le béton
la poule


Traiteur pain (c) Kristin Espinasse (a thin photo)

maigrichon (may-gree-shon) adjective
  thin, slight

Citation du Jour:
Un de mes frères était si maigre que lorsqu'il avait bu un verre de vin rouge, on le prenait pour un thermomètre.

One of my brothers was so thin that once he had drunk a glass of red wine others took him for a thermometer.

                                            --Pierre Doris

A Day in a French Life...

I push a pile of papers, a bottle of eau gazeuse,* a few thirsty ballpoint pens, two dictionaries, one French phrasebook and two pocket carnets* to the end of my desk. Next, I tell Max to move the loose-leaf manuscript off the extra chair so that he can sit down and do his devoirs.* "Quietly," I remind him. He is supposed to do his homework in his room but when he appeared at the foot of my desk earlier, asking in his sweetest voice (and in English with a heart-melting French accent) "Mommy, can I work in here?", how could I refuse?

Max sits at the L-shaped table, a four-inch thick Larousse dictionary in front of him. Beside the dictionary there lies his green cahier d'essai* and his over-stuffed trousse* with pencils, erasers, and rulers threatening to spill out. In his right hand he holds his blue fountain pen. Now settled, he speaks:

"Maman, tu n'as pas de mots dans la famille du mot maigrichon?"
(Mom, you don't have any words in the family of the word maigrichon?)

This was a most complicated sentence in French (or in English) for me to unravel. The first image that pops into my head is of a family named Maigrichon, and have I had a word with them lately? Having no idea what my son is talking about I turn to him and look him in the oeil.* He responds:
"Maigrichon, you know..." and with that he points to his stomach and sucks it in until his rib cage juts out like the serious overbite I had as a child.

Who needs to borrow her son's four-inch French dictionary when she has a living, breathing, gesticulating definition sitting next to her?
My son's assignment, it turns out, is to look up a list of words and find further word relations to the individual mots.* "OK, Max: 'a word family for maigrichon'. Let's see..." I flip through the dictionary and arrive at page 615. There, near the bottom of the third column, Max spots a family reunion of the word kind. There is Father Maigre* and the triplets Maigrelet,* Maigrichon* and Maigriot.* There's old uncle Maigrement,* and cousin Maigreur.* How they resemble one another--all so thin!--and how kind they are (or well-meaning or, rather, similar in meaning). Finally, there is Grandma Maigrir who overlooks the wordy bunch with a proud and loving eye.

I can relate to Grandma Maigrir and I throw an appreciative look over to my son--thanks to him I've just fattened up by five or so new words (and not by almost five kilos,* as I did when I got my teeth straightened and moved to France).

References: l'eau gazeuse (f) = sparkling water; le carnet (m) = notebook; le devoir (m) = homework; le cahier d'essai = practice notebook; la trousse (f) = case (pencil); l'oeil (m) = eye; le mot (m) = word; maigre = thin, skinny; maigrelet(te), maigrichon(ne), maigriot(te) = scrawny, a little thin; maigrement = meagerly; la maigreur (f) = thinness, leanness; maigrir = to lose weight; un kilo (kilogramme) = 2.2 pounds
More stories on French life in my book "Words in a French Life"--click on cover to view:


.............More on maigre.................................

Listen: hear my son, Max, pronounce the word "maigrichon": Download maigrichon.wav
maigre comme un clou = "thin as a nail" (thin as a rail)
c'est un peu maigre = it's insufficient
faire maigre = to abstain from meat and fatty foods

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ $10    
♥ $25    
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice

You can also support this journal by purchasing our book-in-progress, click here.