Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
An engagement is an agreement by a couple to enter into marriage at some future time, usually accompanied by a formal or informal announcement to friends and family. Following this agreement, the couple is said to be "engaged to be married," or simply "engaged." A male partner in an engagement is called a fiancé and a female is called a fiancée (same pronunciation for both; from the French se fiancer, to become engaged). Though some describe engagement as the modern successor to the act and state of betrothal (an "exchange of vows [troth]" to be married), the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, and would be often understood as interchangeable, today.
The concept of an engagement period began in 1215 at the Fourth Lateran Council, when Pope Innocent III declared a longer waiting period between betrothal and marriage. The practice of giving or exchanging engagement rings began in 1477 when Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor gave Mary of Burgundy a diamond ring as an engagement present.
In contemporary Western culture, it is quite common (in fact, in some areas, far more common than not) for couples to spend a considerable period of engagement, often living together, possibly without setting a date for their marriage. The saying has been, that they were "engaged to be engaged." As a consequence— though originally it was a tabloid usage— during the 1990s "fiancé" was sometimes used as euphemism for a live-in lover (or, in France, a mere boyfriend or girlfriend whether or not they live together), even where marriage has not been considered, largely replacing the somewhat sociological "significant other".
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details