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Catachresis: Department of No Such Word: *chaise lounge


chaise longue – noun:  a chair, with or without arms, for reclining, having a seat lengthened to form a complete leg rest and sometimes an adjustable back.



Got that? Please note the spelling: the second word is LONGUE. The second word is not LOUNGE. I know, I know—the word LONGUE looks like LOUNGE. It even has the same letters, although in a different order, but it’s not the same word, it really isn’t.


CHAISE is a French word meaning “chair.” And the French word LONGUE does not mean “lounge,” it means “long.” So “chaise longue” is French for “long chair,” NOT “lounge chair.” Even though it’s a chair used for lounging.


You have two choices: you can call the “chair, with or without arms, for reclining, etc.,” either a chaise longue (note spelling) or a lounge chair. You may NOT call it a chaise lounge, which is neither good French nor good English and does not mean anything.


If you decide to call it a chaise longue, you should pronounce it “shez long,” rather than “shays long,” although I would always accept the latter in preference to “shays lounge.”


(For an explanation of catachresis, see the post for January 28.)

Comment from RevJATB
Time: March 30, 2013, 1:33 am

Almost. Yes, it is a chaise longue, not a chaise lounge, but “chaise” is pronounced SHEZ, not “shay.” The ai has the “eh” of let and pet in French, and the “e” on the end tells you to pronounce the “s.”

Comment from RevJATB
Time: March 30, 2013, 1:35 am

And that’s exactly what you said. My fault for not reading more carefully. Feel free to delete both of these comments!

No problem! I think this here interwebs encourages all of us to skim over things way too fast.

Comment from Alayna
Time: January 22, 2014, 7:06 am

I’m actually looking for across the net to know the exact spelling either it is longue or lounge….Before coming to your post..I knew “Chaise Lounge” is correct…but now I’ve known the correct spelling…thanks for the useful post
french chaise lounge

Glad to be of help!

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