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I just said in conversation:

Ils ne vont pas tarder à rappliquer, remarque. Contente-toi de nous dégoter un bon petit restau pour ce soir !

... and my colleague pointed out that he might just as well have phrased the sentence as:

Contente-toi d'essayer de nous dégoter un bon petit restau pour ce soir !

I checked this up on Wiktionnaire, and it indeed says that this particular usage of "dégoter" in the sense of "essayer de trouver", not just "trouver", is only seen in Switzerland.

I find myself dropping "essayer" when using "dégoter" like this, but I wonder how native French speakers from France, Canada, and Belgium commonly phrase this?


Now that I think about it, when I use "dégoter" in the following context, for instance, the idea of "essayer" is not included; merely the idea of "having found it by chance".

Elle a eu la gentillesse de nous dégoter une bouteille de Beaujolais Nouveau.

  • I don't understand the question. In “Contente-toi de nous dégoter un bon petit restau pour ce soir !”, dégoter means “find”, not “try to find”. This is an exhortation to succeed, not just to make an attempt. “Just make sure and find a nice restaurant for tonight.” – Gilles Nov 15 '17 at 20:57
  • L'article au Wiktionnaire est tout simplement bizarre. On dit que dégoter voudrait dire au Québec tenter de trouver un emploi avec un exemple contenant le bout de phrase dans l’espoir de dégoter un boulot !! L'article Wiktionnaire témoigne à mon avis d'une lecture douteuse de l'entrée au DHLF qui mentionne le jeu et le sens de trouver un poste en supplantant qqn. comme origines des sens déplacer et dénicher/trouver d'aujourd'hui. Voir aussi TLFi. Merci ! – user3177 Nov 16 '17 at 19:46
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"Dégoter" comes from a game where it was the use to shout :"Dégot s'en va !" when the player was trying to score, so basically, dégoter used to mean "to give it a try" while playing to this game.

I'm sure in France and Belgium no native speaker will ever understand "dégoter" as in Switzerland.

In Canada however, I wouldn't be surprised, many french words in Canada and Switzerland are closer to their etymology than they are in France.

  • Being a French-Canadian, I will say that my understanding of ‘dégoter’ is not the one you describe here. I find this usage very interesting, though. Unfortunately, Switzerland & Canada a apart on this one, as far as I’m concerned... – ﺪﺪﺪ Nov 16 '17 at 0:29
  • I can confirm from Belgium too (where we often have common archaic usages with Swiss French, though): same meaning here as "to find something that was unexpected or hard to find", not "try to find". But as the 2 meanings are quite close, I expect this would cause no actual misunderstandings, just maybe a bit of surprise. – Greg Nov 16 '17 at 5:37
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As a native French speaker from France I will give you some insight about how we use "dégoter" here.

As everything else in French, it's again a matter of context.

"Il est sorti en boîte de nuit, il s'est dégoté une fille pour la soirée" - "He went to a night club and found a girl for the night"

Here dégoter gives the idea of trials and errors. The girl he found was likely not his first choice and also express a slight idea of randomness behind finding the girl.

Whereas in "Il nous a dégoter un petit resto" - "He found us a little restaurant"

Here it somewhat expresses the idea of expertise. Dégoter means finding a secret gem.

But I can confirm that French people do use dégoter. It's use by people liking the precision of language as well as by everyday people that naturally have a thing to use typical expressive French.

  • I just realize, that I have absolutely not answered the initial question. I got carried away by my explanation haha – soueuls Nov 15 '17 at 18:43

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