Recently I came across the French word antisèche [ɑ̃.ti.sɛʃ]. At first glance I would guess that it meant something like “anti-dry”, so maybe it’s a moisturiser or something similar that prevents dryness.

While that would be an accurate literal translation – it comes from anti- and sécher (to dry) – what it actually means is a cheat sheet or crib sheet. That is, a sheet of paper used to assist on a test [source].


As well as meaning to dry, sécher also means to skip or miss (class), to dry out, to wither, to dry up or to be stumped. So an antisèche is something that prevents you from being stumped or drying up when asked difficult questions [source].

I have a number of antisèches, or maybe they’re more feuilles de référence, that summerise grammatical information for Irish and Russian. They’re very handy when I’m trying to write anything in these languages. You can find a variety of these for languages and other subjects on Amazon.

Are there interesting names for such things in other languages?

3 thoughts on “Antidry

  1. Russian шпаргалка “cheat-sheet” is, according to Vasmer, from Polish szpargał “used piece of paper, old document” (via Ukrainian), which comes, probably, from Latin sparganum, from Ancient Greek σπάργανον “swadding cloth”, from σπάργω “to swaddle”.

  2. In Spanish a cheat sheet is called a chuleta, which adtually means cutlet, or chop, as in chuleta de cordero (lamb chop). I have no idea why,

  3. In Polish the word for cheat sheet is “ściąga”. It’s derived from the verb “ściągać”, which literally means to take down, pull down or take off: bedsheets, curtains, clothes, shoes and the like. Figuratively, it also means procuring a piece of goods, usually from far away (e.g. via Alibaba), or downloading (files, software). “Ściągać” in the cheating context means specifically either peeping into somebody else’s work or consulting forbidden sources (e.g. a book hidden under the desk, a smartphone or a “ściąga”). The imagery is perhaps related to procuring or pulling information, perhaps like dragging a blanket off someone. Another word, “oszukiwać”, is used more broadly for different kinds of fraud, like cheating at cards, pretending to be someone else taking an exam, getting undeserved benefits etc. In these contexts, “ściągać” does not apply.

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