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French word of the day: Quatorzaine

French word of the day: Quatorzaine
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
As complicated it can be to learn French, this expression is quite self-evident. But what happened to 'quarantaine'?

Why do I need to know quatorzaine?

Because it’s the correct term to use if you get coronavirus and have to isolate yourself for two weeks.

What does it mean?

If you merge quarantaine (quarantine) and quatorze (fourteen) together, you get quatorzaine

The term is the one to use when referring to going into isolation for a period of fourteen days (or less) due to a contagious illness such as the coronavirus. 

Quatorzaine was used frequently in French media when referring to the fourteen days of isolation required for everyone who travelled to France from infection zones such as China or Italy in the early days of the pandemic.

Admittedly, quatorzaine is a less fun mix of words than jeudredi – a term referring to not knowing the day of the week, which means you can make your favourite cocktail on a Thursday if you want.

But having to go into quatorzaine could potentially mean you will be able to enjoy fourteen jeudredis in a row – provided that your office does not have you work from home, of course.

What about quarantaine?

For the Anglo ear, it's perhaps not self-evident that quarantaine refers to quarante (forty), so using quatorzaine instead of quarantaine when referring to a shorter period of quarantine is more accurate, linguistically speaking.

However chances are small that people will think you're self-isolating for forty days if you say quarantaine, the French use both terms pretty loosely.


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