Viens, je vais étrenner ma carte-cadeau !
veeYAA, zhuh vay ay-tray-nay mah kart kaa-DOE! Click below to hear this.
Come on, I’m going to use my gift card!
The obvious part is teenagers going shopping together, right? And who wouldn’t want to go shopping after receiving a nice gift card for Christmas?
The not-so-obvious part is the verb that I have translated as to use. In English, how boring! Vague and non-specific.
In French, étrenner just crackles with excitement. Une étrenne is a New Year’s gift, not necessarily a Christmas gift, and such gifts have their own word because New Year’s Day is a traditional time to exchange gifts in France.
So naturally, you are eager to try out your gift! That’s what étrenner means: to try something new out for the first time. Whether it’s a new cellphone, a car, new window curtains, a new dress, the first time you put it into use is étrenner. By extension, it applies to Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, or even items that you have bought for yourself. It’s like unveiling or baptizing it.
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