‘Parfum' or 'Eau de Parfum' or 'Pour Homme' or 'Eau de Toilette', And 'Eau de Cologne': What's the Difference?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on June 24, 2023

Are you wondering the difference between 'Parfum', ' Eau de Parfum', ' Pour Homme', ' Eau de Toilette', and 'Eau de Cologne?' You are in the right place.

Here is the short answer:

  • 'Parfum'- is the French name for perfume or fragrance. 
  • 'Eau de Parfum'- is the name for the strongest or longest-lasting scents.
  • 'Pour Homme'- is a Frech term used for fragrances that means for men.
  • 'Eau de Toilette'- is the French name for lighter scents that do not last as long. 
  • 'Eau de Cologne'- is the French name for cologne, which contains more fragrance oil than a Pour Homme. 

The answer above gives a brief overview, but there is much more to learn about the meaning of these terms. This guide will teach you each term's definition, pronunciation, and usage. So, stick around until the end.

The Difference Between 'Parfum' or 'Eau de Parfum' or 'Pour Homme' or 'Eau de Toilette' or 'Eau de Cologne'

These are all French terms for fragrances.

Below are the French-to-English translations of each:

  • Parfum - Perfume
  • Eau de Parfum -  Water of perfume (literal) or perfume
  • Pour Homme - For men
  • Eau de Toilette - Water of toilet (literal) or a lighter perfume
  • Eau de Cologne - Water of cologne or cologne

A significant difference in these products is the concentration of fragrance oil each contains.

Of these terms, four describe fragrances mixed with a fixative or alcohol.

Below are the concentrations and times each formula is fragrant:

  • Parfum - 20% to 30% fragrance oil concentration that lasts 12+ hours
  • Eau de Parfum - 10% to 20% fragrance oil concentration that lasts 8+ hours
  • Eau de Toilette - 5% to 15% concentration that lasts up to seven hours
  • Eau de Cologne - 2% to 4% fragrance oil concentration that lasts up to four hours

Why Would You Need to Know 'Parfum' or 'Eau de Parfum' or 'Pour Homme' or 'Eau de Toilette' or 'Eau de Cologne'

If you buy perfume or cologne, you must know the difference between these terms. Otherwise, you could purchase the wrong product.

You may also need to know the difference between these terms if you work at a department store or write product descriptions for an online fragrance site.

When to Use 'Parfum' or 'Eau de Parfum' or 'Pour Homme' or 'Eau de Toilette' or 'Eau de Cologne'

You know the difference between these products. Despite knowing the meanings, it can be confusing to know when to use them.

So, here are some tips:

  • Use 'Parfum' to refer to the fragrance with a higher oil concentration.

For example, you could say:

I made an incredible new perfume, but I need to pick up more lemon verbena and lavender parfum from the fragrance shop before I start bottling it. 

  • Use 'Eau de Parfum' to refer to perfume.

For example, you might see a store advertisement like this:

This weekend only, all Eau de Parfums are 50% off. 

  • Use 'Pour Homme' on products for men.

For example, you might hear a salesperson say:

Are you interested in trying the new Eau de Cologne Pour Homme? 

  • Use 'Pour Homme' to name the Versace Pour Homme Eau de Toilette fragrance for men.

For example, you could say:

Have you tried Versace Pour Homme? If not, I will pick some up for you. I think you will love it!

  • Use 'Eau de Toilette' when referring to a lighter fragrance or men or women.

For example, I might say:

I love to wear a citrus Eau de Toilette during the summer. 

  • Use 'Eau de Cologne' to refer to a fragrance with a light scent for men or women that lasts between two and four hours.

For example, you could say:

I like wearing that new Gucci Eau de Cologne, but it doesn't last all day.

Definition of 'Parfum'

The literal translation of 'parfum' from French to English is perfume which the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines as a noun meaning:

  • A sweet-smelling fragrance

It can also mean:

  • A liquid that has a pleasant odor
  • A fluid formula that contains fragrance oil and a fixative

It can also be a verb that means:

  • To give something a pleasant fragrance

Definition of 'Eau de Parfum'

The same defines 'Eau de Parfum' as:

  • A liquid formula that contains more fragrance oil than an Eau de Toilette and less than a perfume.

Definition of 'Pour Homme'

The translation of 'Pour Homme' is:

  • For men

It can also mean:

  • A fragrance for men

Definition of 'Eau de Toilette'

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines 'Eau de Toilette' as a noun that means:

A fragrance with a lower concentration of fragrance oil than an Eau de Parfum and perfume.

Definition of 'Eau de Cologne'

The translation of 'Eau de Cologne' is water of cologne or just cologne, which means:

  • A liquid containing alcohol and fragrance oil
  • A cream or paste made into a semi-solid cologne stick

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Parfum' or 'Eau de Parfum' or 'Pour Homme' or 'Eau de Toilette' or 'Eau de Cologne'

Let's look at how you pronounce these words so you can say or write them confidently.

Here is a pronunciation guide:

  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'parfum':


  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'Eau de Parfum':

ō de pär-fum

  • This is the phonetic spelling you can use to pronounce 'Pour Homme' correctly:

pōr hōm

  • You can use this phonetic spelling for pronouncing 'Eau de Toilette':

ō de twä-let

  • The phonetic spelling of 'Eau de Cologne' is:

ō de ka-lōn

Sample Sentences Using 'Parfum' or 'Eau de Parfum' or 'Pour Homme' or 'Eau de Toilette' or 'Eau de Cologne'

Now, read through these example sentences using each of the terms above so you know how to use them in different contexts.


  • There is a little shop in town that has every parfum scent you can imagine.
  • Pure parfum is often too strong to wear alone.
  • Is the parfum in the blue-colored bottle your favorite?

Eau de Parfum

  • Eau de Parfums are great because they last for a long time.
  • Every year he bought her favorite Eau de Parfum for her birthday.

Pour Homme

  • Our new Pour Homme line has fragrances that are appealing to men.
  • We are going to buy him Versace Pour Homme, for Christmas.
  • Our Pour Homme gift sets will be coming out right before Father's Day.

Eau de Toilette

  • If you like a light fragrance that lasts between four and seven hours, you should choose the Eau de Toilette.
  • The Eau de Toilette fragrance is a scent that is perfect for summer days.

Eau de Cologne

  • I like to wear Eau de Cologne when attending an indoor event because it is not overpowering.
  • The Eau de Cologne is not very noticeable for outdoor events, so I usually use an Eau de Toilette or Parfum.
  • That new Eau de Cologne the movie director is wearing is horrible. It stinks!

A Recap of the Difference Between 'Parfum' or 'Eau de Parfum' or 'Pour Homme' or 'Eau de Toilette' and 'Eau de Cologne'

We covered a ton of information. So, here is a quick recap: 

  • 'Parfum' or perfume contains 20 to 30 percent fragrance oil and lasts more than 12 hours. 
  • 'Eau de Parfum' or Eau de Perfume contains 10 to 20 percent fragrance oil and lasts more than eight hours. 
  • 'Pour Homm' is a French term that means for men. 
  • 'Eau de Toilette' is a fragrance that contains 5 to 15 percent oil and lasts between four and seven hours. 
  • 'Eau de Cologne' is the lightest scent containing just 2 to 4 percent fragrance oil and lasting between two and four hours. 

If you ever get mixed up about the meanings of these terms, you can always return to this page for a review of this lesson.

You can also learn a lot from the other confusing word guides here. They each contain definitions, a pronunciation guide, usage examples, and grammar tips. So, whether you are learning English as a second language or working on your writing skills, you can learn a lot.

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Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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