This week we look at words that come from the French Revolution or are strongly connected with it.
tumbrel; tumbril – a two-wheeled cart, especially a farmer's cart that can be tilted to dump a load (used to carry prisoners to execution during the French Revolution)
[at a WWII amphibious invasion] Everyone knew now that just as sure as God made little green Japs, the Higgins boats ferrying in the first Marine waves might as well be tumbrels. – William Manchester, Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War
Eugene Fidell … said that the government's actions in the case are "very disturbing." "This man has been held for three years — basically in a Bastille, and now it turns out he has not even been prosecuted with those things that he has previously been tarred with," Fidell said. – Cox News Service, Nov. 23, 2005
The chairwoman said gravely that the matter would be referred to the Conference Arrangements Committee, where it will probably disappear like a dead rat in a Bastille oubliette. – The Guardian, Sept. 29, 2005
Bonus word: oubliette – a dungeon reached only by a trap door it its ceiling [From French oublier 'to forget']
ancien régime — a political or social system that has been replaced by a more modern one
The Odessa Lawn Tennis Club … is an unlikely setting for the start of a revolution. However, the new guard in charge of the British game, having swept aside the ancien régime, is hoping that this weekend's Davis Cup tie here against Ukraine will signal a fresh beginning. — The Independent, Sept. 22, 2006
franc-tireur — a sniper or sharpshooter, working outside the regular army
At least 150 Syrian soldiers … were cut to pieces by mortar and machine-gun fire amid the mines. When they reached the Lebanese positions, they began executing the Aounists as franc-tireurs — irregular partisans who had disobeyed the rules of war. — The Independent, July 9, 2001
tricolor — 1. a flag having three stripes 2. the French flag
There is a good deal of flap about the Iraqi and Kurdish flags, each a tricolor.
The Kurdish regional government has banned the use of the Iraqi flag on public buildings as a symbol of oppression under Saddam Hussein. Maliki has demanded the use of the national tricolor and said only parliament can decide on a new flag. — Reuters, Sept. 5, 2006
In Batman, repression approached ridiculous levels: because traffic lights matched the Kurdish tricolor, local authorities changed the green lights to blue. — Telegraph, Nov. 6, 2003
According to Frank Sulloway, in a footnote in his book Born To Rebel(p. 308), the political terms "left" and "right" come from the French Revolution:
Within the Legislative Assembly, the deputies of these two contrasting persuasions had sat on opposite sides of the hall, with conservatives occupying the benches to the right. When the National Convention convened in a new building, the new deputies were reluctant to sit on the right side, lest they be accused of royalist sympathies.
Thus can one imagine a sans culotte being transported by tumbrel to the bastille, dragooned by the importunate aristocracy, following overthrow of the ancien régime, accompanied by widespread display of the tricolorThis message has been edited. Last edited by: dalehileman,
Originally posted by dalehileman: Thus can one imagine a sans culotte being transported by tumbrel to the bastille, following overthrow of the ancien régime, accompanied by widespread display of the tricolor
And if this fellow was truly sans culotte, (without trousers) one could imagine him mooning his captors!
A little sidelight with regard to the French and the US revolution: Cornwallis did not surrender to Washington at the battle or Yorktown, but to the French! I guess we're all French citizens and didn't even know it! Zut, alors!!! C'est fou!