French Word of the Day: Redoublement

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

This French word has a second meaning you might not have expected.


Why do I need to know redoublement?

Because you might hear this at the school gate.

What does it mean?

Redoublement - roughly pronounced reh-doo-bluh-mahn - is a noun defined as ‘to double or increase in intensity’. The verb would be redoubler.

There's also doublement (doubling) and its verb - doubler - they are mostly used interchangeably. 

Both can either mean a statistical doubling - eg redoublement des primes or a doubling of bonuses - or just something that has got a lot bigger or more intense.

For example, a forecaster talking about a strong storm might say le redoublement de la tempête (the intensification of the storm).


But redoublement also means to repeat a year in school, or ‘to be held back’. The opposite term - to skip a grade - is sauté une classe

This second sense of the redoublement is less obvious for English-speakers, and in a school setting redoublement is more common than doublement.

For example, the following line from the French press about the education minister - il donne désormais aux professeurs, et non plus aux familles, le dernier mot s’agissant du redoublement - might have been a bit confusing for an English reader without the second definition.

One might have assumed France’s education minister was questioning whether parents should have the final word on ‘doubling’ their families. In reality, he was saying that teachers, not families, should decide on whether a student should repeat a year in school.

Use it like this

L'enseignant a recommandé à l'élève de faire un redoublement. - The teacher recommended that the pupil be held back. 

Si tu continues comme ça, tu vas redoubler ! - If you continue like this, you will repeat the year!


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