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Femme fatale

  • Femme fatale is a loanword. 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 femme fatale, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

     

    A femme fatale is a seductive woman who brings ruin upon a person who becomes infatuated or obsessed with her. A femme fatale may become a lover or hold out the promise of becoming a lover; she uses her physical attributes and powers of psychological manipulation to use her victim to gain power or material goods, or simply because it amuses her to control her victim. The femme fatale is a literary trope; it is a catchall for any familiar thing that recurs in art, media, politics, or social interaction, even if the recurring element is not figurative. The femme fatale is particularly popular in the film noir genre. The expression femme fatale is a loanword from the French; it literally means dangerous woman. The term came into use in English sometime in the nineteenth century; its popularity soared in the latter half of the twentieth century. The plural form of femme fatale is femme fatales.

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    Examples

    Over time, they meet Faye Valentine, a seductive femme fatale with a talent for finding trouble and a severe gambling problem. (Daily Beacon)

    The notorious femme fatale targeted victims while providing services at entertainment venues and had clear divisions of work with Fa while conducting the atrocities, the court said. (Shanghai Daily)

    The femme fatale is a stock character of classic film noir and hard-boiled detective stories — the seductive, fast-talking dame who lures a man into a trap of his own making. (Psychology Today)


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