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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Word of the Day: Mi

This tiny French word can be used in a huge variety of contexts, from sport to cooking to working hours.

French Word of the Day: Mi
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know Mi ?

Because while this word might look like the word for “me” or “mine” in other romance languages, in French it has a different meaning and is used in a wide variety of contexts.

What does it mean?

Mi – roughly pronounced mee – and it is not exactly a word, rather it is a French prefix.

It means “half” or “mid” and can be added in front of many different words. It would be most comparable to the English prefix “demi” or “mid” or “half”.

You’ll see this prefix used with several words and phrases – for example, “travailler à mi-temps” (to work half-time, or part-time) la mi-temps (half-time of a sports match) or “voter mi-mandat” (to vote in mid-term elections) or “s’arrêter à mi-chemin” (to stop halfway). 

You might also see this prefix used to describe being halfway through a period of time – like a month, for instance. On September 15th, you could say it is “mi-septembre” (mid-September). 

Foodies will probably also recognise it from menus where you might see mi-cuit de thon or mi-cuit au chocolat which literally means ‘half cooked’ – so either rare in the case of the tuna, or deliciously molten and oozing in the sense of the ‘half-cooked’ chocolate cake.

Use it like this

Il était en train de raconter une histoire très intéressante lorsqu’il s’est arrêté à mi-chemin pour regarder ses messages. – He was telling a really interesting story when he stopped midway through to check his messages.

Avez-vous l’intention de voter lors des élections américaines de mi-mandat ? Vous pouvez demander votre bulletin de vote par correspondance. – Are you planning to vote in the American midterm elections? You can request your absentee ballot.

La mi-temps était de 29-7, mais ils ont gagné à la fin – the half-time score was 29-7, but they won in the end.

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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Word of the Day: Blasé

Even though this French word has made its way into English, in French it has an extra emphasis. Here is how to use it in both languages.

French Word of the Day: Blasé

Why do I need to know blasé ?

Because you you can use this word in both English and French, although its strength is slightly different. 

What does it mean?

Blasé – roughly pronounced blah-zay –  is a word that English speakers might be familiar with already, as it has entered our vocabulary.

In French, the official definition of blasé is a bit more harsh than what English-speakers might be used to. It is defined by La Rousse dictionary as “a person who thinks he has exhausted the human experience and is disgusted with everything.” 

In contrast, English dictionaries define blasé simply as ‘bored’ and ‘jaded’ and it’s common to use is quite casually such as “I do so many work presentations that I’m a bit blasé about them now”. 

Overall, blasé denotes a level of apathy in both languages but in French it’s less flippant – oftentimes describing a person who is not easily impressed or someone who is disengaged with the world. Keep in mind that when you use this word in French, you will have to gender it based on who you are referring to – so if the word is describing a woman, then it would be blasée.

A common French expression you might hear using this word would be “blasé de la vie” – which means to be in a general state of apathy, or to be simply disengaged from daily life.

The word comes from the French past participle of the verb blaser – which means ‘to satiate.’ However, English-speakers might be surprised that blasé’s true origins are likely more Dutch than French. 

Use it like this

J’ai fait une blague mais il est tellement blasé ces jours-ci qu’il n’a pas rigolé. – I made a joke but he has been so apathetic lately that he didn’t laugh.

Elle n’a pas souri ni ri pendant l’entretien, alors qu’il s’agissait de l’emploi de ses rêves. Je ne sais pas pourquoi elle était si blasée. – She did not smile or laugh during the interview, even though it was for her dream job. I don’t know why she was so disengaged about it.

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