Archive for the Category: French

Mountains and molehills

I discovered yesterday that the French word for mole is taupe /top/, and I wondered if this might be related to the English word taupe, which, according to the OED, means ‘A brownish shade of grey resembling the colour of moleskin’ or in others words, mole-coloured. The English word taupe comes from the French, which […]

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Also posted in English, Etymology, Language, Words and phrases 6 Comments

Breadcrumbs & Scotch Eggs

Yesterday I discovered an interesting French word: paner, which means to coat with breadcrumbs or to bread. So a Scotch Egg, which is a hard boiled egg wrapped in sausage meat, breaded and deep fried, can be described as a œuf dur enrobé de chair à saucisse et pané in French – it sounds better […]

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An owlfully badgered cup of tea

Yesterday I discovered that the Italian word for cup, tazza, is rather similar and possibly confusable with the word for badger, tasso, which can also mean a rate (of exchange) or a yew (tree). It’s unlikely that if you mistakenly ask for un tasso di tè rather than una tazza di tè, you will be […]

Also posted in Arabic, English, Etymology, German, Italian, Language, Persian (FarsI), Words and phrases 10 Comments

Sumpf

I discovered the wonderful German word Sumpf /zʊmpf/ today while putting together les mots de la semaine for this week from the French conversation group. One of the things that came in conversation was the word marsh, which is le marais or le marécage in French, and Sumpf in German, which I noticed because there’s […]

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Dirks, Saxons and Messers

I discovered today that dolch is the German equivalent of dirk, the dagger that is worn in the sock in Scottish Highland dress (see photo). The dirk is known as a sgian dubh (black knife or secret knife) in Scottish Gaelic, and the word dirk, which first appeared in English as dork in the 17th […]

Also posted in Danish, Dutch, English, Etymology, German, Language, Proto-Indo-European, Scottish Gaelic, Swedish, Words and phrases 9 Comments

Lucky and inspiring veins

I discovered yesterday that one way to say that someone is lucky in French is to say that they avoir de la veine (‘have of the vein’). I’m not sure why veins are associated with luck. Does anybody know. Veine also means seam and inspiration. Other expressions featuring veine and related words include: – veiné […]

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La Saint-Sylvestre

As today is New Year’s Eve I thought I’d look at what this day is called in various languages: French:la (fête de) Saint-Sylvestre, which is celebrated with le Réveillon de Saint-Sylvestre, a feast which well involve champagne and foie gras, and a party, with kisses under the mistletoe at midnight. Saint Sylvestre was Pope between […]

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Sun dogs, billygoat’s eyes and halos

The other day I discovered the wonderful word sun dog, which refers to coloured patches of light that appear beside the sun at certain times, particularly when the sun is low in the sky. The scientific name for this phenomenon is a parhelion, from the παρήλιον (parēlion – beside the sun); from παρά (para – […]

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As flat as …

This week in the French conversation group one of the things that came up was the expression “as flat as a pancake” or the slightly ruder version, “as flat as a witch’s tit”. This was being used to describe the flatness of beer. The only equivalent we could find in French was “completement plat” (completely […]

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Taking the fly

I discovered an interesting French idiom today – prendre la mouche – which means literally ‘to take the fly’ and is the equivalent of ‘to go off in a huff’. Huff refers to ‘a passing mood of anger or pique’ A French equivalent of ‘to be in a huff’ is être vexé. Are there similar […]

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