For members


French word of the day: Quiproquo

Not to be confused with the quid pro quo we refer to in English.

The French word of the day is 'quiproquo'.
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know quiproquo?

Not only can it explain some awkward social situations, it’s also used when discussing fiction.

What does it mean?

In Latin, quid pro quo means “something for something”, or “one thing for another”. In English, the term has come to refer to one favour being exchanged for another. Hence Donald Trump’s insistence during his impeachment inquiry that there was “no quid pro quo”, after accusations he pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate Joe Biden and his son by withholding military aid.

In French, though, the expression has evolved to mean something different.

As well as dropping the ‘d’, the term quiproquo refers to a misunderstanding. It still retains the notion of one thing for another, but here it means something is mistaken for something else, whether it’s a person, a thing or a situation.

It’s often used to describe a scene in a book or play where there is a case of mistaken identity, or a farcical situation where characters aren’t on the same wavelength. In recent years, sitcoms such as Modern Family have made use of the quiproquo to engineer humorous misunderstandings, where two people are talking to each other while having two completely different conversations.

It’s important to note that the different elements are pronounced the French way, ignoring the letter ‘u’, so it sounds like key-pro-co.

Use it like this

Il y a eu un quiproquo. Quand je l’ai appelée pour lui dire que j’étais devant chez elle, elle m’a dit qu’elle venait d’arriver chez moi ! – There was a misunderstanding. When I called her to say I was outside her place, she told me she’d just arrived at mine!

Il y a souvent des quiproquos quand je tend la main à quelqu’un et qu’il s’avance pour faire la bise – There is often a moment of confusion when I offer somebody my hand and they lean for a kiss on the cheek.

C’est un quiproquo ; on m’avait dit qu’il fallait se déguiser pour la soirée Halloween – It’s a misunderstanding; I was told we had to dress up for the Halloween party.

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For members


French Expression of the Day: Encore un que les anglais n’auront pas

Finished a delicious French meal? It might be time to mention the English.

French Expression of the Day: Encore un que les anglais n’auront pas

Why do I need to know encore un que les anglais n’auront pas?

Because who wouldn’t want to celebrate finishing a delicious plate of food?

What does it mean?

Encore un que les anglais n’auront pas – roughly pronounced ahn-core uhn kuh layz ahn-glay nor-ohn pah – translates precisely to “another one that the English will not have.”

You probably won’t hear any French millennials using this old-fashioned French expression, it is certainly might be more likely to come out of the mouth of a grandparent or a great-aunt.

Nevertheless – the history of it is quite interesting, particularly considering the “anglais” (English) part can be interchangeable with other countries that have invaded France at some point in history.

The expression is mostly said (in a joking way) to commemorate the end of a good meal. Originally, it was used to celebrate the fact that everyone managed to finish their plates without the soldiers from *insert country to have invaded France* taking the food off their table. 

You might hear other variations of this expression, like “Encore un que les allemands n’auront pas” (another one that the Germans will not have) or the even older (dating back to the 1870s and the Franco-Prussian wars) expression, “Encore un que les prussiens n’auront pas” (another one that the Prussians will not have).

Sometimes, the phrase might be “les boches” instead of the Germans, Prussians or English. However, you should be aware that this is a pejorative term for a German soldier, so perhaps not the most friendly version of the expression.

Use it like this

En se levant de table, Simone a pris son assiette et a dit “encore un que les Anglais n’auront pas.” – As she stood up from the table, Simone took her plate and said “and another one that the English won’t have.”

Après la guerre franco-prussienne de 1870, les Français avaient plusieurs expressions pour se moquer des Allemands, comme “encore un que les Allemands n’auront pas.” – After the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, the French came up with several expressions to poke fun at Germans, like “another one that the Germans won’t have.”

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