Are "confidant" and "confident" homophones?

8

1

Both sound like /-dənt/ to me.

Etymology:

confidant comes to English from the French word confident, and when the word first entered our language it was often spelled that way, rather than as confidant.

So they were actually the same word. Do we really need to tell a difference between them?

Cyker

Posted 2019-07-02T19:14:27.840

Reputation: 883

1

For what it's worth you can for pronunciation always go to OED's website where they have a pronunciation. If you have central auditory processing disorder like I do it might sometimes be difficult especially when there is a subtle difference but that of course varies. I personally hear a slight difference so if I can I imagine most others can too. https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/confident and https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/confidant Oh and they also have the IPA if you are familiar enough with it. Of course if you're after American pronunciation maybe not the best place but anyway.

– Pryftan – 2019-07-04T00:33:41.667

Looking at the IPA is always the best way to tell if two words are pronounced differently. Even if you do not know the IPA very well you will at least see that there is a difference and where in the word. James K's answer gives the IPA for both words. – Eric Nolan – 2019-07-04T20:43:29.270

Answers

53

I pronounce the two words differently. I happen to be a native speaker of American English whose father studied French extensively and whose mother taught French -- but I do not know French myself.

I pronounce "confident" as "CONfidint", much like jimbobmcgee's transcription.

I pronounce the last syllable of "confidant" the way I pronounce the first syllable of "Ontario", or the way some people pronounce "aunt". In other words, it rhymes with "want".

Jasper

Posted 2019-07-02T19:14:27.840

Reputation: 23 316

12I agree, and in my BrE accent the stress in "confidant" leans to the end. – Weather Vane – 2019-07-02T19:53:05.327

@WeatherVane -- I place more stress on the last syllable of "confidant" than the last syllable of "confident", but I am not sure if it is more stress than on the first syllable. – Jasper – 2019-07-02T19:54:30.137

2Yes, I put some stress on the first and last syllables of "confidant", but mostly on just the first syllable of "confident". – Weather Vane – 2019-07-02T19:56:16.843

On reflection, I'm inclined to agree. I suggested that it might be a deliberate emphasis, but I do note that find myself emphasising it naturally when I say it out loud...I have updated my answer to reflect this – jimbobmcgee – 2019-07-02T19:58:36.100

4I'm British, and maybe it's because I started French at school aged 10, but I would say confidant in the French way (the final 'a' vowel like the 'o' in 'Ontario', but not pronouncing the -nt for a male person and, if the person were female, writing confidante and saying the -nte ending. I am aware that some of my UK compatriots don't go this far. Tant pis – Michael Harvey – 2019-07-02T20:35:03.623

1How do you pronounce the first syllable of "Ontario"? I'm English, and I pronounce it with a short "o", like in "hot: however I often hear Americans pronounce "hot" with a long o, like "haaht". You say you're American, but there are many different American accents, so we can not presume. – Chris Melville – 2019-07-03T10:44:53.527

3@ChrisMelville A long o is like "hole". – Barmar – 2019-07-03T14:16:19.320

1@ChrisMelville -- My first grade readers used "long" and "short" to refer to the vowel's sound, not the amount of time spent on the sound. Thus, "short o" is an "ah" sound (like in "hot"), and "long o" is an "oh" sound (like in "cold"). But "short o" says nothing about whether it is brief (like "ah") or takes a long time (like "aaah"). These readers used the symbol "ŏ" for "short o" and the symbol "ō" for "long o". – Jasper – 2019-07-03T16:32:53.077

@ChrisMelville Something tells me they're using that for the effect of stress (as in it's really really hot or as I somehow suspect they're talking about a person's attractiveness). Maybe I’m wrong but that's the only thing I can think of. But who can tell? Apparently they pronounce 'epoch' as 'epic' and I've even heard some say 'respiratory' with the pronounced 'SPIR' as if it was SPY or SPIRE which is very wrong of course. – Pryftan – 2019-07-04T00:39:14.887

As with a few folk here (UK / midlands), I tend to pronounce confidant in the more 'French'/Ontario style. Stress at the start of the word for confident, and on the 'Fi' for confidant. – Algy Taylor – 2019-07-05T07:22:46.233

14

The vowel in the "confidant" is more heavily pronounced /ˈkɒnfɪdant,ˌkɒnfɪˈdant,ˌkɒnfɪˈdɑːnt/

There are various pronunciations that are possible, the second syllable is often stressed, but even if not it is a clear vowel /a/

In confident the last vowel is reduced to a schwa, and never stressed. In fact it is so reduced that it is hardly pronounced at all.

/ˈkɒnfɪd(ə)nt/

But the words are distinguished by syntax. "Confidant" is a noun (and rather rare) but "confident" is a common adjective.

