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In which context should sang-froid be used?
Can you provide an example?

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Not going to put this as an answer because it'll be downvoted, but here's another one: " Psychological problems keeping you from being calm? / Blame 'em on your unresolved issues with Mom, sang Freud." –  Alex Mar 8 '11 at 14:34
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@Alex: In a similar vein... Q: Translate into English, Voici l'anglais avec son sang-froid habituel A: Here comes the Englishman with his usual bloody cold. –  psmears Mar 8 '11 at 16:45
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6 Answers 6

up vote 4 down vote accepted

It is really synonymous to composure, self-control, aplomb and poise. The Corpus of Contemporary American English has examples such as:

  • “Possessed of somewhat greater sang-froid, Jamie placed one of the bolsters strategically across his lap…”
  • “For a moment his face became a white mask of horror, but he soon recovered his sang-froid, and looking up at Lady Windermere, said with a forced smile…”
  • “Famously nothing shocks New Yorkers, and that urban sang-froid is precisely the spirit of N.Y.C.”

It seems mostly used in fiction.

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This is interesting; the translation of sang-froid is used in Italian in everyday sentences. –  kiamlaluno Mar 8 '11 at 14:33
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It's very common in French, especially in “garder son sang froid” which has similar meaning as in English above. –  F'x Mar 8 '11 at 14:35
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Used as a quote from the data mining company TLO, this is meant to be a calling of sorts with "doing what has to be done with no emotions". Sometimes attributed to mercenaries... the saying from TLO; "Avec Sang-Froid".

With honor and truth, we protect the weak, the wronged and each other. Generously and fiercely.

Hank Asher, the founder of TLO and affectionately referred to as the "Father of Data Fusion", passed away in January 2013.

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To my ear, sangfroid's closest synonym is cool-headedness, though unflappability comes close, too, in many contexts.

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From Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (p. 63):

The delicate art of cajoler was a lost skill in modern law enforcement, one that required exceptional poise under pressure. Few men possessed the necessary sangfroid for this kind of operation, but Fache seemed born for it. His restraint and patience bordered on the robotic.

Here, "sangfroid" is being applied to a poised French police detective. While it has the literal meaning of "having cold blood," you can pick up the sense of being emotionally constrained rather than heartless ("cold blooded"). (See Zoot's answer about "false friends.")

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Ahem. Using The Da Vinci Code as example of good (or even grammatical) writing is not exactly a wise choice. Even its name drives me nuts. –  ShreevatsaR Mar 8 '11 at 21:01
    
Witty critique, ShreevatsaR. I'm not a Dan Brown fan, either. But consider: 1) this is the only time I encountered "sangfroid" in all that I've read in the past four years. 2) Dan Brown got the word right, despite your blogger's disdain. 3) One could infer the correct usage of the word from the context, which might actually answer F'x's question. –  rajah9 Mar 8 '11 at 21:30
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Sang-froid and cold blood are what the French call "faux amis". Although it literally means "cold blood", a more appropriate modern translation for "garder son sang froid" would be "to keep one's cool".

Synonyms for "sang froid" would be cool and collected.

He approached the job interview with sang-froid. He was cool, calm, and collected, as if ice-water were coursing through his veins. He seemed to keep his heart rate in check simply through force of will.

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"False friends" is the English expression used when referring to words in two different languages that, for speakers of one of the languages, could seem to have the same meaning. That seems the translation of faux amis, if they are not false friends. –  kiamlaluno Mar 8 '11 at 15:37
    
Yes, faux amis is not a faux ami. –  z7sg Ѫ Apr 12 '11 at 14:49
    
There is at least a situation were sang-froid and cold blood are correct translations of each other. The french say "meurtre de sang-froid" for "murder in cold blood". –  ogerard Apr 13 '11 at 14:41
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He executed the bank heist with utter sang-froid — ice in his veins and no pity in his heart.

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This example doesn’t seem quite right to me. Cold blood would indeed describe this bank robber well, but at least to my ear, the connotations of sang-froid are quite different from those of its literal translation — F'x’s answer above seems much closer. –  PLL Mar 8 '11 at 15:03
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@PLL: What I'm describing is meant to be hyperbolic to illustrate the point. The robber is calm and self-possessed even during one of the most emotionally charged events imaginable. –  Robusto Mar 8 '11 at 15:05
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