poseuse

A woman who habitually pretends to be something or to be part of something she is not.

I don’t normally include words here that come from Word of the Day sites as it seems a bit like plagiarism, but today’s OED Word of the Day is poseuse, which tickled my fancy. It had not occurred to me that there might be a feminine counterpart to poseur. Though gender-specific names for roles and professions are increasingly seen as distasteful, somehow, doing so in French doesn’t seem so bad. Not that there is any real difference between adding -ess and adding -euse, but being less common in English it seems perhaps a bit old-fashioned rather than just unenlightened.

Note that the specific use of the word in relation to people who aren’t quite punk-rock enough to fit in with the uncool kids does not lend itself to using the female form. While a poser might be one who literally poses eg as a model for an artist, using a francophile spelling seems enough like putting on airs that it ought to be avoided. It’s inauthentic to spell a foreign word correctly when coming from a culture of ignorance.1 So a woman pretending to know about art might be a poseuse but a woman adopting punk-rocker clothes in order to fit in with punk rockers would still be a poser.


  1. Not that punk rock is a culture of ignorance. Anyone throwing derogatory words at others for not fitting in to their music scene—or for trying to fit in to their scene—is practicing some kind of cultivated willful ignorance. ↩︎