French Expression of the Day: en masse

This is one of those expressions that has successfully made the journey into the anglophone world. But do you know what it really means?

French Expression of the Day: en masse
Photo: Depositphotos

Why do I need to know en masse?

This is one of those expressions used in both English and French.

You might have head it thrown around a lot — and you may have even adopted it yourself. Here's a look at this very common expression and its origins. 

So, what does en masse actually mean?

En masse is an adverb which has its origins in French literature, it literally means “in a mass”. 

So when it's used in both English and French it means 'all together', 'as a group', 'in a body', 'as one', 'as a whole', 'in a mass'.

Basically when you do something en masse everyone does it together.

For example: Les investisseurs étrangers se retireraient en masse. — 'Foreign investors would pull out en masse'. 

Or, Les membres des communautés tribales votent souvent en masse pour le même candidat, habituellement le fils d'un des chefs de tribu. — Members of tribal communities often voted en masse for the same candidate, usually the son of one of the tribal leaders.

How to pronounce it

Here's a handy YouTube video to make sure you're pronouncing correctly. 



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French Expression of the Day: Chanter faux

This is definitely not lip synching.

French Expression of the Day: Chanter faux

Why do I need to know Chanter faux ?

Because if you were not blessed with a beautiful singing voice, then this might be a good phrase to know. 

What does it mean?

Chanter faux – pronounced shahn-tay foe – literally means to ‘fake sing.’ You might assume this expression would mean ‘lip sync’ in French, but its true meaning is to sing out of tune. (Lip synching is chanter en playback).

It joins a chorus of other French expressions about bad singing, like chanter comme une casserole (to sing like a saucepan) or chanter comme une seringue (to sing like a siren).  

Chanter faux is actually the most correct way to describe someone being off key, so it might be a better option than comparing another’s voice to a cooking utensil. 

You might have seen this expression pop up recently amid the drought, as people call for rain dances and rain singing (where there is no shame in singing badly).

Use it like this

Pendant l’audition pour la pièce, Sarah a chanté faux. Malheureusement, elle n’a pas obtenu le rôle. – During her audition for the play, Sarah sang out of tune. Sadly, she did not get a role.

Si on fait un karaoké, tu verras comme je chante mal. Je chante vraiment faux, mais je m’en fiche. Il s’agit de s’amuser. – If we do karaoke you will see how badly I sing. I am really out of tune, but I don’t care. It’s all about having fun.