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?

  • 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! Oct 12, 2010 at 16:39
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    'By the way, none of these, including "voila", require a "mock French accent"'. It does when I say it ;-) Oct 13, 2010 at 12:20
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    @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, 2011 at 9:04
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    @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, 2016 at 12:23
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    @JanusBahsJacquet - I'm a native English speaker and use "et voila" in that formation and with a French accent. I think it may depend on age and geographical location. When I was at secondary school (11 - 16 years of age) in the south-eastern UK it was compulsory to take lessons in at least one foreign language for three to five years and French was the default. This, I believe, varied between educational authorities but was common for my time and location. I hear a lot of people my age use French phrases quite comfortably, although I couldn't comment on the situation for younger people now.
    – Spratty
    May 9, 2016 at 12:39

1 Answer 1


In order to find why this is so popular, maybe finding the origins of et voila used in English context would help.

The earliest document I can find in Google Books with et voila used is Claude Du Val, written in 1840. It is used in a completely English context (not quoting the words someone French said), and it says:

with the best of them, et voila tout

In this case, tout is added onto the end of et voila, which means "and that is all". However, this book certainly isn't a popular book, so we'll have to look further.

Et voila tout is also used in John Longmore's book, Pencillings by the Way.

It is written:

there are two live bears in two pits, et voila tout

However, still not a popular article. I've found several more books with et voila used, though the authors of those books are not popular, and therefore would not have any influence on the use of et voila.

[The Emperor's Candlesticks], written by Baroness Orczy (she was popular back then in the 19th/20th centuries)

It is written:

Two young people , one in pursuit of the other — a signal - a handy fiaker , et voila ! Who cares ?

I would also like to note that the phrase, "Et voila, ton prodige" was used in many French documents talking about the assassination of Lincoln. I doubt that would have an effect on this, but it is something to note.

The Elgin Grey Papers, a political document also had the use of et voila. I believe it would be slightly important as it is written by James Bruce, the 8th Earl of Elgin (Scottish title) and he was the Governor-General the province of Canada (1847-1854) and later the Governor-General of India.

The arrears will not of course , be paid , the Coroner will be removed , et voila la tout .

This is a popular document of the Louisiana Historical Society made public in the early 1900s;

Et voila , a city plan that may be the best in America or the world to be yet fully wrought out .

Part 1 of the 25th volume of Time also used et voila in an article. Time was pretty popular back then and still is one of the most popular news magazines.

Red Masquerade: Being the Story of the Lone Wolf's Daughter written by Louis Joseph Vance also had the use of et voila. Louis Vance was a popular novelist back in the 20th century, and was especially known for his book 'The Lone Wolf'. However, I believe many readers back then read this book as well.

I then went to search for all the books with "et voila" all the way up to 1950, but either the books were in French, had a quote of a French person, or the author wasn't just popular enough to have an influence. It seems like the popularity of "et voila" could have something to do with modern/popular culture (and has little to do with books), but this is all that I can help with.

  • This is all very interesting, but it doesn't in answer the question, which seeks an explanation of the current (relative) popularity of the phrase. Given that a fair number of English speakers have some knowledge of French, it is not surprising that the phrase would occasionally find its way into English contexts; what the OP wants to know is what led to its being used as widely as it is.
    – jsw29
    Apr 30, 2021 at 21:14

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