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Ambiance vs. Ambience

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  Angbeen Chaudhary  —  Grammar Tips
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Let’s say you are trying to choose a restaurant for an anniversary dinner with your spouse. You will want to select a location that has an environment or atmosphere that you will both enjoy. You notice that some online reviews use the word ambiance to describe this concept, while others use ambience. Do these words mean the same thing? What do they say about the restaurants you are considering for your dinner? Continue reading to find out whether you should choose an eatery with good ambiance or ambience.


Ambiance and ambience both originated in late 19th century: from ambient + -ence, or from French ambiance, from ambiant ‘surrounding’.

Ambiance as noun:

Ambiance is used as a noun which means the character and atmosphere of a place.

The relaxed ambience of the cocktail lounge is popular with guests.

It has synonyms like atmosphere, air, aura, climate, mood, feel and feeling etc.


The relaxed ambience could also be down to the absence of mobile technology at our table. [Guardian]

Ambiance vs. Ambience

Jasper itself is also very popular for skiing, although Jasper Park Lodge doesn’t have the ambience or cachet of the hotels above. [Telegraph]

Canadian, Australian, and American publications also tend to prefer ambience over ambiance:

Parallel lines are encouraged to reflect the nautical ambience. [Montreal Gazette]

In Midtown and Lower Manhattan, we had experienced the ambience and uber-cool of the village life that so attracts people to this unique island. [Herald Sun]

Evidently, too many coffee shops in town have had their ambience wrecked when itinerant word processors with laptops turn the tables into office space. [New York Times]

Ambience or ambiance:

Ambience and ambiance are different spellings of the same word, referring to the special atmosphere or mood of a particular environment. While some dictionaries list ambiance as the standard spelling, ambience is far more common in all main 21st-century varieties of English. It’s worth noting, though, that ambiance tends to take precedence in contexts relating to art and design, but this is by no means a rule, and exceptions abound.

Ambiance is the French word from which the English one derives, and ambience is an Anglicization. But in fact, the Anglicized word has been in English longer and was established long before the French spelling entered English as a vogue word in the 20th century. So the fact that ambience is more common makes sense, as it has been an English word longer. Ambiance and ambience are two different spellings of the same word, which denotes atmosphere or mood, especially of a place. Neither spelling is incorrect, but ambience is standard in formal writing. Ambience is the preferred spelling in English. By linking the words ambience and editor in your mind, you can remember to use this term in formal contexts.

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