The French word for "good"... and an amusing French idiosyncrasy!

  French dog in Biarritz (c) Kristin Espinasse
Please share today's "Dogs of France (and Europe!)" post with an animal lover. Meantime, French learners will appreciate notes on all the "bon" expressions (bon courage, bon appétit, bon séjour) and insights into the French idiosyncracy of well wishing. Read on ... but first allow me to wish you bonne lecture!, or happy reading!

bon (boh(n) silent "n")

     good; right, correct

Audio file: Listen to our daughter, Jackie, read the following example sentence: Download MP3 or Wav file

Bonne fête, bonne journée, bonne promenade... bon appétit... les francais ont la manie de souhaiter les bonnes choses! Happy holiday, have a good day, enjoy your walk... or meal... the French are obsessed with well-wishing!

The following post was inspired by a comment I received over the weekend: 

Hi Kristin,

I was recently in France, and people wished me "bon courage" at the recent death of a family member there. Does this really mean "good luck"? This expression must have many meanings and uses. To my anglophone sensibilities, wishing someone good luck when a loved one passes away seems a bit odd and inappropriate. But I was wished "bon courage" with such heart felt emotion that I knew that this was an encouraging thing to wish me. Language is so interesting. Bette

Hi Bette,

I'm so sorry for your loss. You mentioned the bon courage expression meaning "good luck" and it seems this is true (though, for "good luck," the expression bonne chance also comes to my mind).

But back to bon courage... in addition to meaning "good luck," bon courage is also an expression of support, similar to "be strong" or even "take it easy." 

Bette, your note about the French language reminds me of the confusion I often felt, when I first came to France, on discovering all the bonnes choses or "good" things the French were constantly wishing each other. I remember my surprise and embarrassment when complete strangers wished me bon appétit! while passing by the park bench, where I sat eating my lunch.

This very personal acknowledgment by a stranger would be the beginning of a  budding insight into the French and their automatic courtesy. I leave you with several more examples of French well-wishing (which I've paired with some photos from the archives), and wish you, as my husband often wishes me when I set out to work: bonne édition! Enjoy this post! (or good luck writing today's post, as Jean-Marc said just this morning.)

Italian dog in Sauve, Italy (c) Kristin Espinasse
Bon voyage... Photo taken in Sauve, Italy. Bon voyage is one of the more common courtesies you will hear the French wish each other. 

Bon voyage = Have a good trip!

Croatian dog (c) Kristin Espinasse
Bon rétablissement... Photo taken in Croatia. Bon rétablissement is something the French wish each other when they are sick or healing. 

Bon rétablissment = Get well soon or speedy recovery!

French dog in Colmar, Alsace (c) Kristin Espinasse
Bon essayage? As I said, above, one thing that amused me when I first came to France, was how they were always well-wishing each other--everything from bon essayage to bon bricolage (I heard this last one at Castorama over the weekend.)

bon essayage! = happy trying-on!
bon bricolage = happy DIYing! (happy home improvement!) 

French dog in Serignan (c) Kristin Espinasse
Bon jardinage. I dare you to go to une pépinière or nursery this time of year and not hear this well-wish at the checkout lane:

bon jardinage! = happy gardening! 

French dog and cats in Visan (c) Kristin Espinasse
Bon débarras! Cats--and an imposter--in the town of Visan. Don't go getting the idea that all the wishes wished by the French are altruistic! From time to time you'll hear this one:

Bon débarras = good riddance! 

French dog in Gigondas (c) Kristin Espinasse
Bonne dégustation. A wish I often hear, living with a winemaker who loves to share his vin with friends, is this one:

bonne dégustation! = enjoy your drink!  

French dog in Seguret (c) Kristin Espinasse
Bon reniflement? Just kidding, French dogs don't really wish this to each other... but one can't be sure about French perfumists, and their courtesies...

bon reniflement! = good sniffing! 

French dog in Bedoin, Vaucluse (c) Kristin Espinasse
Bon....? Your turn to decide what this dog is wishing its friend, and in so doing share several more "bon" expressions. Click here to share your answer.


French dog in Seguret (c) Kristin Espinasse
By the way, will you please help name the  dog types in today's edition? Click here to identify the dog breeds.

Mas de Martin dog (c) Kristin Espinasse
Bonne sieste! = Have a good nap! This napper, or vineyard dog, lives at Mas de Martin. Total animal lovers there.

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French dog in Tulette, France (c) Kristin Espinasse
Almost time, now, to wish you bon au revoir. On second thought, they don't say that at all in France! So much sweeter to say "à la prochaine!" (until next time...)

Italian dog in Ventimillie (c) Kristin Espinasse
... and bonne continuation! I almost left out my favorite "bon(ne)" expression...

Bonne continuation! = I wish you all the best (also = Keep up the good work!)

Do you have a favorite "bon" expression? Share it with us in the comments corner, here.  

Other Favorite Dogs! Don't miss them here:
Dog in Giens 
Dog in Spain - Amazing fur style!
Hiding dog... can you guess who this is?
Dog with motorcycle 

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
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