expression in french

Today we are changing the structure of this article. We decided that it’s fine to change our habits, at least for once. Welcome to “Expressions bien de chez nous” where you’ll discover a new French expression and this time you’ll find its meaning starting with the examples.

How and when do we use this expression?

Let’s imagine (and maybe you do) you are on a diet but you have allowed yourself a cheat meal on weekends, because after all the work you do you have the right to be rewarded. In this case, you could say “Une fois n’est pas coutume, je vais manger un hamburger ce weekend”. With this expression, you make it clear that you’re not planning on eating a hamburger every weekend and that you’re still sticking to your diet.

Another example would be with our cherished section. You are used to reading a new article every week in “Expressions bien de chez nous”, right? However, one week we leave you a message saying there won’t be any article this time because we had a problem. Now that you know this expression, our message would read “Pas d’article cette semaine, mais une fois n’est pas coutume. ”.

What does it mean?

Let’s start by looking at the principal word of this phrase : “coutume” or custom in English. There are many meanings for this word, but in fact, when it comes to this expression, a custom is a habit, a collective practice. We also find the word “une fois” meaning once.  Now, if we put them together, “une fois n’est pas coutume” and in the negative form, this turn of phrase means that the fact of doing something once, doesn’t mean turning it into a habit. In other words, this expression refers to the exceptions we make in our daily life, in our habits, at work, etc.

What’s its history?

In the XII century, the word “coutume” (custom) designated a way of acting that was adopted by a majority of people. The expression “Une fois n’est pas coutume” wants to show the fact that we can change a habit once without having major consequences.

We can find a first written track of this saying in the Institutes Coutumières (1607) by Antoine Loysel when he cites Davot “On ne peut alléguer comme coutume ce qui n’arrive qu’une fois” (We cannot consider as a custom something that happens only once).

We hope you enjoyed this new organization of our article. We wanted to try something different, but remember “Une fois n’est pas coutume”! And like always, let us know about an equivalent expression in the language(s) you speak!

We have set up some quizzes so that you can better understand this expression. Just click below to access these quizzes.

expression in french

expression in french

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