By Thomas Leiper Kane

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Extra info for Amharic-English Dictionary, Vol. 1

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DEMI-MONDE demee-mond (French) literally ‘half world’; originally applying to a nineteenth-century world of mistresses and prostitutes which was half-in, half-out of respectable society, the term can now describe any ‘shady section of society’: As he pleads to the kangaroo court set up by thieves of the unnamed city to try him (the demi-monde having hunted the killer down themselves to draw off the police heat), inner demons compelled him to kill again and again… (Independent) PRETENTIOUSNESS INDEX Nil Le demi-monde was the title of a play by Alexander Dumas, first appearing in 1855, and dealing with a woman who had a ‘dubious’ reputation.

The phrase is quite often used in contexts where a person has simply taken carte blanche rather than being granted it, as in the reference to dictators in the Times example above. This is a convenient alternative to English expressions such as ‘free hand’ or ‘blank cheque’. CASUS BELLI carsus bellee (Latin) ‘cause of war’, ‘something which would justify a war’: The decision to overlook Thierry Henry and instead give Zinedine Zidane the world player of the year award should be a casus belli for more than just the North Bank regulars.

30 14826 20/9/05 08:12 Page 31 BOULEVERSEMENT bool-er-verss-mon (French) ‘violent upset’, ‘reversal of fortune’: One writer suggested that France’s ‘prospects of winning are little more than negligible’ and a former British Lion was moved to predict ‘a crushing defeat’. I quote these forecasts, not out of any sense of superiority […] but to illustrate just how astonishing a bouleversement this semi-final was. (Daily Telegraph) PRETENTIOUSNESS INDEX ! This isn’t a frequently used expression but sports writing, with its search for drama, is a popular venue for bouleversements and the term is an elegant if slightly formal alternative to its English equivalents.

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Amharic-English Dictionary, Vol. 1 by Thomas Leiper Kane


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