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By Laura K. LawlessApril 8, 2013
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I thought “quatre” came from vingt-quatre, an expression for “un jour” = vingt-quatre heures
My guess is that it has to do with the 100 Years War. I read in a French history book that people actually only fought maybe 3 days per week, during this period, not each day. Maybe people had 4 days to themselves, including church on Sunday, to get things accomplished, so that’s where this phrase came from.
Not an expression ofen used in Quebec although I had heard it there on rare occasion and recognized it from when I lived in France. I am a former Québecoise … a Québecois would say ‘un de ces jours’ more often.
As with your previous entry about “dire ses quatre vérités” I just connect this one with the use of the word four in Catalan. It’s the number of tomato (or onion…) plants a farmer will tell you he planted in his garden. You instinctively know there are more than four involved, but who’s counting? Three is a number used to the same effect in older languages – supposedly they count one, two or “many”. And we know that pigeons and other “lesser” animals can count to five. But who’s comparing? Four gets the message across.
Quatre est interresant mais aussi matin – pourqoui le matin et pas le jour ?
Years ago I heard the expression ‘A un de ces quatre’ and was told the missing noun was saisons, although, come to think of it, this is a feminine noun. But at least the four makes perfect sense.
I have also been told on good authority that it means “See you around.”
This an old comment string, but I have only just seen it.
With respect to others including Laura:
Un de ces quatre matins doesn’t mean something that you will get around to shortly, it means something that you will likely never get around to doing.
When are you going to clear out your wood? Un de ces quatre matins. Usually spoken with a bit of a laugh. ie I have better things to do than that.
It was one of my first experiences of french phrases that do not translate literally, and I was a little fascinated by it.
I have checked the meaning with numerous french people from across the country and they all know what it means.
Some of the comments above suggests it means “See you later”, but this would be just “Un de ces jours”, which is common in my part of France at least, though debateably with some patois roots. This probably depends on how fast you say it!
Your site is fascinating.
I love the way you try to explian the peculiar way some french phrases are strung together.
I particularly enjoy your quizes too.
Vous pouvez dire aussi : un de ces jours.
Il est vrai que quatre et matin sont peutêtre là un peu pour l’euphonie.Le plaisir des mots.Mais le matin(comme quatre) ajoute à l’incertitude autant du fait que de la date. On dit un matin parceque ça doit être un matin (et pcq ça sonne mieux)
Pourquoi ? Mais,justement parce qu’on n’en sait rien.Plus on ajoute de précisions et plus ça devient imprécis,et incertain quant à la date mais plus certain quant à l’évènement.Simple question de logique ! En même
temps que prédiction dans le vague !
On dit à un enfant qui fait des bêtises:”tu vas tomber,tu vas finir par tomber!”ça va arriver !
Couper les cheveux en quatre
Dire ses quatre vérités à quelqu’un
En quatrième vitesse
Être plié en quatre (de rire)
Faire les quatre cents coups
La bande des quatre (mousquetaires)
Monter un escalier quatre à quatre
Ne pas y aller par quatre chemins
Se plier en quatre (pour ses enfants)
Un des ces quatre matins
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