Definition and Usage of the French Word 'Enchanté'

Show your French knowledge when meeting new people

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French has long had an influence on the English language. The two languages share the same alphabet and a number of true cognates. But, the biggest influence of French on the English language may be the number words—such as enchanté— that have been passed from the former to the latter tongue.

The French word enchanté is an adjective, but you are likely to use the term to express delight when meeting someone new.

Definitions: Enchanté vs. Enchant

The word enchanté in French means enchanted, delighted, overjoyed, smitten, or bewitched. In English, the word "enchant" means to influence by charms and incantation, to bewitch, attract, move deeply, or rouse to ecstatic admiration.

The similarities in the French and English terms are clear. The spellings are quite similar, but the pronunciations are a bit different. The word enchanté is pronounced [a(n) sha(n) tay] in French. Not surprisingly, the English word "enchant" has an origin dating back centuries, having derived from its sister word enchanté in French.

Origin of Enchanté and Enchant

The Oxford Living Dictionaries notes that the modern English term "enchant" actually comes from Middle English, the language spoken in England from about 1100 to 1500. Enchant is derived from the late Middle English term meaning to put under a spell and delude. The term was originally spelled "incant" in Middle English, as in an incantation.​

Before that, the English word derived from the French term, enchanter, which in turn originated from the Latin incantare, meaning "in" + cantere, to "sing."  The French term enchanter is the infinitive form of the word, meaning to enchant, to delight, to be overjoyed, or to bewitch.

Examples of Enchanté

To gain a fuller understanding of enchanté, it may be helpful to see how the term is used in French and translated into English.

French Sentence(s)

English Translation

Je suis enchanté de cette pièce.

I'm delighted by this play.

"Voici mon frère David."

"Enchanté."

"This is my brother David."

"Nice to meet you."

Cette forêt est enchantée.

This forest is enchanted.

Note how, in the first two examples, enchanté is translated as "delighted" or "nice" (as in "delighted to meet you"). The word, nice by itself translates as agréable in French. The word "nice" only translates as enchanté in the context of expressing "delight" or "enchantment" upon meeting someone.

Enchanté in French Literature

The notion of enchantment has a firm grounding in French literature.  William C. Carter,  in his book, "Marcel Proust: A Life," said that the famous French novelist always sought to enchant his readers:

"His intently seductive voice is similar to Walt Whitman's, whose sounds and words constantly seem to urge the reader to lie with him and exchange caresses."

This brings you back, then, to the original meaning of the term enchanté, meaning to bewitch or cast a spell on, which certainly makes it an alluring term. So, the next time you are searching for just the right word when you meet someone new, use the term enchanté to show your delight at meeting that person or to cast a spell as you draw in your reader or listener.