For members


French word of the day: Assouplissement

Because it's likely to make a difference to your daily life.

French word of the day: Assouplissement
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know assouplissement?

Because it might be what you are longing for.

What does it mean?

The word means an easing or a relaxation of something and comes from souple – flexible.

It’s most commonly used to mean a relaxation of rules or conditions, but can also be used in the physical sense so if you’re looking for a stretch workout that will make you more flexible, you could search for les meilleurs exercises d’assouplissment.

It can also be used in more specific contexts such as assouplissement quantitatif – quantitative easing.

Over the past two years of pandemic assouplissement has been used a lot as various Covid-related rules were relaxed. Its opposite is durcissement – a hardening or toughening.

Use it like this

J’espère vraiment qu’il y aura un assouplissement de la règle de 1km, ça me rend fou de ne pas pouvoir faire une bonne course – I really hope there will be a relaxation of the 1km exercise rule, I’m going crazy without a proper run 

Pensez-vous que Macron va annoncer un assouplissement de confinement la semaine prochaine ? – Do you think Macron will announce a relaxation of lockdown rules next week?

Au retour du congé parental, les parents auront le droit de demander un assouplissement de leurs conditions de travail – On their return from parental leave, parents will have the right to request flexible working conditions

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For members


French Expression of the Day: Robin des bois

He's the legendary Englishman who is surprisingly relevant to French political discourse.

French Expression of the Day: Robin des bois

Why do I need to know Robin des bois?

Because you might be wondering why the French reference this English outlaw during protest movements 

What does it mean?

Robin des bois roughly pronounced roe-bahn day bwah – is the French version of “Robin Hood” – the legendary outlaw who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. 

Robin Hood is part of English folklore, with the first references to him occurring sometime during the 13th or 14th century. He did not become Robin des bois for some time – as the legend did not spread to the majority of French people until at least the 18th or 19th century. 

Robin des bois most likely made his big entrance on the French stage in the 19th century when the novel Ivanhoe (1819), which tells tales of medieval England, was translated into French. 

The fabled outlaw was welcomed by the French, particularly romantic writers and thinkers of the time who saw him as a symbol of the fight against the aristocracy. 

But the French had their own versions of Robin Hood before the English legend made its way to l’Hexagone – like the “Louis Mandrin” who supposedly rebelled against corrupt tax collectors during the Ancien Regime. 

Over the years, the French – particularly those on the political left – have evoked “Robin des bois” during strikes and protests, and it’s relatively common to see protest movements or direct action groups name themselves after Robin Hood.

The English outlaw also had his own French television series between 1963 and 1966 – though this time he was called “Thierry La Fronde” and he lived in France during the Hundred Years’ War.

Use it like this

Nous devons nous attaquer aux actions de Robin des Bois afin d’aider la classe ouvrière à payer leurs factures d’énergie, a déclaré le syndicat dans un communiqué de presse. – We must take action like Robin Hood to help the working class pay for their energy bills, the union said in a flyer. 

Le restaurateur était un véritable Robin des Bois – il avait tendance à surfacturer les tables des riches et à sous-facturer celles de la classe populaire. – The restaurant owner was a real Robin Hood – he had a tendency of overcharging tables of rich people and under-charging those of poor folks.