This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Sunday Rest: fauteuil.

This is a fauteuil:

Yes, it's a chair. An arm chair. This particular sort of armchair was invented in France in the early 1600s.

Fauteuils quite often have a band of upholstery round the horizontal bits of the arms, as well as on the back and the seat.

The needlepeople amongst you will have already worked out that the fabric that covers a fauteuil can be fitted without having to sew any curved seams. This makes it easy to do.

So, what's wrong with this word?

Well, the spelling isn't easy, but if you use English you have to live with odd spelling. But the pronunciation...

My Collins dictionary says that the English way to say fauteuil is with the fau bit as in foe, the eu bit as in the er in fern; and the il bit like the e in pretty.

It's not easy, you know.

And, let's face it, even when you've got the hang of it no one will have a clue what you're talking about. They'll most probably think you're trying to say the French word fauteuil, which also means armchair.

In short, you can't win.

And, really, armchair will probably do.

Word Not To Use Today Unless You're Speaking French: fauteuil. This word comes from French, and before that from the Old French faudestuel, which meant folding chair.


  1. Egads! May everybody please use armchair!

    1. Jingles, you know something? I'm pretty sure they will.

    2. I used to be a French teacher and the pronunciation holds no terrors for me, but I would NEVER use fauteuil in English...don't think I've ever heard it spoken except in France!

    3. You'd probably only hear it in posh antique shops, I think. As for the pronunciation, I learned my French so long ago that I probably sound like the French equivalent of Margaret Thatcher.