Risky vs Risqué: Difference and Comparison

The two words risky and risqué are derived from the French language but are different words. But, if the roots of the words are traced deeper, an Old Italian word, risco is the common link between them.

Apart from their history, though both of these words hint at a negative feeling, these adjectives cannot be used in the same scenarios interchangeably. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Risky implies a situation with potential danger or negative consequences.
  2. Risqué denotes content that is sexually suggestive or inappropriate.
  3. Risky pertains to various aspects of life, whereas risqué relates to sexual innuendo.

Risky vs Risqué

The difference between risky and risqué is that risky is an adjective used in a situation where results might not turn out as expected or in a situation where dangerous consequences are predicted.

On the other hand, risqué is an adjective used to describe inappropriate or indecent behavior especially sexual impropriety. 

Risky vs Risque

Risky is an adjective that can be used in various situations where a negative outcome is expected. From handling hazardous weapons to speaking of a person’s emotional abilities, the word can be applied anywhere.

For example, transporting bioweapons are risky, or it is risky to leave her alone with the baby. 

The use of the word risqué has very specific boundaries as it mainly refers to situations or people that are indecent or lack a moral compass.

Sometimes the word risqué is replaced by phrases like “spicy gossip”, or “a juicy story.” For example, the reporter was trying to leak a juicy/risqué story. 

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonRiskyRisqué
DefinitionRisky is an adjective that refers to the high probability of a negative outcome or something dangerous and unpredictable. Risqué is an adjective that refers to indecent behavior especially when it is sexually inappropriate. 
OriginThe word has originated from the French noun risque, without the diacritic. The word has originated from the French adjective risqué with the diacritic.
PronunciationRisky is pronounced as risk + ee. Instead of y, the sound of double e is made. The presence of the diacritic means that the word should end with an -ay sound instead of the regular e but US English doesn’t have é in the alphabets so it is pronounced normally. 
UseIt is used in various scenarios from referring to facts to anticipating the consequence of a situation. It is used commonly to describe people with indecent behavior, when someone’s morality is in doubt, referring to spicy gossip, etc. 
SynonymsSome synonyms of risky are hazardous, dangerous, jeopardizing, etc. Some synonyms of risqué are lewd, ribald, spicy, etc. 
AntonymsSome antonyms of risky are safe, harmless, protected, etc. Some antonyms of risqué are decent, moral, unprovocative, etc. 
ExampleSome people think investing in the stock market is too risky. His risqué humor made the guests uncomfortable. 

What is Risky?

Though the origin of the word risky traces back to the French language, several other languages have influenced it. Many English words have been derived from Old Latin, French, Italian, Greek, etc, and risky is one of the many.

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Apart from the French origin of risky, there is a similar word in Italian risco (modern-day rischio) that was derived from the word riscare. The word means running into danger but the origin of the word is unknown.

So, the modern-day risky can be the result of several words from several languages but only a little can be traced. 

Following are some sentences that will help you understand the application of this adjective. 

  • It is too risky to attempt all the questions when there is negative marking.
  • It is risky to put all your savings into trading at once.
  • With the government watching over all of us, the mission is very risky.
  • Mountaineering is a risky hobby.
  • Is it becoming very risky to travel amidst the pandemic? 

One should also understand the difference between risk and risky to use these words perfectly. Risk is a noun and a transitive verb form of the word risk whereas risky is the adjective form of the same word. 


What is Risqué?

As mentioned earlier, the word  risqué has its root in the French language but there are other words apart from the French adjective  risqué, that have influenced its use in modern English today.

In the 1680s, the French word risquer became popular and also the Italian word riscare.

Both referred to exposure to any form of injury or loss. This is where eventually the two words  risqué and risk two different paths.

In the 1800s, the past participle of risquer, i.e.,  risqué became famous and it referred to “tending toward impropriety.” Today, the word specifically refers to any sexually inappropriate action. 

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The following examples will help understand how to incorporate the word  risqué in a sentence in various situations. 

  • The director faced several critical reviews for it was more than just a risqué script. 
  • Amateur graphic designers should be careful as risqué illustrations can get them into trouble. 
  • His risqué behavior especially towards young women won’t be tolerated anymore. 
  • Every newspaper is chasing the couple to produce a risqué story. 
  • She thought it was too risqué to wear a dress like that.

When using the word risqué in common conversation or writing, people have eventually stopped using the diacritic. So, it is simply becoming  risque than risqué, losing the French touch. 

Main Differences Between Risky and Risqué

  1. Risky refers to the high probability of a negative outcome or something dangerous and unpredictable whereas risqué refers to indecent behavior especially when it is sexually inappropriate.
  2. Risky is originated from a French noun whereas risqué is derived from a French adjective. 
  3. Risky doesn’t have a diacritic in its spelling but risqué has a diacritic above e which is known as accent aigu.
  4. Risky is pronounced as risk + ee whereas risqué is pronounced with an -ay sound in the end but the actual pronunciation is not practiced extensively. 
  5. Risky is a word used in various scenarios from referring to facts to anticipating the consequence of situations whereas the use of risqué is limited to indecent behavior. 
  1. https://www.mdpi.com/89430
  2. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17405900600908145

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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