Sans – Usage, Meaning & Definition

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

The lovely English language is a melting pot of words and phrases borrowed from different languages, reflecting its rich history and evolution. One particular word is “sans,” which we’ve adopted from French and maintains its original spelling. Let’s take a closer look and really break down the sans meaning, usage, and etymology.

What Does Sans Mean?

Sans Usage Meaning Definition

“Sans” is a simple preposition that means “without” or “lacking.” We use it to specifically show the absence or exclusion of something or someone, often highlighting a missing quality or element.

When orange juice is pulp-free, it’s also sans pulp. You’ll see it written on tons of different products on the French side of the label, like sugar-free or fat-free or sans sugar or sans fat. But even though it’s used as a French term, we also use it in English but without translating it.

When to Use Sans

You can use “sans” in formal or literary situations as a more sophisticated or poetic alternative to the word “without.” Sure, it’s less common in everyday speech, but it can still be used for stylistic purposes or to add a touch of elegance to a sentence. Basically, use it when you want to sound fancier.

Why Do We Keep French Spellings?

English has borrowed many words from the French over the centuries, often keeping their original spellings. We call them loanwords. It goes back to when French speakers lived in England. These people were called Normans and spoke a slightly different dialect from the traditional French language.

It’s said that Normans descended from Vikings, and they brought over tons of French words and worked them into the English language. We decided to just keep them as they were and accepted their meanings.

The Etymology of the Word Sans

“Sans” originates from somewhere in the 12th century and derives from Old French, where it was spelled as “san” or “senz.” The Old French word itself means “without” or “not counting.”

Synonyms for Sans

  • Without
  • Lacking
  • Devoid of
  • Bereft of
  • Absent
  • Excluding
  • Free from

Examples of Using Sans in a Sentence

Sans Usage Meaning Definition 1
  • That chocolate cake was absolutely delicious, though sans icing, it appeared somewhat dry.
  • The author attended the bookish event sans makeup, confident in her natural beauty.
  • The minimalist apartment was designed to be functional and stylish, sans unnecessary decorations that are perfect for me.
  • The musician’s performance at the local pub was impressive, especially considering he played the piece sans sheet music.
  • In a rare moment of vulnerability, the comedian delivered a heartfelt speech sans his usual sarcasm and wit, which hit home with the audience.
  • I refuse to drink juice with pulp; it must be sans pulp, or I’ll gag.
  • I’ll have everything on that burger sans pickles.

Never Go Sans Good Grammar

When using French words in English writing or conversation, it’s essential to truly understand their meanings and origins because it helps you to use them in the proper context. Just remember that sans can be used any time you want to say without or free from.