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#1
Old 12-11-2011, 05:49 PM
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"Sacre Bleu" Definition?

D and I just had an argument over this phrase, and she was right: "Bleu apparently means "blue", but I always thought it was an expletive - "By the scared blood of Jesus!"

Guess I was wrong, huh?

Okay on my way to the den to take my licks.

Thanks

Quasi
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#2
Old 12-11-2011, 05:55 PM
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Quote:
The phrase originated from the swear words "sacré bleu", a Marian oath, referring to the color (i.e., "sacred blue") associated with Mary, mother of Jesus.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacrebleu
#3
Old 12-11-2011, 06:00 PM
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Thank you, Fish Cheer, and great nick, BTW! Makes me all nostalgic!!!

Quasi
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#4
Old 12-11-2011, 06:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quasimodem View Post
D and I just had an argument over this phrase, and she was right: "Bleu apparently means "blue", but I always thought it was an expletive - "By the scared blood of Jesus!"

Guess I was wrong, huh?

Okay on my way to the den to take my licks.

Thanks

Quasi
Sacré bleu !
#5
Old 12-11-2011, 06:33 PM
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You can get away with Sacre Bleu most of the time, but steer clear of "Tabernac" in Quebec.
#6
Old 12-12-2011, 02:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quasimodem View Post
Thank you, Fish Cheer, and great nick, BTW! Makes me all nostalgic!!!
My treat. I'm glad you like it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Door View Post
You can get away with Sacre Bleu most of the time, but steer clear of "Tabernac" in Quebec.
I've never been to Québec, but judging from this movie I saw on a plane a while ago, that's all they ever say.
#7
Old 12-12-2011, 04:25 AM
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Wow. Shows how a folk etymology can prop up some unfounded confidence.

I had always been certain "Sacré bleu" best corresponded with the English "my heavens!" I thought bleu (blue) stood in for "sky" (as in the wild blue yonder of the USAF song). So, to my reasoning, "Sacred Blue" = "Heaven".

My confidence in this interpretation was strengthened by the knowledge that French (as well as some other languages) uses the same word for both "sky" and "heaven" ("ciel").

I had always thought of it as mild, polite company, interjection or exclamation. I had never thought of it as a heavy expletive or swear word.

Ignorance fought. Thanks.
#8
Old 12-12-2011, 04:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fish Cheer View Post
I might be wrong, but I doubt it had anything to do with Mary, regardless of what wikipedia says.

If you look at old French curse words, you'll notice a lot of "bleu" : morBLEU, ventreBLEU, sacreBLEU, etc...

In fact, "bleu", here doesn't refer to the colour but is an euphemism for "dieu" (god). So, "sacrebleu!" most correct translation would be something like "Holy gosh!"


(And in the case of ventrebleu, whose actual hidden meaning would be "by God's belly", I always suspected that "ventre" (belly) was itself an euphemism for a more private part of god's anatomy.)
#9
Old 12-12-2011, 08:49 AM
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Zut alors!
#10
Old 12-12-2011, 09:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clairobscur View Post
I might be wrong, but I doubt it had anything to do with Mary, regardless of what wikipedia says.

If you look at old French curse words, you'll notice a lot of "bleu" : morBLEU, ventreBLEU, sacreBLEU, etc...

In fact, "bleu", here doesn't refer to the colour but is an euphemism for "dieu" (god). So, "sacrebleu!" most correct translation would be something like "Holy gosh!"


(And in the case of ventrebleu, whose actual hidden meaning would be "by God's belly", I always suspected that "ventre" (belly) was itself an euphemism for a more private part of god's anatomy.)
But that's exactly what the wikipedia article says:

Quote:
Other sources[3] propose it coming from old blasphemous curses relating to God, used from the late Middle-Age (some are attested as early as the 12th century) to the 14th (at the latest), with many variants: morbleu or mordieu, corbleu, palsambleu, jarnidieu, tudieu, respectively standing for mort [de] Dieu (God's death), corps [de] Dieu (God's body), par le sang [de] Dieu (by God's blood, the two latters possibly referring to the Eucharistic bread and wine), je renie Dieu (I deny God), tue Dieu (kill God)...
#11
Old 12-12-2011, 10:18 AM
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Quote:
The phrase originated from the swear words "sacré bleu", a Marian oath, referring to the color (i.e., "sacred blue") associated with Mary, mother of Jesus.
Wait; if the old French were repeating Martian oaths, doesn't that lend credence to von Daniken's theories about --

Oh, wait. Never mind.
#12
Old 12-12-2011, 01:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Door View Post
You can get away with Sacre Bleu most of the time, but steer clear of "Tabernac" in Quebec.
If you're in a situation where swearing is appropriate/expected/gonna happen anyways, saying tabarnak is as good a swear as any in Québec. Also - or along with - ostie calîsse de crisse de ciboire de sacrament....

