Cherchez la femme
Cherchez la femme [ʃɛʁʃe la ˈfam] is a French phrase which literally means "look for the woman." The implication is that a man behaves out of character or in an otherwise inexplicable manner because he is trying to cover up an affair with a woman, or trying to impress or gain favor with a woman.
The expression comes from the 1854 novel The Mohicans of Paris by Alexandre Dumas (père). The first use in the novel reads:
Cherchez la femme, pardieu ! cherchez la femme !
The phrase is repeated several times in the novel. Dumas also used the phrase in his 1864 theatrical adaptation, which reads:
Il y a une femme dans toutes les affaires ; aussitôt qu'on me fait un rapport, je dis : « Cherchez la femme ! »
Translated into English this reads:
There is a woman in every case; as soon as they bring me a report, I say, 'Look for the woman!'
The phrase embodies a cliché of detective pulp fiction: no matter what the problem, a woman is often the root cause. The phrase has come to refer to explanations that automatically find the same root cause, no matter the specifics of the problem.
The phrase also appears in the film Carry On Doctor, where Fred (Julian Orchard) uses it in a more literal sense, simply referring to looking for a woman who Ken (Bernard Bresslaw) has seen and taken a fancy to.
- Dumas, Alexandre (1871). Les Mohicans de Paris (in French) I. Paris: Michel Lévy frères, éditeurs. p. 232. Retrieved 2009-08-07. "Cherchez la femme, pardieu ! cherchez la femme !"
- Dumas, Alexandre (1889). Théâtre complet (in French) XXIV. Paris: Michel Lévy frères, éditeurs. p. 103. Retrieved 2009-08-07. "Il y a une femme dans toutes les affaires ; aussitôt qu'on me fait un rapport, je dis : « Cherchez la femme ! »"
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