Entre chien et loup

Entre chien et loup
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French Expression

Meaningat nightfall, dusk, twilight
Literallybetween dog and wolf
Registernormal
PronunciationFrench sound files [a(n) treu shyeh(n) ay loo]
IPA  [ã tʁə ʃjɛ̃ e lu]

Usage notes: What’s the difference between nightfall, dusk, and twilight? Poetry.

The French word for dusk is crépuscule, which to me sounds rather ominous. I suppose the French expression entre chien et loup is too, since it suggests that the limited light prevents you from knowing whether you’re looking at a dog or a wolf,* but somehow the poetry of the expression makes it all okay.

Par exemple…

Je n’aime pas sortir entre chien et loup. I don’t like going out at dusk.
Nous l’avons rencontré à la plage, entre chien et loup. We met him on the beach at twilight.

Synonymous expressions

  • au crépuscule
  • à la brunante (Canadian French)
  • à la brune (literary)
  • à la nuit tombante
  • à la tombée de la nuit
  • à l’heure bleue

 Some sources, including Littré, state that entre chien et loup is also synonymous with à la tombée du jour (dawn), but Le Petit Robert and TLFi disagree.

 *In the most basic sense, the dog represents the day while the wolf symbolizes the night, but you can take it much further than that.

Chien Loup
daylight night-time
comfort fear
domestic wild
familiarity strangeness
friend foe
hope despair
knowledge doubt
light dark
safety danger

 Related lessons

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Entre chien et loup

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