Cherchez la Femme - The Sexist French Expression

Female model in mask

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Cherchez la femme is an expression that has somewhat shifted meaning between French and English. Literally, this expression translates as "look for the woman".

Cherchez la Femme (Not Churchy la Femme) English Meaning

In English, this expression means the "same problem as ever", kind of like "go figure". It's often misspelled as "Churchy la femme"!

- I'm still hungry.
- Cherchez la femme! 

Cherchez la Femme French Meaning

But its original meaning is much more sexist.

The expression comes from the 1854 novel "The Mohicans of Paris" by Alexandre Dumas.

Cherchez la femme, pardieu ! Cherchez la femme!

The phrase is repeated several times in the novel.

The French meaning is no matter what the problem may be, a woman is often the cause. Look for the mistress, the jealous wife, the angry lover... there is a woman at the root of each problem.

- Je n'ai plus d'argent. I no longer have money.
- Cherchez la femme. Look for the woman - ie your wife must have spent it all.

Beware French phrases that are commonly used by English speakers, including "voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir", as they may be misused and offensive.