In our speech, there are many words that allow you to clearly convey thought and mood. But we do not know the exact meaning of such words, especially since they often have a foreign origin. When we hear the phrase “not comme il faut,” we understand its meaning: it does not fit, it is not convenient, I do not want to. But where did this word come from in our language, and what does it exactly mean?
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What does the word “comme il faut” mean and how did it appear?
The word itself is actually a whole phrase in French. There “Comme il faut” means “as it should,” “as it should,” or “appropriately.” The emphasis in this phrase is placed on the last syllable, as is customary in French. The phrase became popular in the pre-revolutionary bourgeois environment, describing educated people who comply with the rules of decency. In a general sense, the concept implies a good tone, established norms of behavior. They said: “you are not comme il faut” or “you must be comme il faut here.”
And in the Russian language the word appeared by chance. Among the domestic nobility it was considered natural to know the French language and communicate in it. You can recall at least Leo Tolstoy and his “War and Peace” with numerous inserts of a foreign language.
Just please buy yourself another hat … You have to be comme il faut here.
Chekhov A.P., Ariadne, 1895
Gradually, stable phrases and convenient expressions penetrated into our language from French, one of which was comme il faut. In the higher environment, too, there were rules of conduct that indicated the limits of the permissible (the same comme il faut) and not quite possible (not comme il faut). In modern language, the word is usually used with a negative particle, taking on a meaning that everyone understands.