French word of the day: Grisaille

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
French word of the day: Grisaille
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond"

As the summer comes to an end, you're bound to see more of this French word.


Why do I need to know grisaille?

Because whether it is to talk about the gloomy sky or a dull atmosphere, the French love to use it.

What does it mean?

Grisaille translates to 'greyness' or 'dullness' and is a versatile word that can mean different things depending on the context.

It is usually used to describe cloudy and grey weather, but it can also be a way of characterising a situation as 'colourless', 'monotonous', 'gloomy' or 'dull'.

The French often refer to the grisaille parisienne, which can be translated as ‘the grey everyday in Paris’ (as life can be both quite tedious and stressful in the capital when you're established there and not visiting as a tourist).

READ ALSO: Why I love the French habits of scolding and complaining 

In art, grisaille describes a painting that is composed of grey tones only.


Use it like this

Viens nous rejoindre dans le Sud pour échapper à la grisaille parisienne ! – Come join us in the South to escape the grey everyday in Paris!

Cette grisaille donne beaucoup de cachet à ce tableau. – These grey tones give a lot of character to this painting.

La grisaille quotidienne nous empêche d’être heureux, changeons les choses ! - Gloomy daily life prevents us from being happy, let's change things!


Monotonie – Monotony

Morosité – Gloominess

Mélancolie – Melancholy

Tristesse – Sadness

By Olivia Sorrel Dejerine


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also