One of definitions of "fatality" is:

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fatality ; https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/fatality

a death caused by an accident or by violence, or someone who has died in either of these ways

Can one use in this way the French word "fatalité"? I have seen several dictionaries and it seems to me that in this context the two words are false cognates.

Nevertheless, even as an anglicism, if one says:

Il y a des milliers de fatalités sur les routes


There are thousands of traffic fatalities

would he be understood?

2 Answers 2


In French, "fatalité" is used to translate the English word "fate" (Larousse). So, saying:

Il y a des milliers de fatalités sur les routes.

would not convey the same meaning as using "fatalities" in English. You would use the word "décès" or "morts."
A common way of being a little less explicit when talking about death is to say "accidents mortels," referring to the accident rather than the person (note that in that case, the total number of deaths could differ from the number of accidents, so use this phrase carefully).

  • 1
    On peut très bien avoir plusieurs décès dans un seul accident mortel. Un accident mortel est un accident dans lequel il y a eu au moins 1 décès. Donc la formule n'est pas juste moins explicite, elle ne qualifie pas la même chose.
    – Laurent S.
    Sep 10, 2020 at 15:23
  • 1
    Pas faux @LaurentS. À utiliser avec précaution alors. Sep 10, 2020 at 15:26

Another suggestion:

Chaque année, il y a des milliers de vies brisées sur les routes.

However, that generally also includes people who survived accidents but whose destiny has been broken because of them.

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