What does "jouir en bien" mean in English?
April 4, 2012 10:34 AM   Subscribe

I need a translation of a family motto: "jouir en bien" or "joir en bien".

I can read that it says "enjoy good" but what do the French really mean by this short phrase? Enjoy yourself? Relax? Chill? Savor? Indulge?

Thank you.
posted by cda to Writing & Language (10 answers total)
I think it more-or-less means "to enjoy innocently"
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 10:36 AM on April 4, 2012

This question is the second Google result from a search for "jouir en bien." The first result is a link to a heraldry web site that translates the motto as "to enjoy innocently."
posted by emelenjr at 11:18 AM on April 4, 2012

My understanding has always been that this phrase is more of an idiom, taken to mean "enjoying something without complication" or "just enjoying {something}." My francophone officemate says that "joissance-des-biens" has become a way of implying hedonism.
posted by juniperesque at 11:20 AM on April 4, 2012

My French colleague (grew up in France, in his late 30s) says literally, "enjoy [something] well" -- idiomatically, "orgasm together."

(Keep in mind that, over time, the idiomatic meaning may have radically shifted. Also words can have idiomatic shadings based on region... )
posted by honkeoki at 12:48 PM on April 4, 2012

Yeah, I was going to drop in to mention that "jouir", at least in contemporary French, has the additional connotation of orgasm.
posted by The Bellman at 2:16 PM on April 4, 2012

"rejoice in the good"
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:21 PM on April 4, 2012

Given that it's a family motto, I would think that anything sexual is unlikely.

I see it as roughly " chillin' "
posted by yclipse at 5:01 PM on April 4, 2012

Yeah as a family motto it won't have the modern connotations attached to it. Any modern-day French person telling you it does is due to one of two things: A. doesn't realize the history of the word, B. trying to pull your non-French leg – happens to me pretty often with new French acquaintances who don't realize I've been told the same pull-the-foreigner's-leg stuff a gazillion times over the past 13 years here.

Jouir (French Wiktionary link, has a couple English translations, I like "to delight in")

"Bien" is often used to mean "good", as in the type of good used in a religious sense; "le bien et le mal" = "good and evil". France was VERY Catholic up until the recent past.

"Delight in good".
posted by fraula at 11:41 PM on April 4, 2012

Combining all the answers together gives me the nuance I was looking for. Thanks everyone!
posted by cda at 12:38 PM on April 5, 2012

This heraldry book from 1829 translates it as "To enjoy innocently".
posted by elgilito at 4:07 AM on April 6, 2012

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