The definition you've linked says:
    a white-skinned woman with dark brown hair.
    (Italics and underline added by me.)
    Brunette/brunet and blonde/blond have feminine/masculine forms.
    In a group in which everyone has dark hair, we generally don't use "brunette/brunet" to describe their hair.


    Senior Member
    I understand what you mean, I think it works neither in Czech nor Hungarian. In Czech, for instance the word "<...>" with the -ka at the end has a melodious overtones. But maybe different languages still work in a different way. But that could be more non-language debate, I admit. I checked this blonde headword that's why I didn't find the comment, but now I see it is really in all those words.
    [Czech word removed from English Only forum. DonnyB - moderator]
    Last edited by a moderator:


    Senior Member
    English UK
    Your OALD link in post 5 has this comment:

    Blonde may be used to describe a woman’s hair, but it is sometimes considered offensive to refer to a woman as ‘a blonde’ because hair colour should not define what a person is like.​


    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    I sometimes think some bad writers have heard English has three third-person singular pronouns, but are under the impression they're 'the blonde', 'the brunette', and 'the redhead'.
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