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In a book I am reading person A asks person B about person C; person C used to be mad, and person A asks person B how C is doing now. Person B answers: "Plus folle du tout".

How can I know if this means "no longer crazy at all" or "even crazier"? I know that in speech the "ne" is often omitted when "plus" used in a negative sense (as in "no longer"), and moreover since "du tout" means "at all", and "at all" in English is usually accompanied by a negation, I am inclined to think this means "no longer crazy at all". But perhaps "du tout" in French is used differently than "at all" in English and this actually means something like "even crazier".

Does "Plus folle du tout" mean "no longer crazy at all" or something like "even crazier"?


Here's some context, although I would prefer not to rely on it too much (except for grammatical purposes). After person B describes how she went mad, they went on to say:

Le médecin disait: "Il faut la marier, il n'y a que ça qui peut la guérir... Ça lui doublerait les sangs…"

(I have no idea what he means by "doubling her blood" but I don't think it's relevant). Then later person A asks:

Et elle a eu les sangs doublés?

and person B answers:

Oui, monsieur, ça vous pouvez le dire ! Doublés, ce qui s'appelle doublés. Plus folle du tout.

I am aware of the fact that the context alone makes it a lot more likely she is no longer crazy at all - since person B confirms she "had her blood doubled" (whatever that means) - but I prefer not to rely on it too much because this might be ironic.

  • Could you quote de whole context (the complete question and answer) as it could be interpreted differently ? – user20904 Aug 2 at 8:28
  • @stbr Sure, I added some context :) – Salamano Aug 2 at 8:49
  • Also see this question (useful overlap if not a duplicate). – Luke Sawczak Aug 2 at 15:00
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Your interpretation is right. du tout reinforces a negative in French like pas or plus (pronounced here /ply/ without an /s/ sound at the end) in your example. So far as I can tell, it does works a bit like at all in English.

  • Plusieurs interprétations sont possibles c'est pour ça que j'ai demandé à l'auteur une citation plus longue du texte, sans détails j'aurais plutôt tendance à l'interpréter comme de la dérision, ce qui voudrait dire qu'elle est toujours aussi folle. – user20904 Aug 2 at 8:42
  • Thank you! I added the context too, perhaps it'll make it clearer. – Salamano Aug 2 at 8:50
  • @stbr really, without the context it seems more likely to you that it means she is still crazy? What bout the "du tout" bit? – Salamano Aug 2 at 8:51
  • @Salamano Du tout literally means at all, I thought it means that she's still crazy and interpreted it as irony as in my opinion if the meaning would be no longer the sentence would have been more tactful, something like elle n'est plus folle désormais or elle a guéri de sa folie. Now that you added the context I have to admit that I am not sure at all. Btw sangs doublés seems to be an old idiom, I have never heard it. – user20904 Aug 2 at 8:55
  • There is something called antiphrasis, when you say something to mean the opposite. Like if it's pouring rain and you say "great weather!". You'd be sarcastic. Maybe it's the case here, but it has nothing to do with the use of "du tout" in the sentence – user21018 Aug 2 at 8:58
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"Du tout" tells you it has to be "no longer crazy". It you were to say "Even crazier" you'd have to use "encore plus" and place it before : "Encore plus folle".

"Du tout" means in fact "not a all" and it takes this form without "pas" when used with "plus" as this word is already negative (TLFi) ;

III. − Particule négative. Pas/non/ne... plus

« Pas du tout » can even be abreviated ;

  • — Il t'a causé des ennuis ?

  • — Pas du tout ! Je n'ai pas à m'en plaindre. or

  • — Du tout ! Je n'ai pas eu à m'en plaindre.

II The word "sang" used in the plural appears in many colloquial expressions of the older language ; they are not much used anymore, they got out of fashion ;

(TLFi) γ) Au plur. ds des loc., pop., vieilli

Here are first some of these expressions ; that'll give an idea of the images involved ; the expression we're looking for does not appear in the examples of the TLFi, but the context gives it away ;

  • Se faire des sangs
  • se manger, se ronger le/les sang(s)
  • se rouiller les sangs (rare) : S'inquiéter terriblement
        Elle dépérissait de chagrin; son mari aussi vieillissait, « se mangeait les sangs », disait-on, se consumait en espoirs inutiles.
        Demain, ils vont m'enlever l'eau!... Monsieur est en bombe!... Moi, je me rouille les sangs!... Ce sale raté! (...) avec ce détraqué depuis trente-cinq ans bientôt, je ne sais même pas ce qu'il va faire d'une minute à l'autre.(Céline,Mort à crédit, 1936, p. 489)
        Je m'en doute, que Monsieur se fait des sangs, et je le comprends. (L. Daudet,Phryné, 1937, p. 135)

  • Faire tourner/retourner les sangs (à qqn); se tourner les sangs ou en avoir les sangs tournés (rare)
        Ah! madame, dit mademoiselle Joséphine (...) j'en ai les sangs tournés! (Mérimée,A. Guillot, 1847, p. 91)
        Gervaise se tournait les sangs: ce n'était pas l'occupation d'un homme, de faire du café. (Zola,Assommoir, 1877, p. 470)
        Elle a vu dans la rue Vivienne un cheval emballé! Elle est revenue décomposée! Ça lui a retourné tous les sangs!... Jamais je l'avais vue si nerveuse! (Céline,Mort à crédit, 1936, p. 383)

Many more expressions can be found here : Ac. ; they make use of the singular form and are not yet dated.

We can understand better that "sangs" is taken to mean something like "flux of life", "life force" and so, as we read that this life force is being doubled, adding that to the fact hat this event of "having the bloods doubled" corresponds to a return to health, even if it is mental health, we deduce that it means "to put life back into someone", "revitalise them". There is no ironic intent.

  • Thank you for this answer! It was very helpful. – Salamano Aug 3 at 7:38

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