Learn English – Is “risky” an acceptable spelling of “risqué”


Is "risky" an acceptable spelling of "risqué" or "risque" (suggestive of sexual impropriety), such as in this article?

Selena Gomez has posed braless in a risky and sultry new photo-shoot
for the British magazine British InStyle’s December edition.

I looked at Wiktionary and Oxford Dictionaries, and they don't mention that meaning in their definitions of "risky". However, this answer states that the OED has it as a meaning of "risky".

Best Answer

Risky is a fully Anglicized version of the French risqué. It's comparatively rare now, but from the 1880s down to the end of WWII it was far more common to write of risky stories and jokes than of risqué ones.

risky/risquéGoogle Ngrams (I do not include uses with risque, which outstrip all of these and really are mis-spellings.)

This was not mere journalistic illiteracy; here are a couple of quotations from unimpeachably literary figures:

The diplomatist told me risky stories all through dinner so it was quite natural that this cheek should blush fiery red. —Somerset Maugham, Lady Frederick, 1907

I was wild too, and I admit. I didn’t mind for anything, not even for his squeezing and pushing me on the stairs, or his risky jokes. —Joyce Cary, Herself Remembered, 1941

The first speaker is an aristocratic, the second a servant who has married into the respectable middle class and then abandoned it to become the model and mistress of the artist Gulley Jimson.

But then so is risqué; in today's more relaxed climate we are far less titillated by the mere mention of unspecified impropriety than our Victorian, Edwardian and Georgian ancestors were.