I'm Confident Your Confidant Isn't My Confidante

In The Sound Of Music, Maria has confidence in sunshine. I have rather less confidence that everyone is clear on the difference between confident, confidant and confidante.

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Confident is an adjective, defined by the Macquarie Dictionary as meaning "having strong belief or full assurance". Maria is confident in her skills as a governess, despite her complete and total lack of qualifications. Confidant is a noun, meaning "someone to whom secrets are confided". Maria effectively becomes Liesl's confidant when she discovers her secret romance with Rolf.

Confidante is the feminine form of confidant, so you might argue that Maria is actually Liesl's confidante. That said, feminine forms of adjectives are relatively rare in English. As a result, some writers prefer not to draw the distinction, using confidant only. I am one of those writers.

You can choose either approach as long as you're consistent, but you can't choose to use confidant as an adjective. Accuracy matters, especially when the hills are alive.

Lifehacker's Mind Your Language column offers bossy advice on improving your writing.


    That said, feminine forms of adjectives are relatively rare in English.
    Wouldn't confidant/confidante be nouns rather than adjectives (like confident). Pretty important distinction in a language article I'd think.

    Yes, noun. It follows nicely from the context.

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