Rouge vs. Rogue – What’s the Difference?

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Sigh. Similarly spelled words are the common source of unnecessary confusion among many people using the English language. But it’s not exactly unnecessary; there is a reason behind it. Not all words began as English words, so their pronunciations and meanings didn’t translate the same once we adopted them.

“Rogue” and “rouge” are two words that get mixed up all the time because they’re spelled similarly. However, their actual definition and pronunciation couldn’t be further apart. Let’s break it down.

Rouge vs. Rogue: What’s the Difference?

Rogue vs. Rouge Ngram
Rouge and rogue usage trend.

Hands down, the biggest differences between the words “rouge” and “rogue” are their meanings and the way we use them.

In English, “rouge” usually refers to a red cosmetic powder or cream used to color women’s cheeks and lips.

But the term “rogue” is what we use to describe a person who acts in a dishonest or simply unprincipled way.

So, you can see how they can’t be used interchangeably because it wouldn’t make sense, despite the difference in the placement of one letter.

Rogue Meaning Explained

Rouge vs. Rogue Whats the Difference

“Rogue” is classed as a noun in English and can be used in two ways. One is to describe a rebel or an outlaw type or an immoral person who acts rebellious.

  • That cowboy is a rogue.

But you can also use it to talk about the state of someone who’s missing or left a situation and can’t be found.

  • He’s gone rogue, so we’re trying to find him.

Alternatively, “rogue” works as an adjective, too. 

  • He is a rogue cowboy (here, it modifies the term cowboy and describes what type of cowboy they are).

Rouge Meaning Explained

“Rouge” can be both a noun and an adjective. As a noun, it’s a lipstick or blush product. As an adjective, it takes on more of the French meaning, which is “red,” so you can use it to describe something red or pink.

  • You need to add some rouge to your cheeks.
  • Those new roses are very rouge in color.

There are exceptions, too, like when it’s used within a location’s name, like Baton Rouge, Rogue Amoeba, or Sycamore Rouge, a theater company in Virginia. In this case, it would be classed as a proper noun and should be capitalized. 

Rogue Pronunciation

The word rogue is meant to be pronounced as roh-g-e (rōg) with a long “o” sound and rhymes with “vogue.”

Rouge Pronunciation

You say rouge as roozh, with a long “oo” sound, and rhymes with “luge” and “huge.”

Synonyms for Rogue

  • Scoundrel
  • Rascal
  • Miscreant
  • Villain
  • Trickster
  • Swindler

Synonyms for Rouge

  • Blush
  • Blusher
  • Red makeup
  • Cosmetic
  • Colorant
  • Red
  • Pink

Using Rogue in a Sentence

  • I can’t believe the rogue employee stole sensitive information from our company and sold it to our competitors.
  • The pirate was known as a charming rogue and always had the eye of every lady in the room.
  • Our farmer neighbor had to deal with a rogue bull that kept breaking through the fences onto our property.
  • She was captivated by the rogue’s charm and wit, despite his questionable intentions with her virtue.
  • David’s gone rogue ever since he found out the bad news. 

Using Rouge in a Sentence

Rouge vs. Rogue Whats the Difference 1
  • The dancer applied a light layer of cream rouge to her cheeks to give them a rosy glow before the show.
  • We went to Baton Rouge for a trip. 
  • The award-winning makeup artist recommended I use a peach-colored rouge to complement my skin tone.
  • During the 18th century, both men and women used rouge as a part of their daily makeup routine, especially male figures of royalty.
  • The vintage compact my grandmother gave me contained a small mirror, a blush brush and a pan of rouge.

The Verdict

So, don’t let the slight switch of a single letter fool you. Words like rouge and rogue sound completely different and hold totally separate meanings. Rogue is a rebel; rouge is red. Simple as that.

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