top cx logo
cx logo
Explorearrow down
search icon

‘Language police’ jump on anglicised use of French word ‘juste’

Justin Postlethwaite looks at how Le Figaro is annoyed at the creeping change in meaning of this little word

Le Figaro says misuse of the French word juste ‘is one of those weeds invading the garden of the French language’ Pic: stoatphoto / Shutterstock

The latest linguistic takedown by Le Figaro newspaper's often annoyed langue française (French language) editorial team, which keeps readers abreast of trends in the spoken word, concerns what they see as the creeping, unnecessary usage of the word ‘juste’ in everyday conversation.

The word translates as ‘just’ and, as the team often does, it blames inappropriate use of an anglicism. 

They scathingly call it "une de ces mauvaises herbes qui envahissent le jardin de la langue française" – "one of those weeds invading the garden of the French language". 

Read more: Comment: Why French institutions must stop their daft use of franglais

Read more: Franglais ou Frenglish? The history of French resistance to English

Furthermore, they write, it constitutes "un anglicisme qui a progressivement parasité la variété de notre bagage lexical" – an anglicism that has progressively parasitized the variety of our lexical baggage". 

Ouf, as they say.

First, let's examine its correct traditional use – as in the phrase "le mot juste" (just the right word). 

It implies exactitude and correctness and Le Figaro references 17th century mathematician and thinker Blaise Pascal, in whose collected works, Pensées de Pascal, he talks about geometry requiring the need to "juger droit et juste" (judge rightly and justly). 

‘Juste’ here means with 'as it should be' precision and is still used to describe someone singing in tune: ‘chanter juste’.

However, Le Figaro deems plain wrong latter day anglicised additions of the word juste: "C’était juste magnifique!" (it was just magnificent) and "Je veux juste que tu le saches" (I just want you to know).

Instead, they implore, people should be sticking to French words such as seulement (only), simplement (just) or vraiment (really) – as in ‘C’était vraiment magnifique!’ instead of using ‘juste’.

Related articles

Measure your French fluency against these five language milestones

Is your French good enough to pass nationality language test?

Jsp, Jtm: How many of these French text shorteners can you work out?

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
featured helpguide
Income Tax in France 2023 (for 2022 income)*
Featured Help Guide
- Primarily aimed at Britons, covers pensions, rent, ISAs, shares, savings and interest - but also contains significant general information pertinent to readers of other nationalities - Overview of online declarations + step-by-step guide to the French printed forms - Includes updates given automatically after this year's site opened
Get news, views and information from France