FR: la petite mort(e)


New Member
English - Australia

So I came across the French idiom for an orgasm, la petite mort, and I got a little confused by the gender of mort. It would seem to me that it should be 'morte', to agree with the feminine 'la petite' but after doing some googlings I found few instances of 'la petite morte' and I'm not even sure that those are grammatically correct. I also used google translate to help me out, and I now think that 'morte' refers to a deceased female, rather than an actual death, so 'la petite morte' would be a small deceased woman. So then, if we're going to use 'mort' why should the idiom not be 'le petit mort'?

If someone could explain the grammar around this I would be very appreciative.

Thanks in advance :)
  • DearPrudence

    Dépêche Mod (AL mod)
    French (lower Normandy)
    Hello and welcome to the forums, HRSTA :)

    Here is how it goes:

    la mort : death
    (even if it doesn't end with an 'e', it is feminine)
    la petite mort

    le mort, la morte : the deceased man, the deceased woman
    (so "la petite morte" = the little dead girl or something similar, but that wouldn't be used often at all)

    Is it clearer put like this?


    New Member
    la mort = a name (feminine)
    mort / morte adjective

    here in the sentence la petite mort , " petite" is the adjective and " mort" is the name . As the name " la mort " is feminine you have to use the feminine form for the adjective.


    New Member
    English - Australia
    Ah, that clears things up very nicely, thank you both, and thanks DearPrudence for the welcome!
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