I found the phrase “lend a cachet” in the following sentence of the New York Times’ (November 11) article, titled “Picking brand names in China is a business itself”:

“For some products, having a foreign-sounding name lends a cachet that a true Chinese name would lack. Many upscale brands like Cadillac (Ka di la ke), or Hilton (Xi er dun), employ phonetic translations that mean nothing in Chinese. Rolls-Royce (Laosi-Laisi) includes two Chinese characters for “labor” and “plants” that more or less have become standard usage in foreign names - all to achieve a distinct foreign look and sound. “

I understand “lend a cachet” implies “give prestige, or add prestigious image” from the context of the above statement.

I checked both Cambridge and Merriam-Webster online dictionaries to find neither of them registers “lend a cachet.”

On Google, I found the following examples of the phrase in use.

  • Her presence lends a certain cachet to the company. – The Free Dictionary.

  • Where's the party? Sun Bowl lends cachet to Camino Real's New Year's bash. - El Paso Times.

From the above, I realized “lend a cachet” is a simple combination of “lend” and “cachet,” not an idiom that I first conceived. However, is “lend a cachet” frequently used phrasing as opposed to other plain expressions, say “give prestige or “add a fashionable (Western) image”?

  • In the second-to-last line, do you mean cachet?
    – user11550
    Nov 12 '11 at 2:56
  • @Mahnax. Sorry. It's a typo. I corrected it. Thanks.
    – Yoichi Oishi
    Nov 12 '11 at 5:34
  • I figured as much, but you never know, I suppose.
    – user11550
    Nov 12 '11 at 19:00
  • The phrase is actually lends cachet; lends a cachet that a true Chinese name would lack, as the full clause, is quite normal, but ? lends a cachet without context would be wrong. Jun 26 '14 at 13:07

Charting "lend cachet" vs "lend prestige" Charting "lend cachet" vs. "lend prestige" shows "lend prestige" to be much more commonly used. You get a similar disparity between "cachet" and "prestige" on their own.

So I wouldn't say "lend [a] cachet" is a popular phrasing, although it's probably one that I would use (such as in the example from MW Unabridged: "Being a guard gave you a certain cachet.")

  • 'Gives a certain cachet' is the form I'm most familiar with. Nov 12 '11 at 8:48

In everyday speech, lends a cachet is not heard too often. In formal speech, it is much more likely to be heard, but still is not incredibly popular. Give prestige and add a fashionable image are more likely to be heard in everyday speech, as is something like gives an air of sophistication.

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