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Jul 9, 2012
This week's theme
Words borrowed from French

This week's words
risque
billet-doux
femme fatale
pudeur
dishabille

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

We equate French with sophistication and when we import French words into English, we look at them with rose-colored glasses. We often give them special meanings.

In French, concubin/concubine are simply people living together. In English, a concubine has a more specialized sense: a mistress. In French a rendez-vous is any meeting -- you might have a rendez-vous with a hairdresser. But when we bring this word over to English, a rendezvous is not just any run-of-the-mill meeting. It may be, for example, a meeting, perhaps illicit, between two lovers, or something as lofty as between two spacecraft.

This week we'll feature five terms from French that relate to love, lust, and sex.

risque or risqué

PRONUNCIATION:
(ri-SKAY)

MEANING:
adjective: Bordering on indelicacy or impropriety, especially in a sexually suggestive manner.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Fremch risqué (risky), past participle of risquer (to risk). Earliest documented use: 1867.

USAGE:
"A woman who was fired from her job at a NY lingerie business says she was fired because her employer complained her work attire was too risque."
Lingerie Employee Fired for Risque Attire; Globe and Mail (Toronto, Canada); May 23, 2012.

"The normally pristine Senator Evan Bayh made a risqué joke about a fellow Indianan from a town called French Lick."
Sleepless in Manhattan; The Economist (London, UK); Aug 1, 2002.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
The cure for anything is salt water -- sweat, tears, or the sea. -Isak Dinesen (pen name of Karen Blixen), author (1885-1962)

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