Trel (trellia_chan) wrote in 1word1day,

Wednesday words: Cahoot and Roman à clef

Sorry I missed last week! To make up for it, I have two words this week.

I was working on a script treatment with my partner when I typed the phrase " in cahoots" to describe a wicked connection between characters. We both laughed, and then replaced it with a less silly sounding "in business."  ^_^  Still, it got me curious about that word and it's origins.

Cahoot; [kuh-hoot]

Noun: Collaberation, partnership, league.

It's usually used as a plural in the phrase, "In cahoots."  It also tends to be used when refering to shady dealings in particular, unwholesome or illegal activities. The dirty cop was in cahoots with the drug lord all along!

Origin: Unclear, though use of the word was first used and popularized in America in around 1829. I've looked it up in several sources, and it is speculated that the world could originate from the French word cahute which means cabin or hut.  Hm....

Roman à clef:
[raw-mah na kle]  (plural) [romans à clef]

A novel about real life that is overlaid with a facade of fiction. The events in the story really happened and all characters in the story have ficticious names but correlate directly with the real-life people involved. The literal French translation is "novel with a key" which refers to the "key" authors provide that explains the relationship between the fiction and the nonfiction of their novel. The key may be produced as a separate body from the novel, or it may be incorporated through epigraphs within the novel.

Origin: The concept was created by Madeleine de Scudery in the  1600s to provide a forum for her thinly veiled fiction featuring political and public figures,

An example would be the play (and later movie) The Normal Heart written by Larry Kramer which was a roman à clef of his experiences in the early years of the HIV/AIDS crisis in New York City from 1981-1984, and his involvment in the formation of the Gay Men's Health Crisis activist group.
Tags: american, c, french, literature, noun, plural noun, r, wordsmith: trellia_chan

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