For members


French Word of the Day: Amortisseur

This car-part can also have some helpful benefits when dealing with bills.

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

Why do I need to know amortisseur?

Because you might see the government announce more of these during times of economic trouble.

What does it mean?

Amortisseur roughly pronounced ah-more-tee-zur – may look like it has something to do with death (given the part of the word that has mort in it), but that is far from its true definition.

This French word is defined as a “shock absorber,” the most common use being the part of your car that absorbs impact and may periodically need to be replaced.

However it also has a more figurative usage. An amortisseur when used by the French government is any aid or device intended to help citizens cope with a certain situation. For example, amid rising inflation, the government instituted an “amortisseur d’électricité” to help small businesses deal with increasing energy costs.

As a result, you might see this word more often during times when government assistance may be particularly necessary. 

Use it like this

Ma voiture a besoin de nouveaux amortisseurs, je crains que cela ne soit très coûteux – My car needs new shock absorbers, I’m worried it’s going to be really expensive

Face à la hausse des coûts de l’énergie et dans l’espoir d’aider les petites entreprises, le gouvernement a mis en place l’amortisseur d’électricité. – Faced with rising energy costs and in an effort to help small businesses, the government put in place the electricity shock-absorber.

Ils prévoient de donner aux ménages une forme d’amortisseur pour les aider à faire face à l’inflation. – They are planning to put some form of shock-absorber to help households cope with rising inflation.

Member comments

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


French Expression of the Day: Robin des bois

He's the legendary Englishman who is surprisingly relevant to French political discourse.

French Expression of the Day: Robin des bois

Why do I need to know Robin des bois?

Because you might be wondering why the French reference this English outlaw during protest movements 

What does it mean?

Robin des bois roughly pronounced roe-bahn day bwah – is the French version of “Robin Hood” – the legendary outlaw who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. 

Robin Hood is part of English folklore, with the first references to him occurring sometime during the 13th or 14th century. He did not become Robin des bois for some time – as the legend did not spread to the majority of French people until at least the 18th or 19th century. 

Robin des bois most likely made his big entrance on the French stage in the 19th century when the novel Ivanhoe (1819), which tells tales of medieval England, was translated into French. 

The fabled outlaw was welcomed by the French, particularly romantic writers and thinkers of the time who saw him as a symbol of the fight against the aristocracy. 

But the French had their own versions of Robin Hood before the English legend made its way to l’Hexagone – like the “Louis Mandrin” who supposedly rebelled against corrupt tax collectors during the Ancien Regime. 

Over the years, the French – particularly those on the political left – have evoked “Robin des bois” during strikes and protests, and it’s relatively common to see protest movements or direct action groups name themselves after Robin Hood.

The English outlaw also had his own French television series between 1963 and 1966 – though this time he was called “Thierry La Fronde” and he lived in France during the Hundred Years’ War.

Use it like this

Nous devons nous attaquer aux actions de Robin des Bois afin d’aider la classe ouvrière à payer leurs factures d’énergie, a déclaré le syndicat dans un communiqué de presse. – We must take action like Robin Hood to help the working class pay for their energy bills, the union said in a flyer. 

Le restaurateur était un véritable Robin des Bois – il avait tendance à surfacturer les tables des riches et à sous-facturer celles de la classe populaire. – The restaurant owner was a real Robin Hood – he had a tendency of overcharging tables of rich people and under-charging those of poor folks.