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I feel like I've heard a common idiom used in English meaning "price of admission" or "basic requirement" that's actually borrowed from another language, much like someone might say "Skydiving appears to be the activity du jour" where "du jour" indicates temporal popularity and comes from French.

I asked Google for "price of admission" in French and got "prix d'entrée", but that doesn't seem to be a common idiom. Does anyone know what I'm talking about?

  • There's the term "table stakes". Which means the minimum capability to even sit at the table and compete. What used to be a differentiating feature is now just table stakes... But it's not borrowed from another language unless you count Las Vegan as one... – Jim Nov 19 '15 at 21:22
  • Perhaps, "Id certum est quod certum reddi potest " Latin for it is certain which can be rendered certain, which means that the agreed upon value is whatever price someone else will pay for it? – jejorda2 Nov 19 '15 at 21:31
  • @John "le prix à payer" is a common French expression. Not sure, though, that it has spread into English... linguee.fr/francais-anglais/traduction/… – Elian Nov 19 '15 at 22:22
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    The French translation of "price of admission" is "droit d'entrée". May you confirm that you are looking for a french expression used as an idiom by English native speakers? – Graffito Nov 20 '15 at 0:40
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    John, are you talking about de rigueur? It's something that's required by usage, or custom, or fashion. In certain contexts, this might fit the "basic requirement" part... wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/… – A.P. Nov 23 '15 at 18:12
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Are you talking about de rigueur?

required by etiquette or usage or fashion

In certain contexts, this might fit the "basic requirement" part.

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You could be thinking of the borrowed French phrase prix fixe, which in English refers primarily to a certain kind of meal/meal service or the price charged for it, but it also means literally, as it does in France, “fixed price” or “the price charged” of/for anything. (from Merriam-Webster)

Another possibility is the use of the term “cover charge or just “the cover” (and sometimes the French “couvert”) to mean “an entrance fee sometimes charged at bars, nightclubs, or restaurants.”
(from Wikipedia, Google Books, and Wiktionary, respectively)

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These aren't quite borrowed words (at least, not anymore), but they could fit what you're looking for based on the context.

Ante - http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ante

Prerequisite - http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prerequisite

  • And "ante" is borrowed from another language, as he requests. – GEdgar Nov 20 '15 at 15:19

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