I'm learning French myself using Karl C. Sandburg's French for Reading and met this line:

A l'occasion de la mise en marche de ce nouveau laboratoire, M. Louis l-Ringuet, professeur de physique à l'Ecole Polytechnique, a rédigé quelques pages pour reconnaître l'appui materiel offert par le Ministere de la Défense Nationale et de la Guerre, par la Caisse Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique, et par la Société des Amis de l'Ecole Polytechnique.

I'm a bit lost at the "mise", what does it mean? Is it a female noun or the past particle of "mettre"? If it's a pp , how come it is female form here?

My mobile dictionary WordRef says: WordRef

  1. As female noun it could be "stake, bet" or "appearance ", either seems not exact match
  2. As pp it's from mettre, but this is also doubtable as I guess normally pp shall use the male form?
  • Did you look it up in a dictionary? What did you find?
    – None
    Commented Aug 6, 2016 at 11:23
  • @Laure as updated in the question , yes I did, but I guess I must miss something
    – athos
    Commented Aug 6, 2016 at 11:33
  • 1
    Mise is a noun, feminine. If you type mise en marche in Reverso (they have an app for mobile phones which is far better than wordreference you'ill find it easily. start / starting. When starting / At the start of / this new lab ...
    – None
    Commented Aug 6, 2016 at 11:55
  • Use DeepL.com : 7 answers, 4 contexts
    – Personne
    Commented Jun 15, 2018 at 16:48

2 Answers 2


Mise is a feminine noun derived from mettre, here from the mettre en marche idiom that means "start", "put something on", or "launch".

  • If I'm note mistaken in this form it is never used alone because it would convey no sense, it's always "mise en ... quelquechose". Used alone, it means "stake" as the amount you put on a bet.
    – Laurent S.
    Commented Aug 7, 2016 at 19:27
  • 1
    @LaurentS. You somewhat self contradict yourself. Mise can be used alone and in this case indeed means stake, although it is a shortcut for mise de fonds. It is not always mise en but can be also mise de, mise à, mise au, de mise, mise + adjective, mise sur, mise sous...
    – jlliagre
    Commented Aug 7, 2016 at 21:28
  • That's why I said "in this form", but I should have written "with this meaning". I was however completely wrong indeed thinking it was always used with "en"...
    – Laurent S.
    Commented Aug 8, 2016 at 21:05
  • Very often used in the same way : "Mise en abyme", "mise en boîte", "mise en concurrence", "mise en bière"…
    – Stéphane
    Commented Aug 9, 2016 at 20:28
  • @jlliagre : Yes it can be used alone, as a name, in this case this is still the feminin form of the past participle of the verb "mettre". "La mise" is « Le résultat de ce qui a été mis. ». And don't ask me why the masculin "mis" never is used in this case… "Ton mis est important" → wrong "Ta mise est importante" → right.
    – Stéphane
    Commented Aug 9, 2016 at 20:34

mise en marche is an idiomatic expression which meaning depends on the context. For a vehicle, it would be starting the engine, but for a factory (or a new laboratory as here), it's often about the first few days (or weeks) of running, until everybody is accustomed to his job — in case of a short manual for the staff. On the other hand, the quelques pages (another idiomatic expression to play the modest, might have been long hours scratching his head to find the words) written looks like a speech prepared for the inauguration ceremony of the building, to thanks people who paid (l'appui matériel) for it: Ministry of Defense, the CNRS, and la Société des Amis de l'Ecole Polytechnique.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.