French Word of the Day: Camembert

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

Yes it's a cheese, but this French word has several other meanings, some of which you might be surprised by.


Why do I need to know camembert?

Because this French word is not just limited to the famous cheese.

What does it mean?

Camembert roughly pronounced cahm-mom-berr is a French word many English-speakers are familiar with, as it describes the soft, smelly cow’s milk cheese from Normandy.  

But the term has a number of other meanings in French as well. For example, a pie chart in French might technically be called a ‘diagramme en secteur’ but in reality most people simply call it a ‘camembert’ - owing to the circular shape of the cheese and its container. 


You’ll see the word used in this way when playing the game ‘Trivial Pursuit’ as well, as the pieces you fill with smaller wedges when you win the various colours, are also called camembert.

If you visit Belgium or watch a French-language film that includes Belgian characters, there is also a possibility you will hear les camemberts used as slang for “French people”, though in this case, you’d probably also hear the Belgians referred to as ‘les gaufres’ (the waffles).

Use it like this

Si vous regardez le camembert, vous verrez que la majorité des gens sont d'accord avec la déclaration du président. – If you look at the pie chart, you will see that the majority of people agree with the President's statement.

Mon camembert est déjà à moitié rempli, je vais probablement gagner le trivial pursuit ce tour-ci. – My piece is already halfway full, I will probably win Trivial Pursuit this round. 


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