SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

Word of the day: Paname

This word refers to a place, but probably not the one you’re thinking of.

Word of the day: Paname

Why do I need to know Paname?

Because if you don’t know what it means it could lead to some confusing conversations.

What does it mean?

Ville lumière, Cité de l’amour, capitale de la mode… the French expressions which refer to Paris are endless, just like the rest of the world’s fascination with the city. But while the above terms speak for themselves, the French capital has another nickname which requires more of an explanation.

The first time you heard somebody say they were going to ‘Paname’, you may have been imagining long haul flights and scorching temperatures. But it’s not the French word for the small, Central American nation – in French, Panama is spelled the same as in English – it is in fact a very common French nickname for Paris.

According to Le Figaro, the name owes its existence to a scandal which rocked the Third Republic in 1892. Over 100 members of parliament were accused of accepting bribes from a French company involved in a failed attempt to build a Panama Canal.

This supposedly lead people outside of the capital to begin referring to these disgraced politicians as “panamistes”, before extending the insult to Parisians in general. The same people then began calling Paris itself “Paname”.

Over the years, the term has softened into a term of endearment. According to Claude Duneton in Le Figaro, this began with soldiers in the First World War who dreamed of “seeing Paname again”. The nickname then became common through the cabarets and music halls of the 1920s and 1930s.

People still use it to this day. It is also present in pop culture. Paname is the name of a song by Léo Ferré, and has more recently featured in a song by the rapper Médine.

Use it like this

Je rêve d’habiter à Paname – I dream of living in Paris.

Elle a quitté Paname quand elle avait dix-huit ans – She left Paris when she was eighteen.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Expression of the Day: Découvrir le pot aux roses

You might do this while gardening or while reading the tabloids.

French Expression of the Day: Découvrir le pot aux roses

Why do I need to know découvrir le pot aux roses?

Because if you enjoy celebrity gossip, then you probably will find good use for this phrase

What does it mean?

Découvrir le pot aux roses – pronounced day-coov-rear le pot-oh rose – literally translates to ‘to discover the pot of roses.’ 

You might use this expression when finding out about some exciting gossip or maybe when discovering what your partner secretly planned for your anniversary, as this phrase in actuality is what you would say when you learn something secret or hidden. 

In English, when discussing secrets, you might say someone has ‘spilled the beans’ or ‘let the cat out of the bag,’ but the French phrase is more about the person who has found out about the hidden item or truth, not the person who told it, as it ‘spill the beans’.

The origins of this French expression are not what you might expect, historically, the phrase has little to do with the flowers.

During the Middle Ages, the verb ‘découvrir’ had the meaning of ‘to lift a lid’ and at the time the phrase ‘pot aux roses’ referred to a small box that wealthy women used to store their perfumes, as well as their makeup. They often used these boxes to keep secrets, letters, or notes that they did not want others to stumble upon.

Use it like this

Pendant l’afterwork, Sarah a raconté à tout le monde les secrets les plus fous sur la vie privée du patron. Je ne comprends pas comment elle a réussi à découvrir le pot aux roses. – During the work happy hour, Sarah told us all about the wildest secrets of our boss’ personal life. I don’t understand how she managed to unearth that gossip.

Il a découvert le pot aux roses lorsqu’il s’est connecté à l’ordinateur de son colocataire pour regarder simplement son mail. – He discovered the secret when he logged onto his roommate’s laptop to just check his email. 

SHOW COMMENTS