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Home » Word of the week » La taille

La taille

cut / size


If you have ever bought any clothing in France you will know that «taille» has the meaning of size.

It can also more specifically mean waist.  «tour de taille» is a waist measurement

«De grande,moyenne ou petite taille» is to be very tall, of medium height or small.

The idea of size come through also in «le mensonge est de taille» – it’s a thumping lie and in

«Il n’est pas de taille pour lutter contre vous» – he is no match for you.

«Taille» comes from the verb «tailler» (to cut) which in turn gives us the word for a tailor «un tailleur», (rich or otherwise).

«Tailler» translates as cut  for stones, diamonds etc., but, when you are talking plants «tailler les roses», it becomes prune  and «on taille les haies  ou la barbe» you trim hedges or beards, «on taille des crayons»sharpen pencils, or carve a path « tailler un chemin».

In French history, «les tailles» formed the tax (the cut) that was levied by the king or seigneur on his subjects or on lands held under him.  It became solely a royal tax in the 15th century from which the lords and later the clergy were exempt.  It was the most important direct tax of the pre-Revolutionary monarchy in France and, because of its unequal distribution; it was one of the most hated institutions of the Ancien Regime.