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What Does Vis-à-Vis Mean?

Vis-à-vis is a French phrase meaning “face-to-face.” In English, vis-à-vis can be used as an adverb, adjective, or noun meaning “face-to-face.” However, this phrase can also be used as a preposition to compare things. In that usage, it becomes a synonym for “facing” or “opposite.” The phrase is spelled using hyphens.  

Graphic showing two arrow facing each other with the words Vis a Vis facing the words Vis-A-Vis

French Origins

Vis comes from the French word visage, meaning “face.” In English, vis-à-vis can be used both literally and figuratively to compare something or say that something is opposite something else.

Using Vis-à-Vis 

Here are some examples of using the phrase as an adverb:

The two friends sat vis-à-vis in the crowded room.

It can be used as an adjective too:

The vis-à-vis talk with the reporter went poorly.

You can use the phrase as a noun to mean “meeting”:

I have a vis-à-vis with the headhunter this afternoon.

Vis-à-vis is used as a noun in several ways. First, it can refer to a person who goes to a social event with you. Second, it can be the person standing or sitting opposite you.

When vis-à-vis is used as a preposition, it compares things. If you want to compare the calories you ate with the calories you burned, you could reference your caloric intake vis-à-vis caloric expenditure. It can also be used to say that you’re opposite something. Right now, you’re sitting vis-à-vis the computer.

Vis-à-vis always retains its original French spelling even when used in English. So, use both hyphens and put the grave accent over a.

Vis-à-Vis in Sentences

If your product is too expensive vis-à-vis your competitors, few people will buy your product.

The passengers sat vis-à-vis in the limo. 

I’m nervous about the vis-à-vis interview.


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By Patrice Riley

Patrice Riley is the pen name of Dr. Deborah Riley. She is a retired English professor that enjoys grammar, literature, and all things writing.

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