Le mot intello : « engagement »

16 Fév

Etymology: From the latin preposition in- (en, dans) ; From Middle English gage, from Old (and modern) French gager (verb), gage (noun), from Frankish *waddi, from Germanic ( > English wed), meaning to pledge, to bet.

Source: wikipedia

I highly recommend the film: A Very Long Engagement (French: Un long dimanche de fiançailles), a 2004 French romantic war film, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and starring Audrey Tautou. It is a fictional tale about a young woman’s desperate search for her fiancé who might have been killed on the battle of the Somme, during World War I. It was based on a novel of the same name, written by Sebastien Japrisot, first published in 1991. (Source: Wikipedia)

If you liked the film « Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain« , then you will enjoy this one (and I personally love films involving romance in the middle of a war…)!Engagement” is not quite a false cognate (faux-ami), it is just that the word evolved beyond the meaning of a “commitment” or “appointment”, to encompass a romantic engagement, which describes the period of time following a proposal  (“demande en mariage”), where the two people committing their lives to one another become “fiancés” (interesting that the French term to describe the people involved in an engagement carried over, but not the word “fiançailles” – probably too hard to pronounce in English!).

When marriages were arranged, another term used was betrothal (also called espousal, which comes from épousailles), which is a formal state of engagement to be married. These were negotiated between parents in exchange for a dowry that the groom’s family owed to the bride’s family. These could also involve a written contract, and the involvement of clergy or religious officials (depending on the religion practiced). These engagements could be signed/ agreed upon (and still are in countries where marriages are still arranged) when the bride- and groom-to-be were still children, and the outcome of the contract (the wedding) could take place at either adulthood or once the groom had finished his studies and was ready to support a family. Legally, the fiancés were regarded as already married, and were not allowed to have extra-marital relations… This leads to a lot of interesting 18th century literature around courtships, and love affairs vs. marriage.


Dans la vie personnelle tout comme dans la vie professionnelle, c’est important de tenir/ remplir ses engagements. // In your personal as much as in your professional life, it is important to hold up/ honor your commitments.

Vous pouvez faire un essai du véhicule, c’est sans engagements ! // You can try out the vehicle, there are no obligations!

Until my next blog-posting engagement, happy Thursday!

3 Réponses to “Le mot intello : « engagement »”

  1. the online diary of an American in Paris février 16, 2012 à 19:20 #

    Oh! You are on such a romantic kick this week … and with good reason! I love this post. In fact, « Un long dimanche de fiançailles » was one of the first movies I ever watched with Michel, about a month after we met. Actually, we never finished watching it together, and to this day, I still haven’t seen the end. I prefer to leave it all a mystery. In any case, remember the scene when Manech carves « MMM » in the church bell while it’s ringing? That’s the origin of one of our little customs: we often sign messages to one another with MMM for « Michael aime Michel » or vice versa!

    • FrenchNad février 16, 2012 à 19:47 #

      How sweet!! Truthfully, it has been a long time since I have seen it and just remember glimpses… And how beautiful and sweet it was!
      Your anecdote is funny and reminds me about why I never saw Star Wars until a couple of years ago. It was a « requirement » to date John (« You are in America and you have NEVER seen Star Wars!? »). But yet, we never made it through the first movie when we were dating! 😉
      The MMM is very sweet, thanks for sharing! And now back to my Next Gen episode with my sci-fi hubby 🙂


  1. Le mot intello : « Le mépris et la méprise » « Le mot du (bon)jour - février 23, 2012

    […] Le mot intello : ” engagement “ (lemotdubonjour.com) […]


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