French Word of the Day: Promiscuité

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French Word of the Day:  Promiscuité
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French health experts will probably tell you to avoid this at present - but not for the reasons you might think.


Why do I need to know promiscuité?

Because you'll likely see health experts and French ministers telling you to avoid this, and you might be a curious as to why

What does it mean?

Promiscuité – usually pronounced pro-miss-cue-ih-tay– looks quite similar to the English word promiscuity - ‘having or involving multiple sexual partners’ -  and while this is one of the definitions of the word in French, you’re more likely to see it used in different contexts. 


The French word promiscuité - which is a female noun - also means overcrowding or ‘many people in a small space.’ So if you’ve seen announcements from French ministers telling people to avoid promiscuité on public transport or in concert halls when Covid cases are high, they are not telling the French to avoid romantic interactions, rather they are advising that people stay clear of crowded spaces. 

Though this word has been frequently used in health contexts in recent years, it can describe any overcrowded environment - say a beach or museum. In fact, some tourist spots have been decried for their promiscuité - like the beautiful calanques in Marseille, with politicians and experts proposing plans to limit tourist numbers to combat said promiscuité.

As mentioned previously, the word in French can also have a sexual connotation, but you would more likely see it written as ‘promiscuité sexuelle’ in this case.

Use it like this

C'est la plage que vous ne devriez pas fréquenter si vous voulez éviter la promiscuité. Cependant, vous pouvez aussi envisager d'y aller tôt le matin, quand il y a moins de monde. – This is the beach you should not go to if you want to avoid overcrowding. That being said, you could go early in the morning when there are fewer people.

La promiscuité dans les transports publics est un enfer. Les responsables doivent trouver des solutions. -  Overcrowding on public transportation is hell. Public officials must find solutions. 


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bmwoy 2022/07/18 17:54
"you could go early in the morning when there are less people." - FEWER people, please, he said pedantically

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