I know et voilà is a French interjection and means there it is.

It is very much used in the US. Why is the use of et voilà so popular in the US?

Which historical fact has made it so popular?

  • 1
    You are probably right, I should ask a question for each word in that list. :) – rochb Oct 11 '10 at 17:01
  • 2
    @Kosmonaut: in my view, if it was an English word it would be pronounced something like "voyla". We say "manoovre" not "manervr", because "manoeuvre" has become a true English word. Any word you have to put on a mock French accent to say isn't, in my view, an English word. Even if it is considered to be an English word by some/all dictionaries, it is still qualitatively different from words that have been totally absorbed into English. As for it being understood, so is "merci" but it isn't English! – Tony Andrews Oct 12 '10 at 16:39
  • 3
    'By the way, none of these, including "voila", require a "mock French accent"'. It does when I say it ;-) – Tony Andrews Oct 13 '10 at 12:20
  • 2
    @Kosmonaut, I have to admit I'd side with @Tony on this one, at least in the UK, voilà would be used as a 'consciously' French word, whereas Envelope, brilliant wouldn't. [Almost worth another question?) – Benjol Jan 10 '11 at 9:04
  • 2
    @Quentin Yes, it is unquestionably French, and it is unrelated to Arabic or Allah: it is simply and straightforwardly derived from the French verb voir, meaning "to see", as in "see? there it is". In turn, voir is derived from the Latin videre, which was used by a world-spanning population centuries before the name Allah was first uttered. – Dan Bron May 9 '16 at 12:23

I don't know what's made it popular, but I am interested that there are many instances where people render it in writing as "wallah!" (cf. "Voilà! Ear spellings" link text) This suggests that people are not using it out of a sense of knowing what the French actually means, but as an idiomatic phrase.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.