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BILLET-DOUX

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BILLET-DOUX

Postby Dr. Goodword » Sat Jul 22, 2006 11:54 pm

• billet-doux •

Pronunciation: bee-lay-du Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: No, today's word does not refer to nice lodgings for soldiers (but see the Notes). In fact, it is a term meaning "a short love note" or "love letter" used by die-hard romantics.

Notes: Today's romantic word is so fresh from French, it still uses not only the French pronunciation but also the French plural: billets-doux. Remember, only the first element is pluralized. The pronunciation remains close to the French, too, unlike that of older billet "lodging for soldiers", which has endured long enough to assume the sounds of English, [bil-et].

In Play: When "love note" is simply too harsh a phrase for the tenderness of emotion involved, it is time to call in today's Good Word: "Wade always included a billet-doux in the bouquets he sent Tiffany Lampe, the light of his life." Unfortunately, this word has remained so French that it is usually used facetiously, "The hickey Tiffany left on Wade's neck is quite a little billet-doux from her, too."

Word History: Today's word is a French phrase made up of billet + doux "sweet". Billet today means "ticket, receipt" in French but it originally means "a short note". This billet is not to be confused with the military billet mentioned in the Notes above. That billet originally referred to the document ordering a building be used to lodge soldiers. It comes from Old French billette, a corruption of bullette, meaning a small bulle, a seal or sealed document. This word is heard today in the phrase "Papal bull", an official document bearing the seal of the Pope. Doux is the French variant of Latin dulcis "sweet", which also became Spanish dulce and Italian dolce in La Dolce Vita, the movie that brought Frederico Fellini to the world's attention.
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Postby Brazilian dude » Sun Jul 23, 2006 10:09 am

Today's romantic word is so fresh from French, it still uses not only the French pronunciation but also the French plural: billets-doux.

Well, the French pronunciation would be more like bee-yay du, which was the way I mentally read the word when I saw it.

Billet today means "ticket, receipt" in French but it originally means "a short note".

Still true for Portuguese bilhete.

Doux is the French variant of Latin dulcis "sweet", which also became Spanish dulce and Italian dolce in La Dolce Vita, the movie that brought Frederico Fellini to the world's attention.

And also Catalan dolç, Romanian dulce and Portuguese doce.

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Postby Palewriter » Sun Jul 23, 2006 11:16 am

And also Catalan dolç, Romanian dulce and Portuguese doce.

Brazilian dude


And, I hear, our very own dulcet.

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Postby sluggo » Sun Jul 23, 2006 5:07 pm

as in dulcimer, the sweet-sounding musical instrument(s).
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