CadenasAn old sign outside a locksmiths's shop in Draguignan

cadenas (kad na) n.m.

  1. padlock

L'un contre l'autre appuyés, les battants de la grille étaient libre de verrou, exempts de chaîne et de cadenas.

Leaning one against the other, the double gates were unbolted, free of chain or padlock.
--from French Short Stories 2

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

As I drive through the parking lot at Max's junior high, my eleven-year-old points to one of the girls.
"See her hair? All the girls have the same coupe de cheveux!"

I note how the choppy, layered cut resembles that of a shag from the 70s -- except the 21st Century version includes metallic highlights in gold and silver.

"Do you like it?" I ask my son.
"Oh, I don't know," Max mumbles, turning his face from me. Surely his grin of an answer is reflecting in the window, beyond which he studies the kids in the courtyard.

"Hey, Max," I say, sensing his fervor. "Who is the prettiest girl at school?"
"There's no prettiest girl," he replies, ever diplomatic. After a pause he quietly adds "...than you."

With those whispered words, a mother's heart swells. But it's no use kidding myself and I know my days as queen of his heart are numbered. Switching subjects, I put an end to the Freudian moment.

"We'd better buy you a cadenas so that you can lock up those extra books at school instead of lugging them home each day."
"Don't worry about it, Mom." Max informs me, "I'm sharing casiers with a new kid who has a lock. Il n'a pas l'air voleur, non plus. He doesn't seem like a thief, either."

I smile, amused at the seriousness behind my son's statement.

"But I would have preferred to share lockers with a girl," Max admits, "...because girls--elles ne piquent jamais!"

Did he say "girls don't steal"? Judging from their rumored innocence, I'd say they've already begun to pick at the lock on my boy's heart.

Le Coin Commentaires

To respond to this story--or to share one of your own, click here.

French Vocabulary

la coupe de cheveux = haircut
le cadenas = padlock
le casier = locker
elles ne piquent jamais! = they don't ever swipe things!

Chatelaine Chatelaine Magazine in English ... or in French!

Chatelaine features articles on practical home advice, health, beauty, family, and fashion issues, practical home advice, and a wide variety of recipes.
French pronunciation:
Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the word cadenas: Download Cadenas.wav

fermer au cadenas = to padlock
  ex: fermer la porte au cadenas = to padlock the door

Provence_az_1Provence A-Z by Peter Mayle : An indispensable, richly informative, and always entertaining sourcebook on Provence by the writer who has made the region his own. 

Thank you for considering a contribution today!
Ongoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and improving this free language journal, for the past 18 years. If you enjoy this website and would like to keep it going, please know your donation towards this effort makes all the difference! No matter the weather, on good days or bad, I am committed to sharing a sunny, vocabulary-packed update with you, one you can look forward to. I hope it fuels your dreams of coming to France while expanding your French vocabulary. A contribution by check or via PayPal (or credit card, links below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!