Nov 18, 2007

Rapid Rhetoric: COMME IL FAUT

Raphael's depiction of Plato defining the difference between true and false rhetoric This is an irregular feature - both in frequency and oddness - dedicated to a word I came across that I have never previously used.

comme il faut (kohm-eel-FOE) adj. in accordance with accepted standards or conventions; socially acceptable; in keeping with customs or propriety; proper.

This phrase is derived from the French words comme ("like, as") and il faut ("it is necessary"), and is one of those foreign expressions I have difficulty keeping straight in my head. My French is spotty, as I am self-taught in the Gallic tongue, and French idioms are one of my weakest points, due in no small part that I speak the language poorly and rarely use it.

I came across the phrase today in a book on the Prussian king Frederick the Great, in which the free-spirited crown prince mused about his 1732 assignment by his father (Frederick William I) to a military post in Neuruppin:
We drill here comme il faut, new brooms must sweep clean, and I must justify my rank and demonstrate that I am an 'efficient officer.'

1 comment:

microdot said...

Again, two days before I
return to France and you post a Gallicism, a phrase that is so much just the way people speak normally, how it is done.....
Merci, vous avez me faire souvenir a penser en francais, encore!
C'est toujour difficile pour moi!