le goût
un coffre

Underwear in French: from "caleçon" to "culotte"

Laundry hanging below a window in France
un caleçon (kal-sohn) noun, masculine
1. boxer shorts, underpants
2. leggings (for women)

caleçons de bain = swim trunks
caleçon(s) long(s) = long johns
une caleçonnade = a "spectacle de boulevard" (road show) including risqué themes


jeter le caleçon à quelqu'un = to provoke someone to fight

Citation du Jour:

Le caleçon est au vaudeville ce que la toge est à la tragédie.
The underpants are to Vaudeville what the gown is to tragedy
--Carlo Rim

A Day in a French Life...

The lady in line before me at the supermarché is busy sending her husband back and forth for items oubliés.*

"Mais non, that is not what I asked for!" she says.
"Ils ne comprennent rien, les hommes. Men don't understand anything!" With that, she looks at me, winks and throws her jaw over to the next line:

"Çelui-là, il a des choses à se faire pardonner! That guy there has things he needs forgiven!"

I look across to the next line. A man is waiting to check out, a bouquet of twelve long-stemmed roses in his arms--grocery store roses--with their tips darkened and fané,* mimicking the disheveled look of their holder.

"Oh! Mais, je vous ai dit...But I told you...!" this time the lady's husband has returned with Swedish krisprolls and not the apéritif toasts, she had asked for...

I return home with the groceries and hand Max four new pairs of underwear.

"Ce sont des slips!" he says, pronouncing "slip" as "sleep."
"Slips are for girls! I wanted caleçons."

I know very well that "un slip" in French is not like the slips women wear back home in Arizona (under skirts). In French, a slip can mean "briefs" for men (the non-boxer type) or "panties" for women. The slips I bought my son are the non-boxer type.

Though it took a while to understand French underwear terms, including slip, caleçon, culotte,* sous-vêtement,* dessous,* bas,* collant,* soutien-gorge* et compagnie*--I eventually caught on, and now have underwear vocabulary under control (though I couldn't tell you what the term for "control top" is...").

In brief: there will be one less stereotypical Frenchman in a Speedo at the beach this summer, which might have some of you cheering "Bra-vo!"

*References: oublié (oublier) = forgotten; fané (faner) = withered; une culotte (f) = briefs, panties; un sous-vêtement (m) = undergarment; le dessous (m) = underwear; les bas (mpl) = nylons, stockings, pantyhose; un collant (m) = tights; un soutien-gorge (nm) = bra; et compagnie = and the rest
Drying laundry in Nyons FrancePhoto: "Laundry drying in Nyons, France"

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