French word of the Day: Jours ouvrés

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French word of the Day: Jours ouvrés
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

You'll need to check the calendar carefully when you see this.


Why do I need to know jours ouvrés?

Because you need an accurate time estimate.

What does it mean?

As most French learners will know, jours means days, while in this context ouvrés means 'working'. Therefore jours ouvrés - roughly pronounced jzoor-ouv-ray - means 'working days'. You may also see jours ouvrables, which means the same thing.

You're most likely to come across this in the context of estimates on how long things will take - for example a delivery or the processing of an official task or perhaps the results for a test or exam.


And this is where the calendar comes in - 'working days' doesn't include the weekends, but also excluded are public holidays, of which France has quite a lot. So an estimate for livraison dans les cinq jours ouvrés - might actually take almost two weeks to reach you, if there are weekend days and public holidays in between.

Days on either side of public holidays (known as 'pont' days) are technically working days, but don't be too surprised if things don't happen on these days either. 

Although ouvrés looks similar to ouvrir (to open) the root of the work is actually ouvrer - an archaic verb meaning to work or to labour.

This word was gradually supplanted by travailler in around the 16th century, but some derivatives of it are still used - most commonly ouvrier (or ouvrière for women) which means a worker - it can be used for all types of salaried workers, but is more commonly used for people who do manual labour or work with their hands. 

It's often used in a political sense too - one of France's leftist political parties is Lutte ouvrière, which translates as Worker's struggle. 

Use it like this

La livraison est estimée à trois jours ouvrés - Delivery is estimated within three working days

Les résultats seront communiqués sous 48 hours (jours ouvrés) - the results will be sent within 48 hours (on working days)

Not to be confused with 

If you want to talk about 'open days' - days when institutions including schools, the military or artists workshops open up to the public - in France these are known as portes ouvertes (literally 'open doors').


Comments (2)

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Mary Jane 2024/05/17 16:21
Americans say "business days" rather than "working days."
Mike Gibb 2024/05/17 12:44
presumably related to 'oeuvres'

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