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French word of the Day: Minute papillion

French word of the Day: Minute papillion
This rather beautiful phrase has an interesting history.

Why do I need to know minute papillon?

Because it’s handy when you are dealing with someone impatient.

What does it mean?

This literally means ‘butterfly minute’ although papillion is also sometimes used as a term of endearment.

The phrase really means something more like “hang on”, “wait a minute” or “hold your horses”.

Whilst some suggest it’s a reference to butterflies fluttering from one flower to another, others believe it has a more amusing origin. 

According to some, at the beginning of the 20th century, there was a waiter named Papillon who worked in a Parisian café that was popular with journalists. 

Whenever Papillon was overwhelmed with customer demands, he would shout “minute, j’arrive!” (one moment, I’m coming!). The customers would reply with “minute, Papillon!” (in a moment, Papillon!) as a way of expressing he could take his time.

Use it like this

Minute papillon, rien ne presse ! – Hold your horses, there’s no rush!

Minute papillon, j’arrive bientôt ! – Hold on a minute, I’m almost there!

Rester calme et minute papillon – Calm down and hang on a minute 


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