Il a tranché.

Il a tranché.

ee lah trah-SHAY. Click below to hear this!

He has decided.

Trancher means to cut or slice. Remember the stories of the Middle Ages when they ate their dinner on a trencher? That’s a thick slice of bread whose purpose was to sop up the gravy.

So how did we get from slicing to deciding?

The Latin origin is trinicare, meaning to cut into three pieces. Eventually, as French broke off from Latin, that became trencher and then trancher.

Then things become a little fuzzy. I suspect the influence of Alexander the Great and the Gordian Knot, or Solomon and the two mothers who claimed the same baby. Both solved a knotty (oooh, sorry for the pun) problem by slicing, or threatening to slice.

So back in 1997, the French publication Figaro Magazine ran an article about then-Président de la République Jacques Chirac, who made the difficult decision to dissolve the French Parliament. (That’s within the powers of the French President, when a political coalition falls apart and prevents the government from functioning, for example.) The article was titled, Il a tranché.

You can also say, Il est difficile de trancher entre … et ….. Put two nouns in place of the … It’s difficult to decide between … and …

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