French in English

29% {twenty nine per cent}

It is estimated that some 10,000 purely French words are used in English — around 29 per cent of the total. The focus here will be on a few French phrases that are seen as still being ‘French imports.’ These you will sometimes see in italics when used in English text (but the more frequently used, the less so). A great many of the other French words have become so ingrained into English that they are actually considered as English ones (e.g., voyeur, sabotage, entrepreneur, critique, ballet) and thus, aren’t italisised.


Latin words make up around another 30 per cent of today’s modern English vocabulary. For Latin terms used in academic English click here.


Apropos

preposition
With reference to something/someone. “Jameela remarked apropos the seminar, ‘It’s not going to cut ice with the other side.'”

adjective
Very appropriate to a particular situation. “The book’s reference to power politics is apropos for the current situation.”


Art nouveau

A style of decorative art, architecture, and design prominent in western Europe and the USA from about 1890 until the First World War (1914) and characterised by intricate linear designs and flowing curves based on natural forms.


Au fait

To have a good or detailed knowledge of something. “Jameela was fully au fait with English literature.”


Carte blanche

Literally: “white card” but means to be given the complete freedom to act as one wishes. “The architect given carte blanche to design the house.”


Cliché

A phrase or opinion that is overused (and therefore shows a lack of original thought).


Déjà vu

A feeling of having already experienced the present situation.


De rigueur

Required or expected, especially in terms of following fashion.


Détente

The easing of diplomatic tension. The reduction of problems/hostility, especially between countries. “The UK’s policy of detente acted to improve relations with Russia.”


Façade

The front view of an object (from the Italian facciata, or face). It can also mean a fake persona, as in “putting on a façade” (the ç is pronounced like an s).


Fait accompli

Literally: “accomplished fact.” Something that has already happened and is thus unlikely to be reversed; ‘a done deal.’


Faux pas

“False step”: A breaking of accepted (but unwritten) social rules.


Laissez-faire

(To) “Let do.” This term is often used within the context of economic policy or political philosophy, meaning: leaving something alone, or to not interference with something.


Objet d’art

A work of art, commonly a painting or sculpture; also a utilitarian object displayed for its aesthetic qualities.


Panache

Verve; flamboyance. To do something with panache, is to do that something with style.


Par excellence

“By excellence”: quintessential. The finest example of something.


Pastiche

A derivative work; an imitation; a cheap copy and paste job.


Per se

adverb
By or in itself or themselves; intrinsically. “It is not these facts per se that are important.”


Rapprochement

The establishment of cordial relations, often used in diplomacy.


Raison d’être

The most important reason or purpose for someone or something’s existence.


Riposte

A quick retort in speech or action, or in fencing, a quick thrust after parrying a lunge.


Tête-à-tête

“Head to head.” An intimate get-together or private conversation between two people.


Touché

Acknowledgment of an effective counterpoint; literally ‘touched’ or ‘hit!’


Vis-à-vis

“Face to face [with].” In comparison with or in relation to; opposed to.


Volte-face

A complete reversal of opinion or position, about face.


More cultural and less academic:

Derrière

Rear; buttocks; literally, one’s “behind.”


Dieu et mon droit

“God and my right.” Motto of the British Monarchy; appears on a scroll beneath the shield of the coat of arms of Great Britain.


Enfant terrible

A “terrible child.” A person who behaves in an unconventional or controversial way.


Femme fatale

“Deadly woman”: an attractive woman who seduces and takes advantage of men for her personal goals, after which she discards or abandons them.


Film noir

A genre of dark-themed movies from the 1940s onward that focus on stories of crime and immorality.


Ménage à trois

“Household for three”: a sexual arrangement between three people; a “threesome.”


Renaissance

Rebirth, a cultural movement in the 14-17th centuries.


Voyeur

Literally, “someone who sees.” Somebody who looks at someone without them knowing; a.k.a., a “peeping Tom.”


