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Q: French expression ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: French expression
Category: Reference, Education and News > General Reference
Asked by: viseu-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 09 Jun 2004 10:05 PDT
Expires: 09 Jul 2004 10:05 PDT
Question ID: 358665
What is the meaning of the French phrase "avant la lettre" which I
have seen used in scholarly writing?  It is not "before the letter,"
the literal translation, but is some kind of idiom.  Thanks.
Subject: Re: French expression
Answered By: thx1138-ga on 09 Jun 2004 10:51 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello viseu and thank you for your question.

The French phrase "avant la lettre" means "before the term (or phrase) existed"

For example:

"She is driven by these sharp emotional changes because as an artist
she is dealing with the subject before it was defined, the medium
before it existed. In this sense, she is an artist of things avant la

and a translation of a book title:

"Votiefgeschenken: epidemiologie avant la lettre"
"Votive offerings: epidemiology before the term existed",%203.htm

also see:

"avant la lettre [F] foreign term : before the letter: before a
(specified) name existed"

Thank you for your question, and if you need any clarification of my
answer, do not hesitate to ask before rating my answer.

Very best regards


Search strategy included:
"avant la lettre"  before existed
viseu-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $2.00
Brilliant, thank you!  Thanks also for showing me where to find such
phrases in the future.

Subject: Re: French expression
From: thx1138-ga on 09 Jun 2004 10:58 PDT
Hello again viseu.

Just a note to say thank you for the five star rating and generous tip.

Very best regards


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