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Has this phrase originated from an anecdote or story?

What does it mean precisely?

Can one use this phrase both in English and French?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 10 down vote accepted

A tour de force (See here under tour3, sense II.A.1.) is an impressive feat. The word (there are three tour, of differing etymologies) is ultimately from an Old French turn, a noun derived from what became tourner which through an elaborate series of semantic expansions acquired the meaning of "feat, demonstration, (magical/acrobatic) trick". One says similarly tour de magie/cartes ("magic/card trick") or avoir plus d'un tour dans son sac ("have more than one trick up your sleeve").

Originally it meant more literally "feat of strength or skill", but its meaning rapidly widened to the current more general one.

As far as I know, the phrase is relatively common in English as far as borrowed French phrases go.

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