Tag: French

foreign words

7 foreign words you need to know

While Caroline James has already challenged the belief that there’s anything like an untranslatable word, we nonetheless felt inspired to explore the lexicon of foreign languages in search of interesting words that don’t have an exact equivalent in English. Such an endeavour can often yield amusing results, but also give insight into the peculiarities of […]

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wind

Weather idioms: winds and storms

We recently took a look at idioms from around the world that use rain as a metaphor; today we turn our attention to those from German, Chinese, Russian, and more, that use winds and storms to get their point across. 1. In den Wind schreiben Language: German Translation: To write in the wind What does it […]

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French flag

Quiz: French words no longer used in French

Read the paragraph below; even if you don’t think you speak French, you’ll probably understand exactly what is being said… Imagine a rather bijou little hotel tucked away down a Parisian cul-de-sac, the kind with a rather louche air of faux decadence where the ensuite has a bidet and every night there’s a cabaret in […]

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Word in the news: could you cope with 'cope'?

Word in the news: could you cope with ‘cope’?

You may have seen in the news that French students sitting a baccalaureate exam about Ian McEwan’s 2001 novel Atonement were asked to discuss ‘How is Turner coping with the situation?’, Turner being the male protagonist. ‘Question M’ quickly became a hot topic on social media, with students complaining that the word coping was too […]

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Swear words, etymology, and the history of English

Swear words, etymology, and the history of English

Have you ever noticed that many of our swear words sound very much like German ones and not at all like French ones? From vulgar words for body parts (a German Arsch is easy to identify, but not so the French cul), to scatological and sexual verbs (doubtless you can spot what scheissen and ficken […]

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rain

Weather idioms: rain

There are plenty of idioms in English that mention the weather – it is, after all, a British stereotype that we can’t hold a conversation without addressing the weather (and, no, it’s not always raining). That national obsession has influenced expressions like it never rains but it pours (misfortunes tend to arrive all at the […]

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flower bouquet

Say it with flowers: floral expressions and phrases

With the opening of the annual RHS Chelsea Flower Show, visitors from all over the world will once again flock to London in their thousands to keep up with the latest gardening trends and enjoy the vibrant colours of the flowers on display. But besides their obvious visual attraction, flowers can also be of particular […]

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tree

Branching out: tree idioms and phrases

Many countries around the world have days on which citizens, companies, and groups are encouraged to plant and care for trees. These are usually observed in spring – which, of course, is at different times of year depending upon hemisphere – and the last Friday of April is National Arbor Day in the US. The […]

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