Senior Member
American English
The four tranlastions WR offers for "maven"--étoile, virtuose, champion, génie--are lame to put it politely, wrong to be more accurate. Maven is originally a Hebrew word that enters AE by Yiddish and means "expert." You can expand this definition and perhaps use "authority" or even "guru" (though I think that's pushing the limits), but star, virtuoso, etc., are off the mark.


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  • "Les traductions proposées sont le reflet de la définition qu'on trouve pour "mavin/maven")"

    I am curious to know, archijacq, the source of these multiple synonyms, i.e. where did you find it?

    To my ear and to the ears of my AE-speaking friends, they are off target: a maven, e.g., is not a champion, a superstar, an ace, or a sensation. Whiz might be close except the word is out of fashion and so is adept as a noun. As you probably know, the word was popularized in the 1960s in ads for pickled herring that used "the beloved herring maven" as a spokesman. The herring maven knew everything there was to know about pickled herring (one might wonder how much there is to know). He was the expert, the authority, but made no claims to genius, etc. What made these ads work is that the comparatively few people who knew the word before and those to whom it was new came to the same conclusion about the meaning of the word--i.e., expert--which is precisely what the Vita Herring Company intended. In case this history is unfamiliar, here's a link: Beloved herring maven. Enjoy.
    TIs it possible to add a corrected definition on the first page for this word rather than going into lengthy discussions? Thanks.
    Hi Budd. Thanks for your attention to the accuracy of the WR translations of "maven." Regarding corrections, please see this thread from the C&S forum. Some portions of FR-EN dictionary entries are correctable; others are not. One of the reasons we have forum threads -- and forum thread titles that appear at the end of dictionary entries -- is so that people can discuss insufficiencies or errors in translations. On the French-English forums, we conserve such threads.

    I am curious to know, archijacq, the source of these multiple synonyms, i.e. where did you find it?
    Surely Archijacq's synonyms come from "online," since that's where all the links lead. I tend to agree with you that it would, however, have been nice to hear some sources attributed, and some explanation, justification, or personal opinion about the synonyms suggested. :p
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