What does “Sacre Bleu” mean? Meaning, word origin, explanation


“Sacre Bleu” is an exclamation of astonishment that originated in French and is also known in English-speaking countries. It is not always used consistently and can therefore cause confusion.

The origin and literal meaning of “Sacre Bleu”

The expression is a variation of the French saying.

“Sacre Dieu,” which translates to “Holy God” in English (sacre = holy and dieu = God).

“Sacre Bleu,” on the other hand, translates to “Sacred Blue.”

It was probably a language joke that spread like wildfire.

“Sacre Dieu” corresponds in usage to the English exclamations “Holy God” or “Jesus Christ again.” Here, the sacred blue, the sky, already appears.

The kingdom of heaven has always been equated with the divine spheres. The leap from “Sacre Dieu” to “Sacre Bleu” is thus understandable.

Possibly the pronunciation has established itself first in circles, which reject the existence of a God. To invoke the blue of the sky instead of a personified God seems less captious.

What does “Sacre Bleu” mean? Meaning, definition, explanation

In Christian color mythology, blue and light blue are attributed to the Holy Mother of God. Whenever Mary is depicted, she wears a blue cloak or is seen against a brilliant blue sky.

Outside of the Christian imagination, blue is the color of vastness and spiritual purity and goodness. Blue has a calming and relaxing effect.

“Sacre Bleu” – as a curse or a blessing

In fact, “Sacre” can be translated either as “holy” or “cursed” or “cursed”.

Sacred means round, whole, coherent in its entirety. Verflixt or verflucht basically means the opposite, namely that something is not quite round and therefore holy.

At first, this seems like a contradiction. However, in many cultures the power of Mary is equated with the unification of opposites and harmonization.


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Behind it, on closer inspection, there are complicated philosophical approaches to the polarity (good-evil, day-night, holy-bad) of our world. Quite simply one could say that all opposites belong together and form basically a holy whole.

From this point of view, a curse is also a blessing and vice versa.

This explains why “Sacre Bleu!” is sometimes used as an exclamation of praiseful wonder (similar to “Madonna!” or “Holy Mother!”) and sometimes as a cutting curse (“Damn it!” or “Darn it and sew it up!”).

At its core, the usage is the same. The person wants to strike a balance with the saying. In a tricky situation, a hearty curse can have a truly relieving effect. In addition, we humans also want to verbally express our special rapture.

Meaning: “Sacre Bleu” – the “darn blue”

In 2012, best-selling U.S. author Christopher Moore wrote a book with the original title “Sacre Bleu.”

In England and America, it has become chic to say “Sacre Bleu.” In France, on the other hand, the phrase has long been considered outdated.

On the German book market, the witty novel appeared under the title “Verflixtes Blau!” (Dratted Blue!). In it, Christopher Moore sheds light on the circumstances surrounding the death of Vincent Van Gogh. It is told from the point of view of two friends of the painting genius. Van Gogh was considered severely depressed (English “blue” for “sad” or “melancholy”) and, according to legend, shot himself.

“Sacre Bleu” in the English-speaking world

It is not known exactly how “Sacre Bleu” came into the English-speaking world.

The mystery writer Agatha Christie is said to have used it in some of her works.

Among young people in the Western world, the saying became known through an episode of the animated series “The Simpsons.” In a spoof of the clichés of various nationalities, the Frenchman is depicted wearing a red and white striped shirt with a baguette under his arm and the saying “Sacre Bleu”.

The translations “Sacred Blue” or “Darn Blue” have not caught on in the English-speaking world. The special effect of the saying is lost by the translation.

Therefore we also say “Sacre Bleu”. The saying is used as a deliberate spoof or because it sounds particularly fine.


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