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Untranslatable – la douleur exquise

LES INTRADUISIBLES : LA DOULEUR EXQUISE

Untranslatable French words and phrases are a thing of beauty. The intraduisble for this month is “La douleur exquise”. The literal meaning in English for this expression is “the exquisite pain”, however in French there is a deeper and more poetic meaning.

The exquisite pain in the expression refers to the feeling of wanting someone that you know you can never have, and knowing that you still want to be with them. Only the French could come up with something so eloquent to describe the pain of unrequited love. Interestingly, it was used as a title for an episode of Sex and the City!

People have described the pain and heartache in these circumstances as unbearable. As it turns out, loving someone who is already taken will cause emotional heartache for the person whose love is unreciprocated.

Here is an example of the expression:

Paul m’a réjété. Ah, la douleur exquise!
“Paul rejected me. Oh, the (exquisite) pain!”

Click HERE for more of our favourite “untranslatable” expressions!

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