Sometimes
Sometimes it’s alright not to be alright

Damned if you do,

(and) damned if you don’t.

While some will know the meanings of these adages:

Damned if you do, damned if you don't
Damned if you do, damned if you don’t
(Caught/Stuck/Trapped) between the devil and the deep blue sea.
(Caught/Stuck/Trapped) between the devil and the deep blue sea.
Between a rock and a hard place.
Between a rock and a hard place.
If you are like me, you’ll not have known that they all stem from:

Being between Scylla and Charybdis

…an idiom deriving from Greek mythology (but doesn’t so much seem to stem from Ancient Greece?!?). Being stuck between Scylla and Charybdis informs the more recent proverbial advice, that is, “to choose the lesser of two evils.” This is true too for the saying, “on the horns of a dilemma.” But nowadays, phrases like: (1) “between the devil and the deep blue sea,” (2) “between a rock and a hard place” and (3), “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” imply both evils are as bad as each other. In essence these phrases now mean having to choose between two equally bad choices which both lead (almost categorically) to disaster. Is this the same as a Hobson’s choice, well yes I think so, see this post: Hobson’s choice, explained. (I mean, there really isn’t a choice is there, take the left fork and you’ll be screwed, take the right fork and you’ll be fucked (either, or, not in any pleasurable sense)).

“Britannia between Scylla and Charybdis.”
A satirical cartoon/sketch commenting on a British political dilemma of yesteryear.
Scylla and Charybdis were mythical sea monsters/dangers noted by Homer in the Iliad. Scylla was said to be a rock shoal (described as a six-headed sea monster) on one side of a Mediterranean strait and Charybdis was a whirlpool off the coast of the other side (they were regarded as maritime hazards located close enough to each other that they posed an inescapable threat to passing sailors)–would either mode of death be the lesser of two evils?

Are these, strictly speaking, allegories? Do they reveal a hidden meaning? Not really. Look here and decide if you agree of disagree: Allegorically speaking…

Anyway,

Now on to the point and purpose of this post:

I am damned if I do

because it was said to me

“If you love me, you’ll leave me the fuck alone”

and thus, by not contacting you, I am currently dying repeatedly on the inside; this occurs during every minute of every waking hour. Therefore, I am:

damned if I don’t.

Get me? Do you get what I’m saying to you my sweet succulent honey bee? I’m dead without you; you became and now are my:

raison d’être

/French noun/
— the most important reason or purpose for someone or something’s existence

‘Wax poetic’

= to speak or write about something in a poetic and/or overly exaggerated way

Fresco showing a woman holding writing implements (c. 50 AD)
Fresco showing a woman holding writing implements, a wax tablet and stylus. From Pompeii, c. 50 AD.
On wax……we’ve:

Wax lyrical
— To talk in a highly enthusiastic and effusive way (i.e, to wax poetic).
— “He waxed lyrical about his splendid and amazing mentor-cum-muse.”

Wax and wane
— To undergo alternate increases and decreases.
— “The ebb and flow of the ocean tides wax and wane but my love for you stays at a constant fever pitch.”

In terms of waxing poetically these other words come to mind:

Histrionics
— Melodramatic behaviour designed to attract attention.
— “By now, she was accustomed to to his hysterical histrionics.”

Verbose
— Using more words than are needed.
— “It is said that much academic language is obscure and verbose.”

Melodramatic
— Characteristic of melodrama, especially in being exaggerated or overemotional.
— “Dr Josē flung the door open with a melodramatic flourish.”

Exaggerate
— To represent (something) as being larger, better, or worse than it really is.

Drama queen
noun (informal)
— A person who habitually responds to situations in a melodramatic way.

Paint it black
I want everything to be painted black ⚫️

p.s.
Why not see these posts too:
‘Poetic license’
‘Poetic justice’

‘Poetic license’

= bending the rules to make one’s art more captivating.

