Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wonderings and Googlings (Wherein I wonder about words, then I Google them)

chaise longue = 984,000 hits
chaise lounge = 1,430,000 hits

"Chaise lounge" is one of those terms that gets sticklers up in arms. It should be "chaise longue," literally "long chair" in French, they say. And dictionaries clearly prefer "longue."

Under the entry for "chaise" alone, Webster's New World mentions the "longue" option, but does not mention "lounge." Under its listing for "chaise longue," this dictionary doesn't even mention the "lounge" spelling.

But if you look up "chaise lounge," it's in there as a term meaning "chaise longue."

This is on my mind because I came across a "chaise lounge" in an article I was editing yesterday. I changed it, of course. And I'll continue to do so. But it looks like the tide is turning.

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Laura Payne said...

Very interesting. I always thought it was "chaise lounge" as in a chair in which to lounge (based upon the following definition for lounge) -

1. To move or act in a lazy, relaxed way; loll: lounging on the sofa; lounged around in pajamas.
2. To pass time idly: lounged in Venice till June. - definition from:

I know that longue is French for long, but I never made the association because I grew up lounging on lounge chairs.

Thanks for the post.

June Casagrande said...

That's an excellent reason why you can, if you want to, write "chaise lounge." If lounge is what you want to say, then there's no reason you can't use "chaise" to modify it.

The problem, of course, is that anyone who believes it "must" be "chaise longue" will consider "chaise lounge" an error -- even if it's a choice. So, as a copy editor, I find it's best to stick with the safer choice. I suspect that's why the Los Angeles Times so often eschews "healthy foods" for "healthful foods," even though its dictionary allows either. "Healthful" keeps the grammar cops of their backs.

: )


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