In L'étranger by Albert Camus, there is the sentence:

Après l'enterrement, au contraire, ce sera une affaire classée et tout aura revêtu une allure plus officielle.

I'm trying to understand the last part of this sentence. revêtu is the past participle of revêtir, which means "to cover". Translating literally, word by word, I would translate this last part as "everything will have covered a more official feel," which doesn't quite make sense. Really, what it means is "everything will have been (or become) covered with an official feel." The "tout", the everything is the object of the covering, it is the thing being covered. The officialness is the thing doing the covering. At least in English.

Can somebody help me understand how this sentence acquires a passive meaning?

Why isn't it "tout aura été revêtu par une allure plus officielle"?

  • There is absolutely no point in word-for-word translation. It will not help you learn French or understand French. revêtir is not only "covered". I suggest you get the two volume Larousse, French<>English. revêtir here would be translated as: to take on an official allure. I also suggest you look at the complete definition of revêtir in a good monolingual dictionary before attempting to translate.
    – Lambie
    Dec 27, 2021 at 15:15
  • @Lambie Systematically rejecting any word-for-word translation makes no sense. All learners of a foreign language go through this stage (and not only learners) and it works often enough to at least understand the meaning of a sentence. In this case, the problem is essentially with the translation of the verb revêtir and to a lesser extent the word allure. I am surprised that you downvoted my answer when it already indicated the intended meaning taken from a French dictionary. If your point is just to say take on is better than take here, just say it in a comment to my answer.
    – jlliagre
    Dec 28, 2021 at 10:56
  • @jlliagre No, that is incorrect. But I don't have enough space to make the entire argument. You learn by accepting on blind faith how the other language works, You interiorize it. Noticing differences (j'ai 20 ans versus I am 20 years old) is fine but it will not help you learn the other language at all. And your "means something like" is quite misleading.
    – Lambie
    Dec 28, 2021 at 17:21
  • "There is no passive here*. For a passive, it would have to be: être revêtu par/de
    – Lambie
    Dec 28, 2021 at 17:23
  • @Lambie Yes, there is no passive here and that's what my last sentence implies. Je suis 20 ans vieux is good first step to guess what means "I'm 20 years old" for a learner that doesn't know yet this way of saying it in English. What is "quite misleading" in "to take a more official look"?
    – jlliagre
    Dec 28, 2021 at 18:06

1 Answer 1


Here revêtir une allure plus officielle means something like "to take a more official look".

Before the burial, the status is not yet well established but after it, everything will be properly set up (or at least better than before).

The meaning of revêtir is that one, from the TLFi:

REVÊTIR, verbe transitif
B. − [Le sujet désigne une chose]
2. Au figuré. Revêtir quelque chose. Avoir, prendre (un aspect, un caractère, une forme). Nulle autorité nouvelle ne pourra jamais revêtir un caractère aussi sacré (Sand, Lélia, 1839, p. 472)

Your suggestion "tout aura été revêtu par une allure plus officielle" is grammatical but doesn't work. Tout is the subject, it is what revêt something, it is not what is revêtu by something.

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