French Word of the Day

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

la misère

poverty or misery

Les gens qui n’ont pas d’argent vivent dans la misère.
People who have no money live in poverty.

While la misère can mean misery, its more common meaning is poverty — which a friend of our site pointed out is indeed pretty miserable.

Our example illustrates an especially useful topic. While French and English have many cognates — words that are derived from the same root word and consequently look and sound a lot alike — these words sometimes have similar meanings but other times do not. When they don’t, they are called false cognates and can provide plenty of pitfalls for language learners. Today’s word is one such example.

Take our quiz and find out if you can avoid falling into the traps created by common false cognates.

Vocabulary Section: False Cognates, Society, Word of the Day