Definition of au pair in English:

au pair


  • A young foreign person, typically a woman, who helps with housework or childcare in exchange for food, a room, and some pocket money.

    as modifier ‘an au pair agency’
    • ‘Although au pairs are legally allowed to work 25 hours a week, Jana found herself rather busier than that.’
    • ‘A non-commercial association of agencies within the UK working to ensure a high standard of services to families and au pairs.’
    • ‘In other cases, women answered advertisements by foreign tour operators or employment agencies looking for au pairs, models, housekeepers and waitresses.’
    • ‘As more women have sought full-time careers, various alternative forms of domestic assistance have developed, consisting of armies of contract cleaners, childminders, nannies and au pairs.’
    • ‘Every woman boss depends on au pairs, nannies, cleaners, cooks and women who do the ironing.’
    • ‘‘Nannies and au pairs don't have the same authority as you, and you need to keep close to adolescent changes, ‘she said.’’
    • ‘I wandered along the landing and there at the bottom, because I had a little baby then, were our two Spanish au pairs.’
    • ‘One day, you see a want ad in your local newspaper: ‘Agency seeking young women to work as au pairs.’’
    • ‘The number of women employing au pairs, window cleaners and gardeners has increased by only 7.9 per cent in the past five years.’
    female servant, maidservant, housemaid, parlourmaid, serving maid, lady's maid, chambermaid, maid-of-all-work, domestic, drudge, menial
    View synonyms


Late 19th century: from French, literally ‘on equal terms’. The phrase was originally adjectival, describing an arrangement between two parties paid for by the exchange of mutual services; the noun usage dates from the 1960s.


au pair

/əʊ ˈpɛː/