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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Word of the Day: Rodéo

In France, this word has nothing to do with cowboys.

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

Why do I need to know rodéo ?

Because they are becoming more common in certain parts of France, so you’ll likely hear about them, but if you’re expecting cowboys the you’re likely to be disappointed. 

What does it mean?

Rodéo – roughly pronounced roe-day-oh – is a French word that is formally defined as the assembling or herding of a group of young animals. 

This is probably the definition you are most familiar with, or perhaps you associate the word with the American and Mexican sporting events that involve large arenas and activities like lassoing young cows, riding bulls or broncos, or attempting to restrain a steer.

However, in practice, the more common French usage of the word “rodéo” would be one that is more correctly defined as a “rodéo urbain.”

These are illegal street races that take place either between motorcycles or cars on public roads, sometimes also known as a rodéo sauvage – unlicenced race.

Les rodéos have become a focus of French law enforcement in recent years, due to the increasing popularity of these races in working-class neighbourhoods across the country. Punishable by one year’s imprisonment and a fine of up to 15,000, the French government instituted new laws to “reinforce the fight against rodéos” in 2018.

They are particularly controversial due to their loudness and for how dangerous they are, and they’re also the subject of an award-winning French film called simply Rodeo (using the English spelling), in which the director used real rodéo riders to perform the stunts.

Use it like this

Le jeune homme de 19 ans a été interpellé après un rodéo urbain. – The 19-year-old young man was arrested after an illegal street race. 

Il y a quelques semaines, le ministre de l’Intérieur a mobilisé les forces de l’ordre afin d’enrayer des rodéos en France. – A few weeks ago, the Minister of the Interior mobilised law enforcement forces to curb the rise of illegal street racing in France.

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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Word of the Day: Blasé

Even though this French word has made its way into English, in French it has an extra emphasis. Here is how to use it in both languages.

French Word of the Day: Blasé

Why do I need to know blasé ?

Because you you can use this word in both English and French, although its strength is slightly different. 

What does it mean?

Blasé – roughly pronounced blah-zay –  is a word that English speakers might be familiar with already, as it has entered our vocabulary.

In French, the official definition of blasé is a bit more harsh than what English-speakers might be used to. It is defined by La Rousse dictionary as “a person who thinks he has exhausted the human experience and is disgusted with everything.” 

In contrast, English dictionaries define blasé simply as ‘bored’ and ‘jaded’ and it’s common to use is quite casually such as “I do so many work presentations that I’m a bit blasé about them now”. 

Overall, blasé denotes a level of apathy in both languages but in French it’s less flippant – oftentimes describing a person who is not easily impressed or someone who is disengaged with the world. Keep in mind that when you use this word in French, you will have to gender it based on who you are referring to – so if the word is describing a woman, then it would be blasée.

A common French expression you might hear using this word would be “blasé de la vie” – which means to be in a general state of apathy, or to be simply disengaged from daily life.

The word comes from the French past participle of the verb blaser – which means ‘to satiate.’ However, English-speakers might be surprised that blasé’s true origins are likely more Dutch than French. 

Use it like this

J’ai fait une blague mais il est tellement blasé ces jours-ci qu’il n’a pas rigolé. – I made a joke but he has been so apathetic lately that he didn’t laugh.

Elle n’a pas souri ni ri pendant l’entretien, alors qu’il s’agissait de l’emploi de ses rêves. Je ne sais pas pourquoi elle était si blasée. – She did not smile or laugh during the interview, even though it was for her dream job. I don’t know why she was so disengaged about it.

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