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Envoi vs. envoy

The noun envoy has two main definitions: (1) a representative of a government who is sent on a diplomatic mission, and (2) a short closing stanza in certain forms of poetry (or an analogous closing section in any work of art). Envoi is an alternative spelling of the second sense of envoy. Though most major dictionaries list the literary definition under envoy, envoi tends to appear in writing on poetry. The word has also been extended into use in relation to other art forms. Book epilogues and musical codas, for instance, are occasionally referred to as envoisfor example:

Marshall begins and ends her book with the Hawthorne wedding and, except for a brief envoi, leaves her three subjects in mid-life. [Washington Post]

But the second of this long-running series, imbued with the dynamism and rhythmic complexity of the Rite of Spring, made for an exhilarating envoi. [London Evening Standard]

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Both words are conventionally pronounced in the French style—envoy being AHN-voy and envoi being AHN-vwa—but the Anglicized EHN-voy is sometimes heard.

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Comments

  1. reardensteel says:

    Strictly speaking, the French pronunciation is AHN-vwa.
    I’m not sure how to notate the correct sound of the French “n”.
    It’s just like “moi”.
    They would never say -voy or moy.

  2. The word would be pronounced OR-nvoy if it was following French pronunciation, surely. AH-nvoy would be quite wrong. But thank you for your site.

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