squelettes plus ou moins gâtés


Senior Member
American English; USA
Hello, everyone.

I've got a passage dealing with the construction of the Parisian Catacombs as an ossuary. The cemeteries are being emptied and the bones transferred to the Catacombs. I'm not at all sure of the meaning of gâtés here:

Une immense et collective réduction commença, l'artisanat des fossoyeurs appelant réduction l'amas dans une petite boîte des restes qui s'étalent en plusieurs cercueils quand ils prennent trop de place pour le peu de volume atteint après un temp bref. [...] Alors donc on réduisit deux ou trois millions de squelettes, plus ou moins gâtés, qu'un génie cartésien bien formé à nos écoles ordonna en remblais parallélépipédiques...

More or less ruined?

More or less spoiled?

Is it a reference to rotting flesh?

Hopefully some of you who have actually been in this place may have some ideas.

  • Chingrelin

    here, "gâtés" means "abîmés."
    It doesn't refer to rotten flesh as we're talking about skeletons. These bones are more or loss broken.


    New Member
    "Gâté" is an adjective we typically use in the semantic field of food. For example a rotten fruit is "un fruit gâté". Possible translations for this word are : "stale", "rotten", and more generally "unfit for consumption".
    I wouldn't use the word "gâté" to describe a skeleton but I think the author meant that some of the skeletons were very old and severely damaged. I think the word "gâté" regroups these two notions : ancient and broken.
    I hope it helped.
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