Religious-based swear words are more common than scatological or sexual ones, here. There is no more reason to avoid the first set than there are the others. You won't generally find these words quoted in the newspaper, but you won't find "fuck" in English-language papers either (though "fuck" isn't really considered profane in French).

Saying "sacré bleu" or "zut alors!" in Québec will get you an odd look, not because it isn't understood, but because it's France French, and just not really used here all that much.

Fun fact: in an attempt to "reclaim" the language, the Catholic church in Québec (Montreal's archdiocese) had an ad campaign with signs giving the proper definition of the words in French, of course. It generated some amusement and more world-wide understanding of Québec profanity, but I'm not sure it accomplished the intended goal. Here's the first non-pay-per-view article I found about it.
#13
Old 12-12-2011, 02:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mnemosyne View Post
(though "fuck" isn't really considered profane in French).
Getting somewhat off topic here - Florence Foresti, a popularish French comic is on tour right now with her new show titled "Mother-fucker".

So here in Paris we have posters tastefully proclaiming "motherfucker" in the street, frosted blonde newsreaders discussing "motherfucker" on tv at peak viewing times etc

I think I'm the only person who's even found this to be noteworthy.

Motherfucker (not sure if it's safe for work - but it's safe enough for display in the streets of Paris)
#14
Old 12-12-2011, 03:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clairobscur View Post
If you look at old French curse words, you'll notice a lot of "bleu" : morBLEU, ventreBLEU, sacreBLEU, etc...

In fact, "bleu", here doesn't refer to the colour but is an euphemism for "dieu" (god). So, "sacrebleu!" most correct translation would be something like "Holy gosh!"
This is also my understanding. They're minced oaths: "morbleu", for example, would be a deformation of "mort à Dieu" ("death to God") to make it less recognizable.

Compare with the old Quebec swear words "torrieux" and "torriâble", which I understand literally mean "tort à Dieu" and "tort au diable" ("harm to God" and "harm to the Devil", respectively).
#15
Old 12-12-2011, 06:57 PM
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In the Middle Ages, people swore a lot. Not they way we think of swearing, although they did their share of cussing as well.

These days, it seems only thieves and druggies who are trying to convince the cops they are fine, upstanding citizens and start babbling, "I swear," or when they are REALLY desperate, "I swear on my mother's life!"

Back in dem olden days, God had a much bigger role in everyday life. And to convince people of their truthfulness, or their honesty, THEY would swear. To make the oath even more impressive, they'd tack on "By the Blood of God," "By the Wounds of God." Folks figured when you started talking like that, you HAD to be telling the truth, or God would send down lightning bolts and fry you on the spot.

People also discovered that when they DIDN'T get hit by lightning, they could spice up their profanity by putting similar phrases. "God's wounds," "God's blood," and the ever-creative "God's toenails."

Sometimes you'll hear an old-fashioned expletive, "Zounds!" That is actually a contraction of "God's wounds." British people like to get all heated up and start talking about "bloody this," and "bloody that." Americans think those phrases are rather hilarious, if not messy. But the British "bloody" is derived from the oath-making "God's blood," and using it casually is borderline blasphemy.

"Sacre bleu" falls into the same category. It's similar to today's phrase, "Oh my God!" People in the United States have gotten too informal about swearing. These phrases, like the really vulgar or excretory ones used today, were considered to be rude when used in polite company.


~VOW
#16
Old 12-13-2011, 01:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clairobscur View Post
I might be wrong, but I doubt it had anything to do with Mary, regardless of what wikipedia says.

If you look at old French curse words, you'll notice a lot of "bleu" : morBLEU, ventreBLEU, sacreBLEU, etc...