Poetic Licence...?
Curse those giants’ shoulders! ****

Poetic license means the ‘license’ or ‘liberty’ taken by a poet, prose writer, or other artist in deviating from facts and genre conventions etc. so as to be able to produce more interesting and/or effective artwork.

For instance, we know that we should follow poetic rhyming conventions and syllable and stanza counts but sometimes, the message is more important than the mode so, we take the liberty of scrapping some of the rules every once in a while (see: “Sun, Sand &”).


p.s.
Why not see this post too: ‘Poetic justice’

**** Standing on the shoulders of giants.  This metaphor/phrase/idiom: ‘of dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants’ (Latin: nanos gigantum humeris insidentes) means, discovering truth by building on previous discoveries. This idea/notion has been traced to the 12th c. and is attributed to Bernard of Chartres. Famously, in 1675, Isaac Newton wrote the following, “if I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”

Me, upon you.
I was carried by you, I was nestled upon your shoulders my dearest one.

‘Poetic justice’

has now been served

Poetic justice is a literary device in which ultimately virtue is rewarded and viciousness is punished. In current usage it is often accompanied by an ironic twist of fate related to the individual in question’s own actions and behaviour.

‘Getting a taste of one’s own medicine’

Typically medicine don’t taste nice. Thus, if you make people feel unappreciated, insecure, jealous and anxious, you’ve little right to complain if they turn around and do the same back to you.

‘What goes around, comes around’

Similarly, what goes around comes around, means that if you treat people badly, you can’t be too surprised if one day you find yourself being treated in that same kind of way.


Poetic justice
noun
The fact of experiencing a fitting or deserved retribution for one’s actions.

Retribution
noun
The punishment inflicted on someone as vengeance for their wrong doing or criminal actions.

Vengeance
noun
The punishment inflicted or retribution exacted for causing an injury or having done something wrong.

Virtue
noun
A form of behaviour showing high moral standards.

Vicious
adjective
To be deliberately cruel and/or violent.

‘By hook or by crook’

any means necessary

‘By hook or by crook’ is an English phrase meaning “by any means necessary”, suggesting that any means possible should be taken to accomplish a goal. The phrase is old and the first currently known written instance of it is the Middle English Controversial Tracts of John Wycliffe.

Do what you have to do
Do what you have to do

One way, or another, I’m gunna gunna get ya


John Wycliffe (c. 1323–1384) was an English scholastic philosopher, theologian, reformer and a professor at the University of Oxford. He became an influential dissident within the Roman Catholic priesthood during the 14th c. and is considered an important predecessor to Protestantism.

Hook / Crook
^ Look at how they spell John.

‘The “F” word’

Out of all the English words that begin with the letter F, this one’s the only one referred to as ‘The F word.’ It’s one of the most commonly used words in the English language and, it can be used in many many ways.

'Fuck'
This is a language lesson…

It can be used as a transitive verb for instance, “John fucked Julie,” as an intransitive verb, “Julie fucks.”

It’s meaning is not always sexual. It can be used as an adjective such as, “Julie’s doing all the fucking work.”

As part of an adverb, “John talks too fucking much.” As an adverb enhancing an adjective, “Jameela is fucking beautiful.” As the object of an adverb, “Shirley is fucking beautifully.”

As a noun, “I don’t give a fuck.”

As part of a word, “Abso-fucking-lutly.”

And, as almost every work in a sentence:

Fuck the fucking fuckers.

There are very few words with the versatility of ‘fuck’:

Aggression — “Don’t fuck with me mate.”

Anger — “You’re doing my fucking head in.”

Difficulty — “I don’t fucking understand this situation at all.”

Dismay — “Aww, fuck it,”

Dismissal — “Why don’t you go fuck yourself?”

Dissatisfaction — “I don’t like what the fuck is going on here.”

Fraud — “I got fucked at the used car lot.”

Incompetence — “He’s a fucking idiot.”

Inquiry — “Who the fuck was that!”

Trouble — “We’ve been caught, we are truly fucked now.”

… so don’t be offended!!