Bon vivant

Bon vivant is a loan phrase. Loanwords and loan phrases are terms that have been taken from other languages and used as English words and phrases. Another term for a loanword is a borrowed word. Loanwords and loan phrases come into the English language when English speakers come into contact with other languages and cultures. When loanwords and loan phrases first enter the English language, they are used by bilingual speakers and usually maintain the original pronunciation from the source language. As other English speakers adopt the loanwords and loan phrases, the pronunciation may change to incorporate sounds more in keeping with the English speakers’ accents. A foreign word evolves into a loanword when it is adopted into the vocabulary of the average English speaker, not just English speakers who come into contact with the source language and culture. Do not confuse loanwords and loan phrases with calques. A calque is a loan translation, it is a word or phrase which adopts the meaning of a foreign word or phrase with existing English words. Some examples of calques are the English word bushmeat taken from the French word viande de brousse, and the English phrase rest in peace derived from the Latin phrase requiescat in pace. English has incorporated loanwords and loan phrases from many languages. For instance, the terms modus operandi and quid pro quo are borrowed from Latin, à la carte and gaffe are borrowed from French, karaoke and bokeh are borrowed from Japanese, and loot and nirvana are borrowed from Hindi. We will look at the definition of the term bon vivant, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

A bon vivant is a person who lives life to the fullest; a bon vivant is extremely gregarious and enjoys the social life. A bon vivant partakes in a luxurious lifestyle, indulging in good food, good drink, posh accommodations, and extreme entertainment. The term bon vivant is borrowed from the French and entered the English language in the 1600s. Bon vivant translates as one who lives well; the plural form is bon vivants.


The exhibit is dedicated to Charlotte Williams, a LeMoyne Arts founding force, quilter, artist and bon vivant who was one of the first subjects photographed and who died in January 2020. (Tallahassee Democrat)

Minneapolis bon vivant Kitty Fahey is desperately hoping to get into Sunday’s ceremony for the 74th Annual Tony Awards. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

He was a printer, politician, postmaster, diplomat, scientist, inventor, vegetarian, musician, Freemason, slave owner, abolitionist, newspaper owner and editor, Declaration of Independence signatory, securer of vital foreign supplies for Washington’s army, and noted international bon vivant. (Kingsport Times-News)

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