Word of the Week: ‘isoloir’

Bonjour mes choux!

As well as being St George’s Day, yesterday also saw the voting process get underway in mainland France for the first round of the country’s presidential election this year, after citizens of overseas French territories went to the polls on Saturday. 

Described by The Guardian as ‘unpredictable‘ and ‘an exceptionally tight race‘, the results came in this morning. Far-right Front National politician Marine Le Pen will go head-to-head with left-leaning independent candidate Emmanuel Macron on May 7th in the second and final round of the election. 

Stay tuned over the next couple of weeks to this blog to find out who’ll make it to the Élysée Palace!  

And without further ado, in honour of the election, I give you my latest Word of the Week: ‘isoloir’.

Word of the Week:


How to pronounce it:


What it means in English:

Voting booth. 

For some voters, an election’s just too good an opportunity to resist trying their hand at origami.

Where does it come from?

As Wiktionary explains here, ‘isoloir’ is a mixture of two different words. It comes from ‘isoler’, which is the French word for ‘to isolate’, and ‘oir’, which is an old French word for ‘tool’.

According to this entry on the website of the Centre National de Ressources Textuelles et Lexicales (CNRTL), the current use of ‘isoloir’ as a voting booth did not come into place until 1914. 

French election fever’s also spread to Hogwarts 🙈🙈


How to use it in a sentence:
‘Peut-on prendre un selfie dans l’isoloir?’ (Inspired by this article on BFMTV’s website, about the very modern problem of whether one should risk taking a selfie – or not – in a polling booth.) 

English translation:

‘Can you take a selfie in the voting booth?

A voter who appears to have little faith in any of the candidates…

Similar words:

Voter = To vote. 

Une voix = A vote.

Un vote contestaire = A protest vote.

Un vote blanc = A blank vote. 

Un vote nul = A spoiled ballot.  

Une élection (présidentielle) = A (presidential) election.  

Le premier tour = The first round 

(In France, the presidential election takes place in two rounds. The two candidates with the most votes go through to the second round. Out of these two candidates, the one with the most votes at the end of the second round is then declared a the election winner.) 

Faire du porte-à-porte (électoral) = Canvassing.  

Aller aux urnes = To go to the polls.


How about you – what are your thoughts on the election so far? 


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