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Ghosted, crush and the metaverse: The new words added to the French dictionary

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Ghosted, crush and the metaverse: The new words added to the French dictionary
The very 21st-century word 'metavers' makes its debut in the 2024 Petit Robert dictionary (Photo by ALEX WONG / Getty Images via AFP)

Some 150 new words included in the 2024 edition of France’s Petit Robert dictionary - from environmental and tech terms to plenty of Anglicisms.

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You may have read about Être en PLS in one of our regular French Word of the Day articles. 

It’s one of 150 new words or phrases included in the 2024 edition of the French dictionary Petit Robert, which hits bookstore shelves this week.

Anglicisms

French language 'guardians' the Academie française may fight a ceaseless battle against English words being used in France, but that doesn't mean that people take any notice of them.

The dictionary adds words or phrases that are in common usage, and this year that includes quite a few of English origin.

For example the verb ghoster - which describes the act of ignoring or being ignored - comes from the English of 'ghosting' someone, originating on dating apps. 

Crush has also been added to the French dictionary to describe having romantic feelings for someone, even though there is a French equivalent word - béguin. And bader which can mean “to be depressed”, coming from the English 'bad'.

There’s also megenrer, which means attributing a gender to someone that they do not recognise, or misgendering them.

These words and phrases “are a mirror held up to society”, Géraldine Moinard, editorial director of Le Robert, told France Inter.

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But it’s not just les nouveaux mots justes used by fellow young people - spoiler and instragrammable are included for the first time, too - that have added pages to the new edition of Le Robert.

Digital language

Digital adjacent words so necessary to 21st-century living - such as le metavers, le minage de cryptomonnaie (cryptomining), and le moissonnage de données (data harvesting) - are also in the big book of words for the first time.

And a Quebec word - infonuagique - finally gives a francophone name to the computing cloud (even though in France you'll pretty commonly here people refer to simply 'le cloud'.

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Climate crisis

And several environmental phrases have transferred from the collective consciousness, via the news media, and into the dictionary, including: Mégabassine - in the news recently as campaigners in the southwest sought to stop the construction of giant water storage facilities - as well as dette climatique, microplastique and greenwashing

The indice de réparabilité - referring to how items can be repaired rather than thrown away - and low emission zone term the zone à faible émission (ZFE) have also been included in the new edition.

Moinard told France Inter that the addition of these dramatic environmental phrases reflected current anxiety over the state of the planet. “"we need [the] vocabulary to express these fears,” he said.

National security also added new words and phrases. It has given a new regular verb, nasser, which describes the police act of surrounding demonstrators - such as during pension reform protests - to maintain public order. Think ‘kettling’ in English.

As has the current wave of conspiracy theorism - with complosphere, describing the often online community that revels in plots and conspiracies.

Personalities such as French Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne, and the freshly crowned King Charles III will feature in the Le Robert Illustré 2024 - which will be available from Wednesday, May 17th.

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