I just came across the phrase "enceinte bluetooth", which caught me off-guard, since I had only heard the word "enceinte" to mean "pregnant".

Why do these ideas share a word? Is there some reasonable explanation that would be apparent to a native French speaker, or is it non-obvious?

My best guess is that they're both related to another definition I see of the word, which is "enclosure". Pregnancy is obviously related to this concept, but a speaker seems harder to connect to the concept. Maybe it's similar to how, in English, we sometimes refer to a computer as a "box"?

  • 1
    enceinte is enclosure but also a speaker, as in enceinte Bluetooth. A guess? A mother's womb encloses the foetus or baby.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 23, 2022 at 20:09
  • @LPH My English sentence does not say the mother is enclosed. It says her baby is enclosed in her womb.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 24, 2022 at 21:48
  • @Lambie That's what it says, I see it now. Sorry!
    – LPH
    Commented Jun 24, 2022 at 23:02

1 Answer 1


As far as "pregnancy" goes, there is no great analogy with the basic concept "surrounded by something" which is at the root of the definition of "enceinte" (adjective). However, as an approximation, the idea makes sense to a certain point : the woman who is "enceinte" is, according to the etymology of this term, "wearing a belt" (of some sort).

(wiktionnaire) enceindre, Étymologie

Du latin incingere (« entourer d'une ceinture ») de in (« en ») et cingere (« ceindre »).

(wiktionnaire enceinte, Étymologie

(Adjectif 1) : Du latin incincta (« entourée d'une ceinture ») (Autres) Dérivé du verbe enceindre.

The analogy with "belt" is therefore far from perfect since the organism in creation and the "support system" for it is found on the front side of the woman, in front of the digestive system.

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As to the analogy between the idea of a belt or surrounding object and that of a system of stereophonic sound reproduction, it is quite a satisfying one.

enter image description here Two "enceintes" (Wikipédia)

(Wikipédia, enceinte) On désigne souvent une enceinte par le terme anglais de baffle. Cette appellation est une métonymie (la partie pour le tout) puisque le baffle désigne en réalité le support plan, plaque généralement en bois voire en plastique, sur lequel est fixé le haut-parleur, et non l'enceinte dans sa totalité. Le baffle permet d'éviter que les ondes sonores émises par l’arrière du haut-parleur ne viennent interférer, voire annuler, les ondes sonores émises par l’avant du haut-parleur. Lorsqu'il est refermé sur lui-même en encerclant un certain volume d'air, il forme une enceinte.

(Explanation of the text in reference above) In French, an "enceinte" is often referred to as a baffle (English term). This term is in fact a misnomer because the term "baffle" is also used in French to name the rigid screen or panel (wood, plastic) onto which the speaker is fixed (metonymic naming), this piece being only the front part of what is really the "enceinte". (Larousse) The "baffle" permits the cancelling of the effect of the sound waves produced by the speaker towards the back, as those would interfere with the waves produced in front of the speaker or would simply cancel them. As this "baffle" is made the front of a box, this box is called an "enceinte".

          enter image description here           enter image description here           enter image description here

Fig. 1, 2, 3 : The three main types of "enceintes" (Wikipédia)

Enceinte close (Wikipédia)

Il s'agit simplement d'une boîte hermétique, dont le but est de supprimer le court-circuit acoustique en emprisonnant le rayonnement arrière dans un volume relativement petit19. On peut la remplir ou la capitonner d'un matériau absorbant suivant les besoins.

Enceinte bass-reflex (Wikipédia)

Elles sont facilement identifiables grâce à leur(s) évent(s). Le principe est de récupérer le rayonnement arrière pour l'ajouter en phase avec le rayonnement avant

Enceinte à radiateur passif (Wikipédia)

C'est une variante du bass-reflex, qui utilise un haut-parleur de basses démuni de moteur (bobine et aimant) à la place de l'évent. Le terme exact est « radiateur passif » ou « radiateur auxiliaire ». Elle permet une extension de la réponse grave, comme pour son homologue.

It follows that an "enceinte acoustique" encloses the waves produced at the back of the speakers; in this respect, the etymology matches well the concept.

  • 4
    +1 pour la précision sur l'enceinte. On aurait pu ajouter un autre sens d'enceinte : mur/rempart entourant une ville, un château ou autre.
    – XouDo
    Commented Sep 29, 2022 at 9:03

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