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French expression of the day: Depuis belle lurette

French expression of the day: Depuis belle lurette
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
In French, an hour becomes an eternity when used the right way.

Why do I need to know depuis belle lurette?

Because it’s a great way to show off your French vocab. Plus, even though the French use it often, few really know the history behind the expression.

What does it mean?

Depuis belle lurette or il y a belle lurette translates to 'for ages' or 'a long time ago'.

In French the literal meaning is il y a une bonne petite heure – 'a good little hour ago', which doesn't sound like very long, but it is.

Lurette doesn't really mean anything in French. It comes for the word hurette, which is a diminutive for heure and means 'little hour'.

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The expression il y a belle lurette first appeared all the way back in 1877, according to French online dictionary Expressio.

No one knows exactly how or when heurette became lurette, but the dictionary says it's likely from the L' that usually precedes the l'heure in French. Another explanation is that the silent H became an L over time because of the L in belle.

Use it like this

Je n’ai pas dansé depuis belle lurette ! – It’s been ages since I last danced!

You can drop the belle and just stick to lurette:

Je l’attends depuis lurette. I’ve been waiting for him for ages.

Il y a lurette que je ne suis pas allé skier. – I haven't been skiing in a good old while.

Synonyms

Depuis longtemps – In a long time

Depuis la nuit des temps – Since forever

By Olivia Sorrel Dejerine

 


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