Bonjour à tous et bienvenus! Je suis content de vous revoir. Let us expand our French vocabulary with today’s word of the day, ‘Désespoir’!
The word’s first recorded use dates back to the XII century. Trends in word usage suggest that 1734 was the beginning of this word’s rise in popularity; this of course is based on estimations by Collins dictionary. ‘Désespoir’is one of the 4,000 most commonly used words in the French Language today.
The word ‘Désespoir’ derives from the latin spērāre, which is the present active infinitive of spērō. Spērō can be defined as follows:
Contrary to our other ‘Word of the Day’s thus far, the word ‘désespoir’ is formed from a prefix and root but does not contain a suffix.
The prefix of the word originates from the Middle French des-, which originated from the Old French des-, which originated from the Latin dis-, which in turn originates from the Proto-Indo-European *dwís.
Proto-Indo-What-now? I know! I know! Let us pause for a second to explain what all of this means.
As students of French and even students of your mother language; at some point in time you realised that words originate from other languages. Latin and Greek are the two that often come to mind.
Linguistics is like a surprise cookie; you never know what flavour you will get, but it is amazing nonetheless.
A proto-language is essentially a hypothetical and undocumented parent language from which modern languages are derived from. These are languages that began from oral tradition by our ancestors thousands and thousands of years ago. Think of a proto-language as a sort of cavewoman mother language.
That said, the Proto-Indo-European language group is the common ancestor of French, English, Latin, Greek, Russian, Gaelic, Hindi, and many other languages spoken in Europe and India. I decided to explain this now because our future words of the day will also feature Proto-Indo-European prefixes and suffixes and do not want to explain it again down the road.
Anyway... the prefix des- essentially represents the reversal of sense of the succeeding word. In ‘désespoir’ the succeeding word is the root ‘espoir’.
The root is a deverbal word, meaning a word derived from a verb, espérer which holds the following meanings:
Now that you have this information, do you think you can guess the meaning of this word?
No? Let’s try together.
Combine the Prefix and the root: Dés- + espoir.
Let me remind you that the root of today’s word of the day, dés-, means the reversal of sense of the succeeding word, espoir, which means to hope. Despair should as a result mean the reversal of hope.
Collins dictionary translates ‘désespoir’ as ‘despair’.
Breaking this down a bit further, despair is defined as “the feeling that everything is wrong and that nothing will improve”.
Can You Use It In A Sentence?
Depuis la fin de sa rélation amoureuse avec son amant, M. Niney ne ressentait que le désespoir. Il s’est rendu compte qu’il est tombé amoureux d’elle.
French Language and Culture enthusiast, fashion trend-setter extraordinaire. My goal is to provide students with resources, materials, and insight that will help French Language acquisition less intimidating and more enjoyable.