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Terms from French

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April 29, 2005, 08:17
wordcrafter
Terms from French
Having fallen behind in the words of the day, we'll play a bit of catch-up. This week's theme is 'Terms from French', beginning with a word that would also fit our recent theme of 'Eyesight as Metaphor'.

louche – disreputable or dubious; shady – but in a rakishly appealing way
. . . .[most dictionaries miss the qualification after the 'but']
[from F. meaning 'cross-eyed'; ult. from Latin luscus blind in one eye]sobriquet – a nickname (pronounced 'sobrikay'; occas. spelled 'soubriquet')
[from M.Fr. soubriquet, meaning lit. "a chuck under the chin"]
[WC note: Though dictionaries do not say so, a sobriquet typically names a characteristic of the subject; that is, it is an epithet. For example, "Joe" is a nickname for Joseph, but wouldn't typically be called a sobriquet.]

This message has been edited. Last edited by: wordcrafter,
April 30, 2005, 10:53
wordcrafter
cap-a-pie – at all points
[literally, 'head to foot]
May 03, 2005, 09:54
wordcrafter
Don't confuse our recent word sobriquet (silent t) with soubrette, where the t is pronounced.

soubrette theater – 1. the role of a saucy, coquettish maidservant or like subordinate (also, the actress in that role) 2. a woman of the stage who, in real life, is that sort of flirty person

As I understand it, the soubrette is always a subordinate, not upper-crust, and is always a supporting role. That is, a lead character, even one so flirty as Scarlett O'Hara or any early Katherine Hepburn role, is not a soubrette.

On rare occasion, the term is used for such a female who is not in the world of theater, television etc. For example:
May 03, 2005, 23:01
wordcrafter
beau ideal – the perfect type or model [French beau idéal ideal beauty]
May 04, 2005, 22:42
wordcrafter
volte face – a complete and abrupt reversal of policy, position, etc.; an about-faceamour propre; amour-propre – self-esteem (typically with sense of excessive pride; vanity) [literally, 'love of oneself']
May 08, 2005, 14:33
Dianthus
quote:
Originally posted by wordcrafter:
Having fallen behind in the words of the day, we'll play a bit of catch-up. This week's theme is 'Terms from French', beginning with a word that would also fit our recent theme of 'Eyesight as Metaphor'.

louche – disreputable or dubious; shady – but in a rakishly appealing way
. . . .[most dictionaries miss the qualification after the 'but']
[from F. meaning 'cross-eyed'; ult. from Latin luscus blind in one eye]
    ... the drama, the beauty, the louche charm and the brutality of horse racing.
    – Deirdre Donahue, USA Today, Dec. 28, 2001, reviewing the book Seabiscuit

    The late Pope was truly a man for the masses and no slave to the cultural fashions beloved of the louche Left of the West.
    – Piers Akerman, Australia Daily Telegraph, April 12, 2005

    Thanks to the famous Monte Carlo casino, Rainier maintained the aura of gambling as a high-rolling sport of dashing counts and louche playboys.
    – Robin Givhan, The Washington Post, April 11, 2005
sobriquet – a nickname (pronounced 'sobrikay'; occas. spelled 'soubriquet')
[from M.Fr. soubriquet, meaning lit. "a chuck under the chin"]
[WC note: Though dictionaries do not say so, a sobriquet typically names a characteristic of the subject; that is, it is an epithet. For example, "Joe" is a nickname for Joseph, but wouldn't typically be called a sobriquet.]
    Originally, nurses were appointed to schools as de facto public health pest control officers, combing through the heads of kids for infestations. Hence the sobriquet, Nit nurse, a term carrying a pejorative connotation.
    – Hugh Reilly, The Scotsman, Apr 27, 2005

    John Paul II's unique stamp on the papacy earned him the sobriquet of the "people's pope" due to his ability to connect with people of every faith.
    – Kevin McElderry, AFP, April 20, 2005

    Among his critics [the new Pope] has earned the sobriquet "God's rottweiler" but his supporters say he is a courteous, gentle man and an outstanding theologian with a deep sense of spirituality.
    - Jonathan Petre, Bruce Johnston, 'God's rottweiler' is the new Pope, Telegraph, Apr 20, 2005


Chagrin n.

A keen feeling of mental unease, as of annoyance or embarrassment, caused by failure, disappointment, or a disconcerting event: To her chagrin, the party ended just as she arrived.
tr.v., -grined, -grin·ing, -grins.

To cause to feel chagrin; mortify or discomfit: He was chagrined at the poor sales of his book. See synonyms at embarrass.

[French, possibly from dialectal French chagraigner, to distress, become gloomy, from Old French graim, sorrowful, gloomy, of Germanic origin.]

WORD HISTORY The ultimate etymology of the word chagrin, which comes directly to us from French, is considered uncertain by many etymologists. At one time chagrin was thought to be the same word as shagreen, “a leather or skin with a rough surface,” derived from French chagrin. The reasoning was that in French the word for this rough material, which was used to smooth and polish things, was extended to the notion of troubles that fret and annoy a person. It was later decided, however, that the sense “rough leather” and the sense “sorrow” each belonged to a different French word chagrin. Other etymologists have offered an alternative explanation, suggesting that the French word chagrin, “sorrow,” is a loan translation of the German word Katzenjammer, “a hangover from drinking.” A loan translation is a type of borrowing from another language in which the elements of a foreign word, as in Katzen, “cats,” and Jammer, “distress, seediness,” are assumed to be translated literally by corresponding elements in another language, in this case, chat, “cat,” and grigner, “to grimace.” The actual etymology is less colorful, with the word probably going back to a Germanic word, *gramī, meaning “sorrow, trouble.” Chagrin is first recorded in English in 1656 in the now obsolete sense “anxiety, melancholy.”

More here - which also gives the French terms (interestingly, they don't seem to use the word themselves).