In fact, "bleu", here doesn't refer to the colour but is an euphemism for "dieu" (god). So, "sacrebleu!" most correct translation would be something like "Holy gosh!"


(And in the case of ventrebleu, whose actual hidden meaning would be "by God's belly", I always suspected that "ventre" (belly) was itself an euphemism for a more private part of god's anatomy.)
Clairobscur has it right. And it's sacrebleu, not sacré bleu.

Nomdebleu! as we say here for nomdedieu.
#17
Old 12-13-2011, 02:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mnemosyne View Post
...
Saying "sacré bleu" or "zut alors!" in Québec will get you an odd look, not because it isn't understood, but because it's France French, and just not really used here all that much.
....
I suppose it's somewhat analogous to telling someone to "naff off" in Baltimore or Pittsburgh - it makes you sound British.
#18
Old 12-13-2011, 06:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mnemosyne View Post
Saying "sacré bleu" or "zut alors!" in Québec will get you an odd look, not because it isn't understood, but because it's France French, and just not really used here all that much.
But notice that while Quebec is famous for religiously-derived swear words, they are also commonly found among other French speakers, and speakers of other languages as well. That's what sacrebleu and sapristi and the like are, after all.

Zut, I don't know the origin of.
#19
Old 12-13-2011, 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Hypnagogic Jerk View Post
. . . Zut, I don't know the origin of.
Respectfully submitted for your perusal
#20
Old 12-13-2011, 11:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mnemosyne View Post
Saying "sacré bleu" or "zut alors!" in Québec will get you an odd look, not because it isn't understood, but because it's France French, and just not really used here all that much.
.
If you're not a time traveller, you unlikely to hear "sacrebleu" in France, either. It hasn't been in use for, I'd guess, some centuries. Typically, you'd hear it while watching a "three musketeers" style movie.
#21
Old 12-14-2011, 01:06 AM
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I didn't know that, though I admit the only time I ever hear it are in over-the-top stereotypical depictions of the French (France) either in English or Québecois French comedies. It's "cliché France", I guess. I don't recall hearing anyone swear in French the last time I was there, but it's not like I was listening for it, either!
#22
Old 12-14-2011, 09:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Earl Snake-Hips Tucker View Post
Specifically this post by bibliophage. Summary: according to the Trésor, it's made of 'z' + 'ut'. The origin of 'ut' is obscure but it may be a deformation of foutre (to fuck) or the first word of Ut tibi prosit meri potio, a sentence that was used by printers to wish good luck to each other. The 'z' was added after people liaised with 'ut' a preceding word ending with 's'. It's the same process that lead to Ned and Nancy being nicknames for Edward and Anne in English. ("mine Edward" --> "mine Ed" --> "my Ned")

Last edited by Hypnagogic Jerk; 12-14-2011 at 09:15 AM.
#23
Old 12-14-2011, 09:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clairobscur View Post
I might be wrong, but I doubt it had anything to do with Mary, regardless of what wikipedia says.

If you look at old French curse words, you'll notice a lot of "bleu" : morBLEU, ventreBLEU, sacreBLEU, etc...

In fact, "bleu", here doesn't refer to the colour but is an euphemism for "dieu" (god). So, "sacrebleu!" most correct translation would be something like "Holy gosh!"


(And in the case of ventrebleu, whose actual hidden meaning would be "by God's belly", I always suspected that "ventre" (belly) was itself an euphemism for a more private part of god's anatomy.)
That's the common explanation I learned too at school. But what I had also learned back then (not saying it still holds today), was that Dieu was used greatly in swearing, and, at one point, it came to be seen as blasphemous to use Dieu/God in swearing, so a language shift was made and Dieu was replaced with Bleu*.

*BTW, aristocrats in France were said to have "sang Bleu" in their veins (I guess back then it was read both as metaphorical and somehow real), meaning they had God's blood, and thus were fit to reign. Like the King being personally mandated by God.
#24
Old 12-14-2011, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Capitaine Zombie View Post
at one point, it came to be seen as blasphemous to use Dieu/God in swearing
Isn't that what blasphemy means to begin with? Using god's name in vain?
#25
Old 12-14-2011, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Fish Cheer View Post
Isn't that what blasphemy means to begin with? Using god's name in vain?
Yeah, but they thought they could pull it off because they were French.
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