James K

Posted 2019-07-02T19:14:27.840

Reputation: 80 781

1In the word "confident" I pronounce both vowels as a schwa. But in "confidant" I pronounce the "i" as a long "ee" sound, and the "a" as in the answer of @Jasper. I'm an American English speaker, fwiw. – Lee Mosher – 2019-07-03T14:12:15.930

4

I would say that, while they do sound similar enough in casual usage, they are definitely not the same word.

"Confident" is an adjective that describes someone having the feeling of confidence (i.e. a self-belief); while "a confidant" is a noun that describes a person to whom you might tell a secret (i.e. it is based on the verb to confide).

When spoken aloud, unless emphasised, both will sound like the contracted confidn't (sorry, I haven't studied the pronunciation symbols). Many people—especially those who are aware or observant of its French roots—may increase the emphasis on the -ant part of confidant (and soften the -t), in recognition of those roots.

Now I have looked up an explicit definition of homophone, I would say that the two words do qualify as homophones, in that they are both words that pronounced the same but differ in meaning, derivation or spelling)

jimbobmcgee

Posted 2019-07-02T19:14:27.840

Reputation: 1 266

3I can honestly say that if you pronounce confidant with a schwa in the final syllable, I won't understand you. These two words may be homophones in your dialect, but I suspect you may be in a minority in that regard. – Dawood ibn Kareem – 2019-07-04T01:26:21.517

2In matters of pronunciation it is useful to say where you live and where you learned English. For example, I'm a lifelong speaker of American English and do not recall ever hearing confidant pronounced in any way that could be mistaken for confident, but regional pronunciations of the same word often differ and it could well be that you are from a region where the two words are pronounced the same. My curiosity is piqued. – David K – 2019-07-04T02:40:56.230

I'm a native UK English speaker (and certainly not an academic), and I've heard it (and would understand it) both ways. For me, the words are so different in meaning that the context of the sentence would make it obvious -- even "my confident confidant" is going to make sense. I've tried to describe that the noun can be emphasised in deference to its French roots. Where I come from, to overtly Frenchify it could sound theatrical or elitist and may open the speaker up for some mild ridicule, but that may say more about the company I keep! – jimbobmcgee – 2019-07-04T12:09:51.773

3

This is a job for Youglish! Or it would be if the word "confident" wasn't so often mistyped as "confidant"... So I can see why they'd be mistaken for homophones, but they are slightly different in pronunciation. The easiest way to identify the typos on Youglish is to understand that confident is an adjective and the related noun is "confidence". Confidant on the other hand, is a noun.

I can also say with some confidence (and thanks to Google's ngrams) that "confident" is a lot more common than "confidant".

My first thought when you mentioned "confidant" was the song "Thank you for being a friend", which includes the word in the first verse. When I have to say the word, that is the way I think of it (i.e. very little "t" sound in it, closer to French pronunciation).

Pam

Posted 2019-07-02T19:14:27.840

Reputation: 535

I know I really shouldn't but I just wanted to say that I joined this community simply so I could say how much I appreciate the punning. Well played. But I do wonder: is the word 'confident' really mistyped as 'confidant'? My eyes zoom in on errors (and things I’m looking for even things I don't know exactly what I’m looking for - but that's another story entirely) and I don't believe I have ever seen that error. But now I’m not so confident... Well I am but I do find it interesting given that I see lots of typos but not that one. I can see how it would happen though: an off by one, really. – Pryftan – 2019-07-04T00:28:53.313

@Pryftan, thanks! Frankly, I’m not sure if it’s "mistyped" or if youglish uses some speech-to-text software that picks things up incorrectly in some accents, but the first 3 examples it gave me for "confidant" were definitely "confident" going by the context. – Pam – 2019-07-04T07:35:29.160

Interesting. I honestly don't know but then again I don't know anything about 'Youglish'. I was more thinking it was a common typo in general but maybe you meant in that program itself. In which case I do not know. Even if it's not I do not know only that it's not a typo I see very often. That doesn't mean much though. – Pryftan – 2019-07-16T20:45:15.993

0

Not homophones. ConfidAnt sounds French with a wider A, like pendant, vacant, but with accent on A Confident sounds normal , like student, president.

ellysisland

Posted 2019-07-02T19:14:27.840

Reputation: 21

2To my BrEng ears, pedant & vacant match student & president, no hint of a 'French A', all are a simple schwa ə. – gone fishin' again. – 2019-07-04T07:38:09.840

Whereas to my Br English ears, there is a subtle difference in the examples. As with all accents, YMMV. – Wenlocke – 2019-07-04T10:57:30.067