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I encountered this while reading Astérix, in the following sentence:

Le voyage de nos amis se poursuit sans incidents notables. Quelques bagarres avec des brigands de rencontre...

I'm unsure how exactly to translate the second sentence there. I understand the meaning, especially given that this is illustrated, and I would approximate it by "Just a few fights with brigands met along the way..."

I noticed on reverso that there were many expressions with de rencontre, like:

  • amour de rencontre
  • lieu de rencontre
  • salon de rencontre

These seem a little more fixed and obvious than the use in Astérix. How exactly should de rencontre be used when following arbitrary nouns like brigands ?

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Here, de rencontre contains the meaning of met along the way, as you say. The usage is not very complicated, and is like the example from Astérix: amis de rencontre, brigands de rencontre ... You can basically replace these expressions with qu'on a rencontré(e(s)).

But there is a second meaning, which is that these brigands are amateur brigands - their credentials as brigands are due to luck and randomness more than skill (i.e. Astérix and Obélix will easily defeat them, they are no match for the two heroes). This meaning is well attested in TLFi 3.B.2: Qui est tel du fait des circonstances or Qui est tel par le fait du hasard.

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    The second meaning, amateur, is imho rare and here de rencontre likely only means que l'on trouve fortuitement sur sa route. In any case, Asterix and Obelix defeat everybody, whether amateur or skilled ;-) By the way, you should refer to the TLFi, not the CRNTL which is only providing here a portal to various resources. – jlliagre Mar 13 '17 at 8:26

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