Panache, pegs and pinafores
One thing we discussed last night at the French Conversation Group was whether panache means the same thing in French as it does in English.
According to the OED, panache [/pəˈnaʃ/ (UK) /pəˈnæʃ/ (USA)] comes from the Middle French pennache, which originally meant a tuft or plume of feathers, and by the late 19th century had come to mean “manly elegance or swagger, chivalrous or heroic courage, flamboyance, elegance, style”.
Pennache comes from the Italian pennacchio (plume), from the post-classical Latin pinnāculum, a dimmunitive of pinna (wing, feather, pointed peak), which comes from the Proto-Indo-European *bend- (something protruding). Other words that possibly come from the same root include pin, peg, pinafore, pinion and pinacle.
According to Le Dictionnaire, the French word panache means:
- ornement composé de plumes flottantes, placé sur une coiffure = an ornament of floating feathers worn on the head
- élément qui rappelle la forme de cet ornement = something resembling such an ornament
- surface triangulaire du pendentif d’une voûte en forme de sphère = a triangular area of a roof pendant in the shape of a sphere
- (au sens figuré) élégance et brio = (figuratively) elegance and panache
According to Reverso, panache can also mean:
- a plume (of smoke/water) = une panache (de fumée/d’eau)
- avec panache = gallantly
- sans panache = unimpressive
A related word is panaché, which means:
- décoré de couleurs variées = decorated with various colours / varigated / colourful
- composé de différents éléments = made up of different parts / mixed
- boisson qui est composée de bière et de limonade = shandy (a mixture of beer/lager and lemonade)
- glace panachée = mixed ice cream
- salade panachée = mixed salad
- œillet panaché = variegated carnation
The verb panacher (to mix) also exists.
An alternative way to say ‘with great panache’ is avec maestria.