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mengagement ring

noun [countable]

a ring that a woman gives to a man when they have agreed to get married

'H. Samuel is the first UK retailer to push the mengagement ring trend as their titanium diamond band, the Tioro, goes on sale this weekend … "The men's engagement ring is a clear message to everyone that a man is going to be married and also works perfectly for civil partnerships."'

Marie Claire 16th January 2010

Could diamonds ever be a boy's best friend? Well, possibly, in the context of the newly named mengagement ring. The idea is simple – just as a man conventionally gifts an engagement ring to his intended, something worn as an outward indicator that this girl is 'taken', then by the same principle the woman reciprocates, the bloke likewise declaring his intention to commit by the adornment of his left finger.

the mengagement ring is usually more conservative, a band of white gold or titanium in which a diamond is subtly embedded

Whilst a woman's engagement ring is traditionally a piece of sparkly bling, the mengagement ring is usually more conservative, a band of white gold or titanium in which a diamond is subtly embedded.

The giving of jewellery, particularly gold and diamonds, has long been associated with lavish expressions of romance – picture the chap excitedly snapping open a ring box in front of his girlfriend's face, or slipping a pendant around her neck. Traditionally, blokes do the buying, and girls do the receiving. But in this age of equality, why shouldn't the tables be turned? In this context then the mengagement ring is a clever marketing ploy, an attempt to increase jewellery sales by capitalizing on the idea that reciprocal ring giving is a sign of sexual equality. If an engagement ring is a symbol that a woman belongs to a man, the mengagement ring evens up the score – a symbol that a couple belongs to each other.

And in fact surveys do suggest that attitudes towards marriage proposals are changing, with people being increasingly comfortable about the idea of women asking men. It seems that women no longer feel the need to wait till Valentine's Day or February 29th if they've decided to 'pop the question', and they sometimes hope to clinch the deal by purchasing jewellery. There's also the issue of civil partnerships, where relationships between the same sex carry no stereotypical expectations about who should do the asking, wear the ring etc. Reflecting a change in social perspectives, it looks like the mengagement ring could therefore be here to stay.

Background – mengagement ring

The expression mengagement ring first hit the spotlight in January 2010, when UK Jewellery firm H Samuel became the first retailer to overtly cater for the trend towards equality. Observing that over a number of years customers had often been purchasing simple gold or titanium rings for men to wear when they got engaged, the company spotted a gap in the market and went on to produce a dedicated line described as mengagement rings.

A playful blend of men and engagement, mengagement follows a number of tongue-in-cheek expressions that have cropped up in recent years relating to the male versions of fashions or trends conventionally associated with women. Examples include manscara and guyliner, (= man + mascara and guy + eyeliner, eye make-up for chaps), meggings (= male/man + leggings, tight-fitting soft trousers), mankini (= man + bikini, an outlandish male swimming costume) and manny (= male + nanny).

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

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This article was first published on 13th April 2010.

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