Elle y va à toute allure.
ell lee vah ah too tah-LEWR. Click below to hear this.
She’s going at top speed.
Allure is much more than a name to label a perfume bottle with!
Would you believe that it actually stems from the verb aller, to go? Its most basic meaning refers to someone’s manner of walking or moving, and by extension, has come to mean behavior, way of acting, or even just general appearance. it can be paired with an adjective denoting ugliness, shabbiness, peculiarity, and so on, just as well as with a positive adjective denoting attractiveness or gracefulness.
So à toute allure really does refer to speed: it means at top speed.
But here’s the fun part. People do enjoy taking a phrase and putting their own spin on it! Françoise’s Papa likes to change à tout à l’heure (see yesterday’s post) to à toute allure. In so doing, he turns a casual, laidback, non-specific leavetaking into something breathless and urgent. Hurry back to me!
The metamorphosis works because of pronunciation. The final t in à tout à l’heure is pronounced because it is elided with the vowel that follows it. The second t in à toute allure is pronounced because the adjective is feminine.
The sound of the final syllable in the two expressions is similar, but not identical, so it works like an imprecise echo. Heure is pronounced with your jaw dropped and your lips rounded. Allure is pronounced with your jaw nearly closed and your chin thrust a little forward, and your lips tightly rounded into a tiny opening.
Here’s the comparison:
À tout à l’heure. À toute allure.
Practice makes perfect!