November 25 – Blasé Day

Posted on November 25, 2014

Blasé means unimpressed, indifferent, even apathetic. A teen who has seen several amazing shows like Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas might be blasé about a humble circus at a small county fair, and a person who has done a lot of dangerous stunts might be blasé about things others find scary.

Blasé, in other words, is often a “been there, done that” kind of thing.

I don't know how enthusiastic I can be about celebrating indifference! But what I do like is a good excuse to study all the French words we have adopted into the English language.

You probably know that many French words have final letters that we do not pronounce. For example, ballet doesn't end with a “T” sound, and the “X” in Sioux doesn't make a sound, either. Most French words that end with vowels have no sound associated with those vowels (think of, for example, the “à la carte” menu). But the accent on the word blasé tells us that we DO pronounce the last letter: blah – zay.

Here are some more French words that have to do with emotions:

Want some joie de vivre?
Get out into nature!
ennui – boredom or depression

malaise – another word for a general sense of depression

sombre – dismal, gloomy (now often spelled “somber”)

esprit de corps – morale, or feeling of closeness felt by a group

joie de vivre – the joy of living

rapport – a feeling of closeness, being “in synch” with someone else

Here are some French words for a variety of not-so-wonderful things you might want to avoid:

gaffe – a mistake

cliché – an overused phrase or metaphor

hauteur – arrogance

poseur – a person who pretends to be something he or she is not (now often spelled “poser”)

canard – an untrue rumor

"Mean Girls" was a cautionary
tale about cliques...
pastiche – a work that is not original, such as a painting or novel that too much copies the another artist's piece or another writer's book

sabotage – destruction of something by an “insider” who wants to weaken an organization or corporation

clique – a small social group that is unwelcoming to outsiders

Of course, there are also a ton of French words used in English in the worlds of dance, food and culinary arts, fashion, fencing, art, and diplomacy. I don't know about you, but I just cannot be blasé about all these interesting French words lurking about in our vocabulary!

I was interested to note that some of our French-words-in-English are no longer used by French people. (According to Wikipedia, “artiste” and “à la mode” are examples.) And apparently some French-words-in-English were never used by French people, but only by the French-and-English speaking upper class in England! (Again according to Wikipedia, “homage” and “negligee” are examples.)

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