Word of the Week – ‘retrouvailles’

Word of the Week:

As it’s Valentine’s Day (la Saint-Valentin) tomorrow, I thought it would be a nice idea to choose a word today that’s loosely connected to Valentine’s Day.

So here we have ‘retrouvailles’, or how to have a reunion French-style, whether it’s between friends or couples, humans and their beloved pets or between long-lost animal companions.

Kleenex at the ready…

Montage of final scene from An American in Paris (Photo credit: YouTube)

How to pronounce it:


What it means in English:

It can be translated in lots of different ways, from ‘getting together again’ and ‘seeing each other again’ to a ‘reunion’.

The basic meaning is ‘meeting again, especially after spending a long time apart‘.

Where does it come from?

The word comes from the verb ‘retrouver’, which literally means ‘to find something again’, or ‘to rediscover something’.

It was first used by the Goncourt brothers in 1873 to define reuniting with others after being away from them.
How to use it in a sentence:

‘La vie, c’est des étapes…. la plus douce, c’est l’amour… la plus dure, c’est la séparation… la plus pénible, c’est les adieux… la plus belle, c’est les retrouvailles.’ (Anonymous quotation). 

English translation: 

‘Life is made up of stages… the most pleasant one is love, the hardest one is separation, the most difficult one is saying goodbye, [and] the loveliest one is meeting up with others again after spending time apart.’

Similar words:

Se réunir = To get together

Se revoir = To see each other again

Se retrouver = To get together again

Prendre des nouvelles (de quelqu’un) = To catch up/check in (with someone)

Une réunion entre amis = A catch-up (between friends).

How about you?

What are your favourite French words and expressions? Let me know in the comments below 🙂 in London 


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