Questions about English relating to French.

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Etymology: to avail oneself of [on hold]

[ODO:] {verb} 1. avail oneself of = Use or take advantage of (an opportunity or available resource) 2. avail = [with object] Help or benefit [Etymonline] c. 1300, availen, ...
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4answers
72 views

What is the expression for a list of low importance items, part of a more important speech?

Summary: I am trying to find an expression equivalent to annonces parafiales in French I am looking for an expression which means "list of items of low importance, appended to a more important ...
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3answers
731 views

Why does attach have two Ts and detach have only one?

The title says it all. We have two words: Attach Detach Shouldn't they be...? Attach Dettach Or? Atach Detach
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4answers
208 views

How do you say “question de cours” in English?

In French, une question de cours, is a question in a test for which you just need to know the content of your course. It is an easy question (usually) which does not require any reflection.
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1answer
57 views

How did the Old French 'rejoindre' mean a retort (only in English)?

I know of the 2 different homonyms behind 'rejoin'; I ask only about the one that means 'retort'. rejoin (2) = {reporting verb} Say something in reply, typically in a quick or critical manner ...
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1answer
46 views

How did 'estate' evolve to mean 'area of land or property'?

estate {noun} = 1. An area or amount of land or property, in particular = 3. {archaic or literary} A particular state, period, or condition in life [Etymonline:] early 13c., "rank, ...
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2answers
70 views

How did 'countenance' evolve to mean 'support or approval'?

[OED:] The extension of sense from ‘mien, aspect’ to ‘face’ appears to be English: compare French use of mine. [ Etymonline for 'countenance (v.)' ] late 15c., "to behave or act," from ...
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3answers
2k views

It's too cute! But what is “it”?

Sometime on the Internet we see some cute cat doing some cute things: And because of that, an English speaker will say: It's too cute. Because I'm French, and in French we have no good equivalent ...
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2answers
94 views

Why did English adopt both 'estrange' and 'strange'?

I'm not asking about the definitions of estrange and strange, and I realise that modern usage isn't a strict function of the original meaning of a word. I wish to know why English appropriated both ...
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1answer
95 views

How did 'ply' evolve into these 4 different definitions?

ply = {with object} 1. Work steadily with (a tool) 2. {no object, with adverbial of direction} (Of a vessel or vehicle) travel regularly over a route, typically for commercial purposes ...
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5answers
11k views

English equivalent of the French custom “l'apéro”

In France, when gathered with friends, it is customary to drink beers or other light alcohol around 7pm, and this time is called apéritif (or apéro). Does this custom have an English (UK and/or US) ...
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1answer
320 views

When citing a French citation in the original, should the guillemets (angle quotes) be changed? What about punctuation order?

I’ve come across a puzzling punctuation problem! I’m working on a document in US English. It includes a citation of a French text in the original French, and this citation includes a citation (all in ...
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31 views

Polarly opposite connotations of 'head'?

Such aphorisms as 'Think With Your Head, Not Your Heart' connote positivity of the noun 'head', but such English words as heady and testy connote negativity. So why this clash and polarity of ...
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1answer
47 views

English expression for “Dans la continuité de” in french [closed]

I would like to know how to say this french sentence "Ce projet ce situe dans la continuité d'un travail réalisé auparavant" in english. Is "This project follows on a work realized before" correct ? ...
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1answer
97 views

French's 'ne explétif' in English?

●Source: p 249, Zizek's Ontology ..., by Adrian Johnston ●●Source: p 65, L'Odyssé d'Homère: tr. en français, Volume 2, translated by Dugas Montbel ● Bruce Fink helpfully compares the French ne ...
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2answers
172 views

How common is the French loanword “métier”?

Our daughter lives in Leeds and is a scientist too, although not in my field, her speciality is haematology. My son lives in Manchester at the moment, for the music scene, he says. He writes his ...
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1answer
60 views

The etymology of February

According to my dictionary, the word February originates directly from Middle English "Feverer" from Old French "Feverier" yet the Modern English word more closely resembles the original Latin ...
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1answer
108 views

The history of 'aisle' and 'isle'

I've read about how the word 'aisle' and 'isle' each came from the French 'aile' and 'ile', respectively. I also read how the there was confusion between the two words, such that when 'isle' gained ...
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4answers
101 views

Middle ground between “I'll live with it” and “Bring it on!”?

The context is a typical conversation. You've settled for a course of action and expressed yourself accordingly. Then you get from someone a warning of sorts about potential risks or consequences ...
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2answers
72 views

Make use of & be appreciated for (using a skill)?

In French, one can use the verb valoriser while applying for a job, writing a motivation letter etc. when one wants to make use of some particular skills and be appreciated for using them. I have ...
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1answer
119 views

Why do the French say “dent” where the English say "tooth? [closed]

I am preparing for an exam in "Earlier Englishes" and I have following question out of a mock exam: Why do the French say dent where the English say tooth? The answer gives 3 points, so may be there ...
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7answers
87k views

Pronunciation of “cache”

I have been pronouncing the word "cache" as kaysh. I know a few people who pronounce it more like cash, cashay or even catch. After consulting a few dictionaries, it turns out that the correct ...
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2answers
242 views

words derived from French that have re-entered French from English [closed]

I am looking for a few examples of words that originated in French (or in Latin and then entered French), entered English and were reimported into French.
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1answer
430 views

Spelling of the word “connoisseur”

From what I gathered on the Web, "connoisseur" is spelled that way because it is derived from the old french verb "connoître" (to know) which has now been spelt "connaître" for close to two ...
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2answers
385 views

How did “invoice” end up with an 's'-sound?

The Etymonline entry for invoice states (source): apparently from M.Fr. envois, pl. of envoi "dispatch (of goods)," Although my French is pretty poor, my understanding is that the 's' is silent. ...
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6answers
347 views

Is there an English idiom equivalent to “coup de main”

I am looking for a translation of the French military term coup de main. (Not the common French civilian usage which translates as helping hand.) The term occurs frequently in the correspondence ...
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3answers
1k views

English for “À l’abordage!”?

Basically, pirates would use the term À l’abordage! as a battle cry when boarding enemy ships like described in the phrase’s Wiktionary entry. Is there a English translation for this, or is it an ...
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1answer
193 views

How can choosing to speak in English rather than French have an emotional impact on me? [closed]

I’ve grown up speaking two languages. I can seamlessly swap between French and English, but somehow I often feel like I can’t speak my mind when speaking French. When it comes to things that are ...
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2answers
151 views

Etymology of “Sort”

Did the English word sort originate from the French word sort? e.g., sortie. Whereas, in French its meaning derives to out, exit, going out. How did it end up in English to mean category, ...
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2answers
1k views

“Quyer” When and why did the spelling change so drastically?

The snippet above is taken from The Gentleman's Magazine (London, England), Volume 53, dated, 1783. It's only when you say Quyer out loud, do you realize what the word is. It is one of the ...
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4answers
2k views

Why do 'fine words butter no parsnips'?

I was at a dinner last night where some rather nice herb butter was served with the vegetables. Conversation close to me then turned to the English expression 'Fine words butter no parsnips'. It ...
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6answers
3k views

Is there an idiom that conveys the meaning of the French “mi figue mi raisin”?

The French idiom “mi figue, mi raisin” (literally: “half fig, half grape”) refers to someone or something that is neither entirely good, nor entirely bad. I guess the meaning of the expression can be ...
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4answers
115 views

What is a good translation of “crâne de piaf” as a nickname?

I'm looking for a translation of "Crâne de piaf", in English, in the context of a nickname given to some fictional character. Also, take note that I am native from France. What I'm looking for, ...
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3answers
466 views

What is the meaning of “a trouvaille, mon cher”? [closed]

I was reading A Model Millionaire by Oscar Wilde and came across this line. Can someone explain it to me? "An amazing model?' shouted Jain at the top of his voice; 'I should think so! Such ...
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3answers
16k views

Does the etymology of the word “government” mean “to control the mind”?

I've heard some conspiracy theorists say that government, when broken down into its root Latin words, means "to control the mind". I'm wondering if this is really true or not. Is it? Edit: My own ...
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5answers
1k views

Is “life is hard without jam” in use?

I am looking for a translation of the French "la vie est dure sans confiture". Babel Fish gives me "life is hard without jam". But I am not sure whether this phrase is really in use. Are there ...
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3answers
771 views

Pronunciation of foreign words by foreign speakers

I've used English for a long time and it isn't immediately obvious to others that I'm native French. Whenever I speak a French word or place name in English I wonder whether I should pronounce it like ...
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3answers
361 views

“à la” + masculine

I'd like to say I'm baking a cake à la Ramsey. Here, à la means in the style of. My problem is: what if Ramsey is male? The French la goes with feminine nouns. So, should I write the following? ...
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2answers
100 views

'Parasitic' Phonemes

In searching for the reason for the message -> messenger shift, I came across the theory of the 'parasitic n.' Essentially, the idea is that during the post-Norman Conquests period in England, ...
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1answer
101 views

What is the meaning of “pet au pair”?

Granted, this looks french, I've seen this used and referenced in English. I see it used a lot with dog walking businesses or pet sitting companies, although I have no idea what it means. Google ...
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4answers
686 views

A French Phrase Similar to “Expertise”

I am looking for a phrase that is used occasionally in English as a near synonym of "expertise". For some reason, "coup d'mentarie" keeps going through my mind, but I don't believe this actually means ...
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1answer
953 views

English words of Latin origin: Did they replace existing words?

According to Wikipedia, the Latin influence on English builds more than half of its vocabulary. The same source furnishes a percentage of 26% for words of Germanic origin. Although I can easily ...
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19answers
8k views

Single word for a very small amount of time [closed]

In French, if I want to quantify a very small amount of time (but not fixed: it can be 5 ms or 0.1 ms) I can use a pouième. Is there an equivalent in English? I'm not looking for an expression but ...
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1answer
118 views

How do I pluralise a word that has a masculine and feminine singlar forms, for a mixed group?

This may be an ill-defined question since it arose from trying to pluralise a word that has come from French, I wanted to pluralise a pair flaneurs of different genders. Flaneur comes from the French ...
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3answers
569 views

Is “enroute” an acceptable variant of “en route”?

Is "enroute" (without the space) an acceptable variant of "en route"?
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2answers
1k views

Are there religious swear words in English the way there are in French-speaking Québec (like “Câlisse!”)?

Are there in English any cases of using religious words for swear words, most likely in predominantly Christian regions? I ask because in the Canadian province of Québec, which is primarily ...
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1answer
314 views

When can the word “Noel” be used?

I came across the word "Noel" in a Christmas song recently. I only knew the French word "Noël" before so I looked "Noel" up in Leo. [Leo states] Noel also: Noël French - used especially ...
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1answer
84 views

What is the proper term for a manufacturer of charcuteries?

I’m looking for the term for a business that takes raw meats from a slaughterhouse and refines them into charcuteries.
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1answer
281 views

Qualification title for French “diplôme d'ingénieur”

My Google-fu has maybe failed me, but I couldn't find an authoritative source about the correct English qualification title for a French diplôme d'ingénieur. Some sources say the title is M.Sc., ...
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1answer
3k views

Is there an equivalent for French “CQFD”

In French, when concluding a demonstration, we say "CQFD", which stands for "Ce Qu'il Fallait Démontrer". Do English has an equivalent for this ?