Google Images is not the best thing to happen to language learning, but it’s pretty fucking good sometimes. Case in point: today I wanted to know what joufflu means in French. I might forget the definition I read, but I won’t soon forget the pictures that Google Images gave me when I searched for it:
Le Président, joufflu aux pommettes rosées, l’air austère, me regarde dans les yeux sans laisser paraître aucun sentiment.Henri Charrière, Papillon
I wanted to check my guess that a cuistot is closer to a short-order cook than to a chef–Google Images pretty much confirmed it:
You’re confused because WordReference says that a flingue is a gun, but the Frenchies around you keep using it to refer to pistols? Google Images will straighten you out–turns out WordReference doesn’t quite have it right this time:
Is, as they say, a picture worth a thousand words? As a scientist, I’m always skeptical of exact numbers, but it’s certainly worth a lot of definitions…
Joufflu is a noun–there’s also a feminine form, joufflue. According to my Quillet (a damn nice dictionary, by the way), it’s a person qui a les joues pleines. As far as I know, there is no equivalent noun in English. We would use the adjective chubby-cheeked if we didn’t mean anything bad by it, and jowly, from the noun jowl, if we did.
Now, I know what you’re about to ask: does the noun jowl come from joue (French for “cheek”)? I mean, we stole, like, 80% of our vocabulary from French (the percentage varies depending on whether you’re talking about the contents of a good dictionary or the (relatively) common vocabulary of everyday life–we rarely escape from Zipf’s Law), so why not this word, looking as much like joue as it does?
Merriam-Webster says otherwise. It’s helpful here to know that the noun jowl has multiple, but related, meanings. Here’s the most common one:
usually slack flesh (such as a dewlap, wattle, or the pendulous part of a double chin) associated with the cheeks, lower jaw, or throatMerriam-Webster entry 1
Note that it includes the cheeks–that’s why it comes to mind for me in this context–but, other parts, too. Most pertinent to the current question: the throat. For this specific meaning, Merriam-Webster postulates the following etymology:
alteration of Middle English cholle, probably from Old English ceole throatMerriam-Webster, again
Where it gets surprising to me is that the second entry has a different etymology for a related, but different, sense. Here’s entry 2 for jowl:
1a: CHEEK sense 1
b: the cheek meat of a hog
b: one of the lateral halves of the mandiblemore Merriam-Webster
…and its etymology as per Merriam-Webster:
alteration of Middle English chavel, from Old English ceafl; akin to Middle High German kivel jaw, Avestan zafar- mouth…and yet again, Merriam-Webster
Two distinct etymologies for two pretty clearly related senses of the same word? Well: we are occasionally visited here by an actual lexicologist, and a good one (with whom I had the pleasure of having a nice cup of coffee a couple weeks ago, but that’s another story). See the comments below for his response (I hope)!
…and one more thing, and I’ll shut up. Here’s a recording of Henri Charrière, author of the quote that I gave you above for the word joufflu. Charming Ardèche accent (I think it’s ardèchois–Phil d’Ange?):