“carte blanche”

When you give someone “carte blanche” you are giving the individual the authority or unrestricted freedom to do whatever he thinks is right. It has the same meaning as “blank check”. 

*Lavanya was given carte blanche with the remodelling of the house.  *The captain was not given carte blanche to choose the players he wanted.

Pronunciation : The first word is pronounced like the word “cart”; the “a” in “blanche” is like the “o” in “lot”, “got”, and “pot”. The final “che” is pronounced like the “sh” in “ship”, “sheep”, and “sheet”.

“Carte blanche” comes from French and it literally means, “white card”.  The term was first used in the military. When two armies fought and one of them surrendered unconditionally, the commander of the losing army was made to sign on a blank sheet of paper. The commander of the victorious army would then proceed to write whatever he wanted; he dictated his own terms. By signing the blank paper, the losing commander was giving the victorious army the freedom to dictate the terms of surrender. 

Source:  ‘Know Your English’ Series – The Hindu Daily, Sept 12 , 2005.


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