Archive for the Category: French

Parched torrents

Quite a lot of rain has fallen over the past day or so in the UK, thanks to Storm Angus, so I thought I’d look at the origins of some rain-related words. The word rain comes from the Old English rēn/reġn ‎(rain), from the Proto-Germanic *regnaz ‎(rain), possibly from the Proto-Indo-European *Hreǵ- ‎(to flow) or […]

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A Piece of Theatre

In French the word for play, as in a theatrical production, is pièce or pièce de théâtre. Pièce also means: – a room – a part (of a mechanism or machine) – a coin – a patch (on clothes) – a document – a piece, as in a one-piece swimsuit or a twelve-piece dinner service. […]

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Trumped

For some reason I thought I’d look into the word trump today. It has a number of meanings: 1. trump (noun): the suit, in a game of cards, that outranks all others; a playing card of that suit; something that gives one an advantage, especially one held in reserve. Etymology From triumph, from the French […]

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Romance and Horses

What does romance have to do with horses? Well, the word romance has a number of meanings: – A story relating to chivalry; a story involving knights, heroes, adventures, quests, etc. – An intimate relationship between two people; a love affair. – A strong obsession or attachment for something or someone. – Idealized love which […]

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Gorillas, monkeys and ponys

With a title like that, you might be expecting a post about animals, but in fact it’s about slang terms for money – a gorilla is £1,000, a monkey is £500 and a pony is £25. These names apparently come from old Indian banknotes and coins: the 25 Rupee coin had a pony on it, […]

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The Salmon’s Daughter

On Tuesday I saw a play in Bangor called Merch yr Eog / Merc’h an Eog (Daughter of the Salmon) in four different languages: Welsh, Breton, French and Guadeloupean Creole. It was a co-production between Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru (Welsh National Theatre) and Teatr Piba from Brittany, and featured actors from Wales and Brittany. The lead […]

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Barking up the wrong end of the stick

The phrase barking up the wrong tree means “making a mistake or a false assumption in something you are trying to achieve”. It comes from hunting dogs barking up trees where they thought their quarry was hiding, but wasn’t [source]. Apparently one French equivalent of this phrase is Frapper à la mauvaise porte (to knock […]

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A bit of a breeze

One of the words that came up at the French conversation group this week was brise (breeze), which appears in the following expressions: – pare-brise = windscreen / windshield – brise matinale = early breeze – brise insulaire = island breeze – brise de mer = sea breeze – brise de terre = land breeze […]

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Singluarity

I learnt an interesting new French word today – célibataire. When I first saw it I guessed that it meant celibate, but when I checked in a dictionary I found that while it does mean celibate, it is more commonly used to mean single. So un célibataire is a single man or bachelor, and une […]

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Suspending disbelief

One of the things we talked about in the French conversation group this week was suspending disbelief, which is accepter les invraisemblances in French. That is “accepting the improbabilities”. Another way to say this in French is suspension d’incrédulité. The word invraisemblance also means unlikeliness or inverisimilitude. Related words include invraisemblable (unlikely, incredible, implausible, improbable) […]

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