Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Word Of The Week


One day last week we were invited for lunch at our neighbors' house. This is the same neighbors' house where I heard last week's word (gnôle) but it was a different day and a different crowd and a different lunch.

During the course of conversation, one of the guests mentioned that he always had trouble finding our road. He usually turned one road too early and ended up having to turn around. Our hostess said that she always tells people that our road is the one just after the little bicoque. Huh ? I thought.

So I had to ask. C'est quoi, une bicoque ? The description I got told me our hostess was referring to the little bus shelter down on the main road. The dictionary tells me that une bicoque is any little modest house or building that is often not particularly well built or that is poorly maintained.

Coque means "shell," as in the shell of an egg. It comes from the Latin coccum which itself derives from the Greek kokkos, or "seed." Bi- is the prefix meaning two, just like in English. Ken says he understood that une bicoque was a small building or shelter, more like a shack. Just like our local bus shelter, come to think of it.

In sailing, which is a huge sport in France, coque refers to the hull of the boat. Monohull boats are called monocoques. Boats with two hulls (catamarans) are called multicoques, and not bicoques as you might expect. Now I think I know why. Trimarans, another multihull variety, are also called multicoques.

Image from :


  1. Magritte, n'est-ce pas? The photo, I mean. And I thought bicoque was a bisexual chicken!

  2. C'est ni un œuf, ni une pipe. ;)


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