cerf volant: etymology

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by PatrickMckenna, Apr 23, 2005.

  1. PatrickMckenna New Member

    US English
    Please--What is the origin of this phrase? Since I do not know French, my literal translation comes up--flying deer- or something to that effect. Just curious. Thank you ahead of time.
  2. Eddie

    Eddie Senior Member

    Nassau County, NY
    USA - English
    Cerf-volant is French for a kite. It's also the name for a stag beetle. As to the origin of the word, the etymology is uncertain. Some believe it comes from serpe volante « serpent volant » .
  3. fetchezlavache

    fetchezlavache Senior Member

    metz, france
  4. PatrickMckenna New Member

    US English
    thank you so much for your quick responses. Let's see if I got this right: serpent volant became serpe volant which became serpe-volant which became serpevolant which became cerfvolant which became cerf volant---an acoustical evolution and not one of meaning---wonderful! Do I have this right?
  5. Cath.S.

    Cath.S. Senior Member

    Bretagne, France
    français de France
    Nearly,;) because the hyphen is compulsory here: un cerf-volant.:)
  6. PatrickMckenna New Member

    US English
    Thank you--I won't forget the hyphen---but the rest of it, the serpent-volant to serpe-volant to cerf-volant---is that supposedly how it evolved?
  7. Ian Tenor Senior Member

    English UK
    Justement - excusez-moi - une petite question ...

    Les cerfs-volants, cerf-volants ou cerfs-volant ?

    Merci bien -

  8. dewsy Senior Member

    England, english
    Cerfs-volants :)
  9. Ian Tenor Senior Member

    English UK
    Thank you, Dewsy.

  10. StevoBaggins Member

    English - USA
    Interesting..."Cerf-volant" literally means "flying buck (stag)"...so as someone else pointed out, that would explain the stag beetle, comparing its horns to a stag's antlers. I think it's fascinating that cerf-volant has a different etymology when it refers to a kite.

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