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Help with the sentence: Il esquisse un sourire entendu.

This sentence,

I know that un sourire entendu is an equivalent kind of phrase to 'a knowing smile.'

but what does esquisse here mean. I think esquisser means 'to sketch'??

so he sketches a knowing smile???

Is it a very usual phrase used??

Also am I write in saying that entendu actually means 'heard.'

And so that literal translation is: He sketches a heard smile? but in English its kind of equivalent to 'He gives a knowing smile??'

Thank you!

August 3, 2017



The dictionary says : esquisser = to give a hint of a smile

it is a usual sentence in many novels.


Yes, exactly.

Mina, although "esquisser" literally means "to sketch", here it is the figurative sense. However, it has become a set phrase : even if it may have meant "to sketch" in the beginning, now a French person would instantly and literally understand it as "to give a hint of a knowing smile". Do you follow me ? This dictionary (http://www.cnrtl.fr/definition/esquisser) gives a good definition of "esquisser" : "Commencer une action, un geste, en général sans l'accomplir entièrement."

As for "entendu", if by "heard" you mean "understood", you're right, "entendre" is also an old-fashioned and/or formal way to say "to hear". For example, in a conversation "J'entends" could well mean "I hear you". However, even if you could use it as a memory aid, I'm not sure this translation could apply here.


"entendre" is also an old-fashioned and/or formal way to say "to hear"

You meant 'to understand'.

I posted several comments about the old and modern meanings of 'entendre' here: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/23677529

I can sum it up this way: in the past, 'comprendre' meant 'contain' (it still does) and figuratively 'contain in oneself, conceive' (hence 'comprehend' in English), 'entendre' meant 'understand' and 'ouïr' meant 'hear'. 'Ouïr' became obsolete and was replaced with 'entendre', and 'entendre' was replaced with 'comprendre'.


Yes. Sorry if it wasn't clear. I used "to hear" not as in "to hear a sound" but as a synonym of "to understand". English speakers use "I hear you" as a synonym of "I understand what you're saying", just as French people sometimes use "J'entends" to say "Je comprends". The parallel between French and English is very interesting. Thank you for the link and the thorough explanations.


Thank you so much! A very useful answer


You're welcome


From google translate, the translation is "he smiled heard", so it probably means something similar this. Just "esquire" though, is sketch, like you posted.


Google Translate got it all wrong.

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