French word of the day: Enterrement de vie de jeune fille

French word of the day: Enterrement de vie de jeune fille
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
It sounds like the title of a creepy murder movie, but it’s actually referring to a much happier event.

Why do I need to know enterrement de vie de jeune fille?

To avoid serious misunderstandings in case a French female friend invites you to hers.

What does it mean?

Enterrement de vie de jeune fille literally means ‘funeral of the life of a young woman’, which unquestionably sounds pretty miserable.

Who would have guessed that it actually refers to what the Brits call a ‘hen do’ and the Americans refer to as a ‘bachelorette party’.

Because enterrement de vie de jeune fille is a tediously complicated and long expression – even for French standards – the French sometimes shorten it into EVJF.

French women are however not as fussed about their EVJFs as the Americans area bout their bachelorette parties, with many complaining that it's a tiresome and expensive affair.

Is there a male version?

Yes. In fact, the tradition was specifically reserved for French men all the way up to the 1970s, if we are to believe this Cosmopolitan article

A ‘stag do’ or ‘bachelor party’ is called enterrement de vie de garçon – ‘funeral of the life of a boy’.

For some reason the ‘young’ part fell out when the French decided on the expression for men. We don’t know why that is, but it’s not the first time the French language has been criticised for being sexist.

If you prefer a gender neutral variant you may opt for enterrement de vie de célibataire – funeral of the single life.

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