Poseur vs poser

Poseur and poser are two words that many find confusing because they are very similar in spelling and pronunciation. Poseur and poser have different definitions, but are becoming increasingly interchangeable in certain circumstances. Poseur is pronounced with the accent on the second syllable, and poser is pronounced with the accent on the first syllable. We will examine the difference between the meanings of the words poseur and poser, where these terms came from, and some examples of their use in sentences.

A poseur is someone who pretends to be something he is not, a person who puts on airs or tries to project the attitude or appearance of someone more important or more accomplished than he truly is. For instance, someone who pretends to be a Harvard graduate by wearing a branded Harvard sweatshirt and dropping the names of buildings around the Harvard campus is a poseur. Calling someone a poseur is an insult because it insinuates that the person is a liar, a sneak, or delusional. The word poseur is derived from the French, like the words raconteur and liqueur.

A poser is someone who poses, like someone who is serving as a model for an artist or someone who is being photographed. Poser is also a British term for a brainteaser, puzzle, or difficult question, especially one that is very challenging to solve. Finally, the word poser is increasingly used interchangeably with the word poseur, meaning someone who pretends to be something he is not, a person who puts on airs or tries to project the attitude or appearance of someone who is more important or more accomplished than he truly is. The word poser is a back-formation from the verb pose.

Examples

Movie buffs, depending on their age, will think of Robert Redford or Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, a poseur who accumulates massive wealth and throws fabulous parties to capture the attention of the one that got away. (The Albuquerque Journal)

Police arrested Rashed Madendog, 38, after he sold P7,000 worth of suspected shabu to a poseur buyer in front of a mall at North Avenue at Barangay Bagong Pag-asa at about 11:05 p.m. (The Manila Bulletin)

“He was a poseur of sorts, in my opinion, and almost nothing useful is known about the site he dug,” said Benjamin Foster of the Yale University Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. (The Orlando Sentinel)

There’s only 1 poser at Seattle Ink & Oil’s figure-drawing classes — everyone else is keeping an artful eye on her (The Seattle Times)

What a poser: In Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve, Clement spent time observing this beautiful leopard as she soaked up the last warm rays of the setting sun. (Forbes Magazine)

No one’s a “poser” for liking a show after it’s been on the air (how else would you watch it?) and no one is intelligent for watching it either. (The New Hampshire)

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