My French is really bad, so please reply in English if you can. Thank you.

When searching for "lac Aveugle" it seems to me that I get two kinds of results: some, where the phrase is a place name; and some where it is only descriptive of what a certain lake looks like.

What does the phrase mean, when used in a descriptive manner? I understand that it would translate to something like "blind lake", but what does that mean? A lake cannot see, so it cannot be blind.

(And, although offtopic, is there acutally a real lake with that name and, if so, where is it?)

  • 1
    Where did you hear it ? In What context ?
    – Random
    Sep 28, 2016 at 9:33

2 Answers 2


Lac aveugle doesn't have more sense (or less sense) in French than "blind lake" in English. Although google maps doesn't find any, there might be actual lakes in France with that name just like there are also a couple of Blind Lakes in the US or elsewhere.

If used in a descriptive way, my best guess would be it is a lake without surface runoff. This seems to be precisely what gave its name to the Tirol, Austria Blindsee.

  • Your guess seems to be in tune with the usage on this page (tipings.com/fr/pages/86043), where it says: "Ainsi le chemin des rivières et des autres organes de gaspillage de l'eau dans la vallée arrête et forme un lac aveugle fermé."
    – user5343
    Sep 28, 2016 at 9:59
  • 4
    @what Indeed, thanks. Beware though that the link you provided contains extremely broken French, likely created by an automated translation software.
    – jlliagre
    Sep 28, 2016 at 10:13
  • Ah. See, that is what I don't notice. As far as my research goes, it seems that most usages of "lac aveugle" are in fact translations, as in a poem by Rilke or in the appelation of Austrian mountain lakes. The only French usage I can find is in the novel Lansquenet by Pierre Combescot, where the capitalization ("lac Aveugle") seems to indicate that it is a (fictional?) place name. As far as I can tell the story seems to (partially?) take place in Austria, so that place name probably refers to the Tyrolean lake you mention in your answer.
    – user5343
    Sep 28, 2016 at 10:27
  • @what Both the English and the French versions of this page are clearly word-for-word mechanical translations. Can you find the original language? Sep 28, 2016 at 11:22
  • @Gilles The Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and German versions look equally broken, I'm afraid I can't go further with the 19 remaining available versions.
    – jlliagre
    Sep 28, 2016 at 11:56

I think that “lac aveugle” just means “blind lake”. It's a technical term in geography, and several lakes that are blind are called “Blind Lake”. There are places called (the local translation of) Blind Lake in France, in the US, in Austria (Blindsee), in Pakistan (Sheosar Lake), … I don't think they're all blind, for example the one in Pakistan doesn't seem to be.

A that a blind lake is one that doesn't have any runoff above ground. It is blind in the sense of having no exit (see e.g. Oxford British & World English, def. 3.2), which gives the example sentence

Such blind pools loose water by evaporation, or if below the water table remain as permanent bodies.

The Québec Grand Dictionnaire terminologique gives the following definition for aveugle in geography:

Qualifie la terminaison d'un chenal ou d'une vallée s'achevant par une contre-pente : - dans les régions karstiques, la vallée aveugle se termine par une perte de rivière; - sur les estrans, les chenaux de marée sont fréquemment aveugles.

My translation: “characterizes a channel or valley which ends in a reverse slope: in karstic areas, the blind valley ends with the loss of the river; on the foreshore, tide channels are often blind”.

The Trésor de la langue française does not give examples from geography, but cites “cavité aveugle” (“blind cavity”) in medecine (in both languages, that's a part of an organ that can contain fluid and that terminates in a dead end). In both French and English, this term is also used in plumbing (the Oxford dictionary gives the example “blind pipe”). It may have derived from uses in architecture, where “aveugle” (or “blind” in English) refers to an area with no openings that let the light in. This would bridge the meanings “unable to see” and “no opening”.

  • Did you actually find places named "Blind Lake" in France ?
    – jlliagre
    Sep 28, 2016 at 12:37
  • @jlliagre No, nor in Austria or Pakistan. Sep 28, 2016 at 14:09
  • You took it too literally. I meant, did you actually find places named "Lac aveugle" in France ? Google maps doesn't seem to.
    – jlliagre
    Sep 28, 2016 at 14:13
  • @jlliagre Hmmm, I thought so, but on second inspection they may be using the term generically (some descriptions of photos of small mountain lakes), or as a translation of the more famous one in Tyrol or one of the US ones. Sep 28, 2016 at 14:34