French Word of the Day: Régime

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

This French word is frequently listed as a New Year’s resolution.


Why do I need to know régime?

Because you might be confused how a political order relates to your friend recently becoming gluten-free.

What does it mean?

Régime - roughly pronounced ray-jeem - might look exactly like the English word (minus the accent aigu), but the two have slightly different meanings. 

Technically, régime in French can be used to refer to an order or system, perhaps for the military or government, in the same way the English term can. For example, there is the term ancien régime, referring to the former political system of the kingdom of France, pre-revolution.


But the main difference lies in everyday usage - régime is also the French word for ‘diet’ or healthy eating plan.

If your French friend says je commence un régime végétarien, they are not telling you that they plan to impose a vegetarian governmental order. Rather, they are just informing you that they started a vegetarian diet.

Similarly, people might say something like j'ai l'intention de suivre un régime dans la nouvelle année (I plan on starting a diet in the New Year).

Use it like this

Non, je ne peux pas manger cela. Je viens de commencer un nouveau régime. - No, I cannot eat that. I just started a new diet.

Elle a déclaré qu'elle commencerait son régime dès la fin des vacances. - She said she would start her diet as soon as the holidays end.


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Iain 2024/02/07 13:28
I think that the French usage of régime is also common in English although it doesn't just mean 'diet' e.g. you could have an 'exercise regime', an 'early to bed regime' etc in your New Year's Resolutions. Someone could be said to have reduced their weight and improved their fitness by following a regime of etc etc. The two usages bleed into each other in both countries.

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