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For the English word "commodity" which refers to raw materials which are traded (e.g. metals, energy, food), I have difficulties to find a good French translation. Some dictionaries propose "la matière première", while on the French Wikipedia it is "commodité". What is the right translation? Are both acceptable?

Related to this question is "commodity price". Is that "le prix des matières premières" or better something like "le prix de commodité"?

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  • Context matters. If you're writing an economics essay for an economics class or some economics/finance newspaper in French, « commodité » will work; otherwise, look for alternatives!
    – PatrickT
    Sep 19, 2022 at 15:53

2 Answers 2

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As Wikipedia already explains:

  • "Commodity" has no straight translation.

  • Matière première meaning is narrower than commodity. While coal, copper and oil are definitely matières premières, it's much less acceptable for an immaterial thing like electricity, or for something not transformed like bananas.

  • Commodité is controversial and only used with this meaning by people already familiar with the English "commodity". The traditional meanings of commodité (that includes "restrooms"!), also utilities: FranceTerme, do not allow to easily understand what is meant by this new acceptation.

The OQLF recommends marchandises, also biens de consommation, produits, articles.

See all the Termium Plus site that suggests translations for many combination of words using "commodity".

Note that prix de commodités wouldn't be use even by those comfortable with commodités, that would be prix des commodités.

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Here are some possibilities seen on Linguee :

  • produit de base
  • service de base

less common :

  • produit de consommation

(All those are better than matières premières because it can be products that are not raw material such as electricity, basic food etc.)

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