Entre chien et loup

Entre chien et loup
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French Expression

Meaning at nightfall, dusk, twilight
Literally between dog and wolf
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Pronunciation French 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

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Entre chien et loup

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