French Vocabulary — Words Ending In -ée

When working on your vocabulary, it is important to see how French words are related to each other. Just as in English, words in French are often derived from others by way of  a prefix or a suffix. This is very important because you can expand your French vocabulary considerably simply by tagging on these tiny particles at the beginning or end of a word.

Expand your French Vocabulary with the suffix -ée

One interesting suffix is -ée found in French words like: le musée, le lycée, la nausée, la soirée, la journée, l’allée and la purée, among many others. The curious thing about the -ée suffix that it has two distinct origins and meanings.

Masculine words ending in -ée

A tiny group of French words ending in -ée are masculine and derive from latin words ending in –eum. This includes le lycée  (high school), le musée  (museum), le prytanée  (military high school), le mausolée (mausoleum) and le trophée (trophy.) Be careful with these words because they look feminine because of the -ée ending!

Feminine words ending in -ée

The vast majority of words ending in -ée are feminine and most, but not all, use this ending to mean “quantity,” action” or “duration.”  For example le jour and la journée both mean “day” but are not always interchangeable. La journée tends to emphasize the length and duration of the day. So, we have things like bonne journée (have a good day), la journée des musées (the day of museums) and pendant la journée (during the day.)

A similar distinction exists between le soir and la soirée.  Here is a list of feminine French words  ending in -ée:

la purée (mashed or semi-liquid form of food)
la nuitée (the night, this is often used in hotel jargon as in trois nuitées.)
la tablée (the number of guests surrounding a table.)
l’allée (the aisle in a building or theatre)
la dictée (a dictation contest)
la montée (the action of something going up or a road going up an incline)
la jetée (jetty or pier)
la chaussée (the roadway)
l’entrée (the entrance, first course of a meal)
la portée (the staff in music)
la plongée (the action of diving)
la têtée (the action of breast-feeding)
la voiturée (the contents of an automobile)
une cuillérée (a spoonful)
une fourchettée (a forkful)
une bolée (a bowlful)
une assiettée (a plateful)
la bouffée (a breath as in “une bouffée d’air frais”)
la fessée (the beating on the buttocks)
l’araignée (the spider)
la buée (the mist or vapour)
l’épée (the sword)

Final reminder

Although most words ending in -ée are feminine, remember that a few common words such as le musée, le trophée and le lycée are masculine. As part of your strategy for developing your French vocabulary fluency, concentrate on a few phrases that highlight these tricky words.  Here are three examples:

Nous allons au nouveau musée des beaux arts demain. (We are going to the new fine arts museum tomorrow.)
Ce trophée est vraiment beau. (This trophy is really beautiful.)
Mon père enseignait au vieux lycée français. (My father used to teach at the old French lycée.)

Related Posts

1. How to use le jour et la journée

Stanley Aléong is a polyglot, author, musician and language coach in French, English and Spanish. He likes to share his passion for languages and believes that anybody can learn to speak a foreign language well with the right methods and tools. He has also invented a cool visual learning tool called the Language Wall Chart Calendar that is based on his own learning experience. Reach him at

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