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spectacles/glasses

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by ricercare, Mar 17, 2008.

  1. ricercare New Member

    Île-de-France
    France/French
    I was just wondering, what's the difference between "glasses" and "spectacles"? Is one of these words more American, British, literary or something, or are they strictly equivalent?
     
  2. wildan1

    wildan1 Moderando ma non troppo

    Welcome to the Forum, ricercare!

    spectacles in AE is an old-fashioned word and now only used to be humorous

    In AE glasses is the standard word for lunettes

    the more precise word is eyeglasses
     
  3. ricercare New Member

    Île-de-France
    France/French
    Thank you!
     
  4. Palestina Libre Senior Member

    Andalucia
    Spanish
    glasses = spectacles

    Same thing but "glasses" is more widely used. "spectables" is for writting, novels, children stories and so on.


    My opinion only.
     
  5. Franglais1969

    Franglais1969 Senior Member

    Angleterre.
    English English, français rouillé
    I have to disagree. In the UK spectacles is still used today in spoken English, (I myself use it), albeit not as frequently as glasses.
     
  6. sandrank Junior Member

    Canada
    Canada Francais
    Americans prefer eyeglasses or glasses in short and British spectacles, but both are correct on either side of the Atlantic.
     
  7. wildan1

    wildan1 Moderando ma non troppo

    Quite honestly if you said spectacles in the US without wanting to make a joke, you would leave people very bemused!
     
  8. sandrank Junior Member

    Canada
    Canada Francais
    Collins Cobuild: Glasses are sometimes referred to as spectales (FORMAL).
    Harrap's 21 Century:spectacles:plural noun: a frame that sits on the nose and which has two legs that fit behind the ears. It contains two lenses that are designed to correct defective eyesight.
     
  9. Nicomon

    Nicomon Senior Member

    Montréal
    Français, Québec ♀
    Would you really say spectacles, sandrank:confused: I wouldn't, and can't remember hearing it, when refering to (eye)glasses. I agree with Wildan 1 on that one.
    The Robert & Collins dictionary specifies British.
     
  10. Franglais1969

    Franglais1969 Senior Member

    Angleterre.
    English English, français rouillé
    I tend to agree. I said spectacles to an educated American friend once, and they had never even heard of them!
     
  11. sandrank Junior Member

    Canada
    Canada Francais
    I agree with all. Spectacles is rather litterature than spoken English. And definitely more British than American. This does not make of it an incorrect word to use. Beside all dictionnaries listed above, even Termium, the Bible of translators in Canada, recognizes it. And nowhere is it labeled as old or out of fashion. Now, people are free to use it or not. Please let us take it easy. Thank you.
     
  12. BassFranky Senior Member

    in the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and her friends use "spectacles" to enter the Emerald city.
    It's an American book (though an old one)
     
  13. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    ...and eyeglasses would be understood in Britain, but never used. In familiar use, specs also exists in the UK.
     
  14. xiancee

    xiancee Senior Member

    france
    French
  15. wildan1

    wildan1 Moderando ma non troppo

    We also use specs in AE as a slang word for glasses. But as stated before, spectacles is only used today in a humorous vein in AE.

    PS The Wizard of Oz was written in 1900--so maybe spectacles was a common word in the US...110 years ago!
     
  16. BassFranky Senior Member

    indeed ... at least in Kansas and in the Emerald City :)
     
  17. belgian teacher

    belgian teacher Senior Member

    Belgium
    French
  18. ladyk Senior Member

    USA
    French - France
    No I didn't know but it seems it only describes a specific kind of "lunnettes", those meant to "conserver la vue" hence the word "conserves" (plural). I had never heard of it before though I must confess.
    If a friend came to me saying that he was wearing "conserves" I would have been like What?! ;-)
     
  19. xiancee

    xiancee Senior Member

    france
    French
    As would many people in France no doubt!

    Au début je croyais que c'était seulement pour les verres "fumés" ... les conserves!
    ;)
     
  20. Anon Juliet New Member

    French
    What about this quotation, from The Rhineman exchange by Robert Ludlum : " He also wears spectacles - not glasses - and has a thin nose."
    Ludlum seems to think there's a difference other than stylistic.
     
  21. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    Not necessarily; perhaps Ludlum is saying "this character is the kind of pedantic person who talks about spectacles - not glasses" ?
     
  22. sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    I would only ever say "spectacles" or "eye glasses" to clear up an ambiguity: "No, not drinking glasses, spectacles/eye glasses." The rest of the time, it's "glasses" for me.